Today I was watching a documentary about organic food and sustainable farming.
Yes, I am one of those people.
So they were talking about seeds and the fact that most seeds available in the market today are produced in one of like 6 (or some small number like that ) facilities.
Get that? There are only a handful of seed producers out there and all of our food is essentially coming from them. Is there a problem with that?
Slowly but surely likes and varieties of plants are being put out of production because they do not meet the real or perceived needs of the consumer in a way that brings in revenue for the seed producers. If it don't sell, we don't sell it.
Well, duh...that only makes sense.
The problem starts when the consumers are left with only a few foods that have been bred for color, taste, longevity, size, texture, blah blah blah to the eventual death of the supporting plant.
Ok I am quickly getting out of my league in sustainable food producing knowledge...let me try again.
In order to make consumers happy and ultimately turn a profit, seed production companies have dwindled the variety in their stock down to the very few best sellers. This has led to a shortage of gene stock among the plants. As plants are bred for certain qualities fewer and fewer stains are introduced. The resulting plants are "purer" and also weaker.
God has designed creation to thrive on diversity.
Sidenote...you know the beautiful strawberries you enjoy so every summer?? Well, every 5 or 6 years they have to have an entirely new breed ready for planting because the old breed will have completely worn itself out genetically and some bug or virus will move in and decimate the entire crop. Strawberries in the wild are not naturally the size of golfballs...did you know this?
So are you following ?
The big companies are the big companies because they make the money. They stay in business. They stay in business because they know how to please the consumer. The consumer has a very narrow idea of what they want. Usually they want bigger, cheaper, faster. The big companies provide this and the customers are happy and they keep buying from those companies and the result is that the gene pool for everything we eat is growing weaker and narrower.
That is a scary thing.
So I am watching this documentary and all of a sudden I feel this parallel.
Big companies=mega churches.
Money=money (and people as commodities) .
Go back and read that section again but insert mega-church in for seed producer. And etc...
Let's put that together and sprinkle a little anti-organized-church angst on it and see what we get.
I started thinking about mega churches. I looked at the trend we have going for churches to get bigger and bigger.
Bigger = success.
More butts in the seats=you are obviously doing something right.
Church goal becomes ...more butts in the seats.
So what happens when you have 10,000 people under the tutelage of one pastor? You get 10,000 sheep (church-goers) grazing in one pasture which leads to over grazing of that pasture for one thing and serious intestinal distress to the sheep if it turns out that that pasture has a parasite or there is a drought...or etc.
Again...What happens when 10,000 christians gather under one voice?
I am not talking about the voice of Jesus here. I am talking about the voice of Jesus as interpreted by Brother Jojo and his desire to touch the world with his ministry.
Maybe Bro. Jojo is a beautifully gifted preacher. Maybe he really hears from the Lord. And maybe he has a day like any normal human where he is feeling a little angsty and he has his panties in a wad because Jojo Jr. smart mouthed him on the way to the sanctuary and now he feels like he has a word from the Lord to the congregation about submission to your elders and discipline of the laymen when in reality the word from God was about parents not antagonizing their children but he missed that part because his self righteous button got all stuck in the on position.
Maybe that day turns into a week and a sermonal series as the "Amen" section gets warmed up, because they do do that sometimes. And maybe church leadership starts clamping down on feedback night because they feel the word coming down from the Pastor about getting things under control.
Whew. I think I need a drink.
Ok. What about that? Do you see that in a mega church scenario Bro. Jojo has unwittingly influenced 10,000 christians with his parental angst?
Maybe you think that was a little simplistic.
Maybe you think "well, mega churches have programs and small groups and other things where fresh thought (food) is introduced".
But do they really?
Or do the small groups feed from the word as presented on Sunday by Bro Jojo?
Is the teaching in the classrooms fresh thought?
Or is it curriculum approved by the leadership for the good of the body (of 10,000) under the leadership of Bro Jojo and his angst?
Could this scenario be viewed as a parasite...or a drought...that will be directly infecting and affecting 10,000 sheep in the very near future?
Could that be a problem?
So that is one illustration...but it doesn't really address the stuff I started ranting about.
Yes, I got off subject. Surprised?
Anyway...I started ranting about seeds and how big companies are narrowing the gene pool in response to what consumers want. Lets explore that for a minute or ten, shall we?
