I am constantly amazed where I find insight into my faith these days. As I have gotten into reading blogs over the last few months, I have noted that many of the responses and comments to the blog posts are where I am challenged most.
I read one post this morning that lead me to two other blogs and some comments that may just work their way into my worldview. It all started with my buddy Nick’s post on slang where he references a term “Snob Goggles”. By way of defining that term, he links to a blog entry of Jason Clark called I Like My Mega Church which is actually just kudos for a third article of the same name by Elizabeth DiCandilo at off-the-map.org.
I read her article and found it interesting but still do not look too favorably on the mega-church model and wondered if there are any comments that reflect any other opinions. That’s when I am side-lined by two concepts that really have made any impression on me, mega-church biases aside….
The first concept is found in Jim Herbert’s reply, “Being a pastor of a small church you can often fall into the trap of us vs. them. We have changed our philosophy to parish thinking, serving a geographic community regardless if they attend or not. Remarkably this has caused our cong. to grow!
I agree with Elizabeth in that we have to get beyond this argument and network together to advance the Kingdom of God.”
What a simple but awesome concept. Something that rings true in my latent understanding of the Gospel message, the concept of servicing the community around you ill regardless of that community’s commitment to you. I think that this may be a foundational principle that needs to be applied to the tribe/congregation that I find myself in right now.
The second is from Chris Marshall who is clarifying the purpose and intent of a conference called Mayhem by a “network of missional communities that is Ordinary Community Church”. I am a little fuzzy on the specifics of this organization so I will beg Chris’ forgiveness if my interpretation is off. But what he states is that Mayhem is “…our honest attempt is to live out an old faith in a new world. The movement is Christianity, nothing more or less…”
This struck me as true for the church as a whole. We a Christians have so many labels that we wear as we search to define our place in the developing culture. Whether it be post-modern or emerging, relevant or seeker-sensitive, the real label is Christian. The term in it’s purest sense is to my mind, being a disciple of Jesus and a active member of the kingdom of God. That’s the movement, no matter the incarnation of the culture we find ourselves in, we are always followers of the Way.
So often I feel our discussion of how to be the Church today turns into a debate of being either of Paul, of Apollos or of Cephas (reference 1st Corinthians 1:12), like being Calvinist or Armenian, but the true nature of the Church is not this. We are, and forever will be a movement of Christ, “nothing more or less.” This is where we find our purpose and relevance in every generation. Life in Christ is the same as two thousand years ago, and should the Lord tarry, it will be the same two thousand years from now. The relevancy we seek to reach this generation is a standard that reaches down to the deepest need of every person in every generation, the need for Christ in the heart of man.
Now, perhaps these are not the conclusions expected by the writers of these comments but that is how they spoke to me. Like I said, it constantly amazes me where I find insight into my faith these days. I am just truly grateful that the conversation is taking place because I feel God is using it to define, and sometimes redefine, the focus and purpose for that conversation, making use into something that closer reflects His desire for us.