Monday, October 06, 2008

3 Ways to Change the Church

What changes do we as the church have to make to be missional, that is, on God's mission for the world? To do it requires an upending of what has been in order to become what must be.
Here are three ways to look at that change.

#1 - Become an Extrinsic Set (vs an Intrinsic Set)

In an intrinsic set, it's all about orientation to the boundaries. The basic question is: Have you done the right things to get in?

On one hand, it's very clear who's in and who's out. For example, when I was growing up I knew the people who were "out" because they smoked, drank and played cards. In an intrinsic set what matters is that you are "in," not how close you are to the center.

This is de rigueur for the American church and worked great in the culture of the 1950's. Not so much anymore. Now it only serves to create an us vs. them mentality.

What's more, people learn to hide the things that would keep them from being identified as being an "outsider" and so never admit the things that are kicking the slats out of their lives. Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer satirized in Life Together, when this sort of hiding takes place "people are genuinely shocked when a sinner stands up in their midst."

In an extrinsic set, it's all about orientation to the center. The basic question is: In what direction are you moving?
So you can be physically close to the center, but moving away. Conversely, you can be on the outer edges and moving in. This inevitably makes people uncomfortable because the boundaries are inevitably fuzzy. But isn't this part of what Jesus meant when he said the prostitutes and tax-collectors were getting into the Kingdom of God ahead of the teachers of the law?

#2 Infiltrate culture (vs Invite people to our culture)
Here's how Eddie Gibbs describes it:
BlockquoteChurch leaders will need to facilitate this transition by giving higher priority to working outside the institution, functioning as teams of believers located in a highly polarized and pluralistic world. From a strategy of invitation the churches must move to one of infiltration, to being the subversive and transforming presence of Jesus.
So it's not "hey, invite three friends to church this weekend." It's, "hey, serve three friends in your neighborhood this week."

#3 - Be a Force in the community (vs. a Field)
This video clip of Mark Beeson highlights the difference. He says one is a perversion of the Bible's message.

This means that we have a challenge before us. Here's how Eddie Gibbs sums it up.

BlockquoteChurches in the Western world are poorly equipped to face the current missional challenge, in that they have a truncated view of the gospel (i.e., The gospel is essentially about going to heaven and not hell) and a weak doctrine of the church (i.e., "Church" is what happens from 10-11 on Sunday morning). And their leaders are largely oblivious to the extent to which secular presuppositions have permeated their own worldview (i.e., the way to reach a target group is through marketing)."

I aim to be part of the generation that changes that.

1 comment:

Juliana said...

Like the new look of your blog! The photo of your shoes adds a unique touch. You do always seem to have unique shoes. (I mean that in a good way, of course!)