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http://cole-slaw.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/an-organizational-leader-wrestles-with.html

It is interesting to read the link above in light of my previous post about what we reward.

Organisational development argues for an empowering stance within an organisation, the movement leadership model takes that one step further.

I like the fact that David Wittenberg says

 I’m sure that God has a role in his church for visionaries and strategists like me. I’m sure that he loves to use large congregations and controlling managers, as well.

But when Wittenberg’s personal style becomes our only model of leadership in churches we lose something.

Consider it

On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B by Steven Kerr

I said I am getting the research groove back.  It may seem unusual then I suppose to post a link to this article except if you read it and then start to think about it.

What is it in church life we reward?  How much of long term hard yakka discipleship is rewarded or do we prefer to see those who can grow something quickly but with no consideration of the cost?  Or the quality of those disciples.

I said recently to a friend our effectiveness in discipleship is not how many disciples we have made but how many disciples they have made.  Most of the amazing quality overnight successes I know of had 20 years behind them in the wilderness, working quietly, doing what they were supposed to and then becoming known.

Consider it.

Over my holiday break I read Tony Jones, The Church is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement.

I will be blogging about this over the next few posts but want to start by laying some cards on the table to make it clear where I am coming from.

First, my doctoral studies are in Ecclesiology.  Second, I have used the work of Richard Osmer to teach Practical Theology.  I used Practical Theology: An Introduction while Jones’s thesis  uses The Teaching Ministry of Congregations.  Third the methodology in my thesis uses the work of Nicholas M. Healy as reflected in Church, World and the Christian Life, Jones uses an article by Healy and then adopts some of the terms.  My final comment is that last semester I completed a unit on Introduction to Educational Research.  This has been helpful to bring me up to speed with some of the latest methodologies in Social Science style research which are mentioned by Healy, Osmer and used by Jones.

Now I agree that Jones’s thesis is necessary and a useful one, it contributes to knowledge as all good doctoral theses do, it has good insights and good warnings to the Emerging Church movement but I am not comfortable with it.

The following posts will demonstrate where and why I am uncomfortable about what Tony has written and what further consideration I would like to see.

I tried to make a comment on David Fitch’s blog but was not successful as the comment editor does not leave me enough room to draw some of what I wanted to say.

Read David’s post and then read this rambling reply of me doing theology on the run:

David,

I love your questions and thinking.

The use of Hauerwas is helpful but maybe we need to go back to the God question.  Jesus was sent by the Father from the Trinity into the world, so the Church was sent by God from the people of Israel into the world.  Both start with an act of God’s sending.

The epistemological issue is how do we know God?  Well we know God through Christ mediated through the church and scriptures.  So the knowing (al a Volf) comes from encounter with the church. “All members of the church create the ‘plausibility structures’ in which the communication of faith and life in faith become possible.”

This implies to me a twofold issue to use Len’s shorthand:

> Church
God
> Mission

Going to Trinitarian theology God the Trinity’s mission precedes Christology as there is no need to send Christ with no mission.  Thus we have:

> Church
God’s Mission > Christ
> Mission

God’s Mission also creates more than just church it creates God’s people amongst whom Christ is incarnated and from whom his human identity is derived.  Thus:

> Church
God’s Mission > God’s people > Jesus Christ
> Mission

Now the epistemological questions seem to disappear as it is in the what is the relationship of the Church and Mission to God’s people we get an answer.  God’s people were always supposed to be on a mission thus:

> Church
God’s Mission > God’s Missioning People
> Jesus Christ

Maybe we need to summarise not as the church is a missiology but:

The church does not have a mission, the church is missional.

Epistemologically we may not be God’s people if we are not missioning.

Thoughts?

While many people I know are researching Pentecostals and Pentecostalism, many times Pentecostalism slips under the radar.

See this article by Lutheran Peter Berger on the sociological issues of Pentecostalism for a positive view on prosperity.

Thanks Scott for pointing this out.

Today I am speaking to my homiletics class about being clear in their preaching.  Clear as to their purpose and clear in their presentation.   This was driven home to me by an interesting story we heard over the weekend when we saw friends of ours from Brisbane on Sunday night.

Unbeknownst to us our friends had visited our church here in Melbourne in the morning.  Like usual they sent their daughter, who is about the same age as my super son, to the childrens program.  When we were speaking to them we were saying how great the kids program is and that our super son talks about what he has learnt.  They said they noticed for their daughter that the same happened.  After they had taken their daughter to their church’s kids program they’d ask her what she did and not get much of a reply.  I realised that somehow the kids program has a really clear message and that the message gets through.

My students need to understand the same principle – the message needs to get through and does so if it is clear rather than muddy.

So what sort of messages do you give?

I am writing this on Monday and have a feeling that the story of Mike Guglielmucci will most likely be on television tonight.  It will generate a huge buzz, lots of introspection and some horrible comments about Christians by Christians.  You see we do a good job of shooting our wounded.

In the past 12 months I am aware of numerous problems in the body of Christ.  In the US there have been divorces of televangelists, others looked at for their use of money, the separation of Todd Bentley and his wife and now Mike Guglielmucci’s situation.  I have not weighed in on these situations as I am not one to judge as I know what it is like to be a forgiven sinner.

