from nothing to something: part deux

Being critical of the Christian tradition [deconstruction] is easy these days, almost trendy in some circles. Building a new Christian tradition [reconstruction] is a lot harder because you innately try to sidestep all of the same "mistakes" you criticized earlier.

Reconstruction is also a lot harder because you can't do it on your own, you need the context of a church to do it in. To go against George Barna [more on that later], the Church was established by Christ to do His work, and even the gates of hell will not prevail against it [Matthew 16]. We cannot throw away the Church in order change Christian tradition, we must work inside the Church to reimagine and reform it. From a practical point of view, it keeps us inside the realities of the human condition instead of in our own minds.

One of the primary areas of reform, at least in our context of South Louisiana, is in the role of leadership in the Church. Bob Hyatt writes a great post about this and to put in our context, what is surrounding most of us [and what some of us have left behind] are churches whose leadership initiate ministries and gather other people around them to keep them going. What it has ended up promoting is churches whose leadership create and do ministry and their members get involved with it. Pretty soon, a consumer-mentality is born within the church members and they're waiting for the next leader to do something they like so they can jump on it.

For the sake of labels, we'll call these "staff-initiated" churches and no, they're not the devil. However, they are operating in the a Christian Church tradition in need of reform. For the sake of argument, not every church totally fits in this category, but down here, I believe most churches do this most of the time.

"Staff-Initiated" EXAMPLE: If elder Drew is leading a staff-initiated church, he and his staff would lay out the five-fold purposes of the Church and decide how their church will follow that. They would cook up some cool ministries with cool names and invite people to join them. The staff stays in control of the expression of the mission and vision of the church. If a church member decides to start their own ministry with their own expression, the staff-initiated church staff would either not allow it, or try to control it to fit into the church-established expression.

The glaring problem is that God has called us all to live out and preach the gospel and He's given us specific ways to accomplishing it [even certain times and places, thanks Sandy]. To reform their own role, our churches' leadership should reflect God's calling on each person and their need to express it. By helping each person investigate God's calling on their life and encouraging them to follow it in their own way, the consumer mentality can be slowly wiped away from our churches. Christians can have a fuller understanding of their calling to be ministers of the gospel [1 Peter 2].

"Organic" EXAMPLE: Elder Drew and his staff wouldn't decide how their Church will be obedient to Christ. They would make it their job to encourage each of their church members to follow God's dream in any way He has called them. This is "organic" church where the expression is determined by those ministering. If a church member decided to start their own ministry with their own expression, the organic church staff would rejoice with them. In fact, the whole church would also have a role in encouraging and loving them in their endeavor. There's no power struggle because that specific power is already given away.

In organic church, leadership still has its Biblical place, but that place is a little more weighted toward servanthood than before, and calls for a relinquishing of style preferences. The hope is that as people begin answering God's call toward ministry, leadership could guide and give some structure as needed along the way. As an elder, I can tell you that is has been the biggest struggle for me with Vox Church and I haven't been entirely good at it.

In organic church, the church still has its Biblical place because it's not a to-each-their-own mindset. Many times God calls different people to the same ministry. The church would still function as a body- encouraging, sharing life with, teaching, confessing to, and correcting each other.

I write these things so that we can begin to have a different picture of our churches and of the Church. In particular, we can each understand our own role as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When that begins to happen more and more, we will see the gospel lived out and preached in a way that pleases God.

This is my hope for Acadiana and for Vox Church, please pray that we can see this come to be in our lifetime.


bob hyatt said...

Whoa! This is good stuff! Gonna have to quote you!


Sandy Mc said...

Cool Drew...and so honest, I truely admire that!

I am with you as I totally cling to Bill Hybels statement about his dream "the church is the hope of the world." I sincerely believe that it is, or at least that it is in terms of working within the Biblical framework of a local group of laos to glorify God though sincere God led divine appointments.(an interesting perspective on laos in our time can be found at with my disclaimer that one need not agree with the complete stance of the WCC) I believe today's leaders will model this call nd teach others by example to express love and care for ALL of God's children...that is where we need to emerge in today's culture. (where "belong" comes before "believe" sometimes!)

Thanks also for your recognition of the leadership model within a church. Can you comment further (this is a *happy* challenge) so I can find out more about how you think "Elder Drew" might relate to a lay person (especially if it was a woman) who sincerely had gifts and callings that would come into play at the leadership level in a church.