GIVING UP ON RELEVANT CHURCH--ponderings on Bolger

The church person cannot 'guess' what the seeker wants, undoubtedly getting it wrong."

Frankly, we can't get in someone else's head at all, so why do we keep trying? Despite the glaring similarities (a la Barna), there are differences.

"Worship must reflect the culture of the community that is currently part of the church..."

Such an approach takes the local body seriously. If it is true that God has put these people in this place, then that particular gathering means something. The culture--especially relating to the arts--may end up looking like the surrounding culture, but new meaning and significance will be attached. Honesty demands that we be who we are; anything else comes perilously close to 'bait and switch'.

"A focus on the church service as connecting point perpetuates the idea that following Jesus is about going to church."

Understanding 'church' as place OR gathering has done enormous harm to God's purpose for the church. Frankly, if we assume a worship service, etc, to take up about 3 hours and that this service is the primary means of bringing people to Christ, then evangelism is filling only 1.8% of any given week. Assuming 8 hours of sleep per day, this leaves 66.7% of any given week possibly ineffective for the kingdom. What would happen if we spent the 1.8% focusing on God in worship and the 66.7% being the people of God in the world?

"Connecting happens not in a 'come to us' CHURCH service, but through 'go and dwell' church SERVICE..."

One way to describe love is as towardness. God as Trinity exists in a relationship of eternal towardness. Humanity is created in God's image; towardness is part of that image. So, going out into our communities--meaning the mile or so surrounding the facility--and being a people that lives toward that community in service should be what we are all about.

1. "A focus on the service as connecting point perpetuates the sacred/secular split..."

In Acts 10, Peter has a vision in which God tells him to eat food that he, as a good Jew, considers to be unclean. God tells him, "What God has made clean, do not call common." (v. 15). While this particular vision is applied to Gentiles being part of the people of God (Acts 11), the principle applies to the sacred/secular dichotomy as well. In Genesis 1, God declared everything he had created to be very good. We dare not say otherwise.

Taken a bit further, if we are holy, then we are holy everywhere we are and we make things holy by our intention. Could it be that worship is all of life?

2. "A focus on the service as connecting point perpetuates the clergy/laity split..."

When will we learn the lesson of Ephesians 4? Yes, leaders are given to the church--to equip all the others for ministry. Get that. Ministry is done by the people--the ministers. The "...the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers..." equip. The question is, how do we equip people to do ministry at Starbucks, the gas station, and Dodger Stadium?

3. "A focus on the service as connecting point perpetuates the producer/consumer form of spirituality..."

There's a maxim in missiology: don't supply the fish; teach them to fish. Worshipers do the worship. What does that look like?

"Mission happens in the 'world'..."

Where do you regularly go that has nothing to do with 'church'?
What is your ministry in those places? Start with 'speak the truth' and 'do the truth', then get creative.

Best quote from the post:
"The worship service is no longer an evangelistic service for outsiders but a space to practice heaven for a period of time, facilitating the offering of the community life to God in worship."

This week I'm preparing to lead the collegians through Revelation 4. So, boy does this resonate. Now, how?

To wrap it up:
It is true that transforming an entire congregation may be next to impossible. But what if we intentionally transform a small group, Sunday school class, family, or band? That, I think, is doable. In fact, a small transformation just may turn viral.

Related Post: Worship Curriculum

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