Friday, January 14, 2005

Blogging and the Church – Getting Critical Mass and Unity

(If you didn't read part one on "Sanctification - The Mediated Life" that post is the key post in our series.. )

Blogging and the Church – Getting Critical Mass and Unity
When I was a new Christian, the first book I read was "The Selected Sermons of George Whitfield". Whitfield was an open air preacher from the First Great Awakening.
When I walked by a vacant lot in those days, I used to say to my buddies, "Do you see that? That is our pulpit".

Well, the new mode of proclamation has arrived. May the Lord raise up a unified band of preachers and thinkers who can bring constructive change to the church and awakening to our culture!!

Bloggers, Thinkers, Pastors and Preachers
It is time for Christian bloggers to take themselves a little more seriously if we desire to bring constructive change to the church. The goal is always the same: to accomplish the mission of extending the kingdom in our generation. "The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit", Romans 14:17.

In all institutions, media, politic, business, stagnation happens when bureaucracy and power politics take priority over the mission and over innovation which helps solve real problems. Young entrepreneurs and thinkers get pushed to the side. When the walls are high and thick, the way on is difficult. Stagnation occurs when God’s gift of gifted people are not empowered to promote innovation.

BUT all this is changing with the new technology.

In Luther’s day, the printing press empowered students and professors to be heard. The velocity of new ideas was transformed positively, and the cause of truth was catapulted forward. This combination of "spot on ideas" (Luther’s recovery of the Apostolic Gospel spoken in a language that the culture could understand) and a means to promote the new paradigm is HERE in blogging.

BUT …revolutions, scientific, cultural and religious, happen when a critical mass of thinkers and innovators are all on the same page. I am sure that in Luther’s day not everyone agreed on the details, but everyone agreed on the mission…The mission remains the renewal of the church and the blessing of the cultural through the expansion of the Kingdom through preaching the plain gospel.

Keys we can agree on:
1. The Church needs renewal.
The discussion regarding the gap between the progress of the kingdom in the early church and the progress of the kingdom in today’s generation must be addressed. The key here is that WE AS THE CHURCH WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. The parables of Jesus are clear.
"In that day, it will be like steward and his master." The master says “show me the money”, and the servant is judged by the return on investment that he generated. The judgment will be fair and exacting.
“But I was scared and the world is getting real bad and ….” Excuses!!!

Why did Jesus tell such parables?
Answer: Because we will be held accountable for the expansion of the kingdom in our generation. The judgment will be like a CEO standing before the board of directors. The board is looking at one thing – THE BOTTOM LINE.
Let me emphasize that the economy of the kingdom is not about money. The currency of the kingdom is VIRTUE. If we see the currency of the kingdom economy as virtue and not just numbers, we will promote both quality and quantity. The answer is not to be anti-mega-church. The answer is to seek to expand actually spiritual growth in terms of Morally Beautiful Living or the multiplication of virtue.
If the church needs renewal and if we are being held accountable, it is time to be analytical and do the hard thinking without being critical. Personally, I love Rick Warren. Why? He is teaching the church to design processes that get the job done. We may disagree with the details of some paragraphs in the plan BUT the meta-message is that the time has come to take responsibility for the renewal of the church. On this point evangelicals and emergent leaders and Reformed pastors and all those who love Christ and His church need to agree upon. The time has come to do the heavy lifting of solving our problems which undermine the accomplishment of the task.

2. A return to Hebrew thinking. There is much talk about “post-modernism” and “emergent” and a lot of terms are thrown around. Some folk tell us to reject the foundationalism of rationalism that entered the West via Descartes etc…Others say that systematic theology and propositional truth is a problem. Such extreme measures, I believe, are an attempt to solve a real problem. I believe there are philosophical answers which need to be answered, and I do have my perspective on these issues. BUT!! Such extreme answers do not solve the problem in a manner that can be understood or embraced by the majority of the church. This pastor desires to find the wise answers to the deep questions, but these solutions need to be born of peace and sown in peace if they are to bring a harvest of righteousness.

What we can agree on is that the biblical emphasis on tangible fruit and wisdom in living needs to be the top priority of the Christian leader. The story of the church, its observable life, needs to have the same winsome qualities as the New Testament prototype. This emphasis on the observable life, as opposed to the purely internal life, is a return to Hebrew thinking. If we simply say, we need to recover the learning models and self-assessment priorities of the bible and if we simply call this a return to Hebrew thinking as opposed to Greek thinking, everyone says AMEN!! Here, I believe is the proper language which will both bring unity and get to the root of the problem.

On this firm biblical ground, I call the bloggers to begin to joyfully network and dialogue. As this dialogue grows, through this new media, the ideas that will renew the church and renew the culture around us will incubate and eventually flower. The 21st Century reformation is not just happening in politics and media but in the church as well.

If you weren’t invited to the party, have no fear. The party is over and the discussion has moved out into the street. The blogoshere is the open air pulpit of the 21st Century. The open air preachers have arrived.

God Bless,
(for more on Blogging and the Church see Tod Bolsinger's blog post and Bill Hobbs here)

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