Very often, one of the hardest things to do is to change your mind about a deeply-held belief or to break out of your current paradigm. Perhaps no movie serves as a better metaphor for this than the 1999 blockbuster sci-fi hit, The Matrix. Take for instance the famous “blue pill, red pill” scene which represents Neo’s decision whether to pursue the truth about the matrix, regardless of the cost.
The institutional church matrix
If you’re new to this whole “unchurching” idea, please don’t assume unchurching means “anti-church”. It doesn’t. The “unchurching” idea was inspired by the “unschooling” movement, started by various homeschool advocates. And just as unschooling wasn’t anti-education, unchurching isn’t anti-church. Much like unschoolers wanted to relocate education from the classroom to the living room, unchurching folks are merely trying to return to a church experience that’s more biblical.
This often puts us at odds with today’s church system. However, that system is not the church itself. The church is merely people. And even though the church system calls itself the church, it’s really just a man-made institution. Like many other corporations, in order to survive, the institutional church has become a self-perpetuating machine. Where once the institutional church might have been designed to serve people, now it designs people to serve itself.
Sadly, many churchgoers have become so institutionalized, they can’t separate today’s church corporations from genuine church community. In their minds, the institution and the people are synonymous. Therefore, until an institutional churchgoer is unplugged and has a major paradigm shift, unchurching can seem very anti-church and very threatening.
In this way, our mission is a lot like Morpheus and Neo, trying to free people from the Matrix, people who often don’t understand that Morpheus and Neo are actually on their side. To illustrate, check out this iconic scene from the Matrix. Or just read the transcript of Morpheus’ brief but brilliant speech from the scene:
“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
Your own blue pill versus red pill moment
I share this post for those who are new to this unchurching idea, to help you realize that if you’re looking at unchurching through an institutional church paradigm, you might not be able to see it for what it really is. If you haven’t swallowed “the red pill”, unchurching might seem like it it’s trying to undermine the church.
But once you understand all the criticisms and continuous deconstruction of the institutional church model are merely an attempt to disentangle genuine church community from the corporation, then you’ll soon realize we’re actually advocating for the church, not fighting against it.
So, if you’re bold enough to consider it, I invite you to check out the resources on this page as well as unchurching.com. Not only do I think the truth about unchurching might pleasantly surprise you, I honestly think it could finally set you free.
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