well intentioned destruction

hipsterjesus1I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how that breakaway church plants which are filled mostly with 20-3o year olds may be, while well-intentioned, possibly quite destructive to Christianity and also misdirected in terms of utilitzing resources.    While often created with claims to desire to be more interested in community, these younger homogenous (like-kind-member) churches often avoid the realities involved in multi-generational differences of opinion and multi-cultural and multi-class differences of opinion which are involved in real community.  When a church is made up of a bunch of like-minded hipsters of near identical sociological and aesthetic mindsets, they are likely to not appreciate real differences, and certainly can avoid those conflicts which might lead them to a greater self-reflectivity.   At the same time, stealing all the youthful energy and innovation from the established churches means that a. the established churches will suffer and b. that the youthful breakaway churches will use much of their energy establishing foundational infrastructures and those established protocols traditions and material bases which established churches already possessed.  In the meantime the established abilties and resources of the established churches are lost to innovative designs as the young have fled to build the wheel again as they pursue their visions without the bother of dealing with people who have opinions differing from their own.  All the while opportunities for maturation and reflective interation are lost to both sides.   

This is especially important to us at Simple Free since we are a younger group of like-minded people.  It seems healthy that many of us also attend a more traditional Sunday service (although some of those are also breakaways of younger like minded people).   Thinking about all this has led me to see the importance of being involved in an established church above and beyond simple free, and to seeing that involvement as a ministry to the church at large.  That is why I attend 1st Presbyterian Church while also holding Simple Free study and liturgy services here at our house on Tuesday nights….

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9 responses to “well intentioned destruction

  1. There is certainly truth to this. There is also the other side of the issue, which is the established churches clinging too tightly to their ‘establishment.’ Sometimes they cling too tightly to the non-important issues and thus squelch the youthful energy and innovation.

  2. simplefreechurch

    JD: I agree, and it is so difficult for churches to stay unified while trying to preserve and respect tradition (and whatever that means to some) while also working to be effectual and relevant (and whatever that means to some others). The question of “what are non-important issues” seems to be the key, since what is not important to some is sometimes dear to others…

  3. Church going has become a matter of personal preference to such an extent that any preference may warrant separation (or relocation) for some people and this is true not just for young people.

    The church as a family should value unity beyond agreement or like mindedness. Just like my crazy family, we all come together because of our parentage. This should be so much more true for the church. Then in unity we can uphold the essential truth of our faith.

    I have gained a lot of personal growth through practicing the selflessness of putting aside my preferences in our multigenerational church and wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  4. Thanks for the invite to comment, Andy. I got a kick out of the words,”the established abilties and resources of the established churches”. Being a pastor of an established church (150 years of history), we are preparing to celebrate the touching of three centuries for Christ. I think you would like our motto: “We’re 150 years old and we don’t act our age!” I liked Becky’s words, “Just like my crazy family, we all come together because of our parentage.” In my opinion, it is impossible to get too far away from each other if we stay near our “Parent!” We are considering incorporating a “Home Church” in our fellowship and making the guy a “Co-pastor.” I am excited about that. We both think outtathebox and I think, as the older, much older of the two, I am farther outtathebox than he is! Keep on talkin’!!!

  5. I think house churches are very relevant to today’s Christian organism. With mega-churchs growing in metropolitan areas, it’s hard to find the personal connection and accountablity that is essential for Christian growth. A lot of house churches are created out of frustration because the ‘old church’ doesn’t embrace new ideas, which Jesus spoke of in the parable of the wine skins. It is divine intention, I think, for church to operate as a multi generational unit, and is beautiful when it does.
    Does this mean that I am opposed to churches? No, just that small house churches are very relevant and can be used mightily for advancement of the Kingdom of God and could be even more powerful if the ‘church’ would partner together with it for the greater good.

    “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity”

  6. Dina, I agree that house churches can be really great, and be and also that multi generational churches and established churches can be great too. It seems hard to find personal connection and some forms of accountability like you say without a small group dynamic where someone asks you direct questions and you feel free to be honest– whether thats a house church or a small group within a larger church. What is also important to me is that we seek ways to serve the church, and not approach it as consumers just getting what we want. I think that can happen in both kinds of church as well. Thanks a lot for your post!!

