Sunday, March 05, 2006

Is perfection a narrow ideal?

Paul said, essentially, “I want to be able to be anything for anyone, so that I might most clearly explain to them (in life, action, words, etc.) God and His desires.” (1 Cor. 9).

In Christian history, this has been called “all things to all people.”  Certainly it is a good goal for an individual to have (as so stated by Paul).  But is it really a good goal for a group of people, as a group?  Is it really even possible?  Perhaps a person can be all things to 50% of people.  Taking a group of 10 would not yield 500% due to overlap (i.e. Tara and I might be all things to the same 40% while she “be” Canadian and I can “be” psychotic - those groups making up the remaining 10%).  So a conglomeration of 10 people might be all things to 75%.

But what about as a group?  Most “groups” have a name that tries to define what they ARE being, thereby also defining what they are NOT.  It is deliberately not all things to all people - hopefully all things to a specific group (e.g. Chess Club, Home Depot, etc.).

The local church in the U.S. is run by a leadership-driven model.  As such, “vision” and “direction” are usually given in ways that are as narrow as Chess Club and Home Depot.  Very seldom is a leader(ship)’s vision so broad as to be “all things to all people.”  Most churches I have been involved in, for example, have little-to-nothing to do with co-dependent, emotionally needy people.  Nor do they have much to do with fighting oppression.  Nor . . .  They are driven by a focused vision - focused in that it includes some things and excludes others.  Whether intentional or not, it is not all things to all people.

How much sense, then, does it make to ask a local church to be all things to all people?  Is the impact of a group not bound by the “focus” (narrowing of energy) of the vision?

I was talking with Eric Dalrymple 2 days ago and began to ponder what the point of a “vision” is.  How can a “vision” include everyone?  So my big question is, can a vision include any and everyone?

[To those who follow my saga, I have been bothered by the idea of having every Christian in the U.S. working their way toward some “common, ideal Christian.”  I believe that everyone’s uniqueness prevents this “common ideal.”  Perhaps I see the journey of this country needing to go from what currently is (one, ideal, local church) to unique, local churches -- hoping then to get local churches to go towards unique, local Christians.  That is, breaking the “monolithic mega-goal” at the group level and then break it at the individual level.  Maybe, then, we can stop wearing those W.W.J.D. bracelets and start living “What Did Jesus JUST NOW Tell Me To Do” necklaces (no way to get all those letters on one, plastic bracelet!).]

1 comment:

Erin Holaway said...

Hey Dave! I didn’t know that you were on here! I’m glad you liked the video on my blog. :)

Good point with you posting. I don’t think a vision should have to include everyone. I think it’s best for the church to accept everyone who comes in but the church shouldn’t expect to be accepted by everyone.