Yesterday, in response to my post “Defining and describing organic church life,” there were a few very good comments. And, for the most part, the comments revolved around the question of generalizations.
For example, in the post, I quoted Nathan from “Joined to Him.” Scott suggested that Nathan had overgeneralized with his statement, “By ‘organic church,’ I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs.” Instead, Scott shared how the church he is part of was born out of spiritual life.
I think Nathan responded very well, and admitted that his statements were generalizations based on his own experiences. Arthur also commented saying it is hard not to get caught up in generalizations and even hyperbole.
These comments kick started my brain into thinking about generalizations in general.
Seriously… as I asked a few time in my own comment responses… Why would Nathan generalize that “non-traditional church is born out spiritual life” while traditional church is “held together by religious programs”? Or, to ask from a different perspective, why would many generalize that “organic” or “simple” church is insular (or even insulated)?
Obviously, before anyway states this, generalizations can always be proven wrong by specific examples. (Yes, that is a generalization…)
But, here’s the thing I think we need to think about: There is a reason that people come to these general opinions about either more traditional/institutional church or more simple/organic church. In other words, while the generalizations may not be true in all instances, there are usually reasons that people come to those generalizations.
I think it would be beneficial to consider those reasons.
For example, why would many people generalize that more traditional/institutional churches are not Spirit-led but are instead program driven?
Or, why would many people generalize that more simple/organic churches are not interested in others but are instead insular?
Obviously, there are many generalizations that we could consider. But, if we listen to people’s generalizations, we may learn more about ourselves and how people perceive us. If we know how people perceive us – and if we care about those people – then we can learn more about how we are or are not presenting ourselves as we would like to and how we need to change.