Outdated and Irrelevant

Some think we are living in terrible times. I tend to think we are living in incredibly exciting times.

There can be no argument that things are changing around us. There is a societal shift happening that rivals some of the greatest cultural revolutions in history, as big as the invention of the printing press or the industrial revolution.

In America, we are in the midst of a transition to a post-industrial society. We no longer live in an assembly line world where the powerful few are in charge, while the masses show up, shut up, and do as they are told. Today’s world is an outsourced, work from home, iPod, unlimited choice, internet-driven culture where the individual is more in charge of their own destiny than ever before.

It’s a scary and exciting time.

Christianity was never meant to be anything else. Think about it: Jesus showed up on the scene challenging the authority and criticizing the top-down leadership of His day. He condemned the powerful few who swayed the masses through control and domination.

Through His death, Jesus released us from the need for the spiritual middle-man. He gave us direct access to God Himself. In an instant Jesus created a spiritual climate very similar to what we see going on culturally right now.

Yet the entirety of church history has been one long story of men trying to re-establish that control in the name of God. Popes and pulpits, denominations and doctrines all designed to tell God’s people what to do and how to do it, what to think and how to think it.

Jesus fought against it. The reformers fought against it. Brave warriors like William Tyndale and others gave their lives for it. For twenty centuries the battle has raged for the control of God’s people.

And for most of history we have played along. We have allowed others to tell us what to believe and what to think. We’ve been content to show up and shut up because it’s more comfortable that way. It’s easier to get spoon fed than it is to do the work of seeking God for ourselves.

But no more!

The world has changed, and as the church has failed to change with it we have become increasingly outdated and irrelevant. We are operating an old model in a new age. Factories are closing all around us, yet we are still operating church like it’s an assembly line. People are working from home or from Starbucks, yet we still want them to show up at a building at 9:00 on Sunday morning. We think they’re not interested in church, but the fact is they’re just tired of us trying to jam square pegs in round holes.

It’s time to let go of the control. It’s time to stop thinking of church as a top down institution, but rather a bottom up community. That’s the model taught by Jesus. Groups of believers coming together organically, directing their time and resources to doing the work of the kingdom instead of feeding the organizational beast. Yeah, not as many pastors earn salaries in the new model of church. When we all become the church, there might not be a need for a full time guy running the show.

Now is the time to win the battle once and for all. Christ’s coming was meant to be a radical shift in human consciousness. It’s a shift away from the control of the intermediaries between God and man. The curtain was torn. We are all face to face with the Father Himself.

If you have felt that something is not right, it’s for good reason. Things are not right. They are not even close to what God intended. I’m not suggesting that we change church to follow culture. I’m simply proposing that we get back to what it was intended to be all along.

It’s a shame it took 2,000 years and a cultural revolution to get us here.

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  1. #1 by Claire Grasse on October 4, 2011 - 8:07 AM

    Excellent post, Dave! Whether we call it “traditional church,” “legacy church,” or “big business masquerading as church” the conclusion is the same – the days of the institution are numbered, and God’s people are taking back the Kingdom. And I, for one, think it’s about time.

  2. #2 by compassiondave on October 4, 2011 - 2:25 PM

    Often times when something is not right it is because we have gotten away from the way it used to be. We can easily knock the old formula and insist it is out of date or we can explore the notion that at least some of the old-timers might have had it right after all.

  3. #3 by Frank Scales Creative on October 4, 2011 - 9:21 PM

    Dave

    To some degree I agree…but lest we forget, the apostles also give us a glimpse into the years following Jesus walking on the earth. Not easy times, not easy dynamics, and certainly not conducive to the spread of the Gospel. It certainly wasn’t in-sync with culture then. So why now?

    It was hard, sacrificial, life-costing for a lot of our early fathers. The church wasn’t relative at all – other than to the one’s it reached and persuaded to follow. It was counter at best. I’m afraid that a lot of today’s nay-saying bashers of organized church don’t have a complete picture as to what early ‘genuine Christianity’ would really mean in today’s world if they really wanted to go back and be like the early church.
    Thank God we live in better days, albeit darker times. I will also say that church structures during those early days were a necessity because of growth. Paul’s letters are all over that.

    Bottom line, it’s still going to be a one on one with the Creator of the Universe, face to face, and the church being the extension of Him – and human beings choosing to follow or not.

  4. #4 by Claire Grasse on October 5, 2011 - 11:26 AM

    I don’t dispute that some of the old-timers might have had it right for their time and place (speaking of the traditional pattern of the Western church). But the effectiveness of that model IS out of date. It is sadly ineffective, and despite all efforts to be culturally hip, the modern church remains largely irrelevant to the needs of society. The oldest of the old-timers were the first century believers led by the apostles, and their “formula” of a bottom-up, organic church seems to be the one people are returning to. The current model of church in America is top-heavy, a bottomless money pit in many cases, and also in many cases, only marginally effective at bringing about the Kingdom of God as Jesus taught it.

  5. #5 by Jim Mellon on October 8, 2011 - 1:46 PM

    Another fantastic blog! It seems more and more people are coming to understand that the revolution is moving forward

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