Sunday, July 10, 2005

you can get the christian out of the church, but can you get the church out of the christian?

i realize that what jason clark wrote today might make some folks mad, but it did remind me of a brian mclaren statement made some time ago in reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book Life Together.

Bonhoeffer wisely warns Christians about the dangers of “wish-dreams” about community, ideals and dreams of community that become idolatrous, tempting one to love the ideal or dream more than one loves the actual people in one’s community. Having switched our focus of affection from the people themselves (with all their faults, annoyances, and idiosyncracies), and having bonded instead to our ideal or wish-dream, we are tempted to hate the people who fail to cooperate in seeing our ideal fulfilled as we might wish. Thus we blame them for sabotaging our vision of ideal (or authentic, or Biblical, or whatever other adjective identifies we might insert) community, blinding ourselves to the self-sabotaging hatred or resentment that lies within our own heart, all the while waving the banner of our ideal in “righteous” indignation.

as I told one of my dearest friends yesterday, the church is screwed up 'cause I'm screwed up - but I believe - actually I've staked my life on - that neither are screwed up irredeemably.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the quote for the most part, YET, leadership is the key here ALWAYS!

There are mediocre department stores that are dirty and neglected. Then, there are stores that are tidy and customer service is excellent. Why? Leadership!

The Church, on average is a volunteer organization. The saying goes, “You get what you pay for” and sadly, those who are part of the greatest of all organizations, The Body of Christ, act as though this is a “meet & greet” place of relaxation. The true motive comes out in one’s desire to serve without reward.

It is leadership that must communicate the scriptural purpose of the Church. Too many churches have strayed from a biblical model of teaching and thus left themselves to modern thinking regarding change and growth. The business model does not apply to the church. The church must repent of losing it’s heart and again, it takes leaders to do this. It’s ALL about leadership.

I generally see two types of evangelical churches. The first is the strong biblical model that is organized and efficient. Relationally, it is stiff and even a little cold. The second is the love model which is laid back and feels good, but lacks direction and focus. Maturity is balance of both strong teaching AND strong purpose. This is a vision a leader must have.

I am AMAZED at how few church leaders have a detailed vision of where their flock needs to go and how to get there. Yes, the Spirit of God leads and moves, but, a deep prayerful vision that is biblically based is essential for any leader. Same goes for a leader in the home. If you just wake and go each day, then you get what the day offers. If you have a vision of the type of relationship you desire and what type of education you want for your kids, each day has focused purpose.

The problem with the Church is people, but it is specifically with men who fear leading the flock because they are not what they need to be.

You can’t impart what you don’t possess.

Rick said...

Hearing folks quote business leadership books in the local congregation makes me want to vomit.

The problem with "Christians" is that we have very little understanding of who Jesus was/is and what he was about. The problem with "Christians" is that so few are followers of Jesus or Christ or whatever they are calling themselves.

Anonymous in the West said...

The main problem I see with Jason's comments, and almost every comment responding to criticism of the IC and/or the phenomenon of Christians leaving the IC, is an underlying assumption that the IC itself is something that is biblical and should exist at all. Every "solution" coming out of the IC and its leaders that I have ever seen is still built on an underlying foundation of preserving the IC and its form of leadership, and simply "rearranging the deck chairs," or making a little change here and there, but it is still built 99% on the same underlying model of organizational church, programs, clergy structure and heirarchical leadership, etc. Of course it is true that some people are just seeking things for "me," some people use the church's failings as an excuse to sit in judgment and get all proud of how much "better" they now are, and some people leave and fall into bitterness and just create a new prison for themselves. But some of us have simply left out of conviction that the IC itself is not AND CAN NEVER BE what God intended, and our duty is thus to leave and seek the Lord for instructions as to what to do next, and not just do a Hagar and create our own new organization to fill the void and repeat the same failure. But I have yet to see any IC leader seriously consider the question of the legitimacy of the IC itself. Instead of always questioning the motives of people who leave, and assigning all kinds of negative assumptions about them, perhaps the IC could examine itself ... just a little deeper?

PARoss said...

Anonymous in the West,

What's the IC?


Stephen said...

"IC" stands for "Institutional Church"