Q Los Angeles 2013
Arts + Entertainment
Science + Tech
Concerning the Church: Death to Innovation
What if the life of the church is not actually going to come from better or newer thinking on what it means to be the people of God? What if the life of the church begins to re-root itself in a deep commitment to the essentials of the Gospel in a way that is honest and relentless?
For the last couple of posts, my goal has been to create a conversation around the church and the role it has in our lives, as Christ-follower in the United States. Together, we have wrestled through whether or not our approach to church is focused on establishing a religious organization rather than sustaining movements of the Gospel. We have considered whether or not our brands are elevated beyond the glorification of the cross. This final post is a simple exploration as to whether or not innovation in the church should die.
Should we kill innovation in the church today?
Let's consider it for a moment. Imagine what it would mean for the church to stop all innovation and simply follow the two commands Jesus elevated in his time on earth.
First, we must love God with everything with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds. We place him primary in our lives as human beings and also as faith communities. The leaders of our churches then are not savvy communicators with spiky hair and cool jeans, instead that position is reserved for Jesus.
Let us never say again this is my church, for it is not. The leader of our lives is not our own personal self-discovery of needs or strengths. Instead, we are required to obey God’s commands in all parts of our lives, not merely in how we practice our religion. Imagine how different the church would be were we to spend as much time thinking about our own personal holiness as we do the shape of the church.
Second, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. Now, we love ourselves something fierce. It has been said that self-preservation is one of the strongest urges within the human being. What if we live by a different standard…one that says compassion and selflessness is even stronger.
Imagine a church that spent more money on those in need in their community than on their marketing budget or even their technology budget. Imagine a community that truly lived within the boundaries of the New Testament and never let even one of their own be in need while another lived in plenty.
If we lived this way I think it would be the most remarkable community we have ever known. I presume that it would bring God great glory and people would be forced to reconcile their previous experiences of the church with this picture of a church, which refuses to innovate and instead simply obeys two simple ideas.
God is my leader and you are my friend.
This may not be innovative, but it would certainly be revolutionary.
I am sure this is what people need in Christ, but I would fear that all your congregants might just pack it up and find the next place that puts all its time and money into marketing budget and technology because that is where the beautfiul people will end up going, Is it right? Yes, will it work this side of the eschaton? Best wishes.
Okay, that was harsh. JR, the church I attend is small, below 300 people, and we spend about next to nothing marketing ourselves. Maybe a few thousand dollars at best, yet we send out close to $100,000 in aid each year through CRWRC and such similar organizations. How does this fit in to your questions? I'm not touting the church I attend, but I have to admit, I'm not sure your estimate meets the common North American. Perhaps I am being naive and more people attend megachurches that I am accounting for, but I don't find it true of my experience.
Mark. True. I am definitely speaking from a distinctive experience within churches that are typically larger than the average church size in North America.
I do think more people attend large churches where these things are a primary focus, but I also think that the church in general needs to act more similarly to what you are describing regarding your church. It seems to me that you are living out what I think would be remarkable to watch.
wow, almost $100,000 from 300 people. that's $333 a person per year, or $27.75 a month. or less than the cost of sponsoring a child through wv or compassion...
sorry if that was harsh, mark, but i don't think jr's post was touting size or is limited to size. i would love to see a church of 30, 300 or 30,000 actually do the things jr referred to - love God, love people. i've been a part of small, medium and mega churches and there are people in all settings trying to live that out, yet the overwhelming majority of churches and christians are not characterized by revolutionary living. our neighbors are not being compelled to join our cause. people aren't "daily being added to our number, those who are being saved."
the goal isn't simply not spending money on marketing or branding or feeling good for sending money to missions, it's living a life in community that is compelling. can we talk about (and satan forbid, actually do) what it would look like for a community of believers to actually live this way. we all know there is more to life - life to the full - than what we're experiencing. how do we get on the solution side practically...? not outsource it to our “church” to take care of it, but live it personally in a way that proclaims the Gospel – that our lives (not our churches) would be innovative in our love. more than just writing a check - how do we replace the kingdom of me with the kingdom of God?
JR sounds like God's stirring something up inside you. So excited to see where this holy discontent will lead...
Also, great feature in Collide on your church's innovation this month:
:D love it... I wish the leaders of my church would read this with open eyes
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ALSO BY JR KERR
Concerning the Church: Church Branding Overwhelms the Cross
The Church and the City
ALSO IN CHURCH
Local Church Transforms City
by Chris Seay
Observing the Sabbath
by Matthew Sleeth
by Margaret Feinberg
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