Some of the comments on the last couple of posts (“Osteen in the Lobby” and “Sounds Like the Devil”) have touched on something that I have been struggling with for some time:
Is today’s typical church paradigm even close to what Jesus envisioned two thousand years ago? And if it’s not, how important is this? After all, our society, culture, government and lifestyles are radically different than then. But these things are very different today than they were 150 years ago when the newer paradigm was first becoming common.
If we find the present situation wanting, then what do we do? Find a church that most closely fits our perception of how it should be? Or do we work towards remaking the church, a relatively slow and laborious process, something that the ’emergent’ conversation is so much about.
Or, as my good friend BuddyO is attempting, do we toss that paradigm aside and try something ‘new’. Rather than;
…rely solely on ‘the Pastor of the Day’ to tell them what God has to say to them (for some reason a seminary degree makes a pastor more qualified to tell me what God has to say to me than I do..?….?Yet another black mark for the modern church.)
Wouldn’t it be better for a small group to gather and read and meditate on a scripture then come together and hear what it speaks to one another?
Buddy is a close friend of mine and has been my Christian mentor for over five years. Not having been with the church as long as him may be the reason I have had a greater tendency to question the status quo (and at times entertain ideas with the flavor of ‘heresy’). I’ve felt that the church has lost much of its relevance for quite some time. Now, someone else is putting their money where my mouth is and I’ve got cold feet. Buddy is working through some of this on his website:
Last year there was an article in ‘Christianity Today’ about Mark Barna, church analyist and guru at large. In it he said this:
Are you worried about the church where you were baptized, taught, married, and given Communion? That’s only a “congregational-formatted ministry,” one of many ways to “develop and live a faith-centered life. We made it up.” Writes Barna, “Whether you become a Revolutionary immersed in, minimally involved in, or completely disassociated from a local church is irrelevant to me (and, within boundaries, to God).”
Barna illustrates with two fictional characters who “eliminated church life from their busy schedules.” Why? They did not find a ministry “that was sufficiently stimulating” and “their church, although better than average, still seems flat.” Too bad for the lowly local church that people today insist on having “unique, highly personalized church experiences.”
So where are the Revolutionaries going? To “mini-movements” such as home schooling, house churches, Bible studies at work, and Chris Tomlin worship concerts. What matters is a godly life, so “if a local church facilitates that kind of [godly] life, then it is good. And if a person is able to live a godly life outside of a congregation-based faith, then that, too, is good.
So, what do you think.