Comments from another post:
Posts Tagged ‘missional’
Usher: Hey Deak, brilliant post here – couldn’t help but tout it! Since we had such a good conversation because of it:
and Mark’s post shows it affected him with a slight twist (of lemon) hehe
Conversation that ensued after reading these:
Usher: Hey Deak, I’m not sure I take issue or not regarding the comment on “birds and imprinting”, but no bother. I just wanted to bring out the point of how foreign “organic” mindsets are in today’s human western culture. Is it any wonder that the church is so much a reflection of the supermarket?
Deacon: Go on, I’m listening.
Usher: There’s no place for “ugly carrots” in the produce section of today’s markets. God forbid an ugly apple, pear, banana, mango, off color head of broccoli or anything else for that matter. The first inclination to choose is that which is pretty and uniform and without blemish. Taste, longevity and danger are all secondary.
Deacon: What brought all this on?
Usher: Most likely TV and the press I guess. Ugly people don’t make it onto TV so the world strives to be thin and pretty and perfect, just like the stars and their air-brushed magazine covers.
Deacon: Your point?
Usher: Churches have followed suit. They’re full of “gifted” orators, professional musicians, accomplished businessmen on the committees and so on. Entertainment and accommodation are the criteria the humans migrate to. In the meantime, the “leaders” have to have ways to measure. They migrate to numbers. Numbers can be substantiated and boasted about. The laypeople want pretty programs, shows and great music along with gifted sermonettes. The pastors want accolades, money to add staff to share in the work and build job security as well as grow their careers.
Deacon: So where is discipleship in all that?
Usher: My point exactly!
Deacon: Can discipleship function in today’s church in the midst of all the other stuff?
Usher: Not if leaders are bent on measuring their success. This is where the problem starts. If you take away the programs (you lose the crowds). Take away the great orators (you lose the crowds). Take away the money (you lose the crowds and the buildings). Take away the professional musicians (you lose the crowds). Take away the money (you lose the career-oriented staff) and voila! Now you haven’t the distractions, nor the expectations, nor the crowds.
Deacon: So you’re saying that crowds = success?
Usher That’s kind of what it all boils down to. Ask the televangelists. Crowds equal numbers, numbers equals money, money equals success and thus, God must be in it.
Deacon: So if there are no crowds, then there is no money, how does the church grow?
Usher: Christ had only 12 disciples. He didn’t say things to the crowds to attract them or their money, in fact the largest crowds he attracted, he fed. And then he said tough things to the crowds and the crowds left and he went about his discipling. Scriptures say he wasn’t a “special” or “beautiful” person. Maybe this was because he knew if he came to earth a beautiful being, then we would all feel insecure because we are all imperfect when we compare ourselves to “beautiful” people. (Even beautiful people have proven this is true.) He discipled imperfect people and the church survived all these years without “perfect” people.
Deacon: So this is why the church seems to be portraying itself to be the “perfect” or “blessed” one?
Usher: A discipler works with the ground that he’s on, with the people God gives him. He sees everyone a precious gift from God. He is challenged to bring out God in these people no matter their lot in life. Every member has a place in God’s kingdom, but not in man’s. Today’s church seems to “market to the people who want to be like us” creating sects and divisions and exclusivity. Thus the 35,000 denominations. In an environment like this, everyone strives to become like the leader, the perfect carrot if you will. Except they don’t know he is just like them if you take away the steroids, the pesticides, the pretty packaging and the artificial coloring. In essence, the church normalizes and cripples the body and discipleship empowers the body. If pastors didn’t care about credit and measurement and they truly wanted the kingdom to prevail, they’d do all within their ability to empower the kingdom. This would eliminate the focus of one pastor to many and bring on the every man a minister. The church would then become the all-powerful organic vehicle it was in the first century. A true discipler as mentioned in comments above operates under the radar. They seek no glory. They thrive on seeing the kingdom multiply itself. They rarely take titles, they urge their disciples to follow in their footsteps and become disciplers. They are often unrecognizable in a crowd.
Usher: Hey Deak, want to make a pastor squirm?
