Monday, January 26, 2009

Simple Math

“When the Greeks got the gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they turned it into a business.” - Richard Halverson

How chillingly true this statement is. At the heart of the issue for me is the organizational foundation of the church. What I mean by that is this:

Most of the modern expression of the church that we see today is built on paradigms. A paradigm is no more than a way to do something. A plan. I'm sure you've heard of some of these terms.. the seeker model, the worship model, the discipleship model... so on and so forth. Yet, underneath every one of these models is the same thing... a paradigm built on programs. And as we all know, people's tastes change. As the taste or paradigm of culture changes... so must the church if it wants to keep up.

This is where I believe the heart of the problem is... paradigms of programs aren't self-sustaining or self-multiplying. They are reliant on the culture as their medium of connection. This is why we see people "discuss" (often times, argue) about what should and should not be "in the church". Everything from music, lights, sound equipment, stages, instruments, etc have all been debated and decided on based on our culture.

Yet, the early church carried the gospel from one end of the known world to the the other. Crossing cultural, ethnic, language, and geographic boundaries without much hindrance. What was their secret? I believe it was a simple one. The simple and organic message of the gospel was so transmittable that no matter what type of soil it was placed in, it grew. This, by its very nature, could not have been based on paradigms or programs. The power of the message of Jesus is that is based on principles not programs and character not culture. This empowered and enabled the early church to carry the message of Christ wherever they could and know that it would still take root.

I think we, as the modern day church, need to take a look at ourselves and our churches and ask some tough questions.

What is the medium in which my faith is expressed...
Culture or Character?

What is the method on which my church is built...
Programs or Principles?

What is the result of my faith in church...
Entitlement or Empowerment?

Put another way, I believe the following to be true:

Culture + Programs = the Entitlement of faith

Character + Principles = the Empowerment of faith

- Just a thought.

No comments: