Articles

Growth requires freedom

By Kim Michaels

 

In the Age of Aquarius, successful churches must encourage participation from members. This can only be done by giving members freedom to express themselves and come to their own conclusions. The key words are freedom and diversity.

It has been said that unless you learn from history, you will repeat the mistakes of history. History clearly shows that growth and freedom go hand-in-hand. Following are a few examples:

  • In the first two centuries, the Christian movement experienced an explosive growth that turned it into a living, vibrant spiritual and mystical movement. The movement had virtually no organizational structure and encompassed a diversity that attracted followers from all walks of life. When the organized church was formed, it quickly eradicated the diversity, and it defined an official doctrine that essentially aborted the true mission of Christ.
  • After the revolution, the United States experienced an unparalleled economic growth, mainly because of unprecedented freedom and opportunity.
  • An American engineer was once asked to explain why the American helicopter industry was so far ahead of its European competitors. He said: “In Europe, anything that is not expressly allowed by law is automatically prohibited. In America, anything that is not expressly forbidden by law is automatically allowed.” Therefore, the American engineers had more freedom to develop creative solutions.

 

From fear to freedom

These historical examples become more significant when we consider that the Age of Aquarius is the age of individual freedom and the age of the Holy Spirit. How can a church hope to attract followers in the new age unless it embraces the energies of that age?

If you want a church to grow, the organization must allow room for individual creativity so that its members can express their Christhood! If you want to build the community of the Holy Spirit, you must give that spirit the freedom to blow where it listeth! 

To fully embrace the opportunity of the new age, a church must go through a similar transformation as the one that occurred in the early days of the Christian movement. Many of the early disciples thought they should preach only to the Jews. In other words, in order to receive the teachings of Christ, a person had to meet certain outer requirements. One might say that Christianity was given conditionally.

One of the most pivotal moments in early Christianity occurred when the disciples realized, through the descent of the Holy Spirit, that it was in accordance with God’s will to preach Christianity to the gentiles. This was a dramatic shift in people’s mindset. The disciples now started preaching the word to anyone who was willing to listen, and therefore they started giving the teachings of Christ unconditionally. 

Is this the real reason why the early Christian movement experienced such a rapid growth and spread to so many different parts of the ancient world? Consider how successful Christianity would have been if the early disciples had preached only to the Jews. How far would Christianity have spread beyond the borders of ancient Israel? Would Christianity have been a major world religion today, or would it have been a small Jewish sect?

 

The need for a new organizational culture

When you apply this perspective to the organizational culture of many of today’s churches (Christian and non-Christian), it becomes obvious that many churches do not allow the kind of freedom enjoyed by the early Christians. Many churches are not giving forth their teachings in an unconditional manner. Instead, they tend to define conditions, saying that people have to fulfill certain requirements before they are worthy to receive the teachings and become members of the organization. 

For example, many churches require their members to fulfill certain outer requirements, such a baptism, not drinking alcohol and the like. While these are often reasonable requirements, a rigid church culture uses them to create a standard for judging the members.

Such a culture cannot freely give forth spiritual teachings and allow people to follow those teachings according to their own personal, inner direction. Instead, church culture sets up an outer standard for how church members should live their lives, and anyone not following the standard is subjected to various forms of reprisals (from being looked down upon to being excommunicated). Those who follow all of the outer standards to the letter often acquire a “holier-than-thou attitude” which is in direct opposition to the mindset of the Aquarian age.

One can raise a number of arguments for why such a restrictive and judgmental culture might have been necessary in the Piscean age. However, as we move into the Age of Aquarius, it is necessary to consider if this culture has become outdated?

The Age of Aquarius is an age in which the individual is meant to attain direct, inner communion with God. In other words, each person is meant to have a direct link to God and to the Ascended Host. In past ages, humankind had not risen to a level of consciousness in which the general population was ready for direct communion.

