Tag Archive: postmodern


Andrew Jones gives insightful commentary on what is happening in the church globally as well as being an inspiration for me personally as he and his family live faithfully to Jesus.

I recommend you give this post on the direction of the church a read. I find myself agreeing with much and glad he wrote it! I also wonder – as always – about contextualization. The Church in South Africa is not in the same place as elsewhere. But is the “elsewhere” as big as some of us think? In other words, are the trends Andrew refers to fringe, mainstream, or somewhere in between? Are YOU seeing some of these aspects of church coming about? Which ones?

In thinking of his points in our local context,

I am seeing:

10. Many of these [unchurched] believers are finding ways to connect and share life with each other. These connection points and celebration events look like house churches but they are different. Whatever they are, they are part of the postmodern church landscape.

I am most encouraged by:

2. Modernity divided church into CHURCH (the ecclesiastic) and PARACHURCH (the seminaries, missions, youth ministries, etc). What we are seeing now is intentional communities and travelling teams that not only support the church – THEY ARE CHURCH

I am not seeing:

5. The [church] stages are shrinking because believers are no longer under compulsion to perform the gospel. The community of God becomes a better apologetic for God than the stage ever was. . . . The stage also shrinks because multi-media happens in multi- spaces, on multi-walls, in multi-rooms, by multi-people. Entryways, hallways and sidewalks become stages for art and expression.

Andrew, thanks for your insightful (as always article). Everyone else, please go read what Andrew is saying about the future church coming now.

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Met a great couple the other night who are also wanting to explore what church can be. They are feeling pretty discouraged, especially in trying to find people who are willing to do more thank talk ideas. Why is it that so many people have time for a conversation about being church differently, but can’t make the time to live it out? A few suggestions:

  • We just want to complain, not actually do something different
  • We are lazy – they want different but aren’t willing to put in the work to help make it so
  • We don’t know what to do – we know things aren’t all they can be but we have no picture of possibilities
  • We feel crazy – can I think this? Do other people think this?
  • We just can’t break out of the system as it is to do what’s on our heart

What other reasons can you think of? Maybe you’ve been there, or there yourself…

One hurdle that seems difficult for many to jump over is the notion that the church is the place of religious life, distinct from the rest of life. This manifests itself in church being the “place we go to be with God.” Another more subtle, but perhaps more powerfully misconception, is that when we ALL gather in Jesus’ name, that time  is more holy than when some of us gather in Jesus’ name. So, a Bible study, small group, worship time, prayer gathering, or serving opportunity are NICE, but it’s REALLY church when ALL of us get together once a week? Why do so many people think this? Do you?

We need to think of Church as spirituality for all of life. Yes, it’s us helping one another do it. Yes, we need together. But we also need to think of all the “parts” as church. It’s not just the “once a week when we are together for xyz” that is church. It’s a loving conversation over coffee. It’s helping a neighbor fetch their kids from school. It’s sharing or studying scripture with a friend. It’s all of that. And more. It’s not some religious gathering we “do.” It’s the life with Jesus we share with one another.

Church is Jesus life together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems like I know quite a few people who aren’t satisfied with their church.  I’m not talking about ultra-consumer Christians or people who can’t ever seem to be “fed” enough. I’m talking about people who earnestly want to grow in their discipleship of Jesus and are absolutely willing to give the time and energy to this pursuit – and helping others in this pursuit.

And I know a number of people who are interested in God, Jesus, or even just what might be termed spirituality. And they’ve tried this religion and that place of worship and their hearts aren’t inspired.

In both cases, we have a case of knowing what isn’t working. What frustrates me, however, is the seeming struggle to move toward something new, something amazing. I’m pretty sure God desires and pictures the Church to be something that is life-changing for us and pleasing to God! So, what’s the problem?

Walter Brueggemann, in his brilliant book The Prophetic Imagination, suggests that when God wants to do something new, there is a need to both criticize what is and energize to what can be.  Criticism without a picture of possibilities generally ends in frustration and paralysis. I find this to be true for many who know what’s wrong with the Church, but can’t picture something different. On the other hand, simply painting continual pictures of new possibilities is so prone to fads and quick-fixes.  Further, my experience has been that people don’t NEED any new ideas if they don’t think the current thing needs fixing. To really engage alternative ideas for Church, we need to lovingly examine what is lacking and courageously experiment with what God is leading us toward.

I am also convinced that too many people don’t believe they have the ability, responsibility, or authority to want more. I’m not talking about any sort of crazy schemes or clearly man-made efforts. But if God wants people doing this Jesus-following together (and God does – more in other posts), then aren’t we compelled to be as faithful as we can to God’s heart? And if our souls are what we are talking about, don’t we want what’s right and beautiful and life-giving? And don’t we want that for others too?  I do. I want that in existing churches. I want that to re-new churches.  I want that in new churches.

I must paint these pictures of possibility with others. Are you up for a little dreaming?

 

I am glad to talk with people who know they need others in their following of Jesus. The questions then turns to something like, “so what are you looking for in a church.” Fair question. And the part that is really good about this question is the assumption that the Church is meant to be fulfilling and helpful in our discipleship – and we want to ensure we are incorporating that as part of what the church is. Also, it implies that we are indeed willing to be part of something bigger than us.

However, we also need to remind ourselves that the church isn’t just what we think we want or need. It is God’s people, God’s agent of Kingdom, and a bunch of other really helpful metaphors (more on these soon) that God says it is. It isn’t simply a something for us to consume or shape into our own likeness. I don’t know about you, but I would probably craft something really fun and me-looking, and probably would avoid those bits I don’t enjoy. This of course does not mean that we are inconsequential – it is, in fact, made up of us! But our individual personal desires must be help in tension with what God desires and the others who are part. growth, satisfaction, or happiness are not the end goal.

I think it is really important to share a basic understanding of what the Church is and what it is meant to do. Then, we can talk about our individual needs/preferences/gifts in light of that. We can also get creative with HOW it’s done based on the best ways to help people experience God and grow into the likeness of Christ. Otherwise, we create something that is suited for us and perhaps no one else. This would miss the very clear mission of God (and therefore God’s Church) to be outward focused.

I am hoping that as we live into this, we can talk/do our way into what God has in mind. What does God want to create that will be a blessing to many, including us? Seems that if we are praying and God is in it, it could be really amazing. I am looking for a church that helps people (me included!) to become more like Jesus.

What are you looking for in a church?