Forgive me if its because its 5:00 a.m. or the hangover effects of the weekend fever but I woke up with these thoughts.
I've been reading alot out there in blog world about the tension many are feeling about forms and function of church as we seek to move forward in various aspects of minstry that we feel called towards. And I believe these issues to be quite complex and yet the Gospel incredibly simple. Here's my best take:
1) If we're honest, our personality make-ups have a lot to do with the forms of church/ministry that we're involved in. We gravitate towards our passions and naturally choose the ones that fit our ways of thinking. (this is coming at it from a more psychological viewpoint.)
2) According to Willard in "Rennovation of the Heart", all of us have been spiritually formed in good and bad ways and discipleship is to be transformed back to our original created selves. When it comes to ministry, all of us have been formed. Some of us have embraced certain traditions, assumptions, worldviews and church forms that we have no need to question/threaten but rather to just work the plan because there is still a LARGE amount of people going to churches on Sunday mornings and its a harvest. Some of us have been formed by painful negative experiences in church that have led us on journeys to question everything, go back to the Scriptures and try to figure out what the Kingdom that Jesus was talking about means and re-discovering ancient forms of Christianity that have been lost through the years, particularly in mainstream evangelicalism. (simplicity, community, availability, vulnerability, monasticism, contemplative prayer etc.) We speak, feel and react out of our formative experiences giving us our present worldview.
3) The 2 very general worldviews described above are strikingly different in a host of ways. They don't see the world the same way, they don't speak the same language, they share and practice different values and they have contrasting assumptions about the world they live in. They read the Gospels of Jesus to different conclusions. They define and practice evangelism with completely different styles. These worldviews are clashing in many private and sometimes public ways. And if Chuck Killian, one of my seminary professors is right (a prof. with whom I had epic battles with), he said, "ministry happens on the other side of tension", then this clash is a good thing for the Church, let's not run from it.
4) Experientially speaking, I have been in thousands of these conversations about this divide as its a part of my story. I grew up and was formed in category one and have grown through the desert to be formed into category two. (that's desert, not dessert) And in all of these conversations, I can make one emphatic statement, I haven't met one inherently evil person yet and I have found each to be passionately in love with the Christ. Now there are hundreds of things I question about motives, traditions, modern forms, power, control, hierarchy, money, pastoral roles, ego, etc. etc. but have not yet found one person to be inherently evil. Now I have been accused of the following, heretic, not saved, liberal, off the edge, misfit, angry, non conformist, "out there", different, an enigma and my personal favorite "wreaking of postmodernism" :) But I have found all of these comments to be evident of the language barrier between these 2 worldviews and the passions we have towards the ministries we have gravitated towards. And not one person is speaking outside of their own experience of Christ.
5) Out of my worldview and philosophy of ministry, I do believe that form is very influential on function. I won't go as far as to say that it "dictates" function, but it does highly influence it. The systems we create generate certain behaviors. Our systems are fueled by our formations and theolgies and the way we see the world. All of us who are intentionally doing something in ministry are thinking and acting within a form of system. For some it may be tradtiional/seeker/emergent, for others it may be organic/relational/monastic but its a system nonetheless and they all generate certain behaviors. Yes, the Spirit redeems, inspires, moves within, corrects faulty assumptions and can genuinely empower his ministry of reconciliation in either system. (my peeps are going to hate me for using the word "system" so bring it on)
I'm not sure I've said anything new here or if I've made it as clear as mud, but its stuff I've been thinking about (yes, out of my worldview). Feel free to push back, I can take it. Besides, I already assume your not evil :)
Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today,