Friday, June 01, 2012

Parachurch et al

I was having a conversation with a friend recently and was continually frustrated with some of the current para-church models around. While I recognize there is an importance on filling in the gaps that the church leaves and coming alongside the church to bring correction when we needed I am continually frustrated by the para-church ministries that refuse to move towards defining themselves as the church and adopting the full rights, responsibilities, and functions of the church. Ultimately it seems to me that once you are instructed your staff or membership to have limited interaction and commitment with their church in order to support your para-church--the para-church must evolve into the church or must cease to exist because the assistant has now usurped its role. Nearly every para-church ministry I have encountered would cite their role in the kingdom as introducing people to Jesus and welcoming them into biblical community. Biblical community is the community of God, the church. thus it seems to me that one of the ends of the para-church is to usher people into the Church and the local church. If there are not sufficient or adequate expressions of this church then it seems that it should be incumbent, to be faithful to their task, upon the para-church to create a suitable church community for those needing that community. I have no problems with the current ministry evolving int that. I do however see no biblical basis for the church being the add-on to thriving para-church ministry. This seems to be a losing proposition and one that will only cause confusion, poor discipleship, and lack of thriving church creation and growth down the road. In a lot of ways this seems to me to be dominated by the same thread of consumer mentality we see dominating the church over the last 30 years. This must not continue and we must speak out about this hen given the option. If we are to try an ultimately steer people to the Lord than this cannot be done in abstraction alone, but must be done in conjunction with the universal and local people of God, in this space and through all ages. Is the bride of Christ wounded and in need of healing? Yes. Is the bride of Christ perfect? No. The church, the bride of Christ needs believers who are thriving and challenging to constantly beat down the doors and demand we continue to grow and change and often times it seems the para-church ignores this necessary and vital role of the church rather discipling its followers into this practice. We are bound to each other no matter what, and yet we have not our agenda to push or our preference only the order of things as created by God. I certainly agree God can use the para-church and does, I just pray that para-churches would one day see it as just as a significant role to lead the faithful into local congregations as much as leading them into individual communion with God. If we do not do this or create local churches for them, then we are not giving them the full relationship the gospel promises and the full discipleship necessary to be conformed into the image of Christ. There is no other context in scripture through which to grow and thrive other than the universal and local body of Christ. Para-church be the church in its fullness or lead the faithful to her this is your responsibility to yourself and to all you touch.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A title when I'm done.

Sometimes I think if we ever really knew what we were and started to believe it we would launch an unstoppable revolution, but the reality is most people don't really want what they say they do. When people do want what they say they do most of us don't have the courage to pay for it. And then we come to this...frustration at the end of the day when we till, water, and plant and realize the seed was nothing more than a pebble to begin with. Its not all rocks, but sometimes it sure does feel that way. Today is one of those days. I think I might be wasting everyone's time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Today...a continuation of yesterday

What a ridiculously pathetic melodramatic title of this post. I titled it that way because there was something I wanted to rant about in my post about yesterday that i forgot so decided to try and succintly state it here. I was bothered that we had to be introduced to creative methods. Bothered, not in the sense that I thought it was wrong, but in the sense that we have taken so many cues from the corporate and educational world that our teaching has become programmatic and dull. It seems we have exchanged eccentricity for efficiency. It is particularly frustratig because if anyone or group should be expressing things in mediums other than words because of its grandeur and beauty it should be those that feel like their life has great purpose and value. Instead we have often relegated art to an accessory to worship rather than making it a means. I'm glad we are being taught new ways to bring it back. I just think it is a shame that we have left out so many talented people for so long. There are many days when I think the artist's heart is the only way to understand salvation, atonement, theology, and I wsh I had more of one.

With the second paragraph of this post I wanted to encourage my classmates who taught today by giving them some eedback about their teaching section, even if they never see this. Lee-Your teaching was engaging, I felt like I could listen to you teach all day. You really have a gift for communicating truth in a way that is easy to listen to and clear. Patty- I thought your dramatic telling of the stories of Rahab and Gomer were really creative and well done. James K- I appreciated the way you used discussion to engage each one of use and ask questions the whole time. Your questions kept us in it with you. Jimmy- The senses game worked really well with your story and was a great way to give them an activity with the teaching. Mike- I like that you chose an extremely relevant and foundational topic, and handled t succinctly and clearly. David from OC- It was clear that you work with kids and are gifted in this area. It was sweet to see you in your groove. Gary- Your passion for your people and church are clear and come through in all that you communicated. I'm glad you're doing what you are, is sweet. Brody- Not only were you hilarious and direct, it is clear you care about the people you serve in ministry and that is sweet. Ed- I'm glad you shared salvation. Believers and unbelievers alike can't hear the message enough. James A- It was clear from your style that you are comfortable teaching and a nturally, it was great watching you do it. David F- You gave us so much good stuff. I felt like you could have done a month on that topic. Tim- Thanks for a great class, you're a great teacher and practiced everything you taught. I was looking out for that and you were committed in word and deed. And thanks for wanting to get to know us individually. I'd love to take another class from you in the future if our paths ever crossed.

