23 February 2009

of churchish notions and buffalo wings

Saturday night, while watching a couple dozen buffalo wings sizzle on the grill, a friend and I began talking about church.

We threw around a few issues, from the optimal size of church to church building plans. We talked of small groups and why house churches just don't seem to work anymore.

There was this lingering notion that our model is broken and we don't have the energy or wherewithal to fix it. So we begrudgingly soldier on, hoping to incrementally improve that which is not quite kosher and to ignore or outsource that which is truly missing the point.

I am not exactly sure how to unpack the conversation in this space. So I'll start with a question. Is the model flawed? Or better...where would you change the church if you could only improve one aspect?


  1. Kyle - I'm glad you commented today. I was really surprised at the name of your blog last night when I was planning today's post. I looked around trying to find out what your title meant, so thanks for clearing that up.

    Now, about your post. Is the model broken? I'll say that sounds like a pretty broad question, maybe intentionally. I don't think all types of churches are broken. I'm curious about why you think house churches don't work anymore - I'm assuming you're holding some kind of 1st century ideal to compare house churches to. I pastor a house church, and it's amazing. House churches and networks of house churches are popping up all over the place, so they are alive and well. Overseas, the model is even more prevalent. Something like 30,000 people a day in China are brought to faith in Christ through house churches.

    Now it's not all good. My only problem is that Americans by and large don't give them a chance. Evangelism is extremely difficult. People expect churches to have big buildings and fancy programs and lots of stuff (that seems to be the dominant 'model' for church) and don't count on intimate community being part of the experience when they attend a church.

    My other problem that doesn't apply to us is that a lot of 'house churches' are formed as excuses to get out of participating in a real church life. Some discontents get together at someone's house, eat food, talk, and call it 'church.' Then they sprinkle it with hip words like 'postmodern.' But they aren't creating a church to be a vessel of Christ, but to satisfy their own desires and inability to exist in a church made up of people who aren't like them.

    That's my little rant, and I wrote entirely more than I intended. Sorry about that. Good questions and thoughts. It's the conversation that's going on all the time all over the place. Hopefully it leads to truth. God bless.

  2. matt -

    i guess i am intentionally asking a broad question - and your response is exactly why. great comment.

    i think your 2nd and 3rd paragraph resonate deeply with me. we are consumers and we are in this unholy arms race of who can offer the greatest programs and ministries, all the while dumbing down the faith experience and re-legalizing the whole thing all over again.

    i am an elder of a body of about 1500. i struggle as a malcontent, instigator, and lover of the works of the place i call a church home.

    while we "do it" as well and as intentionally as any place i've ever been, it doesn't stop me from wondering how others are doing it, what we can learn, and if deconstructing our churchy ideas could actually glorify Him more fully in the long run.

  3. Robert Lobkovich23 February, 2009 18:22

    At the end of the day, I believe we are the biggest single barriers to church growth, church health and arriving at the right "model." Why Christ sovereignly delighted to implement a perpetually strained model wrapped in mystery and built upon the collective saints is beyond me! Yet, He did. He chose to implement a terrestrial embassy within imperfect people, established mysteriously elastic principles and declared a mission - yet intrinsically embedded a dependency factor that would demand daily surrender, daily incarnation, daily participation in Him to progress.

    The "model" for my church versus the "model" for the church down the street may be as radically different structurally, programatically, and even emphatically as one in Cambodia, Haiti, or Iran. The ideal model is really an arrived at understanding of God's intent for that Body and it's context. Divine perogative permits God to be diverse in His execution methodologies.

    How do we remove the presupposition of yesterday (that's how it worked last year), that guy (this model worked well in Atlanta), and desire (this model would help us achieve X which would be cool) to clearly discern His unique calling upon our fellowship?

    The model is broken. Because the word "the" is altogether human.

  4. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice
    and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings. -- Hosea 6:6

    Jesus quoted this verse on two separate occasions to the problem with religion in his day. I believe this to be the razor that divides the true charge of the church from meaningless tradition. For any particular subject, ask yourself, "Is this a mercy to others? Am I truly aknowledging God with this? Or is this just another sacrifice?"

  5. There are a lot of things the church could fix. But, if the church's yearning is to glorify and extend our father's kingdom. More power to them.

    I get tired of churches worrying about the quanity, instead of the quality.

    But one thing is for sure. There will never be a "perfect" church. At least not on this earth.