Monday, June 21, 2010

Church without an Edge!

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I sat up past the early morning hours I usually hit the sack. In my time with God I was extremely aware of the fact that we have become a ‘safe’ church. Safe not in a good sense, but in the sense that we are working on our structures every possible moment. We want to make sure we have everything under control! 
Al we talk about is structures, busy defining ourselves en redefining. The question is not what would Jesus do, rather the question is: What is Jesus doing? How much time would Jesus spend building Church structures, making sure everything is documented, clinical correct.

When I look around me I see Jesus reaching out with love to those who do not deserve it. The program driven church of the West evaluate success by the number of people involved in their programs or the overall experience of people in the congregation. We have highly successful churches according to ourselves, but alas there are so few people coming in from the outside making a decision to follow Christ. We look to leaders who are modelling Christ to us. A Christ sitting in meetings and programs, teaching the same people different fads over years and yet each time, proclaiming how wonderful it is.
For us to be Church with a Edge we need to be outside in the world and to model a Christ living grace and mercy. If we want to train people in the congregations to follow Christ we have to be living examples in the community we live in. This is not a program but a living example of a life of love. This can only be done if we are willing to bow our knees before the living God and realise that it is not our Church, but the body of the living God. We made the Church a wonderful organisation, neat, tidy and a place where we are always in control. With all our rules and dogma we are making it difficult for those on the inside and the truth is that those on the outside doesn’t even stand a chance. We could never be in control of the body of Christ, Christ alone is in control.
If we look at the early church we see a dynamic community, who prayed together, read the word of God together, ate together and then made a difference where they went. We want to make Church(congregation) much more than it need to be. We are so busy keeping people so occupied with al the ‘Church’ work, meetings and programs that the real Church does not have time to make a difference there where Jesus is at work in the world.
Church with an Edge is a Church who realise that they are nothing if they are not with Christ Jesus the Lord.
What would happen if all the leaders we have in the church commit themselves to be in the world every day making a small difference where there is a opportunity while proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ? We would see people coming to the Lord, needs being med and people in congregation inspired to go out and do the same. Who would miss all the meetings and programs when the world comes to Christ? We must lead people to Christ and give them a loving community where they are loved rather than a lot of programs, courses and dogma.
To be Church with an Edge I believe that we must realise that the power base we claim for ourselves are false. That the importance of our plans and programs are a illusion and that we must start to by a basic community of Christ again.
Lots of Love, few rules and Adoring Christ.


  1. Breda says:

    You touch on a subject worthy of a proper conversation, Paul. The thing about building these kinds of tight controlling structures is that it makes so much sense in our time. It is the social matrix that the modern world of the past few centuries has drilled into our imaginations: take control. Be “the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.” If you don’t look after yourself, nobody else will.

    Unfortunately this view of “the way things work” flies in formation with a number or other views. One of these views is Deism – a way of thinking about God’s relation to the world we live in. Deism thinks of God as someone far away in heaven. According to He created the earth and got things going, He inserted the laws of nature and will be waiting for us when things wind down. In the meantime we have his good counsels and we can speak to Him in prayer (a kind of long distance phone call), but we can only rely on sporadic interventions from Him – if at all. In the meantime we need to take control of our lives by adhering to the law (moralism) and of the church and society by setting up proper controlling structures to keep things going in the right direction.

    The problem with Deism is twofold: In the first place, it is simply not true. God is everywhere and in every speck of time. We are always standing on holy ground.

    The second problem with Deism is that it is harmful. It relegates God to a position of consultant for times when things get really out of control – ‘the God of the gaps.’ It gives us a false sense of control. Worst of all: by secularizing the world - by stripping us of the feeling that we live in a world where the mystery of God is just under the surface – it makes large scale atheism possible for the first time in human history. Five hundred years ago it was difficult not to believe in God. Today – at least in Western culture – it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe in God.

    Back to Paul’s thoughts on controlling structures. We will always need to provide structures. To imagine that we can do away with structures is to live in a dream. How we structure, however, is crucial. There are a number of good questions we constantly need to ask about the way we structure. Here are a few I can think of, off the top of my head: Where is power situated? What are the deepest values articulated by our structures and the way we go about them? What does our use of time say about our values? What does our budget say about our values? Most important of all: Where is God in our structures? What role does He play?