On how we are awesome.Exploring our own roles within the midst of a fracturing Church.
Andy, I liked what you had to say about the Church undergoing an identity crisis. There are a handful of evangelicals who have succeeded in building large churches, and feel compelled to write and/or speak about how they did it (even if they lay out disclaimers beforehand about how they shouldn't be imitated, only incorporated). With all these success stories, it's hard to tell which direction is the "future" direction of the evangelical church.
For all Warren's success, and his Pastor of the Year status in CT, his "Purpose Driven Church" philosophy isn't by any means the evangelical standard. The same could be said about the Willow-based seeker-sensitive model. It's hella popular, but it's not the standard. The Emergent church stands to run into the same problem. The Church (especially the American Protestant variety) is fractured. It is in the midst identity crisis, only made worse by a glut of books, articles and other media on how to make it better. It's like we can't completely explore one model before we hear of a "new and improved" model, which we incorporate for a while until we read about "the next big thing." On and on.... Our modern culture of instantaneous gratification applied to ecclesiology.
And there's nothing inherently wrong with these models; I'm not one to say we should reject them all and "get back to being a NT church," because I truly believe that all these models are striving for that. I really don't know how the church is to get through this crisis, other than realizing it's in crisis, and sticking with what Jake said, "Life is for living, doing, and being disciples of Jesus Christ." I agree with Dusty that it can get discouraging. I've only been interested in ministry models for a few years now, and I'm already tired of it -- seeking out every new model, dialoguing with it, exploring it's Biblical basis, then incorporating or rejecting it. It just seems really pointless when so much of the NT is being left untouched.
But I don't think we need another "new" model, though we're guaranteed to see more. We just need to stick to the original template of discipleship no matter which model or tradition our local church is associated with. In short, I'm pretty sure what we're doing here is worth something, as long as we don't give into the modern mindset of elevating our model or tradition as the new standard. Unwittingly, we've stared a "Link Institute" of our very own, only with less impressive credentials and no John Paff to get the word out.
But like we've all said here at one point, our conversations are trivial unless they find an outlet in the ministry of our daily lives. Not even John Paff can help us with that.