SpiritFarmer


How (Not) To Rethink Church
April 20, 2007, 7:48 pm
Filed under: denomination, innovation

I attended a breakfast meeting this morning, sponsored by the international missions agency of my denomination. Amid all the frustrating things that make me wish I wasn’t part of this denomination, this agency has consistently been one of the brighter lights – I’ve met tons of people that really get the Kingdom of God . . . primarily because they’ve served in situations where they weren’t the comfortable majority, and developed some humility and respect as a result.

While at the breakfast, I got to talk to some good folks, in particular, about the Church in Latin America. Good times.

During the “meeting” portion of the breakfast, some good, encouraging things were said. But mixed in with them were some things that made me scratch my head.

Here’s an example: “We need to help Christian in North America rethink church. What is it? A building? A worship service? What? We need to be able to show people that church can take forms other than the normal model we’re accustomed to. Small gatherings of people in informal settings can legitimately be the church . . . as long as they’re fulfilling the five purposes of the church . . . “

I was tracking happily with that, right up until the last line . . . five purposes. Ummmm, o.k., so if I’m supposed to rethink the church, why can’t I rethink the five purposes (which, by the way, were left undefined, and therefore, left me feeling sheepish and silly for not knowing them off the top of my head . . . clearly, I don’t know my New Testament)? So, basically, church can look many different ways in many different contexts . . . just as long as it looks the same everywhere. Got it.

The meeting was enjoyable and well worth my time (even at 7:30am). It’s just funny how in the midst of changing everything, we have the capacity to miss some things. I am certainly as guilty as anyone in this regard. God help us all.

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4 Comments so far
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“The five purposes”…clearly a reference to Saint Rick’s first epistle to the elders of the church at north america.*

*This epistle is not included in some earlier manuscripts of the New Testament, due to an obvious oversight on the canonization committee, as well as the fact that it was written several centuries too late.

Comment by Anonymous

Thank you, oh anonymous one.

I had thought that might be the reference, but alas, my own copy of the epistle you reference has fallen into the recesses of my former evangelical mind.

I shall now spend my day re-reading and indoctrinating myself. Either that, or just about ANYTHING else.

Comment by Steve

That’s pretty funny Steve. I wish I could have been there, seeing as how we’re of the same tribe!

Comment by David Phillips

do you think the problem may be that, in typical SBC fashion, our denomination is eager to embrace anything that will “grow churches.” So honestly, they don’t really mean re-think church (or re-imagine? hmmmm), they mean “let’s use the re-think church strategy to start adding more and more people to our denomination, since then previous strategies have now stalled and stagnated.”
It’s amazing how with one breath the denomination wants to denounce guys who started using terms like “missional” and “re-think church,” along with other emerging ideas (clever, huh?!) because of their “bad” theology, but then somehow the way these guys are practically expressing their faith connects with people so now these kind of phrases are used at SBC missions meetings, conferences, and in literature.

Comment by Anonymous




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