culture bound

Eph 4:11-16
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful schemeing. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV, emphasis mine)

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV, emphasis mine)

“The contemporary church seldom focuses on equipping every believer for the ministry of revealing Christ to the people around them. This is a primary reason why the mainstream of our society, which is spirutally adrift, is beyond our reach.” (Jim Petersen, – Church Without Walls, pg 61)

So I’m sitting at the coffee shop today and reading Jim Petersen’s book, and listening to one of The God Journey podcasts (The Power of a Transformed Life), and watching the people around me and talking to Dad about where He wants me and how I’m going to be of use to Him and his Kingdom and the people around me etc. and I’ve made some decisions. *gasp!* Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that I confirmed a decision that I made about 4 months ago, but wasn’t prepared to put it in concrete at the time because I knew I was still dealing with events of the previous 6 months.

Anyhoo, basically I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to ‘do church’ any more. I don’t want to plant another church (there are enough out there already), I don’t want to ‘go to church‘ any more, and I certainly do not want to attend/participate/be a member of ‘a church’ any more. But before you get down on your knees and start praying for me (feel free to do so at any point after I’ve clarified though – more than happy for you to talk to Dad on my behalf!), the reason I don’t want to do any of the above is that I’ve decided to ‘be the Church’.

‘Semantics!’ I hear you say (that was you wasn’t it?)! But ‘hogwash!’ I respond! Let me explain…

In my experience, even though I know that the purpose and intent of those in leadership has been to “equip the saints for works of service“, I also know that for the most part, because of the presuppositions of those within the insititutional church, it’s near impossible (not saying completely, but near on).

I’m not entirely certain of the reasons, I know that even with the best intentions of making the people the centre of what we do, for some reason, discipleship (check out Dallas Willard talking on ‘the cross and discipleship) just doesn’t ‘take’.

We run bible studies and various courses, and preach and teach and lead and invite others in, and still there appears to be an underlying assumption that ‘that’s what the pastor is paid to do’ – to pray for people, to minister to people, to be available when we want to know what the bible says on any given subject, to preach, to teach, to counsel etc. afterall, he’s the one that’s been ‘called of God’ that has done all the study, that is, in essence, the expert professional Christian.

When in reality, from what I can tell, that’s what we’re all called to be/do!

We’ve all read the ‘body’ portions within the scripture, and we’ve certainly heard various pastors preach on the importance of the body and how we’re all important, and how we all play a part, and I’m almost certain we’ve all read and/or heard of us all being ministers of reconciliation etc, and for the most part we certainly give mental ascent to these things and yet, it seems that unless we’re ‘in leadership’ within the church, then we expect that there’s nowhere for us to ‘use our gifts’.

Of course, we love it that our pastors preach this stuff, it is afterall, truth, yet, as Jim Petersen says (and I love this):

Truth is not given to increase our knowledge. It is to be lived.

So, all this brings me to the conclusion that I want to try to do this a different way. I want to do this in such a way that Jesus is the leader, he’s the one that teaches us, leads us, encourages us, and I want to walk along side others as we, together, walk out this truth. I’d also like to stay away from the natural pitfalls of being a part of an institution.

Before I finish, I’d like to clarify what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that going to church is a bad thing, I’m not saying that pastors etc are bad roles, and I’m not saying that instituational churches are not good places to go to. Without these things, I’d not be feeling equipped enough to actually try to do this differently. If you’re comitted to the process of becoming a disciple, and if you’re in a good ‘church’ with good leadership who are committed likewise, then you will become a disciple, you will impact the people around you, your life will be transformed.

My main concern is that the contemporary church has become culture bound. There are so many things that we take for granted, that are the ‘norms’ of church life, and I’m not sure how those things can be challenged when they are so ingrained in us. I’m not certain that the way we ‘do church’ and the fact that we are ‘the Church’ can be easily distinguished, and for me, at least, I think this is a necessary distinction, and one that I need to make and make clearly if I’m going to do the stuff I believe Father is asking me to.

