Tag Archive: denomination


driscollthe other day i was locked in a room and forced to watch a 45 minute preach by Mark Driscoll [well, not quite locked and forced but strongly encouraged to by the presence of it being shown at a staff meeting i was required to attend] and since i have not been exposed to too much of his preaching [beyond the oh-so-much-smoke which i have heard enough times to realise there are some things about the way he does ministry that i am definitely not on the same page as] i decided to give him a chance and see what he had to say…

and by ‘say’ i clearly mean ‘shout’ cos the man shouts…

which in and of itself is not a sin, and so i tuned in to the shouting…

it was his opening speech for the recent Convergence conference and it was the way he explained different parts of the body of Christ, the church, that i really felt super helpful:

he used the analogy of place and border… the idea that Nation is a description of the boundaries of our faith where crossing them means you are no longer talking about following Jesus, but something else…

if you take that as a starting place then for me as someone who lives in Oakland at the moment, when i go and visit the next town or suburb, so Alameda or Berkeley, nothing changes too much – for the most part the context stays the same and so we will by and large do things the same – in fact people can move from Alameda to Berkeley without noticing too much difference.

then if you take it to the next level, when you cross a state boundary, things start to look different in some ways, but for the most part things look and feel and operate the same way. but there will be bigger changes – ways of doing things, focus of state, it might even have some laws that are different and so certain behaviours and attitudes will look different…

but when you cross a nation border then things look radically different – you might drive on a different side of the road, you will have a different currency, in most cases a different language – we just are not talking about the same thing any more – we will still be civil and loving to those people, but we will recognise that they are from a different country.

he definitely said it better than i’m explaining it here, but hopefully the idea comes through – he refers to different church group or demonisations, um denominations, as tribes and as long as we are in the same nation, then we are about the same thing – as we are in different states there may be some huge differences between how we look and how we do and say things and some of those we will not agree on, but as long as we agree on the basic necessities, we are still in the same family.

and as we come a little closer to within-state boundaries, the differences become even less and we might find ourselves collaborating a little more because our styles and ways of doing things look a lot more similar.

i guess what becomes important is defining the nation’s borders and being able to recognise what following Jesus means [some things like denying ones self, looking after the least of these around us, forgiveness of everyone who has hurt or offended us but also truths like Jesus being the only way to God etc] and to put less emphasis on all the things within the country border that seek to cause conflict between those of us who follow Jesus differently within there…

anyways, try find the talk, cos he did a better job, but like the picture of that and his focus on church unity… in this instance, i think the man speaks the truth…

As we look at Mark chapter 3 verse 20-27 i take a bit of a reverse glimpse of it by looking at denominations vs denominationalism [or as i sometimes refer to them in talks as demonisations which is what we make of denominations when we start worshipping them or who they are] and encourage each of us, whether we belong to a denomination or not [don’t get me started on “non-denominational”], to be keeping the kingdom of God and the greater church in mind as we live out our Jesus-following lives…

Take a look at Mark 3 vs 20-27

denom

to continue to the next one and see Jesus’ thoughts on family, click here.

why i hate cars

cars are stupid – i can prove it – they have been used to kill people – drunk drivers in cars have recklessly taken thousands of innocent lives in our country alone – old cars get rusty and dangerous because people often can’t afford to give them proper maintainence and take them off the road when they should go – don’t get me started on woman drivers – or men drivers – in fact we have broken it down to this very generalised generalisation – that when women drivers drive badly it is because they drive badly (or on occasion too carefully and slowly and so cause accidents) – when men drive badly it is because they drive recklessly (usually too fast and without taking decent enough consideration of others) – i have had a number of really bad experiences with cars even just this week (overtaking on the left up a hill when there was one lane, taxi overtaking four cars in one go on a solid white approaching a corner, countless people driving right up my bum metaphorically speaking, and so on…) – a car killed one of my friends in school on his eighteenth birthday when he went out for a cycle – cars break down and cost so much money in repairs (money that could be better spent on the poor and needy) – people have been highjacked and raped and murdered in cars – my uncle drowned when his car went off the road and into a river – and i could go on and on about bad things down by car, in cars, in the name of cars…

on the other hand, i have found that when i drive my car properly it gets me from one place to another, i can use it to give other people lifts, i have had some cool chatting times to the beautiful val in the car, i have driven kids to camps and visited people in hospital and offered complete strangers a ride and and and…

and all this is not really about cars at all, but about the church and Christ-ianity… just because stoopid people have done stoopid (and hurtful, and abusive, and racist, and damaging, and thoughtless, and and and) things in, through and with church and in the name of God or a specific denomination or the church, doesn’t make it a bad or stupid or useless or ineffective or abusive thing – it just means stoopid is as stoopid does

because i have seen the church in action and i have seen Godly men and women doing incredible revolutionary life-transforming things in the name and through the power of God and His Holy Spirit – i have seen people fed and clothed and visited and prayed and cared for and xenophobia-attacked people welcomed in and looked after and and and…

so one of the things that came out of yesterday’s discussions when we were looking at the christian faith existing in a pluralistic multi-faith society was the need to understand what we mean by church…

one of the problems that the church faces today is that what we see as church is a combination of what church is meant to be about (according to God and the Bible) plus tradition and style and denomination and flavour and emphasis and a whole bunch of stuff that is actually not church has crept (or been invited) in

how do we peel away what we have added to figure out exactly what Jesus intended for His bride? also not to say that all that stuff is necessarily wrong either – there is a lot of tradition/style/emphasis/denomination etc that is good and positive and adds to the experience and journey of church, but the danger is when we hold too tightly to some of that stuff and see it as the thing when it is in fact only the clothes of the thing

another question that came up is ‘do we have a gospel message that we can preach at different churches that is the same message?’ – for example if we take the message of the gospel and preach it at an affluent white church, is that the same message we will preach to a township church in a more povertous situation? and if not, then is that truly the gospel message?

for example, as an affluent western churchgoer you can take the prayer of jabez and read it and pray it and say ‘oh look, God blessed me with everything i want, therefore the prayer is true’ (or more honestly ‘it works’ as with other superstitions) – but then the question is would that same prayer and ‘consequence’ work for a Christ follower in a country where they are being persecuted and even killed for their faith? Not at all. Not in terms of how we have come to understand or interpret “blessing” and “territory enlargement” and so on. Therefore the question is, “is that the gospel at all?” and with the prayer of jabez it is a resounding “No!” – if we were able to take out of context prayers that were between a person and God from the Bible and apply them to our lives as if they were teaching then we would have to hold on to the prayers of Job and Jonah and Amos and Isaiah as well and then suddenly it’s not so much about me being happy and comfortable and having a big pile of stuff and selling all my books and so somehow it doesn’t seem to work…

the kinds of questions that may need to be asked with the manpeeling are some that a lot of people (paid Christian workers such as myself perhaps?) will find difficult to ask because it may mean we have to change some stuff and quite possibly get a lot more uncomfortable – questions like ‘is having a building church?’ and ‘is paying a pastor/worship leader/youth worker church?’ and so on…

also questions that would make the rest of the church start to get nervous such as, ‘is 5% of the people in a weekly gathering doing 100% of the work church?’ and is ‘this group is the evangelists and that group is the missionaries church?’

and so on.

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