  7. Paul R Kimmons

    Andy

    Re: Well Intended Destruction

    Your thinking about breakaway church plants is very insightful and embodies considerable truth. However, think about this: How many of the people you know who are “living on the edge” would fit or would be fully accepted or even could get to one of our “oh-so-nice” suburban evangelical churches? We need a theologian who is a servant leader and pioneer inner-city evangelical missionary who can experiment and put together an indigenous inner-city genuine caring church community in our culture. How-to and results could then be disseminated for duplication throughout the country. Does it make sense that most of the population of our great cities don’t fit in our present culture’s evangelical model?

    Look at the example of the Apostle Paul. He only went to the cities and then quickly started churches with a few believers. Some knew about God, but had just accepted Jesus and others who were considered heathen and had just accepted Jesus. Then, in a short time, he appointed the most mature believers in the group (Acts 14:23) to give spiritual guidance to the other “baby Christians” who still had a lot of problems (I Cor. 5:1, 6:1, 7:1). From the example of Berea (Acts 17:11) we find that the careful study of Scripture was an important emphasis to help new believers discover for themselves how to travel the road to more “Christ-likeness”.

    Then when you think about the pre-flood culture, God evaluated it as “completely corrupt” and had to be destroyed. In other words, evil had triumphed over good (Genesis 6:12). The only difference between then and now is the “church” which Jesus the “God-man” instigated (Matt. 6:18). The purpose for the church is to be salt and light to the culture (Matt. 5:13, 14). Salt, of course, stings, but helps heal hurts, and preserves or protects the good in society. Light pushes back darkness or evil and illuminates the truth about God’s love. All this is to say that the only difference between the pre-flood culture and our post-flood culture is the “universal” church that Jesus, the God-Man, initiated. In our current culture God has “put all his chips” on caring churches to stand against the corruption and be the healing force in our culture. All this means that it is very important to develop a working church model that reaches out to the vast unchurched majority of city dwellers who are “living on the edge” or are single or divorced or minorities or handicapped or elderly or poor or etc. Only in this way can “good triumph over evil” in our culture in our time! Paul R. Kimmons

  8. simplefreechurch

    Paul, thanks for that! It seems like we do live in a world of pre-flood behavior, although we do have post-flood knowledge…I think our group is trying to do this somehow, although right now we are trying to figure out how more than we are doing in fact. But it is difficult because we don’t have a lot of good models of how to do this and also continue to live somewhat normal lives with jobs and all the typical responsibilities we have… Certainly any church is filled with people with particular difficulties and stresses and problems, but most church people don’t feel very comfortable around the marginalized and unchurched in our inner cities. I have coffee with semi homeless guys each day and I don’t have any easier time talking to them about my faith than most suburbanites do talking to people like themselves at the water cooler about Christ at their workplace… But at least I have connections and inroads into this inner city world. I need to use the connections I do have more rather than having unique opportunities and just sitting on them…As for bringing any insights back to the massive churches, I think this is very important, because the massive churches have the resources to help us make real differences, and those people need to be moved towards the city– particularly those churches who already exist in the city! –andy

  9. Andy,
    Individuals have the resources to make real change in a persons life. The way the massive churches get the resources is through individuals. I have unfortunately seen such a mismanagement of resourses that it has left me somewhat synical of the ‘church’. It is important that we all do our jobs, the jobs we have been assigned to, and be ready with the gospel of peace at all times. God places all of us in positions to meet each others needs, because “it is not good for man to be alone”; whether in the inner city with the homeless or in the suburb with the overstressed workaholics, or in corporate board rooms with empty, lonely people that don’t even know they have a need. The problem with do church in the church is that a lot of people that need the ministry that a church should supply are not going to the church. Jesus didnt say, “Build a church and I will send people to you so that you can share my good news.” He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Dina

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