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6 Responses to culture bound

  1. Anonymous says:

    So …. blanket statment coming up …..

    I don’t think Jesus ever intended, when he left this earth, that we “do church” …. especially the way the Western nations have interpreted “doing church”. It has become a show, a concert, an “opiate for the masses” and not what it was designed to be!

    Couple of pitfalls of “being” tho …. and I see this in my church (which is awesome, btw) ….

    1. The “being” people can start to see themselves as more “holy and righteous” than the “doing” people. Once that happens, you start the cycle all over again (and it IS a cycle … look at history!!)

    2. Formula people (like me) are often guilty of reading a book and saying, “Hey cool!!” and trying to incorporate it into their church/life as a magic cure.

    So, if you can get past those two things, cool beans!!

    Keep blogging, Tez!!

    Caz

  2. Kent says:

    Ti’el,
    very well said. It was 17 years ago myself and my wife along with a handful of other folks walked away from the traditional way of doing church. We tried to do it in a better way for a few years and it always morphed into something we weren’t wanting to happen. we gave it all up several years ago and the outcome in our lives has been wonderful. Doing church right should not be our pursuit. It is first something we are and we must understand that. Once we get that we are free to live this life in him, then sharing it with those that we are in relationship with and that our paths cross from day to day and it becomes a wonderful experience. I live in awe of the church I see him building today. Keep the pursuit of him central in your life and watch him set you free to live and love and touch the world around you with his love.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey Tezzeroo! Interesting entry! I pop into The God Journey once in a while, and I’ve listened to a few Podcasts …. ironically I’ve become less attracted to it then I was a year ago. It has been interesting to read their views on things, though I don’t think they all hold water, but some of it is good. Its made me think about things more. I really wanted to leave the “going to church” crowd a year ago, but God has changed things in my heart, and I know see things differently and I think I can “go to church” and “be church” all at the same time!

    I look forward to hearing more of where God leads you!

    Jill

  4. Anonymous says:

    I feel like you’re travelling a road familiar to many of us – both leadership and lay-persons. I’ve come to a mini-conclusion that the Western “church culture” is something that can’t be escaped completely, however. Maybe it’s just the history of it!? I dunno. But after doing a bit of church-sampling myself, these churches that try to be completely anti-churchish tend to frustrate newcomers, who actually come in and EXPECT church. Which ends up being fairly self-defeating. Strange but true…

    (Oh my. My husband just floated by and read my post and said, “stop being so cynical.” Me=”About what????” Him=”Everything.” lmmpo!)

    But honestly. Brought up in a very superficial and VERY exclusivistic church “culture”, I had a LOT of re-programming to do when I married an English Baptist pastor/teacher/guy. lol One of my husband’s greatest emphases is getting Christians to think and LIVE a biblical worldview. Something usually not taught in most (American) churches, and leading to the choking and/or near death of one’s spiritual life.

    All that to say! I believe it is possible to do church fairly traditionally and yet experience to the fullest what it means to be a part of the Church – the entire Body of Christ…globally!

    Gina

  5. Gina says:

    I’m not so anonymous, actually. hehe 😉

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ms. G makes a point that I’ve heard before, that at least some of the non-church crowd want it to feel really churchy when they do come to church, more churchy then I want it to feel like! They like the old church feeling.

    I was thinking more about your entry, and wondering about the dichotomy we’ve created between worship and outreach. KWIM? Its like they are two separate things, in a way, we sort of separate focusing on God in worshp on Sunday morning, from reaching out to people at other times in the week. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but it feels to me, that we often look at them as two separate things, and I wonder if they are really so separate, or “suppose to be” so separate. Maybe at times they are, maybe its okay to have times that are more “worship” focused on just God, and other times that are more people focused …. boy the more I try to write this the less it makes sense! I think thats because they really aren’t so separate …. but it feels to me that we often make them sound so separate …. someone tell me I make a bit of sense!!!

    Jill–>

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