Monday, February 2, 2009

The Times tell us to Rethink

The times are telling us to rethink about a lot of things. At this point of juncture the global recession issue is a good place to start. Is the recession telling us where exactly are we supposed to pour out our finances? At this point many churches here are thinking about getting their own building or premises. Obviously this is good and its an ideal thing for us to work towards it. Who can beat getting our own place/building and having the freedom to use the place for our own programs and stuff.

But more and more, the church has substituted their understanding of being church (the community of God's people) with the understanding that church only happens on one day (Sunday) and it can only happen in their own building, only with a 'worship' band and then followed by preaching of the word, some prayer and a short time of get together chit chatting around a table filled with food and drinks.

If all the above explains what church is, we have to do some sort of rethinking. People are sort of struggling with finances. There is no security in terms of having a secure job. There are a lot of other things but these are just some general stuff that I'm bringing to the front.

On a local perspective, coupled with the global recession issue we have been experiencing two pretty bad land slides. On of which caused two lives. Both landslides have deprived people of their security (homes have been destroyed for example). At this point anything connected with hill sides are to be abandoned with the rain pouring down almost everyday. No one could have expected this sort of thing in Miri. No amount of rain has done this type of damage before.

And at this point, I am hearing about a local church built on top of a hill having to stop their worship services in it for safety's sake. The members had to look for an alternative place for their worship service.

In all this it make me think, the old way of thinking church has to stop somewhere along the line. We have to ask ourselves, do we really need a massive place for 'church'? Should we horde all our finances for the sake of expanding our buildings, furnishing them with the state of the art technology and expanding the comfort level of our worship service? Should this be the way we understand how the 'church' is being an impact to society let alone to understand that this is the way we are expanding God's kingdom?

In the end our massive structure which we substitute as 'the church' become just landmarks and nothing more. We cannot control the things that happen in the world like natural disasters and stuff like that. But the things we can control right now is how we think about being church, being the people of God, being salt and light in the world, how we are supposed to use our finances, expanding the kingdom of God.

Let's rethink or be gagged by the flood of changes that is happening all around.


6 comments:

Mason said...

Tremonti,
Very challenging thoughts here. I definitely see where you are coming from, and sympathize with your frustrations, but I think there might be something of a middle ground here.
Take for example the quote below (which I must say is a spot on critique of much of the church)

“do we really need a massive place for 'church'? Should we horde all our finances for the sake of expanding our buildings, furnishing them with the state of the art technology and expanding the comfort level of our worship service?”

While I agree that it is wrong of the church to become so self-focused, and to devote such a high percentage of it’s monies to its own aggrandizement, I don’t think the answer is to give up on having a ‘place’ altogether.

For a variety of reasons I believe having a place is good and necessary. It gives a stability to the community, it provides a location for fellowship and the gathering of believers, it allows us to engage in the sacraments and worship and learning with many of our brothers and sisters, and on a pragmatic level it makes it so there is somewhere that people who are interested in the faith can come to see it lived out.

How we manage that ‘place’ must be reconsidered though. I’m all for praising God with beauty and art, but often the impressiveness of church buildings seems to be inwardly rather than upwardly or outwardly focused. Also, as you point out, the church building and furnishings should not become an unsupportable burden on its occupants, preventing them from more constructive use of their resources. That’s one thing I really appreciate about Mars Hill, though many thousands of people meet each Sunday, the auditorium is just a big open room with no real decoration, grey plastic chairs all on the same level, and a stage in the center so everyone can see the speaker. So there is (proportionately) not that much spent per person on the building so the church can engage in other things more central to the Biblical calling.

Kurt said...

Jon,

I am with you on this one! I am not completely against having a fascility for worship but i am not impressed with the large empires many churches are building in order to make people comfortable and to 'draw in the unsaved.' We do not need to be attractional to see people come to Jesus, we need to be missional agents of change! I have also seen first hand how large multimillion dollar buildings can turn the focus off of ministry in the community to trying to keep the big givers in the church happy. Hey, i read an article by Francis Chan in Outreach Magazine yesterday and found a blog that is talking about it: http://steve-vernon.com/?p=323 . Read about it, i think you would identify in a real way!

Mason,

I agree with you and am appreciate of the ministry of Mars Hill...I am a 'podrishioner!' I also love the story of how Mars Hill did when it started did not try to use clever marketing or have big fancy signs, rather they just allowed the word to spread because what is happening there is contageous. All that to say, i think that situations like your church's, it is good to have a place to meet, but Mars Hill is an example of how you can have a permanent meeting place and still demonstrate the missional heart of God.

Tremonti said...

Mason,

Your clarifications actually compliment my ideas but the only thing is i did not mention it in this post as clearly as I had wanted. You explanation of a third way is a welcomed addition to the post. Thanks for notifying me about Mars Hill though! But which one are you guys talking about here (Rob Bell or Mark Driscoll's church)? Sorry for my ignorance haha. I am for a 'place' where we call our own but I tend to see more fixation to the place where we substitute kingdom perspective to expanding our boarders. I remember a church that I heard of who put priority in building a 1000 sitting capacity space but yet were not yet growing in number. They thought that impacting culture around them was through this building project; the idea that a massive structure equals attracting the crowds to Jesus. This sort of trend is going on maybe partly due to people's exposure to Bill Hybells and Rick Warrens philosophy of church. I have nothing against both these pastors but people here are reading their books in the wrong manner.

Kurt,
I echo you on this one "we need to be missional agents of change!" this is so true! Reading missional books have opened my eyes to this possibility. I like what authors in the 'missional stream' are telling us about how we are to reach out and be church. And I took a look at the blog you directed me to and as you said it click a cord in me! Great stuff. And what Francis Chan is doing is simply remarkable. This is new to me!

Mason said...

Sorry not to make what Mars Hill clear, I forget how confusing that gets. No idea actually what Driscoll’s church is like inside but I’m referring to the Mars Hill with Rob Bell in Michigan.

Kurt said...

I also was refering to Rob Bell's church...

Tremonti said...

I had a hunch it was Rob Bell's church you both were mentioning, but having not seen both of their churches I had to ask.haha.

Hopeful Theo

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I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations