First, I believe that it is more accurate to say that the problem with a broken system lies with the underlying assumptions and values that give shape to (and are further promoted by) the system. In other words, the system is broken and breaks people because so many of its core values are out of alignment with God's values. For example, "systems" are usually created because of the assumption that there are "some who understand" and "some who don't understand but need to," or the assumption that people need external control in order to become who God intended them to be. Other false assumptions that feed the system include the many assumptions that feed the "mass production" approach of the church system in the West, the "corporate system assumptions" that drive most churches, etc. I am sure you can compile your own list if you think about it. How many of the core assumptions of TC (and of many "House churches" or "emerging churches") are derived more from our culture than from God's heart and God's word?
Why is it important to distinguish between the system and the values/assumptions underlying it? Because if deep and effective change is to take place, we have to examine and replace basic assumptions and values, not just the systems that those assumptions give birth to. Pretty obvious once you think about it, eh? But it's frightfully easy to focus on the external system rather than what gives birth to it, methinks.
The second reason it isn't healthy to just think about "system" is more of a relational observation on my part. I have noticed that a lot of people are bitter/angry with the system (whatever that system might be) and seem to feel okay at being bitter because it's directed towards "the system." The problem with this is that systems are neutral in terms of "hurting" people. Yes, they may be assembled in such a way as to make wounding more likely, but it's still the people in the system who do the wounding! So when I hear someone who is angry with the system, I know that in reality they are angry with people in the system, and that until they realize that and move into forgiveness for the people in the system who harmed them, they will remain trapped in their bitterness. In my experience, anyone who is bitter towards a system is not really holding bitterness towards a system but rather towards people caught in that system. And this is hugely important because until the bitterness is gone, merely coming out of the system won't result in the healing that God desires for them.
So...when I find someone who is clearly angry, and I hear words about the system, my heart breaks for that person. I know that they were indeed probably hurt by those in the system, and I also know that freedom lies, as always, in forgiveness. You can't forgive a system because you are not in relationship (really) with a system, but you can forgive people. And when you do, the bitterness towards the system miraculously disappears--amazing! :-)
Just a few thoughts from someone no longer in the system but who feels free to engage the people in it.
What do you think?
Tom, one of Abba's little boys