I’m not sure if understanding this post is really dependent upon whether or not you remember such things as rotary telephones and carburetors, Sean Connery as James Bond, or generally, the 60’s. And maybe remembering all these things as being new would drive home the point.
When a vehicle breaks down or won’t start, guys will tend to get out, open the hood, and look inside. Ladies know we won’t be able to do anything, but they entertain — or pretend to entertain — the notion that we’ll perhaps be able to spot the problem and fix it. The truth is, if we’re old enough, there was a time we could have poked around and actually done something to get the car running again. Guys, those of you who are old enough, you know what I mean — because you remember the first time you looked under the hood of “one of the new cars” and asked yourself, “Is there really an internal combustion engine in there someplace?” The first time you had it in for repair, you complained about the cost and about the fact that for some reason God only knows, they had to put all this computer and extra crap in there, and it only meant a man couldn’t fix things himself anymore. A racket is what it was, just the big car manufacturers grabbing more of your money. Admit it, you’re smiling. You remember.
Things had stopped being simple, and that meant we couldn’t do things for ourselves anymore. All of which brings me to Execupundit’s Quote of the Day recently:
Expansion means complexity and complexity decay.
— C. Northcote Parkinson
We’ve been talking about church size around here lately, and sort of moved from there onto the subject of simplicity in church organization… and that’s about when I ran across this quote and said, “Huh.” So I’m asking myself, does this quote represent the perils of church size? Is there a direct progression from expansion to complexity to decay? If there is, are there any ways to avoid it, or is the idea just to stay small? And based on the nostalgic scenario I’ve laid out, does the complexity that comes from expansion inherently lead to the disempowerment of the laity, or the discouragement for them to actually engage?