Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Getting Back to the Core

I recently started reading Frank Viola's book, Reimagining Church. In the introduction to this book Viola states
"There will be two major responses to this book. One will sound something like this: Thank goodness I'm not crazy! I thought I lost my mind. I'm grateful there are others who feel the same way I do about church. This book has given language to feelings and beliefs I've had for years."

The other response will be from those who would challenge Viola's views; those from the evangelical church who see nothing wrong with the same old forms and practices of the institutional church.

For several years I have been questioning the forms and structures of the organized church. Most recently I attempted to re-start a dying baptist church using the same form and structure, yet scaled down a bit. It has been nearly three years since The CORE Church launched, and like many institutional churches it is bearly treading water. So, we took a new direction, with a decentralized form of leadership and as little structure as possible. We do not have regular business meetings, committee meetings, etc. We have been accused of being unorganized and undisciplined, and our numerical growth has been minimal. This is not to say that we haven't given it our best effort. Lord knows we meet regularly for teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer. We preach and live the gospel within a community of faith. We've done plenty of outreach events; especially children's ministry. However, the results have been less than desirable; at least from the perspective of a church planter who is over 40 and has learned the old school models of evangelism, church planting and church growth.

Although I have tried, and tried, and tried to make the old forms of church work, I have to admit to myself and to those who have been a part of the CORE Church from the beginning, that they just aren't working. I'm beginning to hone in on the answer as to why they aren't working, because they aren't formed by Scripture, but by religious tradition. I am old enough that I could be on either side of the emerging debated. I could side with the old school evengelicals and say,

"What's wrong with our tried and true traditions? They've worked for centuries. Who am I to question the traditions of those godly saints who have gone before me?"

I am also young enough to realize that the old forms need to reformed; actually, we need to get back to the original idea of WHO the church is and not WHAT the church is. We need to strip away the artificial layers that have developed over centuries of church history and get back to the core of what Jesus died for.