22 May 2009

Hook. Line. Sinker.

"I dream of a church, which does not need huge amounts of money, or rhetoric, control and manipulation, which can do without powerful and charismatic heroes, which is non-religious at heart, which can thrill people to the core, make them lose their tongues out of sheer joy and astonishment, and simply teach us The Way to live." -- Wolfgang Simson

Church. The term is a common frustration amongst many Christians today. The unhappiness of the state of its presence, meaning, and general effect on the culture of America is growing rapidly. Unfortunately it seems the unwillingness to seek or be a form or force of change encapsulates the hearts of many more, a resilience marked by complacency, traditionalism, and individualistic spiritual pursuits.

As I have continued to see this frustration grow in me, I cannot help but continually asking "Why?" Why do I feel this way about the entity that should be the power of Christ on earth? Why do I read the Bible, look at churches around me and wonder why they do not seem to match up?

Jesus Christ said "follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."

In today's culture, we have redefined and repositioned ourselves as the Body in this role. Let me explain. Have you ever seen the show The Deadliest Catch? These guys literally risk their lives in order to obtain the highest amount of crustacean they can...all for a substantial grand prize for the boat with the largest payload. The mental and physical fortitude of these individuals is remarkable, but when they are focused and effective on each task they have, the overall work of the team is amazing.

Yup, you saw this analogy coming. The boat, the captain, the crew, the pods; not the most original, I know. Now, think about how this relates to a local church. The many different boats in one portion of the sea, all with one purpose. But think how true to Americanized Christianity this analogy really is. We want our 'church' to win, don't we? To have the biggest payload at the end of the season? We have developed methods, built bigger buildings with top-notch technology, and in some cases de-personalized our faith in order to be more attractive to the many fish swimming nearby to snag them on to our boat.

Let's switch gears for a moment and re-angulate this analogy. Could you imagine if instead of going out to either (1) drop the pods or (2) check back on them, the crew decided to focus solely on up-fitting the boat? Now, this is not to say that things do not need maintenance, replacement, etc. The point I am driving at is that now, the crew actually ceases to be fishermen, forgetting the purpose for which they were sent out. Most churches seem to rather spend time building a machine than building relationships, investing in those around, scanning the sea to see where uncaught fish are lurking. Some boats don't even leave the dock.

So what do these two takes on a simple analogy point towards? Necessity and simplification. I think we are at a time where we need to be learning how to embrace what our first brothers and sisters in Christ did in the current status of our society; communities breathing life together. It is time to stop creating church buildings and church services so people can feel at home there, and start developing homes where the Church can build and serve the people there. Maybe I'm just too jaded, too organic, or too idealistic in my thoughts, but there is something uncomfortably close to what began as followers transformed by a love like none other to transcend the trends of the day to experience redemption of communities and cultures in these margins. This is the Church I love.

"Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all people." Acts 2:43-47

Keep seeking.