Friday, December 15, 2006

Present Future Quotes

i have been a little tied up but hope to finish the book this weekend but just thought i would throw a couple of snap shots from the book that hit me... for your reading pleasure.

"As He hung on the cross Jesus probably never thought the impact of his sacrifice would be reduced to an invitation for people to join and support an institution."

"Still another form of denial shows up in the church's obsession with internal theological-methodological debates designed to determine who the true believers are while the world is headed to hell in a handbasket."

"Religious people don't see people; they see causes, behaviors, stereotypes, people 'other' than them... Religious people have always been a problem for God."

'We need to go where people are already hanging out and be prepared to have conversations with them about the great love of our lives. This will require our shifting our efforts from growing churches into transforming communities."

the last quote gotting me truly thinking about a new project that i have blogged about over the last year and it is about BELIEVE, a community ministry that will strive create a place of refuge for alhambra high schoolers and create partnership not only with churches in the community, but with the police officers, social workers, library, business men and women, and the school district. as i form a stronger partnership with kingdom causes in regards to this project, my hope and prayer is that churches would have their eyes open to move time, energy, people and maybe money to value something that if it works out could truly transform a community.

when i think about community transformation and the work of building god's kingdom in alhambra. i get very excited. i spent a lot of time with alhambra high school students who are very interested in spiritual things, but have so many barriers to joining what they think is christianity , becuase it equals "church" and not the biblical sense of the word church, but the sense of the word that is implied in many of the quotes above. the sense of the word that loves to thrown stones at their behavior and decision making, but truly care very little about the life they deal with at home.

the present future for me looks great. i have much hope that in 2007 BELIEVE will begin to make a lot of noise for the kingdom of god. it will make a lot of noise to help those that want to walk with jesus and maybe not walk through the doors of a building between 9am - 12 pm on sunday morning.

this post is getting long, so if you already stopped reading cool for those that work for the govt please keep reading. haha. i was asked a great question yesterday morning and i will end with it. if you are a part of a small group of people, maybe 10 - 20, and you meet regularly to study scripture , worship, pray and love each other and encourage each other to grow the kingdom...

is that enough? do you need to go to church on sunday morning? or is it enough?


Samdog said...

Enough for what?

steve w said...

John, as a basketball fan you know the "long shot, long rebound" adage. So let me say "long post, long comment."

In Tim Stafford's article, The Church—Why Bother?, which we could read if we were willing to pay $40, he says, "There is no healthy relationship with Jesus without a relationship to the church."

[Reader, keep reading to the end rather than assuming you think you know what I mean by the word church.]

Thankfully, Rev. Ted Schroder gives a good summary of the article here. (link) If Stafford has his facts right, I'm not satisfied with Bono's view of the church (nor do I think Jesus is). And I think Stafford is spot on here: "We offer perilous advice when we urge people to 'find Christ' anywhere but in a local congregation. Can you imagine Paul arriving in a city, finding the local congregation not to his taste and simply staying away? For Paul, a Christian without his church is as unthinkable as a human being with no relatives. A person may quarrel with his kin, but he cannot leave them--they are his own flesh and blood. So it is with the church. And furthermore, they are Jesus' flesh and blood."

Touchstone magazine has an article by J. I. Packer -- that we can read for free! -- entitled A Stunted Ecclesiology? It's very good (though many Baptists and other free Church people would not think so).

In it, he summarizes the 6 Principles of Evangelicalism -- spot on, BTW -- or what we might call the 6 strengths of Evangelicalism.

But the real point of his article is what he calls the 5 Stunting Elements of Evangelicalism -- also spot on, generally, IMO -- "that work against thorough realization of what has been called the 'abundance ecclesiology' of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, where the church is declared to be the fullness of Christ, the beloved bride for whom he laid down his life, and is to grow as a single new man in Christ (you can hardly have a more corporate image than that!), moving always into the maturity that is the measure of Christ's own stature."

This is my summary of these 5 stunting elements.

1. A salvation that is human-centered rather than God-centered, setting needy human beings at center stage rather than God and the praise he is due. I loved this phrase: a theology that "brings in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit just for their saving roles."

2. A stress on text and talking that marginalizes and muffles the sacraments. (He uses the word sacraments -- plural -- but never mentions baptism specifically. Hmmm?)

3. Life centeredness, by which *I think* Packer is essentially saying self-centeredness, or spiritualized selfishness (what I think is best vs what Jesus thinks is best).

4. The exaltation of the parachurch over the church (whether actively doing this or simply affirming it).

5. Structures and practices of local churches that breed a disconnection with the larger body of Christ.

All of these 5 stunting elements can be intensified in a small group seeing no need for "the church." I think the small group you refer to in your post must see themselves as the church (we call them house churches today), and this "house church" must proactively fight to overcome these 5 stunting elements that are a cancer in the Evangelical church today.

When Americans read your post, most automatically think of the American 501(c)(3) that we call the church. The church is certainly present in these American 501(c)(3)'s, but these government sanctioned non-profits are not the measuring-stick of the global church. The church in America looks very, very different than the church in China or Iran. We all have to realize how much we read the Bible through cultural lenses.

I remember reading something about God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven -- brilliant!, whoever said that :-)

Perhaps in our being & doing this thing called church, it would help to think about the church in heaven, and seek to make it so here on earth. There will be no 501(c)(3)'s in heaven, but a lot of people involved in 501(c)(3)'s will well as a lot of people not in our particular denomination or non-denominational fellowships.