Originally published 6.29.10...
I’m hearing a stack of smack about the postmodern church needing an upgrade. And with church currently carrying an out-of-tune melody, the declarations hold merit.
How does God view His house these days? And how would He fix the disarray within?
Ask yourself these questions routinely and dare to be unmotivated.
Neil Cole, author of Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church, voices this well in his recent release, claiming an organic operating system is crucial concerning the effectiveness of programs, worship methods, and structural issues. And organic, for those who need clarification, is simply the nutritional value (sustenance) of a church’s spiritual life and efficacy to witness.
**Just a quick side note: If you read about this subject matter often, you may find writers indirectly evaluating the church as the latest Microsoft product or a Triple Play Starter Package. – I’ll do my best to veer from this “norm.”)**
Now, I believe the church doesn’t require a complete makeover, but it unquestionably needs renovations that shatter some funky mold that has been in place for several centuries. Cole, in fact, traces certain meticulous huff back to 300 A.D.
Bottom line: The church is not doing everything wrong. It just could do most things better.
Lingo-shmingo aside, let’s investigate why the church is integral to Christianity, and what improvements should be made without finger-pointing preferences. Seriously, the last thing anyone should want to hear is constructive criticism masquerading as biased nitpicking.
So the church is guilty for not penetrating secularism, the marketplace, and the neighbors next door, eh?
Chances are you’ve heard a blend of the following as to why this is so: an overemphasis on clergy-led political structure, an over-institutionalized approach, a strong internal community with a weak external counterpart, etc.
For the most part, these assertions are correct. Church is incredibly business-like in its procedures these days, and rising generations aren’t grasping church as a people, as compared to a place. They don’t understand church is just as much verb as it is noun. (By verb, I’m implying the heart of any church – the community of God at an appointed place – should strive to see the far corners of nations reached, starting from backyards to unchartered igloos and Asian shacks.)
Is church necessary? Yes! Why? Because it links koinonia to the Kingdom.
It is encouraging to hear the volumes of youth hungry to expand the Body from the comfort of homes to the chaos of the streets. However, the fact the same persons doubt the answer to the question above is a strong indicator that the church in America, as a whole, is not succeeding at full potential. Perhaps the definition of church has become so skewed, we can’t separate church from sanctuary.
The key word is balance.
In the post-ascension era, the early church held two services a day, both at a chosen meeting place and the home (Acts 2:46). Back then, there wasn’t so much division over location, since abundance of life flowed from the quality and quantity of social and positional diversity. Also, clergy weight didn’t have the same prominence as it does today. So the end result revealed healthy corporate activity, both relationally and spiritually (Much more I could say, but I’ll try to keep this brief…)
Today, the scene is much different, though somewhat similar in certain circles.
Yes, we have to place higher value on relationships and a discipleship culture that fuels evangelism. And yes, the church must utilize a systematic approach to make this happen. After all, organization is a branch of holiness. But there’s abuse in the house these days. There’s too much temple junk penetrating ministries, curriculums, and church agendas around the world - too much selling, self-promoting, and divide between clergy and congregation.
Bottom line: Without anointed balance, things get ugly…fast!
Of course ministries and programs are a blessing. But it’s a curse for the Kingdom if opening blind eyes loses focus. It’s a poison to manifestations of the Spirit that illuminate the existence of an all-mighty Supreme Being.
Many verses in Bible portray how church was intended to function. One of my favorites comes out of Ephesians 4:
“For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God… may [we] grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
~ Ephesians 4:12-13; 15-16
Note the analogy of the body and parts. Like in Romans 12, the exercising of spiritual gifts among all is vital to church life. And once again, we’re back to determining exactly what is it means to be “organic.”
Interestingly enough, the philosophical dictionary captures a similar viewpoint on the term: If an entity such as a work of art, or the state, or a complex of pleasure and desire, is thought of as an organic unity, the implication is that the whole cannot be exhaustively understood in terms of the parts, since the parts and their functioning have in turn to be identified by their role in sustaining the whole.
In conclusion, the church must make a shift in format and perspective, not a total overhaul that forsakes the genuine right. The answers can be found by a balanced mindset, applying established historical concepts, and remaining true to the Word.
More to come on this matter in the days to come…
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