Thursday, April 06, 2006

LIGHT VS HEAT

LIGHT VS HEAT by Keith Giles

Most everyone who has read my blog here, or who receives my weekly [subversive underground] e-newsletter, knows how I feel about the corporate church model.

It’s no secret how I feel that our modern versions of “doing church” have corrupted the Biblical model where everyone who follows Jesus “is the Church” and gets to participate, use their gifts, interact with everyone else, be ministered to and minister to others, and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit in His Power along with everyone else.

Honestly, as we’ve been doing house church now for about two months, I realize that “Koinonia” is something I think I never experienced before now. Everything before “the mission” was just playing church to me.

I also feel that there is way too much emphasis placed on “Leadership” (as defined by the Big Business World and now co-opted into the Bride of Christ).

Why are there no “Follower’s Study Bibles”? Why so much emphasis on leadership? How about encouraging “Followership” since that’s what Jesus called us to do in the first place?

I can remember being so frustrated as an on-staff pastor that our mandate was to make sure we visited with our significant leaders every month. I wondered, “Who will visit with our forgotten, poor and insignificant people if we’re all focused on those leaders?”

*If I’m not careful, I could run off on a rant myself here...so, I’ll take a deep breath.

(whew)

So, the other day I received an email from a friend who had written a scathing attack on this exact issue and he wanted to share it with me, knowing that I lean hard in this direction, I suppose.

As I read my friend’s email, blasting the corporate structure, attacking the cultural distortions of the Biblical form of “being Church”, I guess I saw myself from a distance and it troubled me.

In response to my friend, whom I agree with about 99%, I had to admit my own failures in this area of criticism versus grace.

I know we have a very real need for urgency on these issues, and I applaud the truth and the passion of someone who desires to see things change for the better.

To be clear; I am not arguing for the value of “dispassionate conversations”, but let me point out that “less passion” doesn’t equal “No passion”, right?

I struggle, personally, with these same issues/passions, and how best to make people see what’s going on in the Christian culture around us. It makes me sick. It makes me crazy. I long to see people “get it”.

For example, on the one issue; the sickness of the modern/corporate-inspired version of “Church-as-a-franchise” I am especially passionate...maybe too much for my own good, or the good of the issue itself.

I have written several critical articles on this problem, not for the sake of being critical, but just honestly venting my own revulsion and excorcising my own guilt for having been part of this system for so much of my own Christian life and pastoral “career”.

However, I am starting to think that this sort of language only serves to polarize people on one side of this issue or the other, and that doesn’t serve my passion.

What I really, deep down, desire passionately is for people to start to really see what I have seen.

I think Jesus does this masterfully when he uses parables to illustrate points of eternal significance. I mean, if anyone had a right to be angry/passionate/urgent about the state of his people, the corruption of the Word of God, etc., then I think it was Jesus. But only once did he resort to violence, and only once did he publicly rebuke the Pharisees for their misguided behavior. Instead, Jesus spent MOST of his time/energy/passion on helping people to really UNDERSTAND the things they’d been told by “blind guides” and “empty tombs”, and he did this in a very simple, creative, loving and even brilliant way.

This is my personal goal. I want to teach like Jesus. I want to help people consider things they’ve overlooked, and probably have even known all along but have forgotten it because of the corruption within the corporate church systems.

Are you feeling me?

I’m trying hard now (and this is hard, it’s not the easy path that’s for sure), to listen to the Holy Spirit and to use my gifts to communicate this astounding truth of the Kingdom of God to those who have not yet seen it, or who need to see it again.

As for me, I am working to communicate to others more about the pure JOY of living in the Kingdom, of being truly FREE in the Spirit to BE THE CHURCH. I believe that if I can paint a more clear and accurate picture to others about what astounding and amazing freedom there really is in Christ, outside of the structure of corporate church systems, that God will woo those sheep who hear His voice.

The old saying is true, “You attract more flies with honey”, and I’m trying to follow Jesus in His example to accomplish this very thing.

I still believe that Jesus is the ultimate leader and that his style of leadership should be our model. That means not only his servanthood and his “others-focused” ministry, but his tone and his style of communication as well.

I have come to believe that making positive changes within our own lives and modeling this new way of “being the church” we all hold dear is much more effective, and Biblical, than simple criticism, no matter what our tone may be.

It’s partially why I gave up on the whole Apologetics thing a while back. I realized that I had never once argued someone into the Kingdom, but when I shared with others what God had done and was doing my life, then my life became the Apologetic, (which is way more challenging), and besides, no one can argue with the Truth of what God’s Spirit is doing in your life, or in mine.

So, as I struggle with this inner passion, I pray that I can maintain the heart of Jesus and love those brothers and sisters in the Church, no matter what model or form they prefer to worship in.

After all, didn’t Jesus command us to “Love one another, even as I have loved you?”

Amen.

Kg

3 comments:

Parke said...

Some very wise words.

I live with one foot in the plant church world and one foot established Protestantism and I've seen many, many times when folks on one side or the other end up firing up their own camp without actually communicating anything meaningful to the audience they say they want to talk to.

We need to recognize that many of the things we think are new are often revitalizations of truths still alive in other corners, coming down through the generations (though perhaps not very visible.)

As we do that, I think life becomes less about getting people to join in our movement than about helping everyone around us experience a fuller life. This is the truth that I think we writers have known for generations. You must speak to your audience in words they understand if you hope to stir them to thought and the consideration of meaningful change.

John Lunt said...

I don't know about your theology on it, but it sounds like you're prophetic. You know the way God intended his church to function, but when others aren't getting it, you get frustrated. At the same time you've been given real wisdom from God. God bless you.

Lee"Rain(bow)Man"Davis said...

Yo KG

I think you're losing it. Gone completely off the deep end. Church at home? Harlots in the coffeehouse? What's next? People coming up outta their graves and $%!&!!! I'm gonna call for an intervention if you don't step away from the edge my friend.

1 Corinthians 1:25
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

WHAT!?!?! Whodat? Damnation and hellfire! Somebody done gone and quoted the Bible. Worse, they went out and done did what it said.

1 Corinthians 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"[a]; 20and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

Damn! Ouch. I think I'm due for a leadership retreat... uhh. Yep. My TPS reports are due TOMORROW DAMNIT!!!! AHHHHHH!!!! What time is visitation?!?!?! What?! Where's the digdangdiggitydagone church growth specialist now????? I need him!!! Ahhh hell no! Uhn-uh! No way. ohh... ahh... uhhh... yep. Oh I see... Hey, playa', why you hatin'? Don't hate the playa - hate the game... the game of "church"... [sigh]

My rant is over. Keep ON Speaking the Truth my brother! Love, peace, and blessings! I'm out!

-jld-