While in my 3 hours snow shoveling celebration yesterday, I had a chance to think as I did my hard labor time. One of the reasons that I will continue to believe that it "is" a preference issue is that the models we are talking about come out of 2 different paradigms that aren't old nor new but strategically different.
The church growth movement that came out of Fuller Seminary in the 60's and 70's and combined with the seeker movement of the 80's is the majority of the influence for what evangelical church planting is today. The downside to this in my opinion is that it can be too closely aligned with corporate American business practices than Kingdom theology. The tangible measures for sucess put enormous pressures on leaders and left a wake of good people disallusioned by a system that at times had nothing to do w/ Christ following. The upside, and something I am really grateful for, is that it made a prophetic and lasting statement that "lost people matter to God." It gave permission for church to be re-thought and re-tooled for the sake of mission. No longer would the only voice be the long-time church goer, but now resources, time and energy could be spent paying attention to those who are not yet followers. This was a healthy change. For those who are more modern in worldview, they would attend these experiences and Kingdom things could happen.
But then transitions began to happen. As the postmodern worldview began to grow in the West, all assumptions about organizations and leadership structures were questioned and deconstructed. Some leaders began looking deeper into our historical roots and adopting ancient practices of worship and community. Celtic Christianity, Ancient Monasticism and a renewed focus on spiritual formation. Out of this began to form another layer of leadership, particularly amongst those who are more postmodern in worldview towards more simple structures that were small, communal and relationally driven. Mission was done in more one to one encounters and in small, intimate settings. This is more of a missionary model amongst unreached people groups and in the western culture there are large pockets of people who have lost trust in all institutions and wouldn't attend a weekend service but would attend a backyard bbq. The growing edge for these churches is how to interface their deep community w/ the general population of people who are non-followers of Christ.
I speak in terms of modern and postmodern worldview because we can't separate ourselves from the culture we live in. We have all been deeply formed by our surroundings for the good and the bad. And I believe that we are in a transition time in history. We, here in the western world, are neither modern nor postmodern, but both. And this may be the case for another 50 - 100 years. History tells us that Macro-change is very gradual so there has to be room for some humility. However, neither the modern nor the postmodern worldview is SATISFACTORY!!! The Gospel Script is the only One that will satisfy. Kingdom Come and the Fullness it brings is the Script that we all need to be a part of. Is it now, finally possible, to come together under the Headship of Christ, and begin to prophetically advocate a 3rd category?????? Kingdom is a bigger idea than culture. Kingdom is a bigger idea than preference. Kingdom is a bigger idea than worship style, teaching paradigm or evangelism approach. Kingdom is the movement of God amongst His people, all of them. Kingdom is the only unstoppable force in the universe that governs the laws and seals our steps. Kingdom is what was, is and always will be. If we jump in this River, questions of differences become pointless as we get caught up in the purposes of the Spirit of the flow. If we continue the hard work of aligning ourselves relationally and spiritually with one another, can we not stand together on this battlefield? Can we not stare our common enemy in the face, shoulder to shoulder and draw swords together? I want nothing more than to get my foot on the neck of the enemy in every place where I can find him and I'll take whatever allies I can get. I take great encouragement to know that as today I pick a fight w/ the enemy on this battlefield, that across the river, Barry is doing the same this morning. He fights differently than I do, but neither of us will go to our grave w/ unused swords, and for that I celebrate.
On this Christmas Eve, in whatever battlefield you find yourself tonight, look for the star in the East and take the time to bend a knee at the manger of the One who is making all things new! I love you all with the love of Christ. Merry Christmas.