The Church; a Complex, Chaotic System
There’s a relatively new branch of science called complexity theory defined as “the emerging science at the edge of order and chaos.” It’s a look at the way order sometimes arises from seemingly chaotic systems.
If we look at the church as a complex system, perhaps we would lessen, what seems to be a natural tendency to simply see her as a social service agency, a church-growth machine, or a Sunday event with a few main players. By understanding the complexity of the body of Christ we stay closer to the church’s real DNA—which is highly complex.
Church programming assumes that the church is a linear cause-and-effect system. This is why church leaders readily adopt the latest program or craft their all important Sunday event after another faith community’s success. This common practice has bought into the faulty assumption that the church is like a machine and is pretty much the same everywhere, with interchangeable parts. Plug in the right program, sing all the relevant songs and off it goes!
But the truth is there are too many factors to give us any confidence in a method or a program developed in a context unique to another. The church’s DNA is just too complex and inimitable for that to be true.
Like trying to program a teenager, we get into trouble when we try to program a church, or the love between two people, or the life of a family. Human relationships are way too dynamic.