Programs or Practices II: Der Kleinfeldernator

Posted: July 21, 2007 in Theology

Josh commented:

A perennial question. What’s interesting is that many times after deconstructing and reconstructing, the “new” practices look quite like the old programs.

Tim replied:

Hmmm. If that’s the case, then I’m not sure we’ve actually yet moved to practices. I find it helpful to imagine I’m in a house church of five families. In that context, our limitations help us to ask simpler questions like, “What kind of life in the world are disciples called to live?”

I imagine that this question looks different to the small house church than it does to the five thousand person gathering, and because the gathering adds complexity and grander options (which I’m not suggesting is somehow inherently evil) they might be asking grander and more complex questions like, “What is the specific impact on our geographic area that this highly resourced, highly staffed, highly gifted body of people can be inspired and organized to accomplish?” Again, this is not bad at all, just more complicated. Take Quest’s Questapalooza (a massive festival for Jesus) for example: that’s not even possible as a practice – it inherently HAS to be a program, but it certainly creatively expresses kingdom values.

But let’s go back to the small house church we’ve invented in our minds. In a house church where prayer is valued at an embedded level, it will be prioritized in people’s lives and homes. I don’t think it would be “program” if a high percentage of randomly sampled people in your congregation said, “I practice daily meditation on Scripture and conversation with God because I value God as all in all.” And I don’t think it would look very similar to an evangelism program if people said the same thing for conversationally engaging people about Jesus because lost people mattered to them at an embedded level, which quite naturally, though yet intentionally, led to frequent voluntary practices.

Again, I’m trying to free up schedules so people have space for intentional kingdom improvisation. How do you have time for your unsaved neighbor when you have so many services to attend?

And what of the leadership? Proclaim and exemplify more than organize.

  1. Aram DiGennaro says:

    Just a brief comment as I drink my coffee and stare at a computer screen instead of reading my Bible, before I kiss my wife and go to work remodeling someone’s bathroom . . . .

    Hmmm, I wonder what these practices are expressing or reinforcing or producing in my life? I think programs can “force” people to participate in or at least mimic Christian practices–and in this way they more easily encourage a lot of people to get on the bus.

    What we have been trying to get away from in house church is the 80/20 rule: even in highly engaged and active congregations, 20% of the people really carry the bulk of the ministry, and the rest are (often very sincerely) along for the ride.

    I’ve been wondering if it is possible to make it hard to be along for the ride–hard enough that everybody around here is a “practicing” Christian–putting their own creative juice and energy into “doing the stuff” in ways that haven’t necessarily been envisioned the same way in the past, or by the leadership, or by Rick Warren (who, incidentally, is an excellent example of someone fighting the 80/20 rule in a more mainstream, program congregation).

    I don’t think that that practices is the way to the Next Big Thing, but maybe it is ONE (not the only) clue to the stance of a “salty” church, which can transform an empire even though it is only 10% of the population. (Not that there are any empires around to transform these days, of course.)

    For what it’s worth.

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