Monday, April 25, 2005

More Eph. 2 Problems

"[Jesus] gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastor-teachers, for the equipping of the saints" (italics added . . . by most 20th/21st century Christians who speak or write).

More issues I have with making this the latest job description for "pastors" (ask most any church historian for a run-down of the verses used by 'professional Christians' over the last 1000+ years as their 'job description' verse - it's fascinating!). But first, some quick backdrop...

Most every citizen of the United State believes that what they think is important is concurrently important for EVERYONE. Ever come across a salesperson who is "off duty?" They sell anyway. Ever come across someone with a disabled child? The message of their child's illness needs to spread, awareness needs to be raised. Ever talked to a disgruntled church-member about the local, professional sports team? The teams failings, miraculously!, mirror the failings of their local church.

So it is with pastors. We(?) speak as if "the ministry" (one of the most vague terms/concepts in Western Christianity) is the goal, point, apex of human existence. You're not fully alive unless you are doing "Ministry." The God-shaped void is not fully filled until one is (1) a Christian and (2) equipped unto service. Why? Because the pastor's job is to equip! That's what the verse says! God said it, I believe it, that settles it. [Maybe that last sentence should end manditoraly with a comma]

Therefore, the human-who-is-pastor does what we all do (see paragraph 3 above). We assume that what is important to me/us is vital for every human. So we make people's vocations less than their "spiritual calling." I am tempted to end this post now, but I'll continue a bit further.

The rise of business literature that proposes a humane approach to not only activity directed towards employees but even their community will make this all VERY disruptive. What do we do when the boss is asking the employees to do, be, own a Christ-like character? Who is to be listened to over the other (should the case arise): my pastor or my boss? What if my boss is proposing something even MORE in line with the words of God than my pastor? Does that then make my vocation more "spiritual" than my service to my local congregation?

Perhaps, as I hope it was in my "sermons," this is all just an issue of meeting people where they are. Perhaps I spoke in terms of "real life = serving Jesus alongside other people in the congregation" because so many people had no meaning to their lives. I remember talking to some who LOVED being together with the Body because it meant they could be a part of something significant (vs. their data entry, no-conversation-allowed job). Or maybe it's a more sinister issue.

And I owe this all to the Chairman of the Board of Elders of Highlands Church, who is also my boss, who is also one of the most respectable and to-be-mimicked followers of Jesus I know, Brad Holaway. He runs his business as if it were owned by God Himself and attempts to "keep" the culture consistent with the values of the Owner.

So thank you, Brad Holaway, for destroying yet another paradigm while being in the middle of the paradigm. A true deconstructionist (grin)!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

"David son of Bob"

When preaching one Sunday (back in the paid, full-time, lover-of-people job -- a.k.a. "pastor"), I was trying to communicate that even pastors were just a part, a small piece, of the Body. So I used the phrase, "I am NOT 'Pastor David!!' I am just 'David son of Bob' and I have the role of pastor." Brad and Becky Holaway grabbed this and have referred to me then-after as "David son of Bob." I love it!

Then Tara gave me the quote (which I lost immediately) that "hero" is only a small role played for only a short time. It is NOT the pinnacle of existence, it is a necessary role for the benefit of all. Even William Wallace in Braveheart?!?! Yup. It emphasizes the fact that hero-ing is an activity, not a state-of-being. And that being the hero is so situational, that there might be many who would be well-suited for the role, but only the one who is prepared and in the right place (usually serendipitously) plays the role. And it is only one of many roles - all necessary for each others' success, existence.

So here's my new view of leadership:

Leadership does NOT have to be "on" all day long, every day. Just like mercy isn't used every time I am with my children. Sometimes mercy is quieted while discipline is elevated. Same with leadership. A leader may have the (Spiritual) gift of leading, but one doesn't ALWAYS lead. Or maybe we do and we shouldn't. Ever seen a parent that can't exist a moment without parenting/training! Ugh.

I like this graph because it also has depressions. At any one time, certain people/gifts are used a ton, some, not at all . . . and then there are always some who are in need. I vividly remember going to my volunteer staff and asking them if I could change some of what I do. I told them it was like riding a bike and that I'd probably fall. And that if I fell I'd fall on THEM. They graciously accepted this fate. Then I failed at some leadership thing, I fell off the bike. I was the depression. And my mercy friends were in High mode! It was beautiful. And saving for me.

Perhaps we lead too much. Perhaps Sunday morning "teaching" is too much "leading." Perhaps pastors are lonely and/or fall because they are always in leadership mode and never get to be sheep. What if that chart above was the Body!! I think it would be beautiful.

