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When it gets in the way, is it possible to work around the system?

Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 in blog links | 9 comments

When it gets in the way, is it possible to work around the system?

Glenn at “breathe” always writes interesting blog posts. His latest post is no exception: “Changing the System by Ignoring It.”

One of the most interesting aspects of this particular posts is that it touches on dealing with problems with many different institutions: governments, corporations, and even churches.

As I’ve stated many times, I do not believe that the church is an organization, although the people may be organized. The organization itself is not the church, and, sometimes (perhaps often?), the organization itself can get in the way of the church.

So, what do the people do? They get angry, frustrated, hurt… but what can they do?

Glenn makes a suggestion:

So, my encouragement to myself and whoever happens to read this is to move past the complaining and progress into the next step; creating. Don’t keep banging your head against the same wall. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t postpone action until you have every detail mastered, because you need to be more flexible, creative, and collaborative than you can currently foresee. Let your anger and frustration move you into the realm of the better way and then get started!

Exactly! The organization is not the church, so don’t let the organization hinder you from loving, serving, caring, teaching, leading, discipling, etc. as God has called you, gifted you, and provided you opportunities.

Yes, it is possible to work around the system. Would it be better if the system did not get in the way in the first place? Sure. But you may not be able to control that, so don’t let it deter you. Simply live and serve and love and give and speak as God directs you… with or without the help of the system.

Do you know of examples of working around the system?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-17-2011

    This seems just a bit too optimistic to me: “Yes, it is possible to work around the system. Would it be better if the system did not get in the way in the first place? Sure. But you may not be able to control that, so don’t let it deter you.”

    Would this advice have helped an Israelite? The nation demanded a king like the gentiles had (I Sam 8:4-7), and God warned them the cost they would pay (I Sam 8:9-17), and many generations paid that price. Israel never did overcome the broken system, becoming hopelessly divided, ravaged by her own kings, and then carried into captivity and scattered. They were not able to reach what God had for them, because the “system” got in the way. Ignoring the graveness of their rebellion and its consequences would avail them little.

    The church has done the same thing–chosen to be led the same way the world is led, rejecting the Head of the Body as surely as Israel rejected her King, and suffering the splintering of divisions.

    Yes, there were heroes in Israel. There are heroes in the church. But both have so warped the system that the vast majority suffer irretrievably under its consequences.

  2. 11-17-2011

    Alan – Being a pastor for so many years, it was hard for me to get that through my head, i.e., that I could act independently and responsibly, apart from the system in a way that is both fulfilling and effective. Once, I begun to get it, I found it very refreshing. Thanks for the support on the journey!

  3. 11-18-2011


    I think there were some Israelites who remained faithful to God even when their kings led the nation down a wrong path. I’m simply suggesting that we can follow Jesus in the same way.


    It is not only difficult to get through your head, it is also difficult to do. But, I do think it’s possible. I also think it’s possible to “work around” the system without being antagonistic toward the system. However, you may still be seen as antagonistic, but you can’t really do anything about that.


  4. 11-18-2011


    I sounded gloomy, and in one sense I am pretty pessimistic about the church. I see us having the same legacy as Israel. Those Israelites carried off to foreign lands and those enslaved may have been faithful in their calamity, but they were unable to fulfill their intended calling as a nation that was a light to the nations. Jeremiah was faithful in his chains. But he was in chains.

    On the optimistic side, I do think the best approach is this idea of acting outside the system’s barriers and rules, yet remaining as one with all believers who remain inside and who advocate the traditional approaches to the extent they allow it. I still struggle sometimes with finding a gracious path for love to flow even when rejected and defamed.

  5. 11-18-2011

    The system is ever-present in the world, leaving us each & together to seek our Father’s will as to how near-to we will be, and when. Always to walk in victory, no matter our point in journey. Jesus faced 2 prongs of the system, religious & civic, and came away with His excellent & triumphant finish.
    I prior knew ~25 years hopeful and making effort to see organize religion benevolent to faith in Christ. Eventually, Father took me behind the scenes (like Ezekiel) for a wake up call. Today, seeing thousands trapped still in perpetual nursery of spirit as the machine continues to adapt toward its survival, I am aware for the risks of enticement, adversity & abuse that brothers willingly take by loving, serving, caring, teaching, leading, discipling, etc., around a church or parachurch organization. They are a shining brightly “undercover” crew worldwide!

  6. 11-18-2011


    Yes, we work as God provides us opportunities, regardless of whether those opportunities are part of a system or not. And, yes, we must seek peace and unity with our brothers and sisters, both those in and those outside of church systems. This is not always easy, of course…


    I agree with much of what you said. Those brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of church systems may be helped the most by those who remain acquainted with or associated with the system but who choose to work outside of it primarily.


  7. 11-19-2011

    Thank you for this encouraging post.

  8. 11-19-2011

    Joe and Danette,

    Thanks for the comment! I love the way you are working through and around the system.


  9. 12-4-2011

    This is a great question…and we all know how much you like great questions Alan :).

    Let me throw this out there since I’ll be blogging about it soon as I continue through From Eternity to Here. In the OT, Babylon represents the world’s system. God wouldn’t build his house there. First, the people had to leave the environment, then they could get to the work of building God’s house. The habitat of Babylon simply won’t support God’s house. So, it seems this picture wouldn’t support working through the system. Thoughts?