Sunday, May 21, 2006

types of churches and the times

I'm reading Mark Driscoll's book Confessions of a Reformission Rev: hard lessons from an emerging missional church. Mark is founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the Paradox Theater and the Acts 29 churchplanting Network.

In Chapter Zero (this is emerging stuff - you do things differently) Mark raises the issue of type of church:
The age of Christendom [that time when culture was dominated by judeo-christian values] was dominated by the traditional and institutional church with values like:
Missions is solely funding Americans to evangelize in foreign coutries.
Culture is where the church expects to occupy a privileged position of influence.
The primary culture to reach is modern.
Theology is liberalism or fundamentalism, with fighting between the two side.
Churches exist largely to meet the needs of church members3.
Churches grow through births and attracting people with denominational loyalties.
Community means the church is a subculture that is closed to outsiders.
Pastors are selected and trained in seminaries, outside of the local church.
Pastors are servants and teachers who do most of the ministry, especially evangelization of the lost.
Lost people are not frequently pursued for evangelistic relationships.
Faith is private and personal.
Worship services are based on traditions (e.g. robes, hymnals, organs, liturgy).
Church buildings are considered sacred places (e.g. crosses, stained glass, icons) where people are to dress and act formally.

The end of Christendom and the transition to a post-Christian culture is dominated by contemporary and evangelical churches with traits like:
Missions is a church department that sends people and money to foreign countries.
Culture is where the church battles to regain a lost position of privileged influence.
The primary culture to reach was modern and is transistioning to postmodern.
Theology is conservative and is built on a modernistic view of truth and knowledge.
Churches exist to meet the felt needs of spiritual consumers.
Churches grow through marketing that brings people to church events.
Community means the church is a safe subculture that welcomes lost people into the church.
Pastors need not have formal training or ordination.
Pastors are CEOs who lead and manage their staff, which is responsible for ministry.
Lost people are invited to evangelistic church programs that target seekers.
Faith is private and personal but is openly shown at church.
Worship services are based on styles from the 1980's and 1990's (acoustic guitars, drama, etc.)
Church buildings are functional places (e.g. no crosses, no stained glass, no icons) where people can dress and act informally.
Then there is a 3rd incarnation, what Mark calls the emerging and missional church with traits like:
Missions is every Christian being a missionary to their local culture.
The church accepts that it is marginalized in culture and holds no privileged position of influence but gains influence by serving the common good.
The primary culture to reach is postmodern and pluralistic.
Theology ranges from ancent orthodoxy to heterodox liberalism built on postmodern denials of true truth and known knowledge.
Churches are the people who love Jesus and serve his mission in a local culture.
Churches grow as Christians bring Jesus to lost people through hospitality.
Community means the church is a counterculture with a new kingdom way of life through Jesus.
Pastors need not be ordained or formally educated in theology and are trained in the local church.
Pastors are missiologists who train Christians to be effective missionaries.
Lost people are saved by the Holy Spirit when and how he determines.
Faith is lived publically together as the church and includes all of life.
Worship services blend ancient forms and current local cultural styles.
Church buildings are sacred, as is all of God's creation.
We can probably quibble about some of his distinctions (any time you create lists like this, there are always exceptions). The issue is not which one is better than the others, but which one...
1st, are we now?
2nd, will be most effective in reaching the people around us?

All 3 models are effective in certain times and places.
The 1st (traditional) will flourish in an older demographic.
The 2nd (contemporary) will tend to reach baby boomers.
The 3rd (emerging) will probably be more effective reaching young creative types.
These are, of course, generalization. But, the point is, do we know what we are trying to do, who we are trying to minister to, and therefore what we are going to look like? These are important questions for any church that wants to look beyond itself.

There several other questions, the answers to which, will shape how we think of church and mission. For now, I'll simply list the questions:
Will your church...
...be an emergent liberal or an emerging evangeical church?
...proclaim a gospel of forgiveness, fulfullment, or freedom?
...be attractional, missional, or both?
...have a mission of community or be a community of mission?
Will your leaders work from guilt or coviction?
Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs?
Can you wield a sword and a trowel?

1 comment:

Terry said...

It seems from your post that you are interested in church planting at least on some level. I have a poll on my blog about essential ministries for church planting besides a worship service. I invite you to take my poll at

http://pruittcommunications.blogspot.com/2006/07/essentials-for-church-planting.html