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Oct
30

Non Sequitur

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non_sequiturIt does not follow. I have only been back in the U.S. for a few months after living overseas for some time. Coming back there are a number of things that I continue to scratch my head about and try to reconcile how emphasis in these areas is consistent with the sending of God–Missio Dei. Aware of how prone church in some parts of the world is to take its cues from U.S. church, I feel it is important that the U.S. church  at least be aware of these…. By way of disclaimer, I am not writing that each of the below items are bad things. However, I am writing….

Here are five things that may not serve as expressions of the “sending of God.” While the list these come from is longer, I thought it wise to pause here for the time being. And yes, the sequitur will follow. (smile)

  1. Naming of a church and the marketing mix – I am amazed to see several individuals, organizations, and churches spending so much energy and money seeking to determine what is the best name for a church. Is it marketable? Is it clever? How will the community receive the name? Does it appeal to our target audience? What logo can we design around it? What should our (corporate) colors be? While “a good name is more desirable than great riches,” I’m not entirely certain this Proverb refers to the church. Is the church name to be: 1) descriptive of the sending of God; 2) a tool to bring people to God; or 3) nomenclature of the people that are being sent out that bear the image of God?
  2. Style of worship – This seems to be one of the biggest debates over the past several years. Really I think the debate is about issues much bigger than just the style of music. I also think it is about bigger issues than the style of preaching. But is the debate as important as we have made it? How does this music or that music / this preaching or that preaching correspond to the sending of God? What place of preeminence should this topic hold in “as you go make disciples?”
  3. Buildings and campus(es) – As a pseudo-foreigner, the message I am receiving is: a (church) building is good; a campus is better; multiple campuses are the best. Does this follow with the sending of God? I’m not saying, I’m just saying. I do see an outlier effect here, but that is for another post on another day.
  4. Sermons for sale – Really? If that were to happen then I would think it would be time to be thinking about a Great Commission resurgence.
  5. Numbers – Is the staff office covered with numbers or names of those the staff is pleading for? If staff are hired or fired based on their output of numbers, what do we do with proven servants of God? Are we craving efficiency or an anointing? Would a church today hire Jeremiah?

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Categories : church, trends

Comments

  1. C. Holland says:

    All excellent points to consider. A church here, started and lead by nationals, has modeled much of what you listed and looks to American church methods almost exclusively. In fact, if you didn’t listen to their accents you’d be fooled into thinking you were in an American modern church service.

    The result? Many in the town refer to it disparagingly as “The American Church” (despite being started and led by locals). It’s not that they’re rejecting Christianity, they’re rejecting another culture’s input. Some of the national Christians will attend elsewhere as they do not want to be labeled “American”, though there are very few actual Americans in attendance.

  2. adminsmile says:

    Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, this happens way too often. I am afraid that we all have too many stories to tell. Makes me think that a comparative analysis of church in places like Brazil versus China would be helpful for consideration.

  3. Grady Bauer says:

    Excellent observations. I think one of the results of this church as corporation model is that they often view missions as the equivalent of “pro-bono” work….nice to do but doesn’t contribute to the bottom line.

    Here’s what is interesting to me….we’re basically trying to make the church look and feel like a non-church. So we need to ask as the US moves more and more post-Christian will people start to long once again for a sense of the holy in their church experience? I met last week with a church planter in a Scandinavian country and he told me that their people longed for a combination of tradition and substance…in a highly post-Christian country. If this proves to be true in the US than most of our new churches are missing the mark by moving towards impersonal corporate campuses.

  4. adminsmile says:

    I’m afraid instead of embracing the “sending of God” as part of His nature that we are to emulate, we view it as the “sending of agency” or the “sending of others.” This impacts how we view the Great Commission in our local community and beyond. (more on this to come)

    If our paradigm includes God as missionary, then I think we can have liturgical, high church, organic or any other expression of church as is appropriate to the cultural context. Starbucks church with a motivational talk may present some problems, but the thermometer to health will be, I believe, whether or not the church participates in the purpose of Christ: “to seek and to save what was lost.” I do NOT believe that “to seek” and “to wait for” are interchangeable here. Those who are “lost” cannot find their way to be saved. If life worked in this way, then cars would break down as we pull into the mechanic’s shop, heart attacks would happen in the emergency room….

  5. […] follows. If the God we serve is the missionary God, then what follows? While my last post, Non Sequitor, had 5 things that did not follow the Missio Dei, here are 7 that do. While the non-sequitur list […]

  6. […] a previous post, Non Sequitur, I posed the question: “Is the church name to be: 1) descriptive of the sending of God; 2) a tool […]

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