Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Detoxification of the Church

The Detoxification of the Church
by Jon Talbert

Like any person exposed to the collective poisons that have affected the body there is a need to detoxify and even enter a season of rehabilitation to heal the body and bring about wholeness. The church to, must set out on a detoxification/rehabilitation plan that will allow it to flourish in its intended design. The church is primed for what Barna calls a Revolution. He writes, “Millions of devout followers of Jesus Christ are repudiating tepid systems and practices of the Christian faith and introducing a wholesale shift in how faith is understood, integrated, and influencing the world.” (Barna p. 11) For many churches who wish to join in this Revolution it will require some Detox/Rehab-steps that will cleanse the system and hopefully reset a new pattern for ministry.

-Dismantle ordinary customs … Reassemble organic systems
One of the issues that came with the shift in postmodern thinking was the idea of Deconstructionism. Deconstruction by definition signifies “a project of critical thought whose task is to locate and 'take apart' those concepts which serve as the axioms or rules for a period of thought.” (wiki) The modernist Church and its structures were to not exempt of the dismantling affects of Deconstructionism. However, if the church in the modernist era needed to undergo some type of structural disassembly in order to
re-engage the postmodern mind, then the shift in our form and function was worth it.
The apostle Paul used the same logic to re-engage communities and people groups who needed truth contextualized.
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
I Corinthians 9:22

In the process of deconstruction, the church needs to create a Research & Development atmosphere with in its culture. To dissect the church without the intention to organically reassemble is more of the role of savaging than it is salvaging. Creating an environment of innovation and creativity not only empowers your free-thinkers, but it also sets a new course that is organic and contextually fresh for the local church. McNeal says it this way, “Much of the incrementalism that plagues the North American church results from a failure to learn. Without the will to learn the church defaults to methodologies and mental maps that keep it anchored to the old world and tether to outmoded paradigms.” (McNeal p. 116)

Many churches in the emerging culture that refuse to release the “sacred cows” of the past will fade and die with them firmly in their grasp.

-Retrofit Leadership Structures
Along side of dismantling of ordinary customs and reassemble of organic systems comes the task of retrofitting leadership structure. Many pastors and leaders are using outdated models of leadership that prohibit churches from becoming making some sort of impact within their particular community. There are many elder/governing church boards that need to take the bold step in moving their pastor on for the sake of a leadership retrofit.
Gone are the days of the celebrity pastor who often radiated from his leadership style. In Bennis’ book the opening chapter is appropriately entitled “The end of the Great Man,” in it he writes, “we have to recognize a new paradigm: not great leaders alone, but great leaders who exist in a fertile relationship with a Great Group. In these creative alliances, the leader and the team are able to achieve something together that neither could achieve alone. The leader finds greatness in the group. And he or she helps the members find it in themselves.” (Bennis p. 3)

Church leadership structures must adapt to the rhythms of the emergent thinking or they will lose the potential dynamic that exists within its congregational context.
Each gathering of Gods people brings about a diverse symphony of unique gifting-variables that is organically synchronized, harmonized, and utilized to impact the ethos of a particular community with a song so sweet they can’t help but see Jesus. \

In his book An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus calls this type of leader the spiritual artisan. He writes, “The spiritual leader as artist carefully paints a picture of an ideal world – the leader’s concept of what the emerging culture should look like. Such leaders use many tools to create this image. They craft images through words. They provoke the imagination through compelling vision. They inspire hearts to believe that, together, a new world can be created.” (McManus p.137)

Retrofitting leadership is also addressing the personal character and resilience of one leading the church. In Jim Collins leadership and strategic planning best seller Good to Great he chronicles the stories of break out companies that make the leap of greatness within their particular sector. One chapter he devotes to the idea of what he calls “Level 5 Leadership.” A Level 5 leader builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humilty and professional will.” (Collins p. 20)

-Messy & Made-to-Order
Detoxification and rehabilitation for the church is never pretty, its never sexy, and its never glamorous. It usually involves pain, struggle, and messiness in a effort to modify something that was… into something that can be. The church that makes the foundational shift to be influential within the emerging culture must recognize that while it gets its heart missional it will get its hands messy. Many churches who respond well to rehab will likely cross a few lines, take a few stands, and draw the last straw(s) in what may be the churches last resort. Conder writes that, “transition to emerging culture ministries will be much easier, more natural, and far more necessary in some communities than others. And some methods and practices will not translate to every community. But along with the opportunities, there will be unexpected costs and casualties in every situation.” (Conder p 33) However through the mess comes a church that begins to see its unique fit as the missing ingredient in a flat and tasteless community. Churches in the past decade have followed a cookie-cutter model of mega-church networks that make the church experience taste more like a super-sized fast-food meal than spirit-sized home-cooked meal. The nature and the beauty of this organism called church is its ability to morph into any size, shape, color, or context. Church can and should be made-to-order in any fashion the Spirit of God chooses it to be.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Coldplay at HP

This is my 3rd concert in 2 weeks... AND they've all been freebies, go figure. I will say that Coldplay at HP last friday night was by far one of the best concerts I've been to ever. The set design and stage show was outstanding and the music and audience connection unparalelled. The new album "Viva la Vida" has a new twist to the melodic epic sounds that Coldplay has produced in the past. As one writer puts it that "By adding Led Zeppelin-esque flourishes and Middle Eastern tinged background strings, the band now has a sleeker, shinier sound."

The concert was illuminated with a lazer and lights show with five round video screen Orbs that hung from the rafters of the HP pavilion, showing circular close-ups of the band and song related images and video. Each song felt like Chris Martin was leading the San Jose HP choir as he would allow the crowd to sing the choruses. The hit song "Yellow" seemed to emerge as the crowd favorite as people sang along and seemed to slow dance with the person closest to them. At one point in the show Chris Martin said that he was bored with the view from on stage and ran with that band through the audience and the main floor, up a few sections, and emerged at the entrance of a section tunnel where he and the band sang a few songs in an inpromto "unplugged" session. The band that thrilled us with Clocks, and Fix You, and Speed of Sound... is sure to add to their greatest hits list songs from La Vida... including Lost, Violet Hill, Death and all his friends, and more.

By far the best concert this year for me... and one of the best all time!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Police at the Shoreline

Last night I went to the Police concert at the Shoreline. I've never ever been to one of their live performances but I've always have been a fan since the early 80's. I wasn't sure how well they would play given Sting has got to be nearing his 60's... but much to my surprize they rocked the house.

Sting sounds seasoned, Andy Summers guitar ripped, and Stuart Copeland seems to improve with age.

In fact, I was more mezmorized by their sound and each members unique contribution that made them as great as they are... Sting's voice and his audience chanting "EEOOO...OO" that seems to fit in every song and you never get tired of.

Andy's echoing guitar and synth fills that some how floods the entire stage as if they had two more guitar and keys playing along. Couple those two with Stuarts innovative drumming and precussion. I mean this when I say that Stuart Copeland has the most unique fills in his drumming that make you want to just watch him in amazement for duration of the concert.

I love the synergy and innovation of the Police the most. They replicated no one elses sound... but worked to find their own voice. Once they identified their nitch the hit it again and again and again. The gained momentum and never looked back. I must admit that I'm drawn to make some cheesy connection to the local church finding synergy and its voice... but I shall refrain.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Prayer of Knowledge

A few people asked for the simple "knowledge prayer " that I led the church in a few weeks back.
Here it is...

(hands on your forehead)

Father, I commit my knowledge and aquiring knowledge to you.

(hands to your heart)

May this knowledge shape and change the character of my heart...

(Hands out open)

... so that these hands may show service and goodness to all... for your glory.