Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Naming the Problem(s)

I have pretty positive disposition for a bald guy & I certainly don't want to be a "confused, spiritually self-righteous blogger critic of Christianity" as Mark Driscoll puts it in the Jan/Feb issue of Relevant; but I’ve been discovering that times really do exist when problems need to be identified & named. For example, I just spent an hour talking with a friend about incarnational / missional living & the viability of living it out from within an institutional church context. After going on & on about how the institution’s not the problem - only the attitudes frequently behind it - I finally just had to admit it... The contemporary method of centralized, institutional, local church life is problematic in itself.

Here’s why...
1) It fosters consumerism.
2) It’s passive (seekers coming to us for the Gospel vs. us going to them with the Gospel).
3) It’s usually an artificial community (not like real community is described in Scripture).

... & less importantly, but still important ...
4) It grows by addition, not multiplication, which quickly results in a monster of an infrastructure that’s costly to maintain.
5) Its internal functional structure is slow, bulky, & excludes some demographics in ways extra-religious relationships (i.e. normal friendships) do not.
6) It’s based on & continues to foster the professional vs. laity ministry divide.

7) It generally has long lists of rules (to maintain / control its functional integrity).

Certainly it’s possible to live the incarnational / missional lifestyle out while still immersing oneself in an institutional church structure; but there are obstacles. My friend asked, “What if I simply decided I wasn’t going to be consumeristic anymore & began living this way through my institutional church?” I suggested that it would be like a 20 year old single guy deciding he wasn’t going to lust anymore but still tend bar at a strip club. Yeah, possible, but not easy.

15 comments:

Makeesha said...

good stuff brother.

Michael said...

I have been apart of this church structure. From my experiences I have come to the realization that these churches are what I like to call "Drive-Thru" churches. You go in, get your Jesus smile and hear a good teaching on how God is going to Bless the USA and then you go on your way back to your life. You don't see any of the members of your church until that next Sunday and you do it all over again.Is this whole style of church a problem?? Yah you could say that. Better yet I do say it is!

reba said...

Thanks for sharing this

Adam Gonnerman said...

I have a lot against the traditional model of church in the U.S. (among Protestants, specifically) but how to we avoid going into an institutional pattern? Rules are made in response to issues that come up. Buildings are bought or built when people get tired of hosting meetings in their homes or when the crowd gets too big. Leaders emerge. Then there is the question of what a missional church should look like and how an incarnational ministry will manifest itself. These are all questions I'm trying to work through, and I really appreciate what you've posted on the topic as I try to discern the best path forward.

David said...

Nice analogy
Maybe we should have church in a strip club.

wait...please don't read that the wrong way.

Michael said...

Adam, am not that educated on this subject. However I do think that when A church is started, most of the Pastors starting it have the same heart. They want to love people and help them in what ever way they can. I think the church starts to shift away from helping the poor and loving people when they get caught up in what other churches are doing. And I am not necessarily talking about what missions strips they are going on. We as humans try to keep up with the Jones's. When this church gets this new sound system and them boasts about it to You, it leaves You with a feeling of lesser worth. SO what do we do as people? We maybe cut some funds from the single mother fund to buy a new sound board. So with all that in mind i think the only way that we as people/followers of Christ can defeat the Industrialized Church, is keep it real. Why are you doing it? For the people, the homeless, the fatherless. If you can turn a deaf ear to the churches that have "stuff" and realize that our eternal reward is in heaven, i think it can be accomplished. But Once again I am not a scholor on this issue. I'm 22 years old trying to sound smart!! LOL

Michael said...

I didn't even spell Scholar right.

Michael said...

Mission Strips??? David has gotten into my mind!!

John Lynch said...

("Missions Strips" ... Michael, that's priceless!!!)

David said...

ROFLOL
Our new name for Missions.
It'll go by so fast, only those in 'the know' will get it.
It'll be a hoot.

David said...

So wait...
John,
By your first sentence, are you saying that bald guys don't have good dispositions and you do? Or are you saying that compared to other bald guys, your disposition is good, but compared to big haired people it's still pretty crappy?

Just wondering.

John Lynch said...

I'm saying that bald guys living in sub-zero Chicago winters (like me) can be pretty cranky... & "but by the grace of God, there go I" =)

John Lynch said...

By the way, thanks for commenting Reba. I've enjoyed looking through your site today!

John Lynch said...

I'd like to offer an open invitation to anyone interested to email a short summary (500 words or less) of their idea/s on how to overcome the problems described in this post. In other words, how do you think Christians-in-local-community could avoid these hazards? Your unedited summaries will be posted as original contributions to Hungry & Thirsty with your name cited as author. Life & peace! ~ John

Missional Jerry said...

great post and great Idea John