Therefore, most people needed an outer structure that could serve as a mediator between them and God. In the new age, people are meant to move beyond the need to have anything positioned between them and God (and their higher selves).

The question for any church becomes: Is the current organizational culture set up to help people build a direct contact with their higher self, or is it, as so many Orthodox churches, better suited to making people co-dependent upon the organization?

Many churches have an organizational culture that is dominated by a strict set of rules. Some churches have started moving away from these rules. However, has the organizational culture been purged of the mindset that resulted from a fear-based and rule-driven culture? 

Is it likely that an organizational culture based on fear and control will attract people in the new age? Is it likely that, in the age of freedom, people will be willing to accept an organizational culture that is dominated by strict adherence to outer rules and a tendency to judge those who do not follow the rules to the letter? Is such a culture creating a barrier of entry that is similar to the early demand that only Jews were allowed to receive the teachings of Christ?

To be successful in the Age of Aquarius, a church must move beyond a fear-based and judgmental organizational culture. This is not simply a matter of removing the outer rules. It is a matter of embracing a mindset that is suited for the age of freedom. The Law of Free Will is the ultimate law of this universe. If you accept the Law of Free Will, you must accept that people have a right to use spiritual teachings as they see fit. You simply cannot set up a standard for how a spiritual person should be or behave.

Most importantly, you cannot allow any kind of judgment of people or their way of interpreting and using spiritual teachings. No human being knows the spiritual attainment of another person. Therefore, how can anyone judge what is right for another person’s path?

If an organization, meaning both leaders and members, would make an effort to move beyond the old judgmental culture, vast new opportunities would open up. If an organization can take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Age of Aquarius, it can become a major factor in the new age. If the organization does not embrace a new culture, it is likely to remain small or lose members.

 

A new organizational structure is needed

A “spiritual organization” is almost a contradiction in terms. The organization is started to promote spiritual teachings, however any organization run by human beings tend to take on a life of its own.

The desire to maintain and expand the organization often becomes a goal in itself, and this goal might even eclipse the original goal of spreading the spiritual teachings. This is exactly what happened to Christianity when the orthodox Church was formed. Within a few centuries, the organized church had eradicated the diversity and spirituality of the early Christian movement, and thereby it had effectively aborted the spiritual mission of Christ. 

The Christian movement moved from having no organized structure towards a highly centralized and control-based organization. Many modern churches have an organized structure that is highly centralized and, to a large degree, based on control. If a church is going to be successful in the Age of Aquarius, it must move beyond this centralized structure. In the age of freedom, a centralized and control-based organization is not likely to attract large numbers of followers.

 

Make room for both organizers and creators

A previous discourse explains that a successful organization needs both organizers and creators, and this has important implications for the growth of any religion:

  • In the past, the teachings of many religions were watered down until the original content of the teachings was lost. To prevent this from happening, a religion needs a strong base of balanced organizers who can maintain the purity and integrity of the teachings in their original form. However, it is essential that these people remain balanced and avoid falling into the trap of wanting to control how the teachings are given forth or used.
  • To attract large numbers of followers, a religion needs a strong group of balanced creators who can preach the teachings and relate them to people’s present level of consciousness and present needs. It is essential that these people remain balanced and do not fall into the trap of watering down the teachings so the original message is lost.


This points to an organizational structure that has two spheres:

  • The inner circle. The mission of these people is to preserve the teachings and make them available in their original form. The original teachings will serve as a lodestone for the entire organization and for its followers. This part of the organization needs to be run by organizers who have a flair for detail.
  • The outer circle. The mission of these people is to reach anyone who is receptive to some aspect of the teachings. The stepped-down teachings will serve as a point of first contact with the organization, and they will help people get anchored on the path offered by the organization. As people rise in consciousness, they can gradually begin to take advantage of the teachings in their original form. This part of the organization needs to be run by creators who can see the big picture.

