Notes etc for part six below.
Going after the catalyst or the circles won’t work – cf. attempts to destroy Al-Qaeda. Instead, those who want to counter starfish groups must use different tactics:
Strategy 1: Changing Ideology – rather than go after terrorist circles (cells) or catalysts (bin Laden, etc), change the ideology in areas where they thrive, e.g., bringing hope to hopeless, poverty-stricken villages. Has the church at times been crippled by subtle changes to her ideology? Missional Christians would probably answer, ‘yes’. If church members are asked what the main priority of the church is and frequently reply, ‘worship’, then the ideology may well have changed. It will have become a much more internalised organisation.
Strategy 2: Centralise Them – when a catalyst gains property rights (Apache Nant’ans being given cattle by the ‘Americans’), centralisation happens and the catalyst’s power moves from their example to their resources. Is this why issues of ‘the building’ are so crippling for churches and their mission?
Strategy 3: Decentralise Yourself – if you can’t beat them, join them. This could be where traditional Christianity needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming. Church decline and increasing age demographics are already causing a crisis; what if the current recession lingers for a few years? Might we need some radical rethinking? For a few years now, the Church of the Nazarene has been talking about bivocational pastors: might we? It could be a development of no-stipendiary ministers in local appointment. And that’s just to deal with the biggest expense on the average church.