Again lets say that we are dealing with 10,000 people. These people are products of society. Generally, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, these people are sheep.
Sheep in the way that they follow one another, are easily led, gullible, delicate in constitution, susceptible to disease and predators, short sighted, picky, persnickety, and ornery.
Sheep want what they want, when they want it, in a form that is easy to get and they don't really care much about the dangers presented in getting it.
People=sheep. Sheep=people. In mass....bahhhhhhhhhhhh....
Pastors (shepherds in the biblical sense) in their good hearted way want to keep the sheep safe and happy. Pastors in the human sense are very easily influenced by the need to get more. More is better. More Butts in the seats= doing something right.
So, to keep the sheep happy, I think it would be really easy for church leadership to cater to what sells. Shorter sermons...smiley faces. Lighter topics...smiley faces.
Wait...am I proposing long heavy sermons...gah! no!!!
So length and topic are not the main points here.
The main point is about weakening the gene pool.
Let's say that the sheeple are really on top of things. They like pithy, heartfelt sermons that speak to their hearts on a deep level and motivate them to good deeds and higher living.
Now lets say that Bro. Jojo is really that kind of preacher. Let's forget about his angst and concentrate on his strength.
He is really really into helping the poor. His sermons move the people out into the world to help the poor. It is wonderful the things they do to help the poor. 10,000 people hearing sermons every Sunday about helping the poor.
And every homegroup in that church is about helping the poor and it's all so amazing.
Except for the fact that this body of believers has absolutely no skill whatsoever in welcoming anybody into their fellowship. They really suck at it in fact. Newcomers just mess with the chi of the organization.You are constantly having to show them what to do and waste time teaching them technique and proper care and handling of the poor. And children, well, if they can't pull their own weight they might as well play in the street. (except poor children of course cuz they are wonderful)
Do you see?
It is wonderful what Bro Jojo is teaching. But it is one sided. It is always going to be one sided.
And even if the leadership is working together they are still going to come to a consensus for their body that is going to be "one voice".
If we continue to condense our churches into mega communities we are going to start losing our voices. We will, and have already begun to, let the majority rule. We have let our interpretation of scripture come from a few "professional" voices and while that message may be big and shiny and polished it may not be the healthiest way to consume.
But without a diversity of thought and idea and heart and experience and voice we are going to find ourselves all thinking alike. Our thought/food is going to be super bred to only what we want to consume. As the choices of thought get narrower our ability to think outside the box will shrink.
We need think about this.
If you have 10,000 people hearing one sermon you may come away with 10,000 interpretations of that sermon but you still have one central train of thought. In the way that mega churches are designed you will have those 10,000 people breaking up into 1000 groups of people that may talk further about that sermon but still...that one sermon is the core topic.
That one sermon...even if based on a word straight from God is still presented from one man's view.
That is pretty limiting on the vastness that is God.
And that is if they really do home groups well. Mostly those 10,000 people will pay their dues, punch their attendance card and leave having not really thought about the sermon at all much less apply it to their lives. hmmmm....
So what is the flipside?
Let's say there are 10,000 people in small groups meeting in homes not necessarily influenced by one pastor. 1000 small groups doing community stuff in their homes and neighborhoods. 1000 different words from the Lord being discussed and implemented in the lives of the 10,000 people. Say each small group has 10 people. That means there is actually a potential for 10 different ideas and words from God to be presented and prayed and batted about and worked into the lives of those 10 people. 10 ideas. 10 words from God. Not one as interpreted by Pastor Bro. Jojo...ten. Ten words.
(I know I could be exaggerating but let's just go with it) 10 x 10,000 ideas and words that have been developed to a working point.
wow. that is a lot.
If that seems too grandiose...let's not be so optimistic...what if each small group was really kinda narrow minded in that they only wanted one word each week. That is still 1000 words to work from instead of O.N.E.
I know...there are a million ways that this is ignorant and obtuse. I know that I am not exploring all the ins and outs of this vast topic. I am talking about one side of this thing. Something to think about that doesn't necessarily cover all the aspects.
It is just one idea that may be stupid... but it is also possible that it is something worth thinking about. Because all I am saying here is that I never really thought about this before. So I am thinking. That's all. Just thinking about seed...