Friday, January 30, 2009


Viva la Revolucion! But What Kind?

I thought Jailbreaker's last comment to the previous post, "Ministry Models--Jailbreaker's Take", was worth promoting to the main page (and if you haven't paid attention to the conversation, I urge you to go back and read the entire dialogue):
You're right, organization of some kind is essential and your point is well taken. Let me make one last comment that will hopefully bring this back full circle to the original topic of evolutionary and revolutionary models.

From the revolutionary perspective, it's not a matter of "deconstructing" what exists (though admittedly some do think that way) as much as it is a matter of finding new pathways for the Gospel and new expressions of body life for those who have never been a part of our Christian “system” (particularly for those in rocky soil nations).

Clearly, we're in the middle of yet another major paradigm shift in church history and the “positive way forward,” as you put it, is regrettably going to be a bit messy.

George Barna, in his thought provoking book “Revolution” states the following: “The revolution is not about eliminating, dismissing, or disparaging the local [institutional] church…. The core issue isn’t whether or not one is involved in a local [institutional] church, but whether or not one is connected to the body.... The revolution is about recognizing that we are not called to go to church. We are called to be the church.”

He goes on to say that his research shows that about 30% of “true” believers in America are already functioning as a body outside our current institutions (particularly amongst home schoolers). Clearly God is at work in a way that most of us are completely unaware, not to mention being totally out of our control.

The so-called evolutionary model and the so-called revolutionary model both play key roles in advancing God’s kingdom. We need both expressions and which side of the fence we sit will no doubt be determined by God's calling in our lives.

(btw, for an interesting read on "Churchless Christianity" in India, check out this link:


  1. Not going to church is not revolutionary at all. Years have gone by without me attending church regularly, but I still believe in Christ as my personal savior. Christian fellowship makes me happy but I simply don't meet any people who act like Jesus in the day-to-day world, and that's where I prefer to live my life. I worship the heavenly father every time I am moved to do so, be that a momentary sense of inspiration, or a signal I encounter in nature.

    The revolution is not not going to church. "Revolution" is hyperbole. The change, the simple shift in mentality, is that everyone else is finally accepting that I am (and Christians like me are) still Christian despite my rejection of what I consider to be a failed church state.

  2. Nels -- I think you have to go back a bit to see what all the evolution/revolution discussion is about. The question isn't whether or not one goes to church, but rather how change in the visible church is best accomplished ... by pushing the edges from within (evolutionary) or by breaking the system (revolutionary) in favor of something else. I guess I'd propose that depends on who/where you are. Jailbreaker, my favorite revolutionary, approaches these questions from a different direction, with a high emphasis on the "rocky soils" where the gospel has had very little impact. I tend to work mostly within the fold, so I guess that makes me more evolutionary.

    As I've been thinking about this, there's probably a subcategory of revolutionary, perhaps called "reactionary". This is a state of being against something without really being for something better. It's merely an expression of contempt. Sadly, much of what passes for revolutionary thought is merely reactionary. It's easy to be this ... and mostly if not wholly counterproductive for the cause of the gospel in the world.

    Also, you seem to propose the idea that there is little more to being a Christian than having encounters with God or feeling happy when you have Christian fellowship. Jacob had various encounters with God for years before he finally stopped avoiding Him, wrestled Him on the banks of the Jabbok river, walked away limping and humbled, then turned his life over to Him.

  3. We grappled with this in Hawaii. Some people would not attend a formal church service, but they would come to mini-church if they felt comfortable there. The old institutions must allow for this, encourage this, I dare say even pave the way for this so that the gospel can reach the gamers, texters, YouTubers, and bloggers out there.

    It's not about the institution - It's about Jesus. Sometimes I just want to say, why do we still "do church" this way? If Jesus is so able to change our hearts, what is keeping us from changed minds about how we worship him as a group?

    The economy could drive some change here - it's pretty easy to see how that would affect the most institutionalized and least flexible church models. I hope that doesn't happen, unless of course it's the economic portion of God's next ground swell.

  4. Greg, I have often wondered the same thing. That is, if some kind of major economic earthquake or loss of tax-exempt status is what it will finally take for us to be able to see that the "functions" that are mandated by Scripture are much more important than the "forms" we've become accustomed to.

    I suspect that we can learn a great deal from what God is doing in the rocky soil nations around the world. In many ways, the question before our generation is how do we honor the past (i.e western church "tradition") without being bound to it?

  5. do take a look at this site with a lot more sites with the news.over the last three weeks Gas found in Israel..... POD.Blessyou and your's.peace and joy. in Yeshau.

  6. Just spent the last hour(s?) reading this particular series of blog posts. More of these and I won't get to cross out anything on my "to do list." But I'd say it was worth the time. My brain needs this stuff. So does my heart. I'm not a blogger but may soon become one--once my "to do list" gets shorter which may be never. =( But just to let you know, there are silent people reading these and I'm one of them. Thanks!

  7. Thanks, Grace, good to know that some of this is resonating with people. We'll look forward to more of your posts in the future.

  8. Nels, I'm personally glad to hear that you're hanging in there with Christ despite the fact that you don't meet any people who act like Jesus in your day-to-day world.

    I don't know if you got burned by the church or if the so-called Christians in your life were walking hypocrites, but I can understand your reluctance to enter a church building - many around the world feel the same way.

    I'm not going to defend our ways, if anything I would like to apologize to you. We have been guilty of far more than we care to admit and unfortunately the cause of Christ is what ultimately takes a beating.

    In many ways it boils down to issues of the heert, and my sincere desire is that you would be able to experience a meaningful connection to the body of Christ regardless of whether you ever enter a church building again.

    Some very creative people at came up with a video that apologizes to people in your situation. Check it out and click on the H20 Series Show entitled "Polluted." I think you'll find it very refreshing.

  9. I totally agree.
    And being the church means behaving as if we believe the gospel.


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