Ho there friends.

As usual, the return from Germany is accompanied by a funky-schedule. Up early today (4-ish) which may mean a nap later. Anyhow, I thought I’d take the opportunity to use my time, & process some of my thoughts & observations from the trip.

In many ways Germany seems very familiar re: church culture… in Deutschland, the church culture is a few hundred years older than ours – & it is more obvious there (to me) that churches often take on the expected (but perhaps unspoken) role of “what churches do” & “don’t do”) – (e.g. meaning meeting on Sunday, in a “church” building, the calendaring of events, creation-or lack thereof, of specific programs). Much of what becomes normal seems to be based on what is “successful” – not necessarily a bad thing, but only as long as the definition of success matches Jesus’. Otherwise, success is the number of people at church. It is the lack of conflict. It is reputation. It is sticking to what others are doing – esp. when the other church is experiencing “success…” There’s a thought of “why re-invent the wheel? We’ll just follow what others are doing.”

This shows up in the adoption of models – (not Zoolander silly,) rather, meaning the copying (almost exactly) a particular church/organizations structure/plan – the state church, Hillsong, Willow Creek, Saddleback, Emergent, Church on the Way, etc. These models may “work,” but is it right?

So, I’m pondering conformity & normalization in the context of church, especially the local church – seeing this organization through the lens of another culture has spurred me to comtemplation mode… esp. from asking clarifying questions about things that I’d observed in the church structure – questions like:

-What is “normal” for the local church? What has made this “the norm?” (Think: traditions, identifying something as especially important/sacred, churchy-ness/religiousness etc…)
-What does it look like for the local church to be developing its own unque identity? esp. in the context of “conformity” – where outside pressures/influences (personal aspirations & agendas, denominational forms & norms, city/community ‘standards’, &/or expectations, to name a few) intentionally or not, exert force/pressure to shape the church into something it may/may not supposed to be becoming…
-Are there non-negotiables for every church (behaviors, norms, practices, methods, etc.)? If so, what are they? (beyond a statement of faith &/or an intellectual affirmation of values.) If not, why not?
-How do you determine the methods you will use to get from point A to point B with the people of your church?

More to come… your input is welcome. Probably.

2 thoughts on “Musings…

  1. It is interesting, this topic. No really good answers. We were part of a church back home for over twenty years. I know that sounds strange considering my age, but I was 4 when we started attending. I didn’t realize it at the time, (and I am not trying to bash anybody)but looking back, these are a lot of the questions we tried to answer when we felt God shifting us. We couldn’t seem to find the right answers anymore. I don’t think the church changed, I think we grew differently from what they had to offer.
    Saying that, it was an adjustment for us when we came to Hillside. Nothing was the same. Even when my mother came to visit, she yelled at me for getting up in the middle of service to refill my coffee and get a donut. Then she yelled at me for talking to Joni out in the hall during worship lol.
    There should be non-negotiables for every church. That is a large part of why we are part of four-square. I don’t want different “non-negotiables” for each pastor. That gets hairy, and frankly, between myself, my brothers and my father I have seen enough hair to last me FOREVER.

  2. Shontelly- I think there are good answers – just hang around me & they’ll pour forth on just about every topic you can think of… no wait. Did I say answers? I meant opinions, which is pretty much the same thing.

    On a side note, hairy doesn’t have to equal scary. Be healed.

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