Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret plan—that Christ is also for you Gentiles. An excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Colossians (4:2-3)
A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling . . . [We must] play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, and live by improvisation and experiment. Hans Kung, The Church as the People of God
Be diligent in your prayer life. Mind -- alert. Heart – thankful, says Paul, and pray for Timothy and me. What was the gist of the prayer support they desired? Pray that we would have many opportunities to present the gospel to diverse people groups (his reference to “you Gentiles” refers to any people group that was not Jewish)!
Hans Kung flashes forward two thousand years from Paul’s request to the believers in Colosse to the church today. Kung doesn’t mince words (how refreshing), and his quote is worth unpacking for a closer look . . .
Why is it that most churches are not constantly looking for new horizons to export the gospel?
Why is it that so many churches set themselves in a pattern of walling themselves in rather than keep themselves mobile?
Why has Christ’s church traded its mission of being in constant transition for brick and mortar monuments?
Why is it so often the case that when a body of believers is challenged to follow example to risk, improvise, and experiment, like Paul did, the message and its messenger is subverted or viciously resisted?
Why is the current emergent or contemporary church movement being scorned, nit-picked, and derisively caricatured -- when in fact, the “contemporary and emergent” movement is finally bringing the church back to its roots and mission, and struggling with the same issues the early church did (i.e. sanctification, doctrine, and relevance)?
Why is it that the “traditional” church (traditional being a mode of doing things like they have always been done in spite of the fact that there is almost nothing getting done to advance the kingdom) is held up as the standard of measurement, when in fact, nearly every standard that many traditional models measure by, and hold so dearly, were never the standard of measurement used by the New Testament churches of the book of Acts and the Epistles (i.e. worship styles, dress, and a determination to be irrelevant)?
Does anybody else see this, or am I imagining things . . .
The Traditional church often measures success by how many it can sit in its beautiful buildings—the New Testament church measured success by how many feet were carrying the gospel into the ugly world.
The Traditional church measures success by how many people of means in the community are on its roles, and how much money is in its checkbook—The New Testament church was made up of the marginal people in the community and nearly always financially broke (but spiritually wealthy)!
Men’s credentials impress the Traditional church—”faithful men” impressed The New Testament church.
The Traditional church is hopelessly committed to its structure—the New Testament Church was radically committed to its Savior.
A Traditional church is led by the will of the people—Spirit appointed leaders led the New Testament church.
The goal of most Traditional churches is to “feed” the people—the goal of the New Testament church was to make disciples of Christ.
Is it a fair statement that most part Traditional churches have found it more important to be traditional, rather than Biblical?
Is it time for the “Traditional” church to repent?