Saturday, January 13, 2007
What we have now, in the current church, often has all the elements of a clubhouse. As noted by Steve Hayner, the church as become something similar to this treehouse, a fun place to hang out.
• God’s people began to behave as if God’s primary activity had moved indoors. The church as a building became the place where certain things happened: where the Gospel was rightly preached, the sacraments rightly administered and sometimes discipline exercised. Instead of moving into the culture, the church compelled people to come in. And the church became a kind of clubhouse. E.g. Instead of baptism being our ordination to the mission of the church, it became our initiation to the club—and “evangelism committees” became membership management groups.
• The clubhouse—the church—thought of itself as the repository of God’s grace. And because we had God’s grace, and others didn’t, the church’s mission was either to give it away—or be at war with the hostile culture. “Missions” came to be thought of as programs which somehow took the grace of God and the message of the Church into the enemy territory. The “us and them” view took over. A great chasm began to grow between the “sacred” and the “secular”.
• Understandably the Church also became more and more institutional and program focused. Organization and strategy took center stage.
• And leadership became professional and hierarchical. No longer was leadership as much about gifts and roles designed to equip people to be a part of God’s work, as much as it was about building the institution, governing the organization, and caring for those who gathered.
All this wasn’t so bad, as long as the church was pretty much in the center of things in the culture. Sure, at different points throughout the next 1600 years, changes needed to be made. Sometimes the church got off track theologically. Sometimes the institution, controlled by sinful people, became corrupt and needed to be reformed. But mostly things worked OK.
Until now.....and we have LOTS of work to do.