Monday, July 31, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Can it be this easy? What keeps the bottom chart from morphing/defaulting/shapeshifting into the top?
Is there any validity to the top diagram? If so, can the charts be combined?
What is the role of a pastor or 5fold leader?
The zillion dollar question: "Can organic church work with a paid pastor?"
(chart from Simple Church)
Cole's Organic Church...quotes;
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Wow, now we know which church/denomination Jesus endorses.. He even shows up on video to make announcements at this church. The video is here.
You will love his opening line.
Bonus: Watch what Jesus does at the end when he finishes the announcements.
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the video, the site itself says: "This site was created and inspired by God through the Power Of The Holy Spirit...(C)2006"
Sorry, I like this vid of Jesus better:
Even the opening line is better!
Saturday, July 01, 2006
from " The Present Future,":
The collapse of the church culture.
a) Wrong question: How do we do church better?
b) Tough question: How do we reconvert from “churchianity” to Christianity?
The shift from church growth to kingdom growth.
a) Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
b) Tough question: How do we transform our community?
A new reformation: Releasing God’s people.
a) Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
b) Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?
The return to spiritual formation.
a) Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
b) Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
The shift from planning to preparation.
a) Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
b) Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?
The rise of apostolic leadership.
a) Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
b) Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?
The Collapse of the Church Culture
By Reggie McNeal
We are entering a new epoch of human history called the postmodern age. The postmodern world will demand a new church expression, just as did the rise of the modern world.
The modern world assaulted God, shoving him further and further into the corner with its determination to drain all the mystery out of life and the universe. Everything that could be explained scientifically further diminished the realm of the spiritual.
Having retreated into a diminishing corner for several hundreds of years, the North American church culture unfortunately now reflects the materialism and secularism of the modern era. Not only do we not need God to explain the universe, we don't need God to operate the church. Many operate like giant machines, with church leaders serving as mechanics. God doesn't have to show up to get done what's being done. The culture does not want the powerless God of the modern church.
We need to take courage. Though secularism and nihilism have taken their best shot to kill God, they have lost. The postmodern world, governed by quantum physics and it's emphasis on relationships, is God's end run round the modern world. A quantum world stands ready to accept divine design and divine interaction. God himself is stirring the pot. If we can pay attention we will eventually discover that not only will we not lose God in this emerging postmodern world, we will find him again!
Although the next church's shape is not yet obvious, the forces that will give it shape are. They are futures that are already present. The first of these present futures is shocking and dramatic, because it declares that much of what we call church is not going to survive.
Wrong Question: How Do We Do Church Better?
Faced with diminishing returns on investment of money, time, and energy, church leaders have spent much of the last five decades trying to figure out how to do church better. Emphases have come and gone in rapid succession. Church and lay renewal has given way to church growth, which has given way to church health. The results beg the question.
An entire industry has been spawned to help churches do whatever it is they decide to do. Consultants, parachurch ministries, denominational headquarters, and publishing houses prod and push the church toward whatever the current fad is. A spate of program fixes have consistently over promised and under delivered. The suggestions are plentiful: offer small groups, contemporize your worship, market your services, focus on the customer service, create a spiritual experience, become seeker-friendly, create a high-expectation member culture, purify the church from bad doctrine, return the church to the basics. After decades of this kind of environment no wonder church leaders are a little skeptical about the "next thing" and why many feel that just about the time they catch up they fall further behind. But the mailings keep coming, the seminars keep filling up, and the conference notebooks keep stacking up on the shelves.
All of this activity anesthetizes the pain of loss. It offers a way to stay busy and preoccupied with methodological pursuits while not facing the hard truth: none of this seems to be making much of a difference. Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual vitality.
Many congregations and church leaders, faced with collapse of the church culture, have responded by adopting a refuge mentality. Those with a refuge mentality view the world outside the church as the enemy. Their answer is to live inside the bubble of a Christian subculture complete with its own entertainment industry. Evangelism in this worldview is about churching the unchurched, not connecting people to Jesus. It focuses on cleaning people up, changing their behavior so Christians, (translation: church people), can be more comfortable around them.
The point is, all the effort to fix the church misses the point. You can build the perfect church-and they still won't come. People are not looking for a great church. They do not wake up every day wondering what church they can make successful. The age in which institutional religion holds appeal is passing away-and in a hurry.
