A Church Boiled Down...

Posted by Kevin |

Yes, I'm still on this 'Church without a box' stuff.

Last night I was reading a book I've been trying to finish for a long time (I occasionally pick it up, and just read random parts - anyway) called 'The Church in the Emerging Culture.' In the opening chapter Leonard Sweet is setting up the analogy for the book and references that sociologist suggest that during a paradigm shift in a culture, everything goes back to zero. The changes in our current culture from Modern to Postmodern, is nothing less than a paradigm shift. People are questioning all that Modernity gave us and redefining every aspect from community to truth. And it struck me, maybe our response as a church, maybe the answer is to return to zero ourselves. Not zero, like disregard church history and all the doctrine it’s given us, but as Leonard Sweet said, return to the origins of our faith to build the answer. Return to the origin of what Jesus was doing and work to cut out all the extra’s we’ve added over the years.

So it is like if we could boil the church, the bible, the mission down to it's most basic elements - what would that be? What are the basic elements that make the mission of Jesus and now the Church? It is easy to get stuck arguing over semantics and the dangers are to grossly simplified the bible and it’s meaning. But, by forcing God's story to us into simple elements, it pushes us to get beyond personal preferences, denominational specific doctrine and come to terms with what is essential to the story of Jesus and God redeeming us.

Returning to origins, to me, means forgetting what we know about church today. Forget buildings, Sunday mornings, Sunday school, worship bands, outreaches and all the other culture constructs we have that make church what it is today. What would be it like if we had no knowledge of church and just came to the story of God and His people, of Jesus in the flesh and the church acting out His mission after his resurrection? How would we see church, community and worship? What would jump out as necessary for being the church in our culture?


Alexis said...

The basics? Hmmm...
Jesus wanted all people to have "more". A more fulfilled destiny that we can't even comprehend. I have planned and hoped in my life and God has given me beyond measure something different...

The mission is to share that with everyone.

To love them and encourage them into closer relationship with Him.

To do what we can to meet the physical needs of people, while always looking deeper to the spiritual needs.

That's the most basic thing I see.

Kevin Davis said...

Alexis - thanks for chiming in so fast. It is interesting you mention meeting peoples basic needs, in association with the basics of the Christian faith. I listen to a podcast called the fermi project (you should check it out), but one of their earlier episodes was an interview with Gary Haugen about his ministry called International Justice Mission (also worth checking out). The IJM does a lot, but namely raise awareness of the injustice in our world and calling the church to respond to it. The church does a lot to help poverty, not enough, but we have been aware of the Christian need to respond to poverty for a long time. But what about sexual violence, slavery, illegal detention, police brutality, illegal property seizure or sex trafficking? I think the church for the most part isn’t even aware of these things, let alone trying to respond to it.

Alexis said...

It's like the way the church was about AIDS and is slowly changing. It's shameful that *we* didn't understand our role until now... well, not shameful...but heartbreakingly sad.

I just think The Church lost focus somewhere and got a bit too mired in "tradition".

I am so excited as I see my 60+ year old pastor come to see that this can't be...and to see how that ignites our church.

Honestly, and Christian, and any church that puts a high priority on reaching and truly serving others will thrive and change the world.

Sean Alsobrooks said...

Great post....I am exploring some of these very same questions....how do we strip church down to the stuff that actually matters.

The "missional" approach makes SO MUCH sense to me...it is so clear...like...duh, where has this been all my life!

I just finished a great book, The Tangible Kingdom...I would highly recommend it.

Keep up the good work!