Deacon: Sure, that’s fun, we deacons are pretty damn good at it.
Usher: I beg your pardon, I think you suck at it.
Deacon: You haven’t been in the pastor’s office on many occasions, how would you know?
Usher: I see the results. Tell me how your pastor would answer the following (better yet, tell me how your pastor, your televangelist or your missional church planter would answer these questions):
Layman: Pastor, I’m not going to be able to make my jumbo payment on my mortgage in December, can you help?
Pastor: How much is it?
Pastor: (whispers to Deacon) How much money do we have in the treasury?
Deacon: Only $3,000 after we pay your salary.
Usher: Or how about this one Deak?
Layman: Pastor, my sun was arrested last night for a second time and I cannot make bail.
Pastor: What did he do? He was caught in a car with a friend who had a large amount of drugs, cocaine. He was arrested as an accomplice and is being charged with felony drug possession.
Layman: If I cannot make bail by tonight, they’ll move him to Rykers where he’ll obviously be in grave danger.
Pastor: What is the bail?
Usher: And finally Deak, how about this one?
Deacon: Pastor, it’s been brought to my attention that there are 6 families in our church who are in houses that have been foreclosed on due to unemployment and the housing crisis.
Pastor: And what do you think we can do?
Deacon: I’m not sure Pastor, 3 of them are without any savings as they are from small business and they have no savings left. They are going to most likely end up on the street or in a shelter.
Usher: So Deak, tell me your pastor has faced these and if so, how did he answer them?
Excerpt: A frequent priority of the local congregation is to attract people to come to the physical property of the church so as to inlcude the “pagans” in the life of the church. This model began with the Roman Empire, especially after Constantine’s conversion and Christianity became the official Roman religion.
……In previous years, I invited people to church when I met them, thinking in that way they will hear the gospel. I began to see that I was giving the church an unfair advantage. I was asking them to come to my turf, where I was the leader, where I stand and speak while they sit and listen. It was a lack of courage that led me to rely on bringing them to a place where I was the boss and they were the servants. What I had to learn to do was speak the gospel on their terms — in their homes, in their boats — as a friend and as an equal. — Mark Peske, missionary to the Ojibwa.
Usher: Question for you: How can a Constantinian church keep sending out “church planters” expecting them to be different? Aren’t they just building “mini-constantine’s”? How does one who wishes to truly be missional unlearn their constantinian ways and truly become a light in their community? And if you reply as we think you will, how does one support the church planter in such a way that they don’t revert back to the old power model and their old ways which they have been steeped in? The traditional church cannot and will not give up it’s powerbase and allow decentralization no matter what! Aren’t the two forces totally opposing? Is it not the “napster” effect to the music industry or the “skype” effect to long-distance telecommunications?
Deacon: Our argument is that this is virtually impossible using today’s theology and students of Constantinian ways. Entire denominations are founded on this, how in the world can they attempt such an undertaking, though many have programs in place? Shouldn’t we be sending people into non-Constantinian environments for them to truly become missional? We westerners have a tendency to simply “term it”, “claim it” and “preach it” without any foundation other than someone else’s book, teachings or opinions.
Summary: The Constantinian cannot play missional without dismembering itself, can it? We want to change the church, but to do this would mean to destroy livelihoods of pastors and church staff and fight about who is to receive the monies from the sale of the real estate (though this would be a great problem to have as it would mean the group had made the right decision). But really, the diaper-wearing christians will defend their institutional church and pastor and never give up their “binkys”, their custom-fitting “huggies”, their 1-hour-and-run services and their ability to write a check to free their guilt and not have to be bothered with getting their hands dirty or being weaned off their grace-laced formula.
The Constantinian model MUST be supported by demanding tithe (substantiated by cut-and-paste scripture), it must grow in membership to support the programs the diaper-wearers demand of it. It must continue to build bigger buildings to keep up with the cost of programs, adding youth pastors and the cost of living for the staff. It must be a central top-down power model and in order to function, it must be headed up by those with college degrees from seminary. We are the ones who have demanded it (or gotten hooked on it and swallowed it and simply come back for more and more of the milk).