Super Chickens and Super Churches? Are they Different, Are they the Same?
In the Western Culture, the idea of a “Super-Sized” meal is something most are aware of. With just a quick drive-up window, and a 30 second conversation, we have access to “Super-Sized” meals. With our meals being so easily “Super-Sized”, sometimes we begin to take on the same belief that everything has to be the same way; “Super-Sized”. Anyone who has traveled outside the United States, there is a quick realization that the serving size for their foods is not the same way. Walking through grocery stores in America could easily be described as warehouses. When we look at the church, or what many perceive the church to be, we begin to assume that it has to be the same way. It seems that people aren’t happy unless it’s bigger.; it’s “Super-Sized”.
While talking about the concept of “Super”, it’s important to recognize a talk that Margaret Heffernan shared at a TED Talk. In this presentation, she talks about a study conducted by Purdue University on chickens. While referencing this study, she first asks the question of “what makes Corporations successful?”. This is a valid question, as hopefully the Church is interested in this answer as we should all want to be successful. The question is though, does Jesus define success the same way today’s corporations define success? Jesus’s words in John 15: 1-8 are pretty straightforward:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [a]takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
This is so powerful when we approach the topic of wanting to be productive or successful. Is about producing “the most eggs” or producing fruit”. In the case of business, it may be easy to measure productivity by just looking at revenue. But, in the case of chickens, as Margaret shares, “it’s easy to measure with chickens, cause you just count the eggs”. As all people want more productivity, Purdue University carried out their own study. In this study, one flock of chickens was monitored for 6 generations, left untouched. Then, there was another flock. In each generation, only the most productive chicken was chosen to be used for breeding. So, now 6 generations later, what were the differences between the two flocks? Looking at the first flock, production had increased. Wonderful.
What about the second flock that was comprised of only the highest producing chickens in their generation? This is where the study gets interesting. As Margaret shares, “all but three were dead. They’d pecked the rest to death.” She continues, “the individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest”. Hearing those results, you may find those results eerily similar to what you’ve witnessed in your own life. Isn’t it interesting how “production” and “results” is driving factor why many of us make the decisions that we do? Is it really about just getting to the top? Margaret shares her thoughts on this mindset this way, “and I’ve never really felt motivated by pecking orders, or by super chickens, or by superstars. But, for the past fifty years we’ve run most organizations, and some societies along the super chicken model. We’ve thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars”. Have you seen this? How many times do people just decide to pay more money for the superstar, or volunteer to BE the superstar?
If we can see that this model doesn’t truly work in the business/corporate model, how can we ever think that this would be an acceptable model in the Church? Recalling Jesus’ words from John 15, fruit only comes when we walk in Him, not apart from Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Truth of the matter is, each of us has a part to play. None of us is supposed to do it all. Jesus is the One, the star. If we only get focused on productivity, and not the very fruit that we are bearing in our lives, Eternity will not end well. Jesus says very specifically how it will be for those who focused all their efforts on just “producing” while neglecting fruit,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
This important to hear these truths now. There is going to be a fruit check when we stand before Jesus. Are you a part of what God is doing in our generation? Now is the time to find out! If you have not yet met Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can hear we met Him by reading our stories as well.