Wednesday, September 21, 2011


When people have talked about reforming church, it used to be that they reformed doctrines or teachings or possibly just teaching styles. Sometimes its a change of focus from one Christian theme to another. More recently, people have tried to "do church different," and to me it has seemed that this means merely trying different things, maybe adding some liturgy or planning more outreach events or service projects and sometimes changing up Sunday morning activities.

But I have noticed that even among churches who want to do things different, there are certain "sacred cows," and there are activities that we still regard as central and essential to our existence. It is my belief that a lot of these are simply default choices, based on what our impressions are of what church is supposed to be, and how it is supposed to go, but in my opinion, these activities still do little to get us away from the "Sunday morning show" dilemma. We say we want an interactive, engaging time at church, but we tend to stick to the old models. We take the old worship time and we update it with the latest technology and musical styles, powerpoint, sound systems, etc., but it is still the same model. We take the old teaching times and we update them with innovative media encounters and we spice them up a bit, but in general, they are the same model.

I am not suggesting that there is something wrong or inferior with old models. However, there is a problem if we treat these models as the core essentials of church in and of themselves. Church reformers of today will get nowhere unless they understand fully what the essentials are, and begin to treat everything else as what it is: decorative. If a church believes in teaching, then they need to understand that the learning and discipleship are the essentials, while the "sunday morning sermon" is the decor. It is merely the structure around which you choose to organize the essential element of teaching. There are other ways to teach and learn.

I prefer to liken it to a house: A house has certain essential support beams. It has pillars and beams that cannot be knocked out without upsetting the integrity of the structure. But many of the walls can be torn down, while new walls can be added. As long as the pillars and support beams are in place, then with a little work, you can make your house look however you want to suit your needs. Unfortunately, many people look at their house and try to change the way they organize the room, putting chairs in different corners, when what they really want is to knock out a wall or add a new little room or expand a bathroom, whatever it is that would really suit their needs. A church who wants to do things differently must take a look at the structure of their meetings and decide if the house is designed to suit their true goals. In order to this they need to know what their true goals are and they need to know what the essential elements of reaching their true goals might be and then restructure the walls to meet the needs of an ever changing population.

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