Thoughts on “Pastoring Thoughts”

…from Ray Onami’s post “Pastoring Thoughts
Well, North American churches have really latched on to this “Purpose Driven” fad (I will call it that [Jordon Cooper first noted this]), and a preoccupation with church leadership and administration. I don’t want to call it bad or wrong, but it means that much of the energies (financial, time, talent, etc.) of the “full-time” and lay/volunteer ministers goes towards building this congregational thing up.
I see that the church today has gotten itself lost in that activity. It’s easily to be distracted away from things that matter (as far as I hear the OT, Jesus, and Paul say).
I agree about the time for CEO type leaders has passed (at least in the N.Am. emerging culture, which includes the current [emerging] business environment). CEO style is big in Asia, however – Thailand is notorious/great/horrible/pick-your-adjective. The churches here reflect that, also, unfortunately.
Yeah, let’s explore a narrative style of “teaching”. This emerging generation is going away from relating to propositional truth statements – at its core, it doesn’t help people relate to each other very well, never mind God. I just read something about “narrative theology”, which piqued my interest. I’ll have to look that up sometime.
Anyways, off to bed, I’m soooo behind on sleep and it’s super-late…
Keep up with the reflections – I just found out Brian McLaren has a blog and also found another good theo-blog (Scott Williams), although I haven’t added him to my RSS feed list. I think I wrote the above more in a comment-style… If you had comments [snip]
Update: About the church being preoccupied on leadership and administration issues: it’s a reflection of the nature of the modern day church in North America (and perhaps in Europe). Our churches have become large – for the leadership, mega churches seem like the model to work towards. Even my home church has been contemplating our building renovation and expansion plan. There are visions to become a larger church (we have been bursting at the seams), and an understanding that we may become one of the larger churches in Mississauga. Even my church in Bangkok is about to start their expansion project.
I’m starting to understand how this can push away the missional calling of church. My conversations with Alan lament the symptoms of this trend, “that the [Chinese-Canadian] church is anti-mission’. Of course that’s hyperbole, but some of my favourite theoblogians Andrew Jones has been reflecting about megachurches lately. “…there is real tension between large church structures and the emerging organic structures of church.”
Ok, I digress, I applaud how megachurches like Mars Hill and Willow Creek have led in being cell-based, accessible, and seemingly authentic while being huge. However, the growth process typically lends to numerical growth at the expense of attention to the missional calling of all disciples. Numbers are tangible, discipleship is less so.
It is high time that our churches listen to voices such as Wolfgang Simpson and James Thwaites who are modern day prophets against “church as usual”. I believe God works through mega churches, large churches, all churches, but the warning is against getting stuck in our comfort zone, explaining away God’s call to the work of shalom and of living into His Kingdom.
Well, that was much longer than what I intended to write.

7 Responses to “Thoughts on “Pastoring Thoughts””

  1. dr rumble says:

    how do you qualify: “expense of attention to the missional calling of all disciples. Numbers are tangible, discipleship is less so.”? without #s, willow wouldn’t be able to say that 85% of their congregational membership was involved with the poor/homeless in the chicago area. that’s about 15000 from one church.. i frankly guess that only 10% of all chinese church congregations in toronto (combined) are even remotely involved in the community in this way. this is not to say that willow is the ultimate church, but you have to give me more here =)
    we don’t have all day and a million words to have a debate, but if you look at our chinese churches in TO (while being generalized a bit), i think we have many discipleship issues.. i think good leadership will spawn discipleship.. i don’t really see a large majority of people that we can look up to and take a proactive role in mentoring/counselling/discipling..
    if you can tell me more about your home church, what alan is talking about.. and how you think the missional calling is being ‘lost’, then i’ll get a better idea of what you’re talking about =)

  2. dr rumble says:

    about “purpose driven”.. i agree it’s sort of a fad, but from the results i see at various churches, the accountability is so low that most groups fail.. too much of a chore?
    and to add to my comment before… bill hybels learned that almost 0% of ppl were involved with the poor.. his way of dealing with church issues (he says that willow is like any other church, deals with struggles) is to ‘heat it up in the Word’.. so like a good leader (imo) he taught and gave fuel for a passion for the poor and homeless.. after week after week, ppl were able to take that passion, using willow’s organizational ability to get ppl to work.. after one year, the other #s came back.. and ppl are regularly involved. it’s not the end all, but as an example.. i really don’t see churches coming together to do things in that way.
    and it comes back to church growth.. what do you expect??
    what’s happening in Acts 2:41? why are ‘3 thousand added to their number’? is that something that shouldn’t happen today?
    i agree that a preoccupation is not good and that really every aspect needs occupation, both practically and spiritually.
    i just woke up, hence the rant 😛

