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Deconstructing… to see the kingdom of God increase?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in blog links, definition, discipleship | 11 comments

Deconstructing… to see the kingdom of God increase?

When it comes to the church – and especially when it comes to moving away from a more institutional/organizational approach to church and moving toward a more organic/simple approach to church – it seems that deconstruction is a necessary first step. As many have found, it can be a difficult and painful first step, but an important one all the same.

Two of my favorite bloggers have (or will) write about this kind of deconstruction…

Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” recently completed his 10 part series and summarized it in a post called “Series Summary: Ten Church Structures That Hinder Disciple Making.” He introduces his summary like this:

Discipleship ought to be alive and well within the church. However, several time-honored church traditions act as roadblocks when it comes to discipleship. Many of these are so familiar that they are not questioned.

Similarly, Miguel at “God Directed Deviations” is just beginning a new series with a blog post called “I Don’t Want To Be That Guy Who’s Pegged As Anti-Church, But…” In this introductory post, he writes:

Anything that impedes The Gospel, detracts from Making Disciples, or moves in a direction that is Contra-Kingdom has got to be shattered. I do understand though, that the speed or manner by which any institution or system is shifted away from the actions or attitudes that cause those things will differ depending on context, culture, and willingness. Likewise, I understand that the time frame in which a local body becomes self-aware on those issues will vary.

I’ve been through this process – and in some ways, I’m still going through it and probably always will be going through it. The most difficult part is that relationships are often fractured because of differences (and growing differences) in the way people understand and live as the church.

I think this is probably caused by what Miguel refers to as the differences which depend “on context, culture, and willingness” and the “time frame” in which both a local body and individuals take these steps of change (or don’t take these steps of change).

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of weeks, you know that I’ve been writing about two related topics: “real relational unity” and “community hermeneutics.” Of course, this concept and process of “deconstruction” is strongly related to both unity and community hermeneutic/interpretation.

So, while thinking about deconstructing our church traditions, organizations, institutions, etc. in order to see the kingdom of God increase (the title of this post), a question kept running through my mind…

Knowing that people grow and change at different rates, how do we change structures that affect us as a group (when we are not at the same place as a group) without breaking those important relationships (i.e., maintaining unity)?


11 Comments

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  1. 4-30-2013

    While I am totally convinced that God CAN do anything and that many local church bodies CAN change, it doesn’t really seem to be the way things happen. I think the most significant change will happen as people start to DO church/disciple making/ Christ-following a different way. It’s already happening and those that don’t or won’t change will eventually die off.

    I believe that Scripture gives us a bit of a hint as to how to be change makers and it’s not to force it on existing groups.

    Jesus said that if a town or village doesn’t receive you– shake the dust off your feet and move on

    You can’t put new wine into old wineskins

    He indicated that trying to fix a field by removing all the tares would cause too much disruption to the plants that were still growing

    Even when God took the Israelites out of Egypt, while they COULD have entered the promised land quickly, the reality was that He arranged for the ‘old guard’ to die off and brought an entirely new generation into the promised land.

    When they did actually occupy, they were to totally kill off the existing inhabitants and not intermingle. It was beause that ‘mixing’ was not good for the end result. We know the grief that this disobedience caused…

    All in all, I am challenged because I WANT to see the folks I already know, see that perhaps God is doing a new thing in our world today. But that might more properly be left up to Him. Starting over, starting fresh, is difficult, lonely and challenging. Hmmm, maybe that’s when we most need to be a genuine Christ-follower first and foremost.

  2. 4-30-2013

    We need to ask ourselves some tough questions, and honestly look to God for the answers. What is the basis for unity? It’s not what you might think. It’s not ‘love’ but ‘life’ – our common life in Him. Understanding that, that we have only one Lord, that only He is the Head of His church, is the only way we can ever hope to overcome the reasons for disunity. We have only one faith…that which was delivered to all the saints. There is only one baptism…we were all placed into one body, and we are members of that one body, of which, again, Christ is the Head.

    Now ask yourself, do we really believe that? Do we understand it?

    Who designed the church? For what purpose? Does the living word of God only give us general guidelines, or are there specific instructions given to us to show us what God wants for His people? For His church?

    What are the causes for disunity? Do we come to the Word of God with our own ideas, our own opinions? Or do we come with the idea that what we read there, we will obey? Are we willing to give up our preconceived ideas, our filters through which we read the word of God, and sincerely desire to understand God’s instructions? Are we?

    And once we find the truth, are we willing to pay the price for it?

  3. 4-30-2013

    I don’t know. I guess there is no formula or way to do this right and clean…. so it looks different and will be handled differently for everybody….. depending on the quality of relationships and what the group is and how long they’ve been together, etc…

    Some thoughts…

    If you’re not a ‘leader’ in a group…. and the ‘leader’ doesn’t desire to change the structures, direction…. then I do believe God will often call you out of that group setting. You may not be able to continue on as part of the group the way they are doing things, but I do believe He will help you and nudge you to keep some individual relationships in tact. You have separated from the group doings… but He will allow you to keep connection with the group through an individual or 2. And I have found those relationships to be so Christ-focused and unifying and such a gift because the only unity then is Christ and not any other reason or things holding us together.

