Pyramid Structures Produce Programs; Horizontal Structures Produce Relationships

Approaching Problems From Two Different Points Of View

Hierarchal, pyramidal, institutional structures major in producing programs as solutions to problems.  That’s the problem with education; it has gotten too pyramidal where those at the top dictate to those at the bottom how they are to teach when it has been years since those at the top have even taught a class in the classroom.  The most effective teaching occurs at the grass roots level: teacher/pupil. 

I have always said as a public educator that the most important days of the school year are the first three even though not much “academic” instruction happens.  Those days feature handing out materials, setting before the students yearly expectations, and of course going over the rules.  What happens is boundaries for relationships are established those days.  What will and will not the teacher allow, expect, and actually do.  What relationship will the teacher build with his students and vice verses?  As a teacher you want to build a relationship of open communication, respect, and a desire to reveal your passion as a teacher and the subject you teach, not a relationship as a tyrannical dictator or their “friend”.  8th graders, 13 year olds, are ruthless to their peers, their so called friends, for peer acceptance heads the top of their list.  They will establish a “friendship” with you, only to abandon it and stab you in the back to establish a “friendship” with someone else who is socially acceptable or popular.  Loyalty, stability, and dedication to most friendships at this age and level is a rarity. I do not want to establish this kind of relationship with my students, for they will dump me when my back is turned to be accepted by their peers.  They want a friendship with a teacher as one who cares for them, listens to them, accepts them for who they are (although they are unsure of what that is), and covers for them to save face with their peers.  Classroom management is all about “relationship management”.  The relationship between the teacher and student is a balancing act that will directly effect the willingness of the student to learn, be accepted, and succeed.

The institution looks at it differently. If there is a bully in your classroom, rather than allowing you to work at the root of the problem as relational, working on how to change the attitude and habits of the person seeking dominance over weaker vessels, the institution develops a “Bullying Program” and tells their teachers how to “implement” it!  If students have low self-esteem, a common malignant 8th grade problem, rather than dealing with it relationally, the institution introduces a “Self Esteem Program” to reward good behavior and pat every student on the back.  Students go through “Drug & Alcohol” Programs, learning just how to say “No” all through their elementary, middle, and secondary educations, only to strive to go to “partying” colleges and universities who ignore underage drinking making partying the socially accepted practice.  Rather than letting teachers develop what works best with each class, for every class, every student is different, the educational hierarchy will pull teachers out of teaching, instructional time to “teach” them how to “teach” through some new “Educational Program”, or “Inservice Program.” 

The institutional church is no different. Rather than “ministering” relationally, as an institution you establish programs.  There is soon an “Evangelistic Program” and a “Discipleship Program” or a “Supporting Missionary Program”, “Youth Program”, “Children’s Program”, “Senior Citizen’s Program”, “Widows Program”, etc.   The whole church docket has been filled with “programs” who desire is to create relationships.  But because the institution sets the guidelines of how these relationships are to work, they stifle the Holy Spirit’s creativity to move among His people.  If the Church just allowed the Holy Spirit to work relationally with His people on a horizontal level of peer equality and acceptance, then they wouldn’t need all these programs.  People would just “do it” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately institutions love to regulate, control, set directives, etc. rather than allowing their people be a free flowing.

Although both camps want the same outcome, relationships, we can see that they come from two totally different points of view. The hierarchal group comes from organization perspectives (committees) to “understand” the problem through “education”, then set up programs (directed plans of implementation) to implement the findings of their committees, while the horizontal group just “does it” through relationships built with people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit which produce effective relational results.  No wonder it is hard for the institutional church to understand revival, for during revival the Holy Spirit is in charge and moves without committee meetings, program development, and program implementation.  He just moves through His people, His way, at His time.  Usually His way does not follow the guidelines or directive of church committee meetings nor programs.