Jesus, not the Church II

emerging church, nascent church Add comments

This one will be pretty easy. I think he’s right on target.

Perception No. 2: Judgmental and Negative

• Teach how and when to talk about sin. I’m convinced that people in emerging generations actually want to be informed about Jesus and His teachings, even the ones that require repentance and change. But our approach makes all the difference. If we go around pointing out people’s sins, the reaction will usually be negative. But if we share how we can become more loving and more like Jesus by changing in certain ways, then it’s often accepted as a positive thing.

This is one of the bigger confusions about new conceptions of church. People think there’s a dismissal of these important topics. There’s not. Rather there needs to be a balance. Jesus did talk about sin. Paul did talk about sin. But this wasn’t their primary emphasis. Sin was always the beginning of the conversation and we’ve made it the whole of our conversation. Why do we talk about sin? Because there is more. The Holy Spirit who offers us hope also leads us towards light. What is most troubling is that the church expects people to work out their own sin issues, and judges them for not doing so, even when they have no relationship with Christ. That’s the big thing. Romans 8 says we can only overcome sin through the power of the Holy Spirit who leads us to life. Without the Holy Spirit there is no power to overcome. So why do we start with that? We are stuck in Christendom where everyone was expected to already be in the church. Thus the topic of sin was always assumed to be a discussion among other Christians. Guilt could be used because people were not living up to the standards they assumed.

I do disagree with him on his last sentence. We don’t share how we can become more loving or more like Jesus. Why? Because we can’t. We share the power that can. We speak of the Spirit who works in us to become the people Christ has called us to become. If we speak of our own changes, and our own efforts, and our own work, then there’s no real hope.

• Focus more on what we stand for. Those who like Jesus but not the Church see Him as one who stood up for the poor and oppressed. Scripture mandates that His churches follow Christ’s instruction to care for “the least of these.” By doing so, we also earn the respect of those outside the Church. They are also looking for a church that expresses love and “does not judge” as Jesus taught.

Yes. More importantly, we actually do what Christ called us to do, and in doing that help create a context in which the Spirit can move most freely. By doing what we are called to do we ourselves change and take on Christ’s perspective. We begin to listen to the Spirit and are empowered to do even more. The Church becomes a dance, rather than a lecture.

• Teach your church to break out of the Christian Bubble. As leaders, we can use preaching and the example of our own lives to teach people in our churches that their attitudes impact those outside the Church. Unless we’re creating cultures in our church in which people see themselves as missionaries in their day-to-day worlds, unless we’re challenging Christians to break out of the Christian Bubble and start listening to the hearts and cries of people around them, only the loudest, often-negative voices in the Church will be heard.

I agree with this in part. I think it’s a noble challenge. However, there is still the problem that the Church is inherently closed off. We still emphasize work in churches, and service in churches, and church services. More than just leading with preaching and examples, a pastor needs to understand his role of empowering. And a church needs to exist with fluid boundaries, erasing the line between the sacred and the secular. Jesus, for instance, made most of his points in his day to day life. The idea of missionaries implies a going out, and a bringing back. Instead there is a bringing out, a sharing, and openness of existence in which Christ is reflected in all sorts of circumstances, not to bring a person back to church, but to be church with all people.

One Response to “Jesus, not the Church II”

  1. sonja Says:

    This idea seems to be gaining greater traction. I wonder if the Church might do better to operate as an amoeba rather than a building; with permeable walls rather than impermeable. Of course, that’s perhaps easier written than done as I’m not entirely sure what it would look like. But some things I think might be important would be to keep things simple and probably small. I think that helps keep people focused on other people and not on programs.