    For those people in your former group that you won’t continue regular relationships with… you can still be unified in Christ while still choosing to not be in each other’s lives. Unity in Christ at that point looks like not gossiping about each other, forgiving any differences or hurts and instead praying for each other, having genuine love/interest when paths do cross and you see each other.

    In groups in general…. a letting go of expectations and personal timetables sounds like a great idea to have a healthy, God-focused group. If the relationships are quality, and it’s a Christ-focused group…. anybody should be able to freely share ideas and you can process out what that can look like…. if there’s a lot of push back on a change but there’s clearly a desire to stay together as a group… then I guess the timing is not right.

    I don’t know! I’m just so glad when God revealed to me the way Church could be…. that I wasn’t a preacher pastor… and that instead I had a clear path out and could take it without much damage or dissent! :)

  4. 4-30-2013

    I’d like to pick up on the wineskins idea.
    Jesus said that putting new wine into an old wineskin will destroy the old wineskin and lose the wine. Old wineskins have their use, but not for new wine. New wine has its value, but that value is lost in an old wineskin.
    Scripture says to get along with everyone as much as we can. No one likes it when former associates ostracize one for choosing the new wine. All the same, there is a promise for those who are separated from family and friends by going after the new wine. Jesus said “you will receive a hundred times as much in this life and you will inherit eternal life.”

  5. 4-30-2013

    I’d like to elaborate a bit on my first post and perhaps introduce a ‘whole ‘nuther’ subject for Alan’s consideration. First, my point is that it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect that everyone will ‘get it’ whatever the point may be. It’s apparent to me that God essentially understands this and doesn’t expect full mixing whether from how He made us or from our sinful nature, it doesn’t work well.

    This is NOT to say that we can’t all be friends or even in fellowship. That we don’t all function the same is actually okay. And here is my second comment. In my experience the IC has not done a very good job in teaching or explaining that we can still be in relationship even though our ‘non-essential’ beliefs may be different. When I left the IC, many folks abruptly ended any relationship with me on the premise that since I had left, I ‘must not want any relationship with them’. This was assumed of course and never was I asked why I left. I went quietly to avoid any appearance of causing disunity.

    My close friends however, both in and out side that local body, remained in relationship to one degree or another. Few of them really expressed much curiosity. Those in my sphere of Christian community did know and we have many conversations similar to this blog content. Some have stayed, some have not but our relationship has remained as fellow Christ-followers.

    Btw, that ‘whole ‘nuther’ subject revolves around the leaving of the IC and the not infrequent isolation imposed on those who left and the abrupt ‘cutting off’ that happens. Yes, it hurts on occasion but my greater concern is the total lack of equipping of the flock regarding differences among us.

  6. 5-1-2013

    Interestingly, if I look back at my beliefs and practices only 15 years ago, I would wonder how that person would ever change to who I am today… and would I be patient with him and allow God to change him… or would I try to push him along at my pace.

    -Alan

  7. 5-1-2013

    I’m with you, Alan. When I look at how I’ve changed (and how I need to change, yet), I reckon I can let the others slide a little longer.
    In order for a group to travel together, it must travel at the pace of the weakest(or most stubborn).

  8. 5-2-2013

    Nelson,

    I agree… and the “weakest” may not always be who we think it is. It may just be the one(s) with the strongest convictions and opinions.

    -Alan

  9. 5-3-2013

    Alan, I think I know what you mean about strong convictions. I know a man that had to hold tenaciously to his convictions because they were so unpopular. When it began to dawn on him he was mostly wrong, he had to tread very carefully. Kind of like, not throwing the baby out with the bath.
    Scripture says to lift up such people in a spirit of meekness, all the while remembering that we are subject to the same temptations.
    It always comes back to ‘one-anothering’ doesn’t it?

  10. 5-3-2013

    heartspeak —

    the Church should be the place where we can learn and show others how to be unified in Spirit even when we are not unified in brain, personality, passion, major interest, strongest convictions.

    I know our children in public schools are certainly not being taught how to disagree. In general, our world now desires only *one* opinion on any subject… and if you don’t agree with that opinion…. they are not tolerant of it… and if you dare voice your differing opinion, you are disrespectful, pushy or even unloving.

    The religion of our culture is the strongest religion I know. I am not even exactly sure what it’s morality is and what the basis of right and wrong is. I’m not sure who decides – I guess whatever makes the most money and the majority feels or something…. or maybe just the majority of the politicians.. I don’t know.

    but just ask my 1st grader who got a note home because he (in a kind way naive just stating his opinion way) told his classmates that he didn’t believe Santa was real when they would talk about him.

    It would have been a great opportunity to teach children how to disagree and respect other’s opinions even when they are different…. but instead it was a note to silence the opinion that was different from the majority.

  11. 5-5-2013

    Nelson,

    Exactly.

    Randi,

    “Being taught to disagree”… that’s a great thought actually.

    -alan