  3. Brian says:

    Check out the website for the Canadian housechurch movement: housechurch.ca – former Navstaff colleague Rad Zdero is one of the Toronto-area church planters, and he contends that the housechurch is a New Testament model that needs to be taken more seriously (“Greet ___ and the church that meets in her house…”). One important reason to do so is institutional inertia – i.e. when a church or community becomes very large, there develops a lot of momentum and a tendency towards building and maintaining the institution (i.e. buildings, programs, and the requisite administration – this is the modern corporate model at work). A housechurch is ostensibly freer (in time, resources, focus) to engage in discipleship and outreach (i.e. local neighbourhood or community), and has the capacity to grow quickly, divide and plant again. A large church with an active cell group ministry can look similar to a loose network of house churches, but housechurch proponents would assert that there will often be fundamental differences between the 2 models (e.g. top-down vs. grassroots).
    One could make the argument that the rise of a centralized bureaucratic model of the church in the NT (the need for deacons to be appointed to take care of food distribution to the widows in Acts, probably because church growth was so quick) was not necessarily a good thing.

  4. Alan says:

    Dan, when you link posts from missionspeak, make sure you click the date specific one at the bottom rather than the update main page…
    Matt, I’m not sure if either of us were talking about our home church but I think the idea that should be discussed isn’t so much the ‘Purpose Driven’ trend or the ‘Emergent Church’ trend or whatever. Rather, the focus should be on the right model, given the circumstances. I am neither very gung-ho about Willow Creek, or if there was an argument, I wouldn’t side with one that suggested that the NT elder model wasn’t appropriate, given that situation. The church, in every age, in every part of the Bible is one that dealt with the issues of its day, using the same principles, resulting in different models. The necessity is what? A church with a people that stands apart from society, speaking into society, transformed by the Holy Spirit to bring the difference-maker Jesus Christ to society…
    This is all to say that I’m fence-sitting. I’d be happy if more people simply read their Bibles and acted on Christ’s love, God’s truth, and the Holy Spirit’s community rather than their parents, friends, and superbowl tv ads.
    Cheers,
    Alan

  5. Comments and thoughts on ecclesiology

    Ok, I’m making my response and thoughts on comments to Thoughts on “Pastoring Thoughts” an entry in itself! I think…

  6. dr rumble says:

    brian, thanks for chiming in.. Rad.. that sounded familiar.. he’s friends with one of my closest friends. i think we’re going to visit his house church either tmr or next week. i’ve already heard of concerns regarding his situation in regards to support (which can be addressed by top-down), but that’s a completely different topic..
    anyone i know who has seen bill hybels in person or video, etc, can probably attest that coining willow a ‘business model church’, etc, is by external ppl and not by Bill Hybels’/God’s intentions. what i really wanted to say is that Willow Creek’s vision is based on the housechurch (or rather, the early church: Acts 2).. it just happens that it’s america’s largest church.. fruit? hybel’s vision was to be a biblically based community of believers as in the nt.. sometimes whenever i get into this willow vs. conversations, i wonder if ppl are starting to understand this. is it really apples and oranges? cuz hybel’s belief is that “the local church is the hope of the world”.. not willow creek. he just has a passion to disciple, support and encourage local churches globally.. not to be like willow, but to be at their “redemptive potential”.. his heart is for the lost, not a corporation-like church.

  7. Dan says:

    Yeah, Matt, I agree with you. Why is it that we like to compare with the big things (part of our upsizing culture?) but don’t realize we’re comparing apples and oranges?
    I guess large and apparently “successful” things are always seductive for those who may not necessarily have it. Will the church, at large, turn their eyes away from that and be equippers of disciples for the “good works prepared for us”? Imagine a world where our churches are engaged in the world, being missional and agents of reconcialiation, redemption, and restoration…

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