Monday, May 01, 2006

The Problem of Looking for "The Man"

Again, some of the inspiration for this post is in many ways my recent experiences and recent conversations with a friend of mine, Ryan.

Ryan and I and also this young man, Brad Fieldhouse, were all assessed by our denomination in the past 10 years as potential church planters and pastors. All of us were assessed very highly. This whole process is in many ways rather insidious. You see the church is looking for someone who just might be “the man”.

Faith in “the man”
When a church goes through a hiring process and interviews a candidate and listens to him preach, what are they really looking for? I have found that, though we do not say it, we are looking for “the man”. Maybe, this guy can be the next “guy”. The guy to attract a crowd and make us a “successful” “church”. He needs to be “charismatic” and attractive to outsiders. He is true to the word but not too obtuse.

What is so wrong with looking for “the man”?
First, the concept behind the idea of “the man” is that the way a church grows is that a man stands up and attracts people. The work of the ministry, what ever that is, is done by “the man”. We the church we consume the product that he gives us. We laugh at his jokes. We pay attention when the mode is set. We sing the up songs at the end, and we go home feeling pretty good about our church and the whole production. The whole event might as well be called the Sunday morning matinee but with a religious theme.

This is EXACTLY what Dylan meant when he said:
“You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all did their tricks for you.
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you”

It is totally not where it is at to let the artist or the preacher entertain you and to be a spectator. What is supposed to be going on here is not even the least bit about entertainment. Poets are not entertainers and neither are preachers.
You might be able to sell records that way and indeed you might be able to grow churches that way but as Dylan says… “it ain’t me babe”. The kingdom is a completely different process. Doing the stuff is not a spectator affair. The kingdom is something we do, and we do it in small groups and in one on one relationship where we teach people an altogether new way of life based on an entirely new and spiritual basis. The cross is not something you learn while eating popcorn.

Now consider what we would have to do if we didn’t utilize “the man” process at all. Even when someone does give a teaching we are not listening to the human element at all but only the pneuma (Spirit). The man himself may be totally un-polished and not entertaining at all. It is better if he isn’t. He should be weak and unimpressive so that we all know that we are not here to be entertained by a man but to here the exposition of the scripture and the voice of God through the gifts of the body of Christ.

It is time to seriously deconstruct the concept of “the man”. The seeker sensitive entertainment model has built large churches, mega churches, but has done immeasurable harm to the common Christian’s understanding of what the church is and who they are as Christians.

Let’s destroy the whole concept of “the man” and seek a model that promotes Christ and His kingdom with simplicity and humility and no dependence on the man with the golden tongue and the golden touch.

God Bless,