by Phil Miglioratti
The problem is not so much organized religion as it is fossilized religion.
Human beings organize. That's what we do. Relationships bring people together. Purpose requires symbiotic actions. We make roads. Schedules. Groups build things. We create community with those we agree with. We write down what we agree upon.
Human beings also create rules and regulations to stay organized but invariably those laws and labels can become fossilized. Truth that has life squeezed out of it. Justice without mercy. Love bound-up by legalism. Rules that grieve and traditions that quench the Spirit. Unnecessarily inflexible. Undeservedly judgmental.
Which is why the Church must pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), inviting the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to how we can apply Romans 12:2. to our systems and structure, traditions and teachings (our interpretations and applications, not the bedrock truths of God-Christ-Redemption).
We need faith-filled, fearless, thought-leaders who ask and seek then keep knocking, looking to scripture and listening in prayer for discernment and direction for the ways and wisdom of God for the days in which we live.
Unafraid to retain how we think.
Redo what we ask the Church to do in discipleship, fellowship, worship, leadership, stewardship, citizenship.
Not conformed to what we have designed. Transformed by the sewing of our mind.
I PARAPHRASE HERE what others have said similarly.
Christianity started as a community of men and women intensely devoted to the teaching and example of Jesus.
When it spread to Greece and N. Africa, it became a philosophy. In Rome it became an institution, and in Europe a culture.
Then it spread to "the New World," and, shaped and influenced by the American enterprise, it became a business.
The version of Christianity with which we Americans are most familiar is a typically American phenomenon. As soon as it achieved some popular “success,” its leaders began to treat it as a product and to develop programs to enable the product to scale in the marketplace.
Ultimately, in a context like that, it’s not the quality of the product that is most important, it is the efficiency of the business plan and the energy and savvy of its marketers.
Genuine faith, however, is not a commodity, and the faith community is not a merchant selling a product. Rather, it reflects a relationship of trust, in God and in other people. It is not efficiently scalable. It is messy, inconsistent, and notoriously inefficient. It’s more like a family than a business.
In a business, you cut loose the unproductive and inefficient and focus on the keen, the sharp, the attractive. In a family, however, you’re "stuck" with Uncle Leo who belches at the table and Cousin Ida who cries all the time.
Ministry as a vocation is not for those who need to measure success by effectiveness in the marketplace. Those folks should start a business. They should not become pastors. The faith community does not exist to advance the career aspirations of its leadership.
On the other hand, those who value relationship over productivity and understanding over efficiency should definitely consider devoting their lives to the service of the people of God.
I never fully understood that truth when I served as a pastor. I would do things differently today.
7 SHIFTS THE CHURCH MUST MAKE TODAY!
1. From a conventional pastoral paradigm...to the ancient apostolic approach.
2. From the Gospel of salvation ...to the Gospel of the Kingdom.
3. From pressing people to make a decision for Jesus...to leading people into discipleship and sacrificial living.
4. From superficial relationships...to authentic community where grace and honor preside.
5. From passive participation, aka ‘church attendance’...to active Kingdom engagement [mission].
6. From mere intellectual knowledge of God...to encountering and walking in the glory of God.
7. From individuals using their gifts autonomously...to becoming the Body of Christ incarnate in the world.
- Glenn Bleakney
How is it that Christians, conservative and liberal, have keen insight into how the Enemy has infected their opponent's policies, but are deaf-dumb-blind to the Enemy's inflitration of their party's positions?