Friday's class

I was really encouraged by our discussion on Friday regarding creative methods we can use in our teaching. Compiling a list of ideas to have in one place of creative methods and elements was a really great idea. The young adult worship service I used to lead incorporated creative methods every week, and rather than consistently listing these and updating the response and positives and negatives, I simply moved on each week to the next idea. Yesterdays discussion helped me to consider the power of listing these ideas to maintain them, as well as taking myself through an evaluation method of their effectiveness, strengths, and weaknesses. I've decided to add to the list of 28 ideas we were given yesterday. One of the ideas I want to post here that was especialy cool for everyone involved and that any of my classmates leading churches may want to use is: We had a couple of very talented artists in our group and so one week when we were teaching on the power of redemption, we decided to use their talents. We had a few colors of paint, a paintbrush, and a large blank canvas. Everyone in the group was allowed to place a mark anywhere, and any shape on the canvas. When they were finished we gave the canvas to our artist and proceded to engage in other activites for the next 40 minutes. The artist then wove all of these stray marks into a beautiful picture. At the end of the nght the picture was displayed and we had a visible reminder of the truth we were just studying, that God can make the mistakes of our life beautiful through Jesus. We were able to hang that picture in our meeting space and it was always a reminder that our lives are a masterpiece made from all of the mistakes being redeemed.

This is the portion of the blog where I post webstes that fuel me creatively or are great Christian websites to explore and learn. these are the most common websites I use and why I like them. By the way, I dont really use a lot. Most ideas I have come from art, literature, or music. Guess I could've just said art.
1. John Piper's webste- a wealth for solid Biblical preaching, and tons of free tools.
2. this is a website done by a guy who is not a believer and antagonistic toward God. He illustrates the Bible using legos. it is a great way to understand how someone outside the Church interprets the Bible when they read it and are frustrated with God. He is extremely creative, and it is really well done.
3. just some art a guy makes when people e-mail him random phrases. I really like it and enjoy the work he does.

Thats about it. As I said I don't really stay connected to a ton of websites. I listen to Piper's podcast, Mars Hill Bible Church's, and This American Life. I find these all very engaging. I try to be exposed to alternate viewpoints and ideas often, that is probably the most fueling impetus for me creatively.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

learning tension

This may come off more as a diatribe than a response to class, so for that I apologize. Today we asked the question in class If we all agree that spiritual growth is good, then why do we see so many people plateau in their spiritual lives, never achieving what we hope for them? We put forth many ideas ranging from control, to the learners aren't taking responsibility, poor communication, and poor implementation. I agree with nearly all of the suppositions we put forth, however all of these solutions led me to one overarching question: IF WE ARE NOT CREATING DISCIPLES THEN WHAT THE HECK ARE WE AND ARE WE DOING? In my understanding of the body of X, its function is to be his ambassadors in this place. We remain after salvation to tell the story, and be ministers of reconciliation between the world and God. Therefore if we have ceased to reconcile men to God, and ceased to help believers realize their role as ambassadors of reconciliation, what is it we "believe" and what is it we are? Can we divorce our identity as the Church from the function of the Church. I have a difficulty in finding peace that we are churches when we do not achieve this goal. All of this said I do not want to pile on to churches without saying I am the problem, and hope to be a part of the solution. I think Christian Education does play a role in th eprocess of helping people both inside and outside the Church realize this end, but it must pervade all of our music, corporate worship, literature, awareness. If we ever teach about strong families, it must be connected to the overarching goal of helping people realize that God is reaching out through families to bring reconciliation between them and himself.

This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up. I'm not sure how to change the tide, but I have some ideas. First, I think pastors need to let go. If we are afraid that anyone in our congregation will someday pass us in holiness, wisdom, service, sacrifice, or spirituality go into the sales business. Free market capitalism is all about this mentality and one with this perspective would do well there. As pastors we must always hope that everyone in our congregation will not need us and teach us one day, hopefully tomorrow. If pastoring is ever about a paycheck primarily we will compromise our hearts, and our hearts must rest in the hands of X. What faith has faith in a check being cashed but not in God honoring obedience. Let us never forget that Foxes have holes...but the son of man has no place to lay hs head. This is a full on rant. This was not my intention. One of the other ideas we spoke about in class, I think is extremely important. I think for a church to develop a scope of what matters and a sequence of how it will be shared over time is extremely significant. People have to know we are committed to something and heading somewhere to accomplish that end. We must be about something, we must articulate it with words and action, if not lets close the doors, sell the property and give the members a share of the dividends because we are obviously a lot mor elike a corporation than the kingdom of God. I'm a jerk, and need some water.

Paradigm Shift

One of the more compelling ideas we discussed in class today was a discussion of shifting our teaching paradigm. The question I kept asking was How far am I and How much work will I invest in helping more people move truth into reali life? There is a significant difference between telling facts, as a teacher, and guiding meaning. A telling style presupposes that if people have the right information they'll make the right decisions. A lot of experience in my ife confirms that this is inaccurate. Hendrick's asked this same question, how can we as the Church have the words of life in the Bible and yet so often people seem more drab than the world outside. I believe it is chiefly because we have not made this shift.

The committment that this shift requires is arduous and I think that is perhaps one of the reasons we are so lax in approaching it. If we, as teachers, never really think ourselves but simply digest facts and then regurgitate them than all we must do to prepare is input knowledge. However being a guid and not a teller, means we are not speaking into people's lives from above but rather we have experienced the very things we are advocating and we tell and point to them, as we walk along side. Sometimes I wonder if the reason we maintain a consistent behavior of telling instead of guiding is a bit of pride. I think we enjoy being the information gatekeepers sometimes more than walking side by side with people. It is a refreshign thing to consider. I know that my teaching too often reflects telling info, more than guiding meaning. I've got a lot to learn.