Monday, December 27, 2004

Reforming the Church - A Method for Sanctification in the 21st Century - Part 1

A Method for Sanctification in the 21st Century.

If you haven’t noticed, I have had writer's block for about two months. My last real good post, I believe, was probably this post on Passion for the Sovereignty of God (Nov 6th).

I have actually had one idea in my head for this whole time and could not get it out. Well, finally yesterday, the idea came out in the Sunday AM preaching. (The sermon didn’t get recorded BUT I am going to preach the same ideas next week so hopefully I can get that sermon up next week). Here is the context to what has been incubating in my heart. During the rest of this week, I will work hard to get out the ideas I am preaching. These posts I hope will prove to give real meat to my efforts to codify a method of sanctification for the 21st Century Reformation and somehow play a role in the on-going renewal of the church.

The Need for a Method of Sanctification in the Protestant Church
Dallas Willard in his book “The Renovation of the Heart” says the western church does not have a transferable method of sanctification. What is meant by this statement is that the Christian cannot go to his elder in the faith, become his student, and come out two years later as a transformed person. Sure we have classes on personal disciplines and anger management, BUT the product of such classes and discipleship programs, as far as I can see, are very low quality. On the level of personal sanctification and the transformation of our temperaments, the church lacks a method and a true process. Jesus was a disciple-maker and he taught his disciples the ways of prayer and humility and self-denial. These virtues and how to attain them are all but lost in the church. This element of salvation (personal transformation) is the primary program of the church, yet the process has not yet been designed.

Is there an engineer in the house??
Is there a rabbi in the house??

How could anything be more urgent than learning how to multiply the currency of the kingdom? The currency of the kingdom is virtue, and it seems the treasure is lost. Worse yet very few are seeking high and low to find "the way to life" and even fewer are able to lead others to it. Here is my call in this season of my ministry.

The Big Picture – Rebuilding the Church
In my system, (yes, I am a pretty modern kinda guy), there are three levels which the reforming process takes place. This series of posts concerns the third.

1. Community:
The first level is the level of the church as a functioning community. The church as an organization needs to be managing a process to accomplish its mission. The mission is the building of Morally Beautiful Community and the multiplication of virtue. This level of reformation is what Rick Warren is so successful at and is the theme of “The Purpose Driven Church”. Now, I am not a huge fan of the flavor of Saddleback Community Church and the Seeker churches, BUT I am completely in agreement with their method of managing the church to a purpose. My only fault with these churches is that the content of the vision does not reach high enough. The reason for this is that these churches are only good at this mission level of the reformation program and do not yet incorporate levels 2 and 3 below. (Also, they are not reformed enough, but that is a point for another day).

I have posted a few essays on this topic:
The Case for Accountability
Morally Beautiful Community

2. Mentoring and Discipleship Relationship (One on One)
The second level of reformation is in our discipleship method or our method of mentoring. Jesus did not mentor using an academic model. I will post on this in detail later, but the basic idea is that in Jesus’ discipleship method the subject being studied was not "abstract ideas" but the “life of the teacher”. The method can be summarized as “Observation, imitation, and codification”. The learner observes the mentor. Then, he imitates the mentor. As he is learning, the mentor also teaches some sayings and principles to help the student repeat the activity and standardize what is being learned.
It is all to obvious that this method is not the primary discipleship method of the western church BUT it is the discipleship method of Jesus.

I have written on this topic here:
How Did We Get Here?
Discipleship in the Footsteps of Jesus

In summary, leaders of the church are responsible for designing a mission effective process for the church and aligning the entire community to this mission and purpose. This purpose, of building Morally Beautiful Community and the multiplication of virtue, is accomplished in the context of mentoring relationships which use the mentoring model of Jesus. These two aspects of the church:
1 Our understanding and alignment toward the mission, and
2. Our educational or discipleship methods,
need reforming ...

...BUT the meat, which is taught in the context of the above principles, is a new covenant spirituality which leads to the transformation of the heart.

This new covenant spirituality I call the "activities of the heart" or simply "activities". The individual’s moral actions, which find their source in the heart and in spiritual relationship with God, must be transformed. The role of the pastor and the mentor is to teach the skills necessary to manage one's own heart.

The way of the heart is the central themes of New Covenant sanctification. The movements and activities of our heart need to be understood and the central thrust of the church's sanctification method must center on the transformation of the heart. As teachers of God’s people, we must be able to describe the activities of the heart so that we can teach others to observe their hearts and begin to imitate a spirituality that sanctifies.

As leaders, we need to be able to teach new covenant spirituality like a surgeon can teach anatomy. The spiritual mentor should be an expert in the anatomy of the human heat and be able to describe its every activity.

This describing the activities and the experiences of new covenant spirituality has been my goal for the last few months.

The last few months, this blog has been dedicated to describing the activities of the heart that indeed do sanctify. To accomplish this task of creating a method of sanctification, I have been working through the Lord’s Prayer.

The structure of the posts and how they relate to the Lord’s Prayer are as follows:
Our Father:
Experiencing the Fatherhood of God
Kierkegaard and the Experiencing the Fatherhood of God
Four Types of Relationships with God - Neglect
Four Types of Relationships with God - Perfectionism
The Immutability of our Realtionship with God
The Four Types of Relationship with God - Abuse

The Four Types of Relationships with God - Love pt 1
The Four Types of Relationships with God - Love and the Sovereignty of God
The audio sermon that came out of these posts. - Passion for the Experience of the Father's Love
Contemplating the Experience of Unconditional Election

Your Kingdom Come:
Your Kingdom Come and Static and Dynamic Faith
Dynamic Faith 2
Love is Kind and U2

As you can see I got stuck..BUT I have found the answer . Stay posted...
Therefore, the next few posts are going to move toward describing the experience of dynamic faith, and so, I believe will constitute the meat of our lessons on "A Method for Sanctification in the 21st Century".

God Bless,

No comments: