I hear a lot on Christian radio and see a lot of Christian books fighting against postmodernism, relativism, and secularism. But if people are constructing their identities and lives around consumer brands like Apple, is the church fighting the wrong battle? And perhaps more disturbing, are we unknowingly contributing to the problem by encouraging Christians to construct and express their identities via Christ-branded merchandise rather than through characters transformed to reflect the values of Christ himself?
And, along those same lines, Alan Knox talks about the church as a corporation versus being a true body of believers:
It may be pragmatic and efficient and logical to have a human leader, and a set of programs, and a specific meeting place, and tax-deductible status. But, these things do not define the church. We could argue the benefits or the detriments of having these things, but they would be outside the scope of defining what (or WHO) the church is.
Jesus said that he wold build his church... not his charitable organization. We would do well to remember that Jesus cares about his church, not our organizations and programs.
I am reminded of David Fitch's book, of which I have forgotten the title...but anyway, he says that making disciples is not efficient. People are messy things that don't fit into nice little programs and packages easily. I agree. It is not an accident that C.S. Lewis chose a corporation to depict the enemy in Screwtape Letters. It is the opposite of an organic organization like what the church is supposed to be.
This might be a good time to link to an older post at the M Blog. Guy discusses what Luther wanted the church to look like:
The following characteristics summarize Luther's "Order of Divine Service" as to the "how" churches should be organized.
Full sacramental life
Stewardship and social ministry
Simple catechetical instruction
Ideal context for loving accountability after Matthew 18
"Form and Order" are not imported but emerge spontaneously from community life.
And, Alan Knox mentioned the reformers goal for church the other day, too:
[A]ccording to Chadwick, the early reformers recognized that the whole congregation (not just "the clergy") should take part in the church meeting. They were not content with a passive audience who simple listened to teaching, reading, or singing. Instead, they expected a church that took part in the meeting.
So, what happened? Well, according to Chadwick [in The Early Reformation on the Continent (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)], the reformers could not determine how to have this type of meeting while ensuring that the meeting also stayed focused on teaching the Scriptures. He said that the early reformers emphasized teaching (and a certain style of teaching) to such an extent that it eclipsed their desire to have a participatory meeting.
Been there. Our agenda eclipses God's agenda. We get scared of what might happen if there isn't a “scripture lesson.” But, in doing that we ignore John 5:39-40 “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (RSV) We exalt the scripture above the very one the scripture is pointing too!