Re-Emerging Church – Re-Church – Retro Church – Renaissance Church – Reformed Church – Reimagining Church – Recuperating Church – Re-asserting Ancient Faith Church – Re-establishing Church etc. etc. etc. etc.
When it comes to ‘church,’ the desire to “get back to the way things used to be,” or the desire to “find out where God is working NOW and join him in it,” (John 5:17, 19-20) may stand at odds ideologically and often cause unnecessary separation in the body of Christ. It’s a tension of direction. Both camps desire movement, but one tends toward a reverse trajectory, while the other tends to push forward and to uncharted fringes.
For certain, in the extremes of each, there is idolization. When ‘monumenting’ or trying to ’embrace the fullness of orthodoxies,’ in antiquated systems, structures, practices, etc., overshadow mission, then the church becomes passive. When the vision of mission sent-ness becomes myopic, then God becomes a god of a horizon which we never reach.
The church impulse of holding to the past and thinking it was better, and by consequence thinking itself better for emulating ancient disciplines often results in pharisaism and ingrown liturgies. I suppose that all of us know when we’re leaning too far into our ecclesiastical constructs and away from Christ.
When those who push the envelope to the extreme for the sake of modernity, relevance, or “being sent where they are,” no longer gather, no longer bear the burdens of others in community (Galatians 6:2), no longer count others more significant than themselves (Philippians 2:3), no longer encourage and equip others for the work (Acts 14:22), and no longer remember from whence they came (Revelation 2:5), suffer from Ebenezer Amnesia. What’s Ebenezer Amnesia? Consider the following;
“Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. (Genesis 35:14)
“Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:9)
“Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12) NLT
These were set up as remembrances of where God worked with and through people towards the furtherance of being His people. Hyper-Mission mindedness may seek to remove ancient boundaries in haste as an over-reaction to long settled truths. (Proverbs 22:28 NLT).
The extremists of each like to be at odds with one other. (Luke 9:51-56) Being sticky, or staying put vs. the hyper missional mantra of always pressing forward, stretch the church like a dried and inflexible rubber band. A few questions;
How would you encourage those who sacrifice mission for monuments?
How would you encourage those who sacrifice assembling for advancing?
What would you say are some ways to practice liturgy outside of traditional church settings?