Thoughts on “Church”

18Sep06

Cloey and I had dinner tonight with my neighbor, Russell. Which was very nice (especially since we invited ourselves over – which is something I quite like to do… you’ve been warned). Before dinner I had a wonderful conversation with a group of folk who have been getting together every week or so to talk about church, leadership, culture, faith, theology, etc… Its kinda like a Fight Club (like some other friends of mine do). Anyway, its always good. We’re thinking of trying to get together with more folks monthly to discuss such things with a broader group, should be fun.

Anyway, Cloey is asleep, its raining outside and is nice and cool. Sarah is at work (which I hear is not going well… pray for her, its been hard at work lately and other stuff). I’m waiting till 10:00 to watch the season premiere of Studio 60. I’ve been thinking about church of late. And I’m wondering about it. I’m wondering if we should … if we even could… chuck the whole deal. I’m wondering, can we just jettison “church” altogether.

(and now I have your attention, perhaps your disdain, maybe your respect or maybe you’re going to click the link to Studio 60 and watch a preview, maybe.)

No, but really. Here’s the deal. We have so exaggerated the idea of “church” – ecclesia – gathering – that I wonder if it has lost all possible meaning. We say “church” when we refer to Crossroads or the Big V (our local mega-church brands). We say “church” when we refer to the Catholic power grid in Cincinnati. We say “church” when we refer to the declining traditional congregations (UMC, PCUSA, UCC, DOC, pick your achronym). We say “church” when we refer to emerging expressions of faith – house or otherwise.

We ask questions like, can a church be big or little? What makes a church a church? And the more I think about it…. I don’t care. I’m not being apathetic or ornery… really – does it matter.

I care about people following Jesus. I care about living intentional lives. I care about loving people and loving God. I care about being a good neighbor. I care about children growing up well. I care about beauty, creativity, dreams, and taking risks for God. I care about living into God’s dream.

I’m also pretty convinced that people do those things… people live into God’s dream, people help children grow up well, people are good neighbors, people live intentional lives, people follow Jesus. I think that people function best in relationships with other people. I think that people can only truly have so many relationships (it varies per person, for certain, but I’m leaning toward smaller numbers here).

So maybe your “church” is huge, maybe your “church” is small but you connect with other people outside of it. So what, its the people that matter. Its people that disciple you, its people that “lead you to Jesus”, its people that love you and its people that you love. How they are configured matters – I’m not advocating anything goes blah blah blah. I’m advocating for people. Put them together, work out the details, but keep them — keep us — as people… living, breathing, organic, complex, messy, needy, passionate, relational people.

I fear that we have bought into this modernists dream of organizations running like machines. We become obsessed with our organizations to the detriment of people. We drool on the altar of leadership (by which we mean the technique we use to manipulate people to our way of thinking) at the expense of our people we’re called to lead.

So, let’s dump the “church”. Let’s forget this particular cultural hang up, this way its always been done. I’m tired of it, frankly. I’m tired of spinning all these wheels talking about dinosaurs when the mammals are coming on the scene.

OK, so Studio 60 is over. It was very good. I’m looking forward to watching it regularly. I hope these random thoughts made sense…. let me know.

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