What is “ideological church”? How does it undermine mission? Ideology is the study of how ideas form social groups. When we church plant we are forming a sociological group. We gather people around a way of life.
How do churches get ideologized? We gather people around a vision that often subtly puts down other churches in order to differentiate. But why not state what we’re for rather than organizing by what we’re against?
1 Cor. 3:22 – whether Paul or Apollos or Ciaphas, all belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God. Paul is calling us out of ideology and ideological church.
We’ve become known by what we’re against. That’s the kiss of death for mission. When we do that we gather other people who are mad about the same thing. We just seem prone to manufacturing ideology. When we ideologize we only attract those who already agree with us and cut off the people who don’t. It helps to drum up business when we sloganize. It draws people of like mind.
People coalesce around ideological objects. The problem with this is that we lose you reason for being once the object we’re against disappears.
Four signs a church is being ideologized
- Organizes around what we’re against. Us vs. them
- A perverse enjoyment about the things you believe. “Whew, I’m glad we’re not them!” “See, we’re right after all!”
- The idea that was good originally gets removed from practice
- It works to distance us from on-the-ground real life. It distracts us from living the belief in any way.
We must break the cycle of ideological church. Ideology shapes us to have a posture over against someone else. We simply become antagonistic.