So Where Is the Plan?

I leave for 10-day trip to upstate New York and Pennsylvania tonight. It’s one of those all-nighters! A read-eye is definitely what it is for me, since I don’t sleep well on airplanes. But I am looking forward to joining the folks in Lowville, NY for a second time, and then head down for a school board convention in Pennsylvania for my BridgeBuilders work, before spending the weekend with old friends in the Harrisburg/Hershey area of PA!

Also I was contacted yesterday by someone needing help for a research project:

My name is Barb Orlowski. I am on the Doctor of Ministry program at A.C.T.S. Seminaries in Langley, B.C., Canada. In order to conduct the research necessary to complete my dissertation, I could use your help. I am conducting a survey among Christians who have experienced emotional and spiritual distress under authoritarian and controlling church leaders and have recovered from this experience. And, I am looking for pastors who have endeavored to provide spiritual guidance and help for people who have experienced emotional and spiritual distress under authoritarian and controlling church leaders and who have ceased to be associated with those congregations.

If you fit either of these two groups of people and would consider helping her on her research, please email her here for more information.

Finally, I wanted to leave you with another response to my recent article, Friends and Friends of Friends in the newest edition of BodyLife. This is an interesting way to approach the subject as well. If Jesus wanted us to organize his church into institutions, why did he not leave us a detailed plan for doing so? His Father did that in the Old Testament. This is what my friend Kevin posed:

You know God was able to give Moses some very specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle. If He had wanted to, He could have done the same quite easily in defining what were the important sacraments, what day of the week we should meet, and what were the 17 key points to have in our statement of faith. Instead “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

With all that there were arguments and schisms in the NT church too. I guess many of Paul’s letters (those that survived and those that didn’t) addressed that.

So do you think we have been doing it all wrong for 1700 or so years now since Constantine?

I suppose the problem is that you can’t really define what is beyond definition in some sense. People want an ecclesiology that they can see, understand, control, or at least that is definitive, ordered, and structured in some sense. They see a pattern or system to everything in the created world and expect the same in the church. What you’re describing is far too dynamic. People want to see and know what their role is in all of this. After all these years, we still want a king of our own flesh, just like Israel and a defined kingdom. We want a simpler order, hierarchy, methodology, or system. The order within a fractal is too complex!

Anyway…just some thoughts. In some sense its very simple to grasp. In another, it’s way over our heads, and not wanted because it’s not within our control, nor does it have the appearance of order in a simple way.

I do think it is our need to control that causes us to gravitate toward human systems to somehow define or contain the body of Christ in a way we think we can manage. Such exhausting work! And I don’t think it took Constantine to do it for us. We have a track record in the early church in places like Galatia, Corinth and Colosse where the early believers went astray of the purity and simplicity of the gospel in their own need to achieve by human effort. It is a perilous road, no matter what the motivation!

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8 Comments
  1. Diane September 27, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    This topic reminds me of the following quote:

    Christianity began in Palestine as a relationship, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, went to Rome and became an institution, moved to Europe and became a culture, finally it came to America and became an enterprise.” – Richard Halverson

  2. Diane September 27, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    This topic reminds me of the following quote:

    Christianity began in Palestine as a relationship, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, went to Rome and became an institution, moved to Europe and became a culture, finally it came to America and became an enterprise.” – Richard Halverson

  3. Jennifer September 28, 2007 at 8:13 am

    That quote is so true.

    Wayne,

    Everything you write and pass on is an enormous blessing and I am telling everyone about your site here.

    Thanks for keeping it up!

    Jennfer

  4. Fran September 28, 2007 at 10:33 am

    It is interesting that when I “Googled” the name of Barb Orlowski one of the hits led me the Allelon website which is a contact for all things emergent. It looks as they are in the process of developing a whole new religious system. I don’t think that they have read your article, Wayne 🙂

    I like the line of thought that Kevin is following. Letting go of thousands of years of institutional direction is very frightening if you think that the best way for believers to gather is in a controlled environment. But someone else I have been reading has said that fear is misplaced dependency. That struck a chord in me because it seemed that when a ‘fear of’ pops up in my life, it’s almost always about losing control of something.

  5. Jennifer September 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

    That quote is so true.

    Wayne,

    Everything you write and pass on is an enormous blessing and I am telling everyone about your site here.

    Thanks for keeping it up!

    Jennfer

  6. Fran September 28, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    It is interesting that when I “Googled” the name of Barb Orlowski one of the hits led me the Allelon website which is a contact for all things emergent. It looks as they are in the process of developing a whole new religious system. I don’t think that they have read your article, Wayne 🙂

    I like the line of thought that Kevin is following. Letting go of thousands of years of institutional direction is very frightening if you think that the best way for believers to gather is in a controlled environment. But someone else I have been reading has said that fear is misplaced dependency. That struck a chord in me because it seemed that when a ‘fear of’ pops up in my life, it’s almost always about losing control of something.

  7. kent September 28, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    I so love how Kevin describes that.

  8. kent September 28, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    I so love how Kevin describes that.

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