Wednesday, January 05, 2005

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.


At 1/05/2005 3:30 PM, Blogger adam said...

Just a short word here. I wouldn't say that the Evangelical church is in "crisis". Possibly displaced, definately confused; but this is all (in a sense) just part of the way things go. As the Evangelical community is more solidified and formalized (this in America is do largely to the political attention recieved during the past 2 elections) different individuals want to stear the church different ways (this is a traditional process as far as the church goes i.e. Augustine and Pelagius... I think I have the right two people).

Where the situation gets crisis like is that really there is no one stearing the boat. The big timers (Warren, McLaren, and Rove) can only communicate through commercial means to their audience, the church- this corrupts the system from the beginning because the "gospel" is then inately tied to the dollar. All this leads to a body that is too disparate to make a huge impact, because of an incapability to be one.

Yet (a big YET here) history proves me wrong, because depending on who you consider evangelical some amazing changes have occured at the hands of the church. However, I don't think the church of the past had to deal with commercialization in the same way.

I realize another criticism of my words might be that the local church/pastor should stear itself in the local communities. I'd agree with this, but in our globalized age I think it's impossible to do this completely. Yes, the local church should be the witness to the local community, but to isolate itself from the rest of the body is just another form of individualism.

Not to short afterall- sorry.

At 1/05/2005 8:39 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

What we need is a prophet. Because that is the problem we have: Most people do not realize there is a problem. How many people are happy going from Willow Creeks crap to Saddlecrap's crap or whatever? Lots of people. Isn't really changing anything? No, because the main point of Jesus' life was the anti-thesis of American life. At nearly every point, we have created a society that needs God/Jesus for no more than a mascot or a cheerleader for what ever cause we choose to support.

We have given into the American dream, and it is like a siren that is calling all of us at every moment to keep following. To Jake, I have not given up, I just know how hard it is. Somedays I don't feel like I have the energy to keep working towards what I know is the right way.

We need a prophet to remind us of our need and our calling. It is more than being nice people or being a "jesus-is-the-cherry-on-top" christian.

I just started a xanga is the link.

At 1/06/2005 10:53 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

although dusty's posting a xanga site link right after commenting on the church as anti-thesis just about made me throw the computer out the window (i didn't because aren't we all participating in this contradiction by having this whole thing in the first place?), i wanted to say that i disagree with adam who is saying that the church, specifically evangelical, is not having an identy crisis yet i agree that local congregational stearing is not the answer. Part of the problem with the whole "directionless" issue is that the church is too individualized. we (here i mean protestants but specifically evangelicals) need to be forced to get together and agree to do things a certain way. This is where my disagreement with adam comes in, who should know better from studying christian history. The church is in the middle of an identity crisis and has been since at least constantine, and i mean this in all seriousness. only compounded by each division that occurs, the question of what is the church has driven theology from Augustine on. What has complicated this issue and makes it such a problem for all of us is that it has all boiled over in NA where we decided to further individualize our communities, making each congregation capable of telling the rest of its denomination to stick it, we're doing what we want (see the UM and Episcopal/Anglican controversies). All this to say, identity crisis is an adequate term and yes we do need a governing voice to make the problems at least managable.

At 1/06/2005 12:22 PM, Blogger adam said...

Revisiting my comments: Jake I agree with you 100%, especially on the Constatine part. What I meant to get at is that I think an "identity crisis" is part of being church, and therefore being in our very nature makes it not so much a crisis but the norm. I think the evangelical church is just entering this phase, so it everything seems monumental but really this is just how things are.

This certainly doesn't mean I am alright with going through the motions (you know that based on our other conversations, and my general feelings about YM). But it does allow me to not get stressed out. Same goes for my church, local, national and global. We've got this ridiculous scandal with seemingly nobody doing anything meaningful about it. I wasn't around, but I know the church got through them before and we'll get through it this time. The Spirit (counselor, paraclete) is leading and no bishop, cardinal, or bestselling author can disturb it enough to win. I know this, so I do my part (in Libertyville, at CTU, with Andrea, my family and friends) and have faith others will be guided to do the same.

At 1/07/2005 10:52 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

and to this I agree as well adam. I believe we must balance out a confidence and faith in the Spirit to lead the church toward faithfulness and a realization that it is through us that this occurs. You display this wonderfully.

At 1/08/2005 4:46 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

Ya, Jake, I think whatever pissed you off about my comment was all in your head. I don't see the connection, but hey, whatever pisses you off!

Roll with it...


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