Physics, Pre-Modern Perspective, and Healthy Churches

I have been told that before Modernity, people did not necessarily see things the same way. With this, I do not struggle. As to how they saw things, I have not first-hand understanding so what I am about to confer is speculation upon second-hand information.

I have been told that before Modernity, people saw life not as a Subject and a Direct Object (as we do mainly here in the U.S.), but rather as two objects PLUS their relationship. This makes three points (vs. the current 1 and 1/2 points). Whether the relationship was "heavier" than the subjects, I do not know. I would speculate that, from out point of view, the relationship will always be seen as heavier since we do not see one at all.

As I read H.G. Gadamer's "Truth and Method" (2nd, translated edition), I came across some interesting ideas related to this. On p.249 he states, "What Husserl means, however, is that we cannot conceive of subjectivity as the opposite of objectivity, because this concept of subjectivity would itself be conceived in objective terms. Instead, . . . the relation is the primary thing, and the 'poles' into which it unfolds itself are contained within it, . . ." I love that part. Now to Physics.

"Two perpendicular forces have no impact on each other," Physics 105 ("Physics for Poets" or "Physics for Non-Majors" - Arizona State Univ.). In a vacuum, a ball rolled off a table at 60 m.p.h. and an identical ball dropped from the same table at the same time, will strike the ground at the same time. The downward force (gravity) will pull both balls down at the same RATE. The horizontal force (whatever shot the one ball @ 60 m.p.h.) does not change this. One ball falls straight down, the other at a quite flattened arc. But they will both hit the ground AT THE SAME TIME!!
In graphing terms, y = y + 1 ever second and x = 2. No matter how fast y = y +1 (ever second, every year, every nanosecond), x will still = 2. The rate of "y" does not change "x = 2." Any "force" applied to "y" does not impact x=2.

Synthesis: often two "ideas" are considered polar opposites when in fact they are quite perpendicular to each other. "Objectivity" is not the OPPOSITE of "Subjectivity." Seeing it through the quote above, Objectivity is the observation about the poles (left / right, black / white, -10 / +10, etc.) while subjectivity is the relationship between the poles. Example, "small" groups and "large" groups (or cell-ministry and Sunday morning 'service'), relational and programmatic ministries, etc. Are these opposites? On some scales, yes. In daily living, don't have to be!

What if these "opposites" are not really opposites but perpendicular?!? Perhaps this is part of the problem with "light" - is it a wave or a particle? Perhaps what we call "light" is the relationship between the wave and the particle, "wave" and "particle" no longer being opposites but perpendicular. [Or maybe we just need a new metaphor!]

Does a church have to Program Driven vs. Purpose Driven vs. Cell Driven vs. Family Driven vs. Action Driven? Does it have to be Evangelism or Discipleship?

Does it have to be loving God OR loving people? Of course not. Even God says, "If you love me you'll love people." But we don't like that - it's too messy of a phrase. How does one measure?!?

Measure. Is this what drives us? If it's not measurable, then how do we know if we are doing it (or doing it well)? Physicists know that they can EITHER determine a sub-atomic particles direction OR its velocity, but never both. For in measuring one aspect, they alter the other.

A leeson to be learned with people also? Has our need to measure driven us into less-than-human churches? If we always called light a wave, we'd never observe the particle-ness of light; itt wouldn't be a complete picture. If we only measure people "objectively" - do we miss the whole picture of being human (much less a human quickened by the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead and brings life, energy, to this mortal body!?!)?


Why? Why the preponderance on blogsites lately about "being counter-cultural?" Is it those statements in the Scriptures about "not of this world," "in the world but not of it," "the world says/does ____, but I say [insert opposite]"? PLEASE don't let it be the roots of the compound word "church" in Greek -- "out" - "called" - "ones"!!! Do people really think that this VERY, very common word with widely accepted usage, is suddenly a foundational concept based on a meaning that was completely lost to the original hearers/readers?!?!?!

Do those proof-texts (a derogatory phrase, when I use it) push us to be fully "counter-cultural?" How come these same bloggers don't go fully separatist? What does it really mean, then?

Should Jesus, having finally let go of the offer to the Jews (Matt. 13ff) encouraged his disciples to STOP going to Temple since Jesus was going to start a new, "counter-cultural" movement?

I am anti-sin, pro-piety. But COUNTER-cultural? It seems like a waste of time. Unless one actually does it. Separatist communities at least are consistent and fully committed to at least this value.

Or maybe this is all just another Western and/or American joke: as long as you believe it, that's enough // if you apply it to one or two small (and try to pick something unobtrusive) areas, you are a champion of the belief.

Are there other reasons to be counter-cultural? What else can the phrase mean? Now that I've barfed my woe, I am open to new intake.