Church leaders seem unable to grasp this simple implication of the new world-people outside the church think church is for church people, not for them. We may have saturated the market of people who want to be part of the church culture, who want church the way we do it in North America.
Tough Question: How do we Deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?
North American Christians think in terms of its institutional expression, the church, as opposed to thinking about Christianity in terms of a movement. Deconversion will require a disentangling, an intentional self-differentiation from church in order to gain perspective, a willingness to abandon church club member mentality for the sake of following Jesus.
In North America the invitation to become a Christian has become largely an invitation to convert to the church. The assumption is that anyone serious about being a Christian will order their lives around the church, shift their life and work rhythms around the church schedule, channel their charitable giving through the church, and serve in some church ministry; in other words, serve the church and become a fervent marketer to bring others in to the church to do the same.
Many church leaders confuse the downward statistics on church participation with a loss of spiritual interest in Americans. That's because these leaders can't think of Christianity outside of institutional terms. The truth is, although intrigue with institutional religion is down, interest in spirituality is up. Many have observed that there is a spiritual awakening occurring in America. However, it is not informed by the Christian theology, and it's not happening in the church.
People may be turned off to the church, but they are not turned off to Jesus. Jesus is popular. He still makes the cover of Time and Newsweek every year. Church people sometimes get excited by this, but fail to understand that people in the nonchurch culture don't associate Jesus with the church.
The pursuit of the wrong question will continue to turn the wheel of the church industry, but it will do little to expand the kingdom of God. The need of the North American church is not a methodological fix. It is much more profound. The church needs a mission fix.
The North American church is suffering from severe mission amnesia. It has forgotten why it exists. The church was created to be the people of God to join him in his redemptive mission in the world. The church was never intended to exist for itself. It was and is the chosen instrument of God to expand his kingdom. The church is the bride of Christ. Its union with him is designed for reproduction, the growth of the kingdom. Jesus does not teach his disciples to pray, "Thy Church come". The kingdom is the destination. In its institutional preoccupation the church has abandoned its real identity and reason for existence.
God did not give up on his mission in the Old Testament when Israel refused to partner with him. God is a reckless lover. He decided to go on the mission himself. We do not need to be mistaken about this: if the church refuses its missional assignment, God will do it another way. The church has, and he is. God is pulling end runs around the institutional North American church to get to people in the streets. God is still inviting us to join him on mission, but it is the invitation to be part of a movement, not a religious club.
The Beginning of a Movement
When Jesus came on the scene he entered a world very similar to our own in terms of its spiritual landscape. The collapse of institutional religion in the first century was accompanied by an upsurge in personal spiritual search for God and salvation. Jesus tapped into this widespread sentiment of disillusionment with religion but hunger for God with his teaching about the kingdom of God and how people could become a part of it. His emphasis was on universal accessibility as opposed to the exclusivity of the Pharisees. His teaching was a radical departure from the legalistic behavioral approach of Judaism. He taught and practiced grace in terms of how God deals with people. At the same time he elevated standards for personal behavior by looking past mere externals to internal heart motivations. He preached that God was for people, not against them.
The movement Jesus initiated had power because it had at its core a personal life-transforming experience. People undergoing this conversion could not keep quiet about it. They had discovered meaning for their life and wanted other people to experience the same thing. This is the dynamic of genuine Christianity. This is what turned the world upside down at the beginning of the Christian era. The time is ripe again for recapturing this initial appeal of the gospel.
The current spiritual awakening in North America lacks Christian content and file systems. This is the scary part of it. Left to their own imagination people will devise all sorts of crazy stuff about God, from New Age crystals to self-enlightenment. But this is also the opportunity of the current spiritual landscape. People are open to revealed truth of God if they can get it. Unfortunately, the North American church has lost its influence at this critical juncture. It has lost its influence because it has lost its identity. It has lost its identity because it has lost is mission.
The correct response, then, to the collapse of the church culture is not to try to become better at doing church. The need is not for a methodological fix. The need is for a missional fix.
The appropriate response to the emerging world is a rebooting of the mission, a radical obedience to an ancient command, a loss of self rather than self preoccupation, concern about service and sacrifice rather than concern about style.
The collapse of the church culture is God's gracious invitation to the church to rediscover itself. It will do this by dying to itself and coming alive to God's mission.
(See this also)