Miniblog #341: A Healthy Christian Community Will Inevitably Challenge the Business Model
I don’t think all christian community needs to be spontaneous. I do think removing some elements of American busyness and programitization in order to simply spend lots of time with people is indispensable to healthy christian community. It’s Jesus’ model of discipleship and I don’t think there’s any substitute in any cultural context.11.It’s one of those transcendent human elements that’s true in every culture. Human beings are social creatures. It’s how we’re hard-wired. There’s no substitute. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs, but in our culture we must be regularly reminded that discipleship cannot be turned into a one-hour program once a week. We make a huge mistake when we approach human relationships like a corporate strategy.2 People are not businesses where profit and efficiency are the chief ends.2.Also, this mistake has lasting detrimental consequences. The goal of christian community is to share life, serve one another, incarnate the Gospel, worship God in and through all of our spheres of influence, collectively grow into a redemptive people, and so forth.3.No argument there. Schedules are fine. Programs are fine. Vision statements are fine. All of these things can be, and often are, useful tools.34.Owning a hammer is not itself the goal, but rather it enables the person to accomplish a project like hang a picture or build a fence. It’s the same thing here. Yet two things must always be kept in mind. First, we must be cognizant that such tools are the means and not the ends. Too often that is forgotten in the American church culture.4 Second, we need to be cognizant of the fact that sometimes the means and goals of the business realm are antithetical to, and incompatible with, christian community. We need to be honest about that reality.55.Yes, I realize that’s a difficult acknowledgement to make for those who spend the vast majority of their time in that world. For example, my Facebook friend Andy Bossardet once observed, “[I'm] increasingly aware of the paradox that the most effective use of my time is the inefficient process of discipleship.” We need to treat people like people and not treat people like a strategic initiative. This is central to a healthy, biblical community.66.It’s a misquotation of Calvin Coolidge, but it’s often said that the business of America is business. But the American church cannot afford to live that way. We must remember to be in the world but not of the world. Returning full circle, I certainly don’t think all such community needs to be spontaneous, but I have never seen a healthy expression of it that’s devoid of spontaneity. Just as Jesus challenged the discipleship paradigms of his own day, so a healthy christian community will challenge the prevailing business model in our day.