Wednesday, September 11, 2013

When it is NOT Hip to be Square.

The initial part of this post is not an original idea of mine. I am not sure where the image of the triangle and the square first appeared in the “organic church” conversation, but it is a helpful tool for seeing “essential” vs. “helpful” things in church life. In a nutshell, I would describe it like this:

A church is a community of the Kingdom of God, consisting of people centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who practice faith, love and hope. Faith, love and hope being the vocabulary the Bible uses again and again to sum up the three greater commands that Jesus gave His followers: Love God, love others, and share His story, making disciples.

If you have a community—even initially consisting of just two or three people—many would argue that you have a Biblical church.

To that triangle of three essentials the church throughout history has added elements that strengthen the church’s efforts in being church. Things like a building, paid workers, program ministries, and the budget to maintain those other elements. These things are all not Biblically prescribed, but are also not bad. They are not prohibited anyway.

Where these four additional elements go from being helps to hindrances is primarily seen in one of two ways:

The Frame.

If the triangle could be seen as the “picture” of a Biblical church, the square is like the frame around the picture. Often a well-designed frame will accentuate a picture and make its presentation more effective. However, there are frames that distract from the picture they frame. Some pictures really don’t need a frame to be beautiful. In the case of churches, maintaining the frame often becomes the main mission of the church. It consumes all of their energy and resources. Many a church has long since lost the picture and is left simply maintaining an empty frame. In that case, you no longer even have a church, but instead are simply another cultural institution.

The Wall.

In today’s culture people have a definite preconceived idea about church and they really don’t like it. It is nearly impossible to get people who don’t know God to darken the doorway of a church building. They do not experience the Kingdom of God because the church is only “being church” behind the walls of the building that has become “the church.” Instead of being community in the world, we have retreated into the confines of a square that the world does not want to have anything to do with.

So, if you don’t want to experience the freedom and excitement of church without the institutional developments of “the square” at least be sure to not let those elements become an empty frame or an imposing wall.

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