Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thought of the day...

I came across a great quotation from Howard Snyder about the way we "do" church. As I'm sure you all have seen from recent posts, I've been spending much of my time studying what it means to be the church and bride of Christ. By no means am I intending to bash anybody for the way they have worshiped over the years (who am I to do that? I've done the same things and my goal is unity and humility. Not being "right").

The questions I'm posing are not whether we need to be worshiping together (we are commanded to by our King)? Or where we are able to worship (everywhere)? I'm also not asking whether or not the local community of Disciples meet at a building, house, coffee shop, etc (God dwells in us everywhere equally. No more in a Worship Center than a House or a Chapel than a Starbucks)?

The question is whether we have given up the truth of God's word in exchange for the comfort, novelty and nostalgia of our man made tradition and liturgy. By no means do I believe we (the body) have purposely defined church differently than Scripture. Instead, we have allowed the cultures of both the past and present define it for us. In the past, the importance of class and the traditions of previous religious beliefs helped to shape the gathering of the body. Today, being "relevant", "entertaining", as well as the business aspect of the church (along with previous issues) have taken our eyes and hearts away from what we are to represent as His body. Instead of allowing God to own every part of us, the loan on our Church buildings now own the congregation. Messages are crafted by man (1 Cor 2-3) in order to drive up attendance or make people feel good so that there is a reason to keep a "staff" (aka Clergy). Neither of these are Biblical and they take away from the beauty of the marriage between Christ and His bride.

I don't have the answers to this problem, and I'm having a tough time defining what my problem within the Church actually is. In a nutshell, I'm just feeling as though we've exchanged the truth of Church for the tradition of church and settled for it much in the same way that culture has settled for sex in exchange for true love. In our hurry to be able to define things, we put a box on God that makes him say what we want to hear and look a lot more like our Homeboy, Aunt, or Donut Shop owner than our Savior, Redeemer and King. All I know is those who love Christ always yearn for more love, more truth, and a more abundant life. Unfortunately we are settling for less when accept the status-quo, live a life out of Fear of the future and man versus the Fear of God, and aim to please our senses instead of pleasing His Spirit in us.

Below is that quote I read. I know I'm all over the place in today's post but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on what Mr. Snyder wrote. I'm not looking for those to agree, just to ponder whether or not we live for the truth that is in Christ, or the comforts that come from adding Him onto the life we are "making" for ourselves.

"The New Testament simply does not speak in terms of two classes of Christians -- "minister" and "laymen" -- as we do today. According to the Bible, the people (laos, "laity") of God comprise all Christians, and all Christians through the exercise of spiritual gifts have some "work of ministry." So if we wish to be biblical, we will have to say that all Christians are laymen (God's people) and all are ministers. The clergy-laity dichotomy is unbiblical and therefore invalid. It grew up as an accident of church history and actually marked a drift away from biblical faithfulness.... It is one of the principal obstacles to the Church effectively being God's agent of the Kingdom today because it creates the false idea that only "holy men," namely, ordained ministers, are really qualified and responsible for leadership and significant ministry"- From "The Community of the King" (pp 94-95)


  1. Ryan, I think about this stuff all the time. It is easy to get on the bandwagon and bash the local way of doing church. I know you are trying to avoid this bashing but this statement by itself is totally calling the traditional church into question.
    Like any organization a leader is required. As Lee Iacocca once said “lead, follow or get out of the way”. The minister is the leader. He directs the activity and tries to prevent chaos within the assembly meeting. It is obvious the minister is an elder… which is absolutely Biblical. He is an elder who uses his spiritual gifts of teaching and other leadership duties.
    I think the real rub is the fact that the congregation does not buy into the fact that they actually have spirtual gifts let alone are motivated or maybe even allowed to use them.
    Keep up the good work

  2. Am I the only one with a comment about this stuff? In looking at the background of Mr. Snyder I was surprised that he is a member of a large Methodist church in Kentucky. Based on his quote I would have thought he was a home church guy? btw I do agree that church building debt can be a real distraction to the senior pastors' ministry focus. I have some real time examples but will share the details at another time.

  3. It's funny, I usually get mostly personal emails when it comes to this stuff. I wish it wasn't that way because I always aim for a discussion to be started, but I think these questions are tough and serious, and most people "just don't want to talk about it". You are actually the only one who has responded and it is sort of surprising (that includes personal emails). Then again besides my mom, you may be the only person to the read this blog (jk). But in all seriousness this is not just a daily devotional, and causes people to seriously think about whether they go through the motions, they believe in what they're doing, they are afraid to be "emergent" or whatever else. Thanks for responding and I'd love to hear about the issues on the "building" because that's a huge one for me.

  4. I met your Mom at your basketball game once back in the day, too bad we never became lifelong friends like I was hoping. ;-). I would love to share with you my experiences and views about the problem with church buildings but would rather do so in email fashion or over a cup of coffee. btw, Tim Challies' next book study is one you may want to participate in. John Murray's "Redemption Accomplished and Applied". I'm hoping I might understand it this time thru ;-)

  5. Ryan,
    John and I discuss this all the time; we are true believes that it doesn't matter where you worship, but that God is with you at all times and that you worship him constantly. I don't need a building with walls to worship God. Howard Snyder is correct, we get lazy when we depend on others to tell us 'how' to worship. I think it's great that we places designed for worship that's what gets us motivated, but I do not depend on any one person or persons to tell me how to worship.
    Very good blog!
    Keep up the good work.

  6. Hey Tanya,

    Great to hear from you. What you said reminds me a lot of a little book called "Practicing the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. The way I see it is followers of Christ are a lot like the people who spend all week waiting for the weekend, they miss out on 5/7 of their life. In the same way, when we only worship in traditional ways, or on certain days at certain times, we miss out on about 99% of our life in God through Christ. Hope all is well with you!