The church in modernity was off-balance, reeling from a culture that once revered it and now rejected it. As a result, it simply tried to keep standing, to stand firm, to not collapse to not change, because change felt like defeat or decay. While this resolute firmness is admirable, it can't be the final word for the church in the emerging postmodern world, because standing firm can too easily be an excuse for going stale.
Ultimately, the church is called to do far more than either standing firm or being willing to change itself. Like a candle in darkness, salt in meat, yeast in bread, or seeds in a field, the church is called to be a change agent, bringing positive change to Gods world.
A is for Abductive Sweet, McClaren Pp I75
Makes me wonder to what extent the church has been guilty of being pre-occupied with proving itself.
Proving itself to each other in that ‘well we are standing firmer than you’ kind of arrogance. I was reading how in 1977 Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones appealed to evangelicals to leave their denominations to form a doctrinally pure church. Before my time but it still sent a shiver down my spine. Certainly the remnants of ‘tribalism of church’ that Maggi (here and here) has identified so well are clear for everyone to see, or feel. "You don't think like me so you must be dodgy" is quite a weighty punch to withstand. There are quite a few bruised people around...
Proving itself to the culture that once revered it. Hence a legacy of church growth and a ‘aren’t we so successful’ mentality perhaps has given birth to church™. In an 'off-balanced' effort to succeed we have branded, re-branded and marketed a persona of success so that we the church can hold our heads up high. We present our mega-churches with their icons of musical excellence as an example of success and relevance to our culture. Equally the emerging church with their developing icons of techno excellence need to be aware of 'over-balancing'.
But all the time we spend proving ourselves, pre-occupied, we become increasingly fractured and insignificant. The longer we are pre-occupied the longer we stand still. The longer we stand still the longer creation groans with decay or as Robert Beckford (Beckford, R. (2004). God and the Gangs: An Urban Toolkit for Those Who Won't Be Sold Out, Brought Out or Scared Out.) defines as 'systematic failure'. The church being stale really isn’t much good for anything.
Missional statement – (reprise)
"Ultimately, the church is called to do far more than either standing firm or being willing to change itself. Like a candle in darkness, salt in meat, yeast in bread, or seeds in a field, the church is called to be a change agent, bringing positive change to Gods world."That’s what we are called to...
A is for Abductive Sweet, McClaren