Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Dangerous Church

I've said before in my musings that much of what we do is based on a story. Try this example. In the early to mid eighties I believe there were stories circulating of church boards and governmental structures "quenching the Spirit" as pastors would experience renewal and want to bring new life to their congregations. These power groups in their church would use all their clout to bear on the pastor to control him and stop him from saying what they didn't want to hear and stop him from leading the church in a direction they didn't want to go. Many of these stories felt very "good versus evil." Will the noble pastor prevail or will the evil board quench the Holy Spirit and stop the pastor from releasing the captive congregation from the spirit of religion? Will God be allowed to continue to transform the whole congregation or will the noble pastor be forced to lead forth the remnant to find some other promised land? Very exciting. And for the most part back in the day, through the perspective of the time, quite true.

And as we looked back to our "apostate" (yes, I'm stretching it a little) churches we thought how horrible to force our leaders to kowtow to such unbiblical structures as boards. The apostle Paul and those he appointed to rule the various churches didn't need boards. Why would we? But wait. What about the cherished tax credits we receive when giving to church? Oh I guess we'll have to still comply with the letter of the Societies Act. Guess we'll have to have a sort of board for that. There. That's done. Now we can be truly free and biblical. And in the flush of a new movement of churches, it seemed to work. With many more people always coming, the people who left weren't really missed.

But, as I've said before, taking the first century solutions to building church in a patriarchal, hierarchical society -- a society which perfectly accepted the idea of the Philippian jailer choosing Christ on behalf of his whole household -- and bolting them onto the twentieth and twenty-first century is not biblical. It's just dumb. We are not the same people. We have not the same worldview. And the safeguards we've evolved to govern societies are there because of values that are actually important to us. And they are there to actually to keep people safe. (Who knew?) I alluded to people that have left this kind of charismatic church. Why did they leave? Well I don't think they felt safe. Ultimately the attraction to be in the centre of the whirlwind of the Spirit (especially after it died down somewhat) wasn't enough to overcome the sickening awareness that they would never really have a voice in this community, built, as it was, on our perception of first century values.

So there's got to be some sort of road back. And I don't really know what it is. I read a helpful book recently; not dynamic, but helpful (A Guide to Governing Charities by Ted Hull.) Maybe we can embrace change. Maybe we can tell a new story...

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