the weblog of Alan Knox

Tozer on Organization

Posted by on Sep 6, 2008 in books, definition | 13 comments

Continuing the theme of organization and institutionalization, I thought I would share this quote from A.W. Tozer from a compendium of quotes called Tozer on Christian Leadership:

We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.

A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped.

The point I am trying to make here is that while money has a proper place in the total life of the church militant, the tendency is to attach to it an importance that is far greater than is biblically sound or morally right. The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum.

What do you think? Is Tozer correct? Has the average modern “church” so established itself organizationally (institutionally) that God is no longer necessary? Or, is this simply a provocative, hyperbolic statement that can be ignored?


13 Comments

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  1. 9-6-2008

    From my experience I would say Tozer may be on to something, though I think he may have exaggerated his statement a bit.

    I don’t necessarily think God could be pulled completely out of churches. I do think there are many that do little more than pay lip service to him so they keep getting paid.

  2. 9-6-2008

    Mark,

    I actually agree and I don’t believe it to be an exaggeration I am saying this happens everyday (Olsteen, Jakes, Dollar God isn’t invovled in such places as far as I can tell).

    Alan,

    We have become so proficient at “churching” that we can do it without even thinking much about it. With the local church dominated by marketing techniques and psyhcological manipulation we have become behavioral manipulated. There are many who haven’t bought into this and I am thankful and their are others in it who are seeing its effect and the Spirit is working to convict them. In the end Christ will build His chuch becuase He loves her and that helps me rest at night!

  3. 9-6-2008

    Alan,

    I also agree completely with Tozer’s statement.

    As to your second question about ‘the average modern “church”‘,I think he answers it well in his book “Tragedy in the Church,The Missing Gifts”, “Because we have shut out the Holy Spirit in so many ways, we are stumbling along as though we are spiritually blindfolded.”

    I don’t think Tozer was given to hyperbole, and that the situation is far worse now than when he made this statement decades ago.

  4. 9-6-2008

    From reading other books by Tozer, I also do not think that he is given to hyperbole. Thus, I think that Tozer mean this statement as a description of the churches of his time – the 1950’s, I believe. And, like Aussie John suggested, I think that things are about the same or worse now. We do many good things, and I think that God accomplishes many excellent things. The question that I have to ask myself and others is this: Is God accomplishing his will through the “churches” or in spite of them?

    -Alan

  5. 9-6-2008

    Do we manage our money to God’s glory as good stewards or possibly because we have not the faith to live without the security of a bank account?

    Two separate churches may have the same bottom line and a completely different motive in the collective heart.

  6. 9-7-2008

    I would say that it is an accurate statement. A statement that we should not wear as a badge of honor, but accurate.

  7. 9-7-2008

    I also agree with Tozer’s statement. It’s amazing how fortified the assets are, of some of the churchy institutions today. It seems that the better off they are financially the more worthless they are.

    I believe that many such churches are running themselves today with out any help from the Lord.

    Lionel, another name I’ll add to your list is Parsley. Though I could go on and on.

    Gary

  8. 9-8-2008

    Thanks again for the comments. I learn alot and I’m often challenged after reading everyone’s comments.

    -Alan

  9. 9-13-2011

    Tozer is, as ever, spot on. Not in every church but in far too many. Pastors need to encourage us to live by faith, which invariably means takings risks! However, generally, we make sure we have finance to cover us before we even start a new programme!

  10. 2-24-2013

    Wow, I like this author’s voice! I agree with all that he wrote here. Actually, I think he could have been more pointedly expounding, just kidding. I am going to look up some writings by this author to read, I think it is a great idea. Thanks

  11. 2-25-2013

    Kat,

    Tozer has written some great books. Like most authors (and readers), you’ll probably find yourself agreeing with him at times, and disagreeing at other times. But, he’s usually a great read.

    -Alan

  12. 7-5-2013

    What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the body of Christ ? Is it not to EMPOWER God’s Children to portray the Peace of Christ in this tumultous world? Does the Spirit of God need money to teach His Children to live Godly lives? Sorry its a big no, but the Church, having a component of fleshly needs because its flesh, may need to keep some money in order to fulfill those fleshly needs. Not her needs alone but the material needs of the less fortunate in the world, however, in its strife to help those in need outside the body it should not over-burden itself with too many of such projects so as to OVERIDE its principal goal……to propagate the holy lifestyle of Christ to the world. If the church becomes TOO ATTACHED to so many fleshly projects that require so much money to accomplish….when will it get the time for its Spiritual or True duty? If the church sows in flesh it will reap fleshly gain, and if it sows in Spirit, it would yield a spiritual body of christ which is His TRUE BODY.

    Our call as a Body of Christ has a fleshly dimension to it but Organizing the church as a befitting Spiritual Bride to our Spiritual Father, His Spiritual Son and The Spirit, is most beneficial and our prime goal, UNDULY DWELLING on anything LESS is out of “spirit” to our True call. I cannot emphasize this enough.

    The present church as I see it now , in its zealous clamour for money does not really need God, why?…..because its married to Mammon.

  13. 7-5-2013

    Franklin,

    I’ve seen changes in many parts of the church – and I think we’ve seen those changes throughout history. Like you said, we can continue to trust God to guide us and empower us by his Spirit.

    -Alan