I finished an intensive short course at McMaster today called Church For This Generation and the Next: Contemporary Models of Church Ministry. It is taught by Dr. Lee Beach (standing right behind me) and it was tremendous. With a small class size the discussion was very vigorous. My head was full by Wednesday and what I need now is a couple of days just to think about what this all means. Here are three highlights that I could point to right off the bat.
1. Relevance Is Out; Authenticity Is In. Quit trying to find the ‘new, hip, funk’ thing that all the young people are doing and then cut and paste it into your church. If you aim for relevance and miss you will be seen as shallow and fake. Just be genuine in your expression of praise (for help on that see number 3). If you aim for authentic you will win every time.
2. Heads up C of C folks. Non-denominational Is A Very Post Modern Thing To be. Mark Silk, director of the Public Values Program at Trinity College says the number of Americans identifying themselves as “Non-denominational Christian” has gone from 200 000 in 1990 to more than 8 million today. The funny thing is that the sectarian “Us vs. Them” attitude that has infected churches of Christ in the past fifty years would ironically have us not recognizing these “Non-denominational Christians” as full brothers and sisters in the faith. The irony is that to really be non-denominational is to be not defined by a name or a distinctive practice but instead to be defined by a dynamic personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We have a bad habit of determining whether people are Non-denominational by whether or not they meet at a Church of Christ building (which effectively makes them Denominational by definition). By making an ‘in group’ of our brotherhood we have created the Non-denominational Denomination, whose only creed is that they don’t have one; whose one tradition is our avoidance of human tradition. I’ll write more about this later.
3. Worshipers Should Produce Worship And Not Consume It. Worship is not a product which must be appealing in order to attract the crowds necessary to create it in the first place. Worship is the expression of a group of people who are immersed in the glory of God. True worship is a completely authentic expression (see number one). When a worshiping community is given permission to express itself it gains in authenticity. Without authentic expression, worship becomes consumer focused and passive. I’ll write more on that later too.
We had a lot to say about the Post-Modern Worldview as well so I thought it was appropriate in the part of The Fellowship of the Ring that Devin and I read tonight we read,
‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.’