Constantinian Model vs Missional Model

Taken from:

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).


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3 Responses to “Constantinian Model vs Missional Model”

  1. Mark Says:

    Great Post! Maybe we are the same person after all. Check out my latest Modern Church Translation for 2nd Peter 1: 3 and 4. We have made some remarkably close statements.

  2. Daniel Says:

    Great points and great questions. The more God has opened my eyes to these issues, the more I’ve realized that we are not just dealing with the institutional church system, but the institutional church mindset. What that ends up meaning is that we can’t look at things from a surface level, and assume that they are any different than the Constantinian model, as you put it. A small group meeting in a living room can be just as Constantinian as 300 people sitting in pews. Planning small, neighborhood scale programs designed to attract surrounding neighbors is no different than the production of massive, evangelistic events. Of course we have abandon the buildings and systems, but we have to go further than that, helping people to learn to live their lives in a Spirit-led, spontaneous manner, which then is simply reflected in the way the group operates when it gathers and when as a body we turn to reach the world.

  3. Mark R Says:


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