Monday, February 01, 2010

Thinking about Church

A couple of things I've read recently are helping me think about church. The first is from Bill Hybels book Axiom. It's about DNA, but the point that stirred my thoughts was the need to discover a church's DNA and plot the course to a new DNA carefully. As we face the challenge of change, we need to be careful about identifying the DNA of what is ahead of us and about how we become DNA carriers amongst the leadership team and the wider church.

And then I was reading Ed Stetzer's blog and was reminded that fundamental to the church is the call to conversion. This is part of our DNA. The gospel changes lives. It doesn't replace one set of principles with another, it doesn't overlay an extra set of faith values or offer an alternative lifestyle.

The gospel calls for a radical loss of self in order to discover our truest identity. We die to live. We take up our cross every day, we lose our lives to find them. This is not a gospel of self-realisation but a gospel of self-denial. I am not the centre of the universe.

Putting the two together means that if the transforming power of the gospel and a strong expectation of seeing lives transformed, souls saved or won, however you want to phrase it, is not part of the DNa then whatever is formed by that DNA will not be the church. This is not at odds with a desire to see a new expression of biblical community.

Preface it with what you like: attractional, missional, traditional, contemporary, emergent, it doesn't matter, it won't be the church. The church is God's chosen vehicle for his missionary activity in the world. Take that away and you've taken the heart out of the church.


Ricky said...

I was thinking about DNA as a metaphor. Our DNA as a human being carries a whole lot about us, but an identical twin or a clone, would not have the same experience, the same knowledge of God; certainly a similar character, but not necessarily transformed through the work of the Spirit of God. The DNA does not carry everything that is important to us.

I understand the metaphor here is something different to the physical DNA of each of us, and that it references what we inherit from previous generations in the church. But perhaps this weakness in the metaphor is actually important, namely that each generation within the church must gain its own knowledge of God, must allow God’s Spirit to transform and redeem us, as well as of course, to undertake the missional work that is vital to Her (the church’s) on-going health.

Richard Pool said...

Hi Ricky

Thanks for the comment. I guess when you boil it all down, I'm primarily using DNA to refer to the fundamental characteristics of the church. But the idea of inheritance strikes me as a really interesting perspective

You're quite right of course that each generation of the church must find its own relationship with God and it must also allow the Spirit of God to do his work.

So maybe part of our responsibility is to discern the good from the bad in those characteristics that we have inherited.