There are churches that are doing their best to do good work, to create disciples not converts, to take part in movements of social justice, and relational integrity. They try and promote many good things like mission, community, prayer, self discipline and morality. But I would suggest that the very structure of the church, is a horrible handicap. That those that succeed in small ways in these endeavors do so in spite of these horrible structures. And in fact that these structures are not only incapable of truly doing what God calls the church to do, but they are (the structures) an act of disobedience and idolatry.
Oh no, did he really just say that? Yes I did. Over the next few weeks I will explain the many ways that I think the structures and very nature of the church is corrupt and explain why I believe that we cannot seek to effect change from within, but can only truly grow into our calling by coming out from her (pardon the apocalyptic smart assery)
Let me start with a little picture. I am a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I often teach others this amazingly effective martial art. Let me explain how I do this. I spend very much time reading books about BJJ. I watch the Gracies in Action videos. I study how other people have applied this teaching in their lives. And then once a week, I gather all of the students. Now some of my students are also musicians so we have written some songs that sing our thankfulness for such a wonderful art. We sing about how much we love Rorion and Helio Gracie for bringing this art to America. And we even have some songs that teach us in rhyme important truths about grappling. I then collect the dues for the rent on the dojo, which is only used this one day, and for my salary. Then... I stand up and I begin to talk to them about the importance of BJJ, about how we are to follow the example of Royce, who came to this country and even though he was small and skinny, he conquered all of the foes that he encountered. I talk about times in my life that I have had to apply some of these techniques, and I encourage you to apply them as well. And then we all bow our heads, and I ask if there is anyone who has never accepted the truth of Brazlian Jiu Jitsu, and would like to begin training.
How many of you would go to that school? That is not the way I learned jiu jitsu, it is not the way I learned how to wrestle, how to paint, nor how to do drywall, carpentry or roofing. I learned how to do these things by having a small group of people, actually do these activities with me. Oh, there were experts of course. People that I may never measure up to, but they actually got on the mat and wrestled with me, swung a hammer with me. Sometimes they even slowed down so I could keep up.
Well, that might just be my smart assed brain trying to make everyone do it my way. Pastoring is different. But... it is the way Jesus did it. Jesus says, "come and see" Jesus says come and follow me. When Peter prays for a dead person, he does the exact same thing Jesus did when he was with him earlier. Jesus shows us that we are called to live our discipleship in a community. To learn a new way of living, believing and relating. And those most qualified to teach us these things are truly experts, but not because they learned to read Greek, (though that is a wonderful helpful thing), but because they have been following Jesus, forgiving and loving their brothers, and practicing the kingdom for longer than we have.
As long as worship is entertainment or classroom, discipleship will not be apprenticeship.