Cultural Revolution - Part VI
The modern church has adopted the business marketing principles of the world, and in so doing, it has replaced dependence on the Holy Spirit with man-made programs. Systems management, or generally speaking, the theory of business, has gone through many changes in different eras. For example, business theory has evolved as society has changed from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. The manner of how companies are run and what universities teach also develop as changes in society and the economy adjust to address the new paradigms. The idea of a paradigm shift is, according to Merriam Webster, “an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.”
This goes far beyond economics though. Paradigm changes have permeated all of society, including the church. The post-modern thinker of today is pragmatic in how things are done. The concept of the end justifies the means has become the measuring stick of success; and then organizational programs are developed to duplicate the process. On a business and economic scale, this can make some sense, however, when dealing with souls and the problem of sin, no one can change the way God ordained things to be done.
Simply explaining the success of companies and athletes by their habits does not mean a believer can expect the same goal-setting objectives and habits that the world practices to change one’s moral and sinful condition.
Historically, we can look back and see how certain individuals implemented significant changes to address developing cultural narratives.
In 1809, German scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt founded the University of Berlin on a radically new theory of the university: “He made a major contribution to the development of liberalism by envisioning education as a means of realizing individual possibility rather than a way of drilling traditional ideas into youth to suit them for an already established occupation or social role. He was the architect of the Humboldtian education ideal, which was used in Prussia as a model for its system of public education.”1
In 1870, George Siemens, the first CEO of Deutsche Bank, used entrepreneurial finance to unify a still rural and splintered Germany through industrial development.
Both of these men, and others like them, created a new process of doing things and their processes were easily duplicated. The obvious role played by Humboldt in the U.S. public school system still exists today. But just how did this line of societal thinking, also influenced by John Dewey, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, etc., successfully find its way into churches?
Business And Church
Throughout his career, twentieth-century management guru Peter Drucker consulted Fortune 500 companies and the non-profit sector, including the religious community. He sought for an optimal community in America in order to meet the needs of individuals from cradle to grave. The means to measure a person’s worth would be through a calculated system of accountability which assigns value that measures achievement.
Drucker was highly influenced by SØren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was influenced by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Both Kierkegaard and Kant embraced an existential philosophical view of man’s problems. One explanation of existentialism is, “a form of philosophical inquiry that explores the problem of human existence and centers on the experience of thinking, feeling, and acting. The individual’s starting point has been called “The existential angst,” a sense of dread, disorientation, confusion or anxiety in the face of an apparently meaningless absurd world. Existentialist thinkers frequently explore issues related to the meaning, purpose, and the value of human existence.”2
Peter Drucker was also fascinated with Eastern mysticism. To properly understand mysticism is to recognize that experiences can be achieved through alternative states of consciousness. I will be dealing with this in future parts of this series.
Drucker believed in social engineering. The idea behind social engineering is the use of psychological manipulation of people into performing actions. Drucker recognized and believed that the best place for him to accomplish his objective to sociologically change society is through the megachurch. The megachurch would become his change agent for the community’s greater good.
The idea of a new Reformation developed with the emphasis moving from established creeds in the church to an emphasis on deeds. One well-known author believes that this new spiritual paradigm shift is about behavior instead of beliefs. Beliefs are possible to measure by behavior and activity when using the postmodern business model, general systems theory.
As this new line of thinking was espoused by the modern emergent church world, the instructions of the New Testament Epistles were replaced with the primacy of the Sermon on the Mount. The goal is to change the nature of man and society. The process is by taking a traditional church and molding it into a postmodern accommodating mindset, which they believe will reach a postmodern culture. In other words, they want to shape the church into the image of the world to win the world.
Postmodernism is a word developed and defined by humanists. The postmodern philosophy claims much of what we know is shaped by the culture in which we live and is controlled by emotions, heritage and aesthetics. This humanistic philosophy rejects absolutes and propositional statements of truth. Drucker believed culture was seeking something; however, it was not seeking answers based on absolute truth. Therefore, his idea of the postmodern culture is that it would best respond to a seeker-friendly postmodern church. The new postmodern church would entail pastors removing heavy Bible content messages and instead use the sensitive felt needs of daily life to draw in unbelievers. The old traditional system of expository preaching and teaching would be replaced with a new postmodern business model. The megachurch would now be viewed as a sociological change agent wherein man transforms himself by addressing the felt needs in a community and society. Sin no longer needs to be addressed or hell to those who reject God’s grace and mercy in receiving Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sin. Man no longer needs a Savior. Mankind is the transforming agent to improve society and only after man is perfected can Jesus Christ return to earth. It is both a structural and spiritual perfection. In order to accomplish this task, the postmodern church world has accepted state of the art methods from computer programs and Peter Drucker’s general management theory (GMT
It would take a series of articles to fully and properly explain GMT, but briefly, Drucker turned management theory into a serious discipline. In his book, The Practice of Management, he discusses his process of “management by objective,” or MBO. MBO measures the performance of employees as compared to typical standards for the job. The belief that, if employees help determine standards, they will be more likely to fulfill them. This concept has been translated into the church model by viewing and measuring activity and calling it fruit. If there is a measure of success, then marketing such programs is acceptable since the end justifies the means.
Then And Now
In previous articles in this series, we discussed the integration of psychology and sociology into theology. Due to its success, it makes the modern management systems, originating from the humanistic social sciences, more acceptable in today’s modern church growth movement. When man’s social needs are placed above his spiritual needs, we are left with promoting a societal change and not a new heart that God seeks to give a repentant sinner when he or she is born again.
2 Ibid., existentialism.