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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2158--Rutz' 4 models, 30 dichotomies

2158—30 differences between IC and SC

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  In Jim Rutz’ book, Megashift, Rutz describes our American, business modeled institutional churches, the most numerically successful our society has begun to call megachurches, as a blend of four Western iconic models.  

The first icon is Harvard, where the professor is a preacher, the lectern is a pulpit, and the students are parishioners. Trouble is, they can sit and take notes for forty

years, but they'll never graduate, never get a degree, and never ever

become professors themselves.

The second is Hollywood, with its stage, entertainers, polished performances, costumed

singers, applauding audiences, etc. All the church needs is popcorn.

The third is IBM, where a board of directors runs everything from the top down,

where permission to do things is denied or granted by the CEO and committees, where finances are the overriding factor behind policies, and where the institution competes with other churches for market share.

The fourth is Wal-Mart, whose aisles and aisles of tempting merchandise offer

something for everybody. Seeker-sensitive mega-churches, with their

array of 100 and more programs, mirror beautifully the “consumer heaven” ideal of


A common attribute that flows from modeling church like a combination of

Harvard, Hollywood, IBM, and Wal-Mart is that it is consumer driven. Just as a business

cannot survive without market consumers, neither can a business structured institutional church survive without spiritual consumers. Although a business is “for-profit” and an institutional church is “non-profit,” both are similar in that their economies are built on and sustained by consumerism.

            From this, Rutz later lists 30 dichotomies between the Western traditional church and “open church” the phrase he uses for simple church.  Those are:

  1. traditional church—5% of the people participate, open—100% open worship, sharing, and ministry.
  2. Traditional—meetings are programmed; open—meetings are open, spontaneous
  3. Traditional—meets in a special building, most people sit in rows; open—meets in homes, offices, dorms, whatever
  4. Traditional—format is boring (his word, not mine); open—every meeting different
  5. Traditional—pastor centered; open—Christ-centered, Spirit-driven
  6. Traditional—clergy and laity divided; open—all the people are united
  7. Traditional—based on tradition; open—based on Scripture
  8. Traditional—emasculating from ministry; open—empowering for ever-wider ministry
  9. Traditional—2/3 women; open—slightly more men than women
  10.  Traditional—most decisions by decree; open—most decisions by consensus
  11.   Traditional—led by one pastor or board; open—led by elders
  12.  Traditional—people are passive; open—people are proactive
  13. Traditional—people are controlled; open—people are free (to follow the Spirit)
  14. Traditional—inquirers must visit church; open—members go to outsiders
  15. Traditional—expensive; open—inexpensive
  16. Traditional—emphasis is on a large meeting; open—emphasis is on small groups
  17. Traditional—denominational oversight; open—apostolic oversight
  18. Traditional—building is a private empire; open—building the Kingdom
  19. Traditional—doctrine is a flag and battle cry; open—doctrine is an anchor and foundation
  20. Traditional—structure fosters isolation, loneliness; open—structure fosters teamwork and closeness
  21. Traditional—Jesus is the guest of honor; open—Jesus is the host and emcee
  22. Traditional—hidden sin often lingers; open—a community of righteousness
  23. Traditional—self-image of the people are as sinners; open—self-image is of the believers as saints
  24. Traditional—the goal is perseverance and stability; open—goal is overcoming and victory
  25. Traditional—spiritual immaturity is normal, spiritual growth plateaus; open—spiritual maturity and growth is consistently stimulated
  26. Traditional—leadership limits expansion; open—leaders are created continuously to promote expansion
  27. Traditional—churches are isolated and weak; open—encourages area teamwork and city elders who know and encourage each other
  28. Traditional—fossilizes over time; open—always reforming, learning, and growing
  29. Traditional—institutional hierarchy; open—family-type relationships
  30. Traditional—your presence is irrelevant; open—you are needed, loved, and important

You can contact me at or at 757-735-xxxx. A transcript of this commentary is posted at, as the entry for October 12, 2011. You can find out more about simple church in this area at


Ideas quoted are from Jim Rutz, Megashift, p. 111, 115.

 Much of the exact wording of the first part of this commentary is from Steven S. Lyzenga, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA  REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, p. 68, 103-104, which can be accessed at

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