Traditional societies and their organisations had a very strong emphasis on control. Traditional authorities ruled through hierarchies. This hierarchical form of organisation was useful for providing order and control, but tended to stifle creativity and spontaneity.

In the modern world, this level of control is no longer acceptable, and the world is shaking off the bonds of hierarchy. Hierarchies are being replaced by networks. A strong network allows a group of people with diverse skills and talents to cooperate in a highly efficient and productive way.

The business world is rapidly transitioning from hierarchy to networks. General Motors once owned and controlled every aspect of car manufacturing. It was a very hierarchical organisation, controlled from the top. In contrast, Nike does not own a single factory or warehouse. All aspects of production from design to marketing and manufacturing is done by a network of contractors and subcontractors. Decision making is decentralised. The development of business networks has increased the efficiency of many business processes. A World Bank economist, Charles Goldfinger (great name for an economist), has documented the positive impact of business networks on the information economy.

Al Qa'ida, the organisation responsible for destroying the World Trade Centre, is a very effective network (though we might not agree with its goals). The network is decentralised, so that it is not dependent one or two key individuals. If some leaders get put out of action, the network closes up and carries on. This is very important for a network operating in a hostile environment. It is ironic that Osama bin Laden seems to understand the power of networks better than the church.

Despite the trends, the church is still very strong on hierarchy and control.

Sadly, the more the surrounding culture relaxes, the more intent some Christian leadership seems to be on controlling the masses through the application of authority (The Prodigal Project).

To be effective in the modern world, the church will have to transition from hierarchy to a network model.

The major user of hierarchy is the devil. Unlike God who is omnipresent, he can only be in one place at one time. Therefore he needs to use spiritual hierarchies to maintain control (Ephesians 6:12). The church should not emulate his methods.

I am uncertain about the direction the new apostolic reformation will go. There is a strong emphasis on relationships between apostles and pastors and prophets, which points to the development of networks. On the other hand, there is considerable dependence on a few high-level apostles, which could lead to greater hierarchy. There is a real risk that the next generation of apostles will become institutionalised as bishops, but with a different name. This dependence on a few celebrities could make the church very vulnerable, if the environment becomes hostile.

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