Monday, November 28, 2011

Why Trumps How

Swanny has penned a very good post on how we gather and why it is less important than why we gather, (warning, some of the ways he expresses himself won't pass muster among certain people in the church but if you can't get past that to see his point, well you need to get a grip). His post, Im Not a Model… You Know What I Mean?, really hits at a weakness in many of the conversations about the church that circulate around the blogosphere among those of us who reject the institutional church as proper and normative for Christians. The assumption is often that if we reject one form of church model, the institutional model, we must therefore advocate for a different form, the house church model. Swanny says "not so fast!"
People rightly assume that I believe the institutional church system is downright destructive, causes separation among the people, promotes individualism, has a disease called “Jesus-Deficit-Disorder”, and breeds legalism. If you read my other posts among this blog, you will see where I am coming from. However, many of you I speak with or chat with online seem to assume that if I am against the institutional church model, then I must be for the “organic church model” or the “house church model” or some other “model”.
If I am honest, I need to say that when I first started down this path, I assumed that a “house church” was, if not a silver bullet, at least a step in the right direction. I am not looking for a house church model or organic church model even though I think that comparatively it is far more conducive for an environment of mutual edification. I am also not looking for a “Reformed” church even though I am largely in agreement with the tenets of Reformed theology nor am I looking for an “Anabaptist church” although I see much that I admire in the Anabaptist tradition. I am looking for God’s church, His people living in community with one another. That means that I am looking for community among God’s people where His people are in an environment of mutual edification, loving support, rebuke and discipline where needed and a sharing of lives that goes beyond Sunday meetings whatever the form. It also means that it will look different in different contexts.

You can’t force this. Having a church that meets in a home but functions like an institutional church is not going to bring us closer to community. Nor is forming “community” via cloistered communes that are largely cut off from the world we are called to be ambassadors to like the Hutterites the answer. Perhaps worst of all, if we arrogantly assume that we are smarter than those dumb sheep that go to institutional churches we are engaged in outright sinful and divisive behavior, we are actually being counter-productive. My posts often stray over that line and I am trying to avoid that.

If we are living our lives together for the right reasons, getting the “why” right, and submitting ourselves to the Scriptures even when it is uncomfortable and runs contrary to our traditions and the culture we live in, the form will naturally take care of itself. That doesn’t mean we don’t study it and discuss us and think and pray through it but we need to be sure that we have the focus on the main thing: living lives in community with other believers as a witness to the lost and edifying environment for the redeemed while we are all equipped and sent to take Jesus Christ to the world.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pingback..

I like the follow up a lot!

Bethany in mid-MO said...

Well, Arthur, I tried to go read the whole post... but I couldn't handle the crude language. I know that I am very impressionable, and I cannot read/hear such words or expressions without them rubbing off on me. When I was in college, I really had to work and pray (HARD!) to erase such speech from my vocabulary. Even now, it is very hard to "think on these things" (Phil 4:8).
You might think I am immature, and that does not bother me a bit. but, could you please warn your readers before you link to an author who uses speech than many Christians would find objectionable. (His ideas did not offend me, only the language.)


Anonymous said...

Personally, I use what others would consider “bad words” rather infrequently, but that is my choice.

If I hear someone else using language considered “cursing” I cannot judge them for being who they are – at least they are being themselves and not trying to be someone they are not. If a person chooses not to use "bad words" I think that is great.

I think my use of these type of words in my posts and on my site are just words to describe the mess I think some things are in. It is not to put down another person, or done in hate, just to emphasize.

I have always wondered what makes the word “poo” childish, the word “feces” more proper, but the word “sh**” vulgar.