What does the book Reimagining Church, the movie Say Anything, author Frank Viola, fictional character Lloyd Dobler, the Open Model of Education, Learning, Institutional Church, and the Organic Church have in common? Into the Education Innovation blender they go.
I have been reading Reimagining Church: Pursuing The Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola.
Frank juxtaposes what he calls the Organic Church with the Institutional Church. I am not writing in support of his thesis but rather something that is found in both the education system and the “institutional church.”
Let’s begin with Frank’s definition of the Institutional Church.
“…those churches that operate primarily as institutions that exist above, beyond, and independent of the members that populate them. These churches are constructed on programs and rituals more than relationships. They are highly structured, typically building-centered organizations regulated by set-apart professionals (‘ministers’ and ‘clergy’) who are aided by volunteers (laity). They require staff, building, salaries, and administration. In the institutional church, congregants watch a religious performance once or twice a week led primarily by one person (the pastor or minister), and then retreat home to live their individual Christian lives.”
So how does this relate to education you ask?
Here is the point from Frank..
That is too describes education, or what I call “Big Education.”
Big Education is a system. It is not about the learning so much as it is about the supporting an organization that does many things other than teaching.
Pays for things
Fills out things
Meets to talk about things
So many things that have nothing to do with learning, but have a lot to do with maintaining the organization.
The key here is that Big Education operates on the premise that learning takes place in certain place and from certain people. Big Education exists to support those places and those people, but in the end does a lot to support the organization itself.
Could the same be said about the Institutional Church?
So much of what a church does or what a school district does has no direct link to connecting with God or to learning.
Contrast the institutional church with what Frank calls the Organic Church.
“An organic church is one that is naturally produced when a group of people have encountered Jesus Christ in reality (external ecclesiastical props being unnecessary), and the DNA of the church is free to work without hindrance.”
A similar definition might be used to describe learning.
Learning is naturally produced when a learner encounters something or someone he or she want to learn about. I call this the Open Model of Education, and it can happen anywhere, anytime, and does not require a school building. Maybe I should call it organic learning.
In the movie Say Anything, Lloyd Dobler said…
“I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.”
But do we want our schools and our churches do those things? Because they do lots and lots of those things that Lloyd Dobler wants to avoid.
Is that what they were meant to do? Is that their mission? Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s an interesting question. What would the answer mean to you, your church, or your school?
Asking the interesting question is Education Innovation.
Might I suggest: