Friday, January 30, 2009

On the relevance of the church.

This is not my first time to vomit my thoughts on the Church around here, and I'm willing to guess that it won't be the last, considering what I've been thinking about recently.

I am considering the question of whether or not the church is relevant to our culture today in North America (or perhaps the Western World). The more I think about it, the more I'm beginning to wonder if that is a question we should really be asking of the Church (that is, the church universal). Furthermore, I really don't think that relevance is what we need at this point in time. In fact, come to think of it, I really don't think that relevance is that we need at all, ever.

Ultimately I think the question we need to be asking ourselves as those who claim to serve Christ, and as the community that makes the same claim, has more to do with how are we representing Christ and portraying Him to the world around us instead of whether or not people care about what the church is doing, or if we are "reaching the lost".

Now, before you go getting your gitch all twisted up and angry at me even thinking such a thing, top and think for a minute what I'm actually trying to say. What I am trying to say, but perhaps my words fail to do so is that it seems to me that for a number of years there has been a "holy obsession" (that which people think is right an honorable, but may not in fact be so) with being "relevant" to our culture in what we do and say. We try to translate what we believe into terms that we think will be easier to understand for those who don't know what Jesus is, and making sure that our services are "seeker sensitive" or appealing to the masses, who simply look for some sort of polish on production.

Even certain "movements" in the Christian world, like the "emerging church"or the call to be "missional" seem to fall into this sort of people pleasing system of carrying out teaching and essentially some sort of more positive image for the Church.

But even this I think falls short of what it is that we are indeed actually called to be as those who have inherited that Child of God status. I guess what I'm really wondering about any specific church movement or icon is who they/we are trying to please or what they/we are trying to actually accomplish.

The deconstruction of the church has happened before. I'm wondering if that's what is needed and indeed what is beginning to happen among some communities. Has the "Evangelical Church" begun to show some evidences of being like the Roman Catholic Church of the pre-reformation period? This is an honest question. The very idea of it disturbs me, but I can't help be wonder if there is some truth to it. If that is indeed at least partially true, then what should be our response?
I exist as a part of a denominational system that I support but I also question. There are certain aspects of the training and the organization structure that grate on me. I can't reconcile the current system with what I see as a New Testament church ideal. I believe there needs to be education for those who desire to be pastors, I also believe that pastors should be held accountable to what they are teaching and their personal theology, but I think that the present process is seriously flawed.
For the Christian and Missionary Alliance there are two significant current steps that one must go through, Accreditation and Ordination. Of course only men can complete both. Woman are permitted to be accredited but not ordained. There is a fundamental flaw here, but that can be discussed elsewhere. It seems to me that this is just an institutional form of control, based upon a man-made system that inevitably fails to maintain the standard it has set for itself. Women are denied access to leadership because of it, and some men are denied leadership because they don't say the right things.
This is just a small example of the problem of institution. I am not criticizing my denomination, I am however stating the issues that exist.

So I revert to my earlier question, who is it that we are serving? Is it people who don't seem interested in what the "church" is doing or saying or who are interested but are against it? Or is it the God who created us to be in community with each other, to love and serve others, especially those who are in need. There are indeed people who are in line with what God desires, but I wonder how many of us are missing the point.

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