the weblog of Alan Knox

Replay: Duplicating what God Created

Posted by on Jun 23, 2012 in discipleship, missional | 3 comments

Replay: Duplicating what God Created

Two years ago, I wrote a post called “Duplicating what God Created.” Everyone follower of Jesus wants to see God’s kingdom expanding on earth. However, we can jump ahead of God and begin to duplicate something that God has done somewhere or at another time or among another group of people. We should never assume to know what God is doing or how he is going to do it. We can really trust God to do the work that he wants to do.

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Duplicating what God Created

Over the last few days, I’ve had conversations with different people around the idea of “duplicating what God created.” We didn’t call it that, and never used those words, but that was the point of our discussions.

What do I mean?

Well, as humans, we tend to be methodical. When we see something that “works,” we tend to want to re-created it… duplicating the systems and processes that seemed to produce the result. Often, we get good results. This works well in the scientific fields. But, in sociological fields – i.e., where people are involved – usually the “duplicates” fall short of the original.

Why? Well, simply put, because people are involved, and people are different from place to place and time to time.

This works into our church life as well. Perhaps a group of believers get together, and they make a huge impact on their community. People study this group of believers, and produce a system with the same activities and programs and ministries and leadership structure, etc. But, they don’t get the same results.

Why not? Because the people involved are different. The context is different. The gifts and opportunities are different.

Perhaps this is why we do not see a clear picture of what the church “looked like” in Scripture. If God gave us a clear picture of what the church looked like in Jerusalem, then many would try to duplicate it. If we had a clear understanding of how the church met in Thessalonika, then others would try to create the same kind of meeting. This kind of duplication will not work, because the people involved (i.e. the church) is different.

So, instead of giving a clear picture of what our church meetings should “look like” or how leadership should be structured, or what ministries we should pursue, we’re given different types of information. Whatever we do should be in love. However we meet, we should edify one another. Wherever we go and whatever we do and whoever leads us, we do so as family.

If we take these kinds of “normative” principles with us, it will not matter (as much) what the church meeting ultimately looks like, or how the leaders operate, or what kinds of ministries we pursue. And, we will recognize that while our meetings, leadership, and ministries may look different than another group’s, our goals and purposes are the same.

We will only be concerned when we find love missing, or mutual edification lacking, or family identification nullified. Then we will seek to rectify the problems… not because of wrong activities.

While we will rejoice about how God works among a group of believers, we will not jump at the “next big thing” that comes along, trying to force another group of believers into a mold created by different people.

Instead, we will be comfortably uncomfortable allowing God to create what he wants to create, with the people that he brings together, using the gifts and talents and opportunities that he gives them. And, we will recognize that it’s okay (and even expected) that we don’t look like another group of believers or that God is working differently in and through us.

And, we will happily refuse to try to duplicate what God may be creating somewhere else or at a different time or among a different group of people. Instead, we will focus on loving, edifying, caring, making disciples, and evangelizing the world as God has given us gifts, talents, opportunities, ministries, and resources.


3 Comments

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  1. 6-23-2012

    Good to have you back Alan, first i would like toi ask you if i can post yuor post wont be fooled again on my blogger?
    second like this post, yet the only one that leads me is god which i am sure you will agree for this is also true wuith you as you grow in grace as I am also growing. And the only duplication that i see God doing is God’s love in and through each and every believer, via The Holy Ghost
    Love yeah man and glad your back, and all is well

  2. 6-23-2012

    Alan,

    Good to see you back on deck!

    “If we take these kinds of “normative” principles with us, it will not matter (as much) what the church meeting ultimately looks like, or how the leaders operate, or what kinds of ministries we pursue. And, we will recognize that while our meetings, leadership, and ministries may look different than another group’s, our goals and purposes are the same”.

    Well articulated! Just like Paul does with his body analogy!

    I hear someone thinking,”But, that would cut out any competition! How could my church reach to higher recognition than yours?”

  3. 6-23-2012

    These are what I and others call “Supracultural principles and functions” that become, in a given context, practices and forms that fit. Within a given context there are many forms and practices that do a good job of fulfilling the principles and practices.

    You’re right, too often we take the superficial approach and try to recreate the practices and forms (“models”), rather than dig and understand the principles and functions that are universal.