Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wrinkled Missionaries, New Ways of Thinking

Lets face it. The old way of doing things is shot. Even the way in which we did things 10 years ago is full of holes. There are a few institutions, such as marriage, the sacraments, and the infield fly rule that still work well. But in large part, the old way of doing things, most particularly in the church, is over and done with.

So, what ARE we gonna do? Well, if we are Presbyterians, we form a Committee to study it, with a name like the Committee to Study It, or the Vision Committee, of the Next Century Working Group. Whatever.

Maybe as a part of our spiffy committee formations, we need to take a look back, and a look around at the rest of the world.

By the way, none of these thoughts are original, they are part of the Missional Church Movement, of which Presbyterian Global Fellowship is a part. God might just be doing something new. I have plagiarized large parts of this from here; the mind of Dr. Steven Hayner (friends of mine are friends of his). I have no shame.

The Early Church

In the first centuries the Holy Spirit pushed Jesus’ followers out of their comfort zones and into the Greek and Roman worlds—and beyond. About the middle of the second century, Justin Martyr declared: "There is not one single race of men whether barbarians, or Greeks, or whatever they may be called, nomads, or vagrants, or herdsmen living in tents, among whom prayers and giving of thanks are not offered through the name of the crucified Jesus." [Dial. cum Tryph., cxvii.] Within 3 centuries, new outposts of witness had been planted in all corners of the world—and in the west, Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

God continued to work—and has done so to this day—calling, wooing, healing, freeing, forgiving, and engaging more people in the adventure of participating with God’s Great Plan.

But in the 4th century something began to happen to the church. As it became more and more accepted in the culture, and as there were more and more Christians, the Church began to be less of a movement and more of an institution (sound familiar?).

Even the use of the word “Church” began to change. Instead of referring to God’s people, “church” began to refer to a building—or a particular program activity. “We’re going to church.”

I have spent most of my adult life going to church. Well, at 48 years old, I am getting tired of going to church, I think I might like to be the church now.

More soon.
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