Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can the WORLD teach the CHURCH something?!

Historically the church tends to believe that they are the one with the gospel message for a world that needs to hear it. And that's right (in a sense). However I want to go out on a limb and suggest that if the world does something well - then is there any reason why we should not consider it and take it on board?

Background Thoughts

Chris Welch and I have been thinking a bit about Ern Baxter and his prophetic message to the Dales Bible Week 1976 and "going into the land". Chris was thinking about the role that apostles/prophets of the 1970s were equipped for the church. In essence - were Ern Baxter and Terry Virgo and Bryn Jones and so on actually even ready to lead the church? It's a fair question. I think the church is LONG overdue getting away from the "one (or maybe two) church pastor - many member" model. It scares the hell (or heaven) out of me that there are STILL church members who govern their lives by what their church pastor says - and if asked would state that they believe he does stand in the very stead of God (for them).

Does the Church Needs 'Command and Control'?

I have spent all day on an intensive training course in relation to my current Emergency Planning work. We were being trained to be "Loggists". For those who aren't familiar with this term, let me explain;

In major incidents (such as terrorist attacks, large vehicle crashes involving civilian casualties, floods and so on) all the health services have what are called "Commanders" who are usually Chief Executives and senior staff who will be making decisions throughout the incident. This can be quite a lengthy process. For example the 7/7 bombings that London suffered in 2005 required Commanders making strategic decisions for some weeks.

And EVERY decision they make MUST be logged by a "Loggist" - who during the major incident are effectively joined to the Commander at the hip!

But it was the background to commanding Major Incidents that intrigued me. The United Kingdom has a "Gold-Silver-Bronze" command structure in an emergency. Here's what they do;

1. Gold Commander - Strategic overall control of the operation and is usually the Chief Executive of a service.

2. Silver Commander - Tactical control of the operation - will usually be senior officers such as medical consultants or Chief Operating Officers of hospitals. Will be located near scene and able to feed information back to Gold Command.

3. Bronze Commander - Operational control of the operation - will be on the scene directing emergency services - such as fire or ambulance senior officers.

So here's where my rather random thought processes fit together - why can't the same processes work in a church situation? Maybe they do in some situations. But why are so many church pastors endowed with being "Gold-Silver-Bronze" commanders all in one? I know that it is difficult to compare major incidents such as bomb explosions with church life (although maybe in some churches it isn't so dissimilar!). But let's take some examples - local and national;

  • Say it is discovered in a local church that a couple are having serious marriage difficulties. The wife is cheating on her husband with another man in the church. In most "usual" churches - this will go straight to the church pastor who will be expected to become marriage counsellor as well as potentially invoking church discipline. Is that church pastor gifted to do this? And should he? Or she? If the Gold-Silver-Bronze command approach is applied then the church pastor/lead elder could potentially be "Gold" offering advice where appropriate. An elder could be "Silver" involved in discussions and advice and help and a cell leader could be "Bronze" spending time with the hurting couple.

Say that an international family of churches suffer a serious crisis when a key church in a country begins preaching what is perceived as heresy or doctrinal error. In most "usual" situations the father (or apostle) of the family of churches is often involved and called upon. But what if the same Gold-Silver-Bronze command approach was applied? The apostle does not necessarily know the day to day situation in that country's key church. But a "Silver" leader in that country may - and can make decisions while feeding back points for prayer and decision to "Gold".

Would this not only free up the "Gold" leaders to continue making strategic decisions for the on-going growth and the health of the on-going church or family of churches while releasing perhaps more junior and inexperienced leaders to take decisions and become involved in potential "crises. I firmly believe that the church (universal) MUST mobilise more leaders. If we are indeed going "into the land" then there are so many issues that we have not even dreamed of facing - particularly in the Western world. Here's a few that occured to me;

1. The threat of martyrdom - what if a church faced the certainity of execution if they continued meeting and spreading the gospel? Who decides whether to continue regardless or back out, re-group and re-plan?

2. The "flowing in" of the nations - as promised in Isaiah. Many of us have already experienced prejudice and fear from established churches when some of the "taboo" struggles we face have been shared. For example Sovereign Grace Ministries have demonstrated they seem to particularly struggle (and over-react through harsh discipline) particularly with church members sharing that they struggle with homosexuality. If the nations are going to "flow in" then there are a LOT of homosexual people that are coming in! Who will be deciding and guiding church leaders to stop panicking and over-reacting by excommunicating every church member who confesses they are dealing with this?

3. This is partially related to number 1 - but I don't believe it is far off before public preaching of the gospel is banned in our countries (possibly coming in under religious hatred laws). Again - what and how are churches going to respond to this? Are churches simply going to back down? Or face jail over this? Or could we re-strategise and consider other ways of spreading the gospel but within the law (such as cyber-church)?

These are just random thoughts prompted by an incredibly interesting training day I had - but I wonder if this is a step in the right direction towards Ephesians 4 Ministries serving the glorious church by surging forward to fulfill the mission we are on.

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