For example, in a Christian context, the inner circle could research what has happened to the original teachings of Christ and seek to restore those teachings by any means available. The goal is not to defend current church doctrine, but to truly find out what Jesus taught.

The outer circle could take the message of Christ and relate it to people’s everyday experience in today’s society. The goal would be to explore what Jesus would say to people in this age and how his message could help modern people overcome the challenges they face (these challenges are obviously different from the challenges people faced 2,000 years ago).

If a church would embrace such an organizational structure, the inner circle could form a stable foundation around which the outer circle could revolve. The inner circle would provide stability and balance, while the outer circle would provide adaptation and growth. This would give many members a sense of dedication and mission, because they could now see how they could express their personal Christhood and fulfill their mission while working within the framework of the church.

 

Give the teachings unconditionally

To fully embrace a paradigm that allows spiritual teachings to be given unconditionally, it is necessary to consider who owns spiritual teachings? Currently, many churches act as if the organization owns the spiritual teachings given by the founder of that church. 

Such organizations tend to think that they have a right to control how the teachings are given forth and used. A prime example is the Catholic church which began to act as if it owned the teachings of Christ. The Catholic church soon started tampering with the teachings and it withheld much of the original source-material.

Does any church actually own spiritual teachings? As stated earlier, all true spiritual teachings originated from the spiritual world. If anyone can claim ownership, it should be the Ascended Host. However, why not consider that the teachings actually belong to the world; they are a world spiritual heritage! 

This might open up for the idea that an organization should not try to control how the teachings are used. What an organization should do is to preserve its teachings in their original form and make sure they are always available to anyone who wants them. 

This points to a new way to look at the role of a religion. A religion must have a core organization with the role of making the teachings available without conditions. Thereby, people can use the teachings as they see fit, as long as they don’t claim ownership of the teachings. Such an organization should probably be completely independent of any church.

For example, one could envision a non-denominational organization charged with restoring and publishing the original teachings of Jesus and early Christianity. Any church could use the material published by this organization, but no church can own or control the teachings. A church cannot suddenly start withholding certain elements of the teachings. It can choose to build its own doctrines, but it cannot impose those doctrines on the organization that is charged with preserving the teachings in their original form.

A church can define its own organizational structure and rules. However, a church cannot prevent the formation of other groups that use the teachings in a different way.

 

Decentralization of the organization

In the Age of Aquarius, a spiritual organization cannot successfully impose a rigid, centralized structure, as did the orthodox churches in the Age of Pisces. Instead, it must create a true sense of a spiritual community. 

Any successful community is based on freedom and diversity. A church must not seek to control the teachings or people’s use of the teachings. It must simply offer people the teachings without telling them how to use them. Give people a smorgasbord without telling them what to eat.

This can be accomplished by allowing the formation of fraternities or organizations that are affiliated with the religious organization. For example, because of the misuse of power from orthodox churches, many people have a negative attitude towards churches. These people might be attracted by an organization that uses the teachings without calling itself a church. Other people might want a more formal or organized church, and such people could form churches based on the religious teachings.

Once again, the diversity of the early Christian movement might provide inspiration. A variety of churches and gnostic organizations were based on the teachings of Christ, yet there were many differences between them. Eventually the orthodox church came to see such differences as a threat to its power and control. However, it was the diversity that created the explosive growth of the Christian movement. 

The orthodox Christian church made it a goal to expand and strengthen the organization itself. In reality, the true goal of a spiritual movement must be to spread a certain spiritual idea or teaching. If this goal becomes subverted by the need to strengthen the outer organization, then the organization has become a goal in itself instead of being the means to an end.

In the Age of Aquarius people are not likely to buy into the idea that there is only one true church. Therefore, a church must embrace a paradigm that makes it possible to spread the spiritual teachings without requiring membership of a particular organization! A church must choose whom it will serve, the outer goal of a worldly organization or the inner goal of the Ascended Host.

 

 

Copyright © 2009 by Kim Michaels

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