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Quantum Changes

April 25, 2005

At the brink of the twenty-first century, the king who knew not Joseph is the collective culture of which we are a part.  The combined impact of the Information Age, postmodern thought, globalization, and racial-ethnic pluralism that has seen the demise of the grand American story also has displaced the historic role the church has played in that story.  As a result, we are seeing the marginalization of the institutional church.

-Mike Regele with Mark Shulz [The Death of the Church: 1995]

marginalized:
excluded or ignored, especially by being relegated to the outer edge of a group or by having the public’s attention diverted elsewhere

I just finished reading a book called ChurchNext: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry by Eddie Gibbs (see non-fiction book list to the left).  The book is a group of many offering a prophetic voice to the western church, saying with urgency that change is not simply coming, but it is here.  The church as an institution is, in many places in the western world,not relevant to the people that surround it, making it obsolete.  In places where it has not yet completely lost its grip, its fingers are being pryed up one at a time, rapidly.  A widely held reaction to the church as an institution is simply "who cares".  I admit this is a very postmodern/GenX response, and one that I have held.  Luckily, I’m getting older and thus must back up my "who cares" with something more thought out.  Even though I know that there is so much more behind the postmodern/GenX response of "who cares" concerning the institutional church, part of my responsiblity is to communicate that effectively, where others simply have quit trying to be understood.   It would  be good to note here that this frustration with the institutional church is not limited to those of younger generations, but has come over many who are finding their own religious Christian pursuits more and more empty.

In my own words, and in my own experience, we have two options as the body of Jesus: stay comfortable and die, or go to battle and live.  Here at Mosaic, we are experiencing together what it means, what if feels like, what effort it takes, to be followers of Jesus who are on mission.  I’m tired.  My brain is constatly full and confused.  The future is always uncertain, but we are trying to create it.  I ask "why me" a lot.  I don’t feel like I’m the best one for job.  And these are things I talk about with others that are walking ahead with me.  And they share the same emotions. 

Last night as we gathered together, we talked about moving from doing things religiously to living a life on mission.  In smaller groups we talked about what our own personal movements are.  For example, from mediocrity to character, or from believing to following.  Lindsey’s family was there visiting with us, and as we voiced our journeys and where we were at on those journeys, Lindsey’s mom sat and listened.  And then, she spoke volumes, at least to me. 

I hear you all talking about how things are hard and how you’ve given up dreams.  That you’ve had to die to things in your life and that you aren’t sure what is next.  But in the midst of that you don’t seem anxious or worried.  You even follow up talking about what is hard by saying that it’s okay.  It seems so different because you just have this peace about you in the midst of it all.  [paraphrase]

That was conformation to me that I am where I am supposed to be, beginning to live a life on mission, and more emphatically a life of faith.  This is a life where I don’t have the answers and the path lights up only after I take a step into the unknown.  This must be what it looks and feels like to follow Jesus.  This is where every member of his body must go;  out of the doors of the church building and into the world of "who cares", reclaiming the image of God in each person and in ourselves.  This is only one of the differences between institutional and missional.  We have to get out of the Christian ghetto and follow Jesus, whose way is narrow, into the dark places (sometimes that is within ourselves) and shine light.

What are your thoughts?  Your stories?

Hello, hello
I’m at a place called Vertigo
It’s everything I wish I didn’t know
Except you give me something
I can feel

                                        -U2

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