Apr 1, 2006

the "group think" principles

Check out an interesting post at Believing Thomas that lists the actions and thought processes of people involved in "group think." Often the legalistic tribes of the COC approach the concept of being a church the same way.

Of the symptoms indicative of "group think" (a term coined by the psychologist Irving Janis) a couple thoughts on his list fit comfortably in some churches:

7. "Direct pressure on dissenters to conform": Unless you believe and practice the way we do your wrong, and unless you conform to our precise understanding of scripture your not acceptable to God, and not recognized as a Christian by our group. Seems like something I have heard before!

8. "Self-appointed 'mindguards' protect the group from negative information": In a few of these groups only the King James Version is the only authorized and acceptable Bible Christians should read. Any book written by someone not sharing the groups particular belief system is suspect, and shouldn't be read because it only confuses us with false information.

Some symptoms of decisions affected by group think according to Janis:

1. "Incomplete survey of alternatives": You probably know of churches that refuse to even consider alternatives to their paternalistic and traditional practices. Can you imagine one of these churches considering the alternative of allowing a woman to stand up in front of the congregation and participate in the process of passing the communion to other Christians-even if she didn't speak a word!

3. "Failure to re-appraise initially rejected alternatives": Once an alternative has been dismissed by some churches it takes an act of congress for them to rethink their position. Old traditional methods are the only acceptable practices-if it was good enough for Grandpa Jones it's good enough for me!

Christians involved in a "group think" (my-way-or-the-highway) church wouldn't even realize the listed symptoms applied to them. While Janis may not intend his findings to be exclusive to church groups, his study certainly seems to apply to some churches where I was a member.

8 comments:

jettybetty said...

I'd love to pass communion--I can't understand there would be anything wrong with it--but PH says it's not nearly easy as it looks. (I think I could handle it).

Larry said...

JB...
It's kosher for a woman to pass the communion to a man while seated, as long as she doesn't have to stand; if she's too far from the man she must slide down the bench, not looking the man in the eye, and all the time making sure not to rise and usurp the mans authority. I forget the exact verse that authorizes this. :)

It is strange that a woman can hand the communion to a man next to her while seated, but unable to do so while walking down the aisle in an upright position.

jettybetty said...

Ooooo-you are so correct--I do get to pass--as long as I don't stand all the way up or stand at the end of an aisle! LOL!!!

Where did we come up with these *rules* as to what was appropriate and not-appropriate passing???

L.E.Meredith said...

JB I do believe you can handle the job. If ever any of those men in church come to dinner. just tell them you would like to pass the bread, but it is forbidden to stand in such awesome glory. LOL

L.E.Meredith said...

JB you ask where did this rule come from I have no idea but maybe like most of the strange rules for worship, it came from the rule that the servant should never be higher than the King. as for me I have not noticed many crowns in our congregation.

Larry said...

JB...
I suspect the reason woman can't pass the communion is simple; it would open the door of opportunity just a little, and once the door is slightly ajar no telling what would pass through next.

What's strange is why we don't hear very many women complaining...perhaps it's the traditional gag order!

jettybetty said...

You all crack me up!

I'm not complaining mind you, but I am ready if anyone asks!

Our son goes to an emergent-type church--and they just set communion up in a corner and you can go help yourself when you are ready--actually I kind of like that--but I suppose you can tell I'm not your average COC old lady!

TCS said...

larry,
thanks for the link and for the comment the other day. Some of that group think stuff is scary.

I have a list of church of christ rules that I would be glad to share if nobody ele has them written down.