There are a number of good posts about this but I want my readers to consider their hearts before rushing to judgement.  How hard is it for you to resist temptation?  When was there a time when you fell to some temptation?  What impact did it have on your life and possibly has continued to have?  You see I start from a place of knowing I need God first and then seeing my brother or sister in Christ and realising they need Christ too.

I have no question there are issues of compromised truth in these situations that needs to be dealt with but the first issue I need to face is about me. For those close to the situations they are the ones who need to deal with the individual, not me.  We idolise from a distance and judge from a distance; neither is good.  I need to ask myself “Would I now give this brother a cup of water in Jesus name? ” Many of us are so hurt by what has happened that we would say no.  Yet Jesus’ words were “As you have done it to the least of these you have done it to me.”

Now remember these are people who have made a confession of faith at some point.  They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  They would not be where they were today if God had not worked in their life at some point.  It seems to me that God is less concerned, for a time, in what ways they have continued to struggle.  Instead God works on their sin and mine in His time and sometimes situations happen where we see that sin revealed for all the world to see.  This is when we load the shotguns and shoot our wounded; both barrels.

This is the wrong reaction.  We need to see God in the person before we see the accuser in them and allow him to become the accuser in us.  There is no question that both are present but who is the greater?  You know how you would feel if your sin was revealed to all the world, so the grace you would want is the grace you now need to give.

So what grace are you giving?

This week I was asked in my Homiletics class about the role of preaching in a missional church environment after someone else had spoken on a Reformed view of preaching in church.  This was a good question.  Recently we were at a restaurant we like, Captain Americas, and found out a while back they had 9 stores, now there are 1.

These two ideas are connected as I answered from last weeks blog.  We are in a time of transition that the attractional church is picking up those non-churched who have an idea of church from their living in Christendom while the missional church is picking up other non-believers.  I said to the class the period of time this transition may last is 200 hundred years.  This was a figure plucked from the air but it does reflect my thinking that this transition is not necessarily a short period.

Now can you imagine a time when there are no McDonald’s restaurants or whatever is your favourite fast food chain?  There was a time when no kid knew who Ronald McDonald was as he did not exist.  I can imagine a time when parts of the fast food industry goes the way of food cooked on an open-fire spit eaten with your own knife at barbarian long tables.  Things change, they sure have for Captain Americas.

I think it will be the same for the form of the church.  The form of the church we are familiar with, the attractional model, will disappear over a period of time but not overnight.  There was a time when you invited people to church because they had expressed a desire to fellowship with Christ, not because they wanted to hear a good sermon and make a commitment.  I think this time will come again.

On occasion I have described this as a move from large churches to niche churches.  I heard someone who did not like the idea talk about it as “But everyone still shops at <insert name of large department store> rather than going to a niche boutique.  Niche boutiques have more troubles surviving.”  This is true to a point but niche stores still survive and some of the big chains, like Starbucks this week, do sometimes close their doors in light of pressure from the niche or better established market.

Now in the end I do not thinking marketing metaphors are good description of church but I do recognise that change is in the air.

So what do you think is the lifetime of the attractional church?

I have been reading David Fitch’s The Great Giveaway and a few blogs about the emerging church.  This particular post of David’s really got me thinking.

I have been trying to process the comment that David makes that attractional churches have a role to attract those who are still in Christendom.  In the end my thinking now comes down to the following diagram:

What this is trying to say is that there was a time when the church just was missional.  It moved through a transition to what I would consider we think of as “traditional” –  church where the thinking of many is to be there for the state and/or the congregation.  Some traditional churches, and this includes some Pentecostal churches, then moved to an attractional model whilst not changing much.  Other churches started and were never “traditional” even though they have their own traditions, they were attractional from the beginning .  Some churches though have also thought to move/return to a missional model.

I think we are in a transitional time.  We are not quite at the end of Christendom as the diagram indicates that there is a point where we are in Christendom and then we are in post-Christendom.  I think this is a inaccurate portrayal of a transition transition and thus in the time we are in we need both the attractional and missional churches.

So what sort of church do you think we need to be?

I looked at my blog statistics yesterday.  I thought I was getting less readers.  it turns out I was getting more – wordpress just modified the scale.  So for me it is nice to know a small community of people read this blog.

The church my wonderful wife and I are a part of is interesting at all sorts of levels.  It seems to consistently go against the stream on some things (its distinctives) and not against the stream on others (negotiables).  One area which it seems to excel in is that even though it is a very large (officially mega-) church it maintains a sense of community.  Let me explain.

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping at Dandenong Markets.  I ran into my cell group leader there and we had a chat.  Our cell was to have a social evening the same night a my wonderful wife’s birthday.  They invited our super son to go along, by himself, and for the adults to have a night to themselves.  We did not take them up on it as my wonderful wife wanted a family celebration of her birthday.

On Saturday then we woke up and my wonderful wife decided she needed to go to the doctor for some problems and would like me along and needed to see if we could get an appointment that day.  We got the appointment and had discussed the idea that our super son becomes too distracted and distracting in the doctors surgery and wondered if we could leave him with our cell leaders who live across the road from us.  Lo and behold the phone rings at 9:00 ish and its them saying the social night went till midnight-ish and they got to bed later.  My wonderful wife asked about them having our super son, they said yes and we had a few hours to kill before the visit to the doctor.  We had a breakfast to ourselves at one of our favourite places.  It was a great experience overall.

It is out of experiences like that, the church we are part of reflects a sense of community. So how much sense of community is in the people you know at your church?