Subversive Influence » Rick Warren and the PDL Cathedral of Comparisons

Subversive Influence » Rick Warren and the PDL Cathedral of Comparisons

Ah…I read the quote referred to about a week ago in Christianity Today and thought Warren’s metaphor using the computer was a bit uninformed. I just put it off as someone in one discipline trying to use a metaphor from another discipline that he really doesn’t understand.

For one, not all computers use Intel. In fact, fewer and fewer do. Also, Windows is not the only Operating System and I sure wouldn’t want to say I was the “windows system for the 21st century” like Warren did. I would hope we would have a bit higher standards especially after Microsoft finally realizes (or admits) Windows is really broken.

Maynard is right on target comparing the traditional model church with Microsoft and the ermegent church with Open Source though. In fact, I’ve felt for a few years that the Open Source model could perhaps help us in the church figure some issues out.

Open Source is about distributive computing and creating. Open Source development needs people who know what’s going on and people who can actually do the work.

The traditional model doesn’t work that way. Basically, you have one entity (could be a pastor or “The Staff ™” who calls the shots. They tell “The Others ™” what to do. As long as “The Staff ™” know what their doing and “The Others” follow along everything is alright. It bcomes a top-down organization which worked in the past, but, isn’t really geared for the present or the future.

The problem, I see, in the top-down model is, “The Others ™” never really get to experience ministry first hand. Sure, they are followers, but they really aren’t experiencing the full move of God in their lives. While they may do what the leaders tell them to do, the experience is top-down (Although I should compare top-down to Top-down)

I’ve often wonder how we can have UM churches that have people who have been a part of it for years and decades, yet, they are unequiped to really do ministry. Sure, they might paint a building or two over the years, or give money, or work with kids at VBS, but really, do their day to day lives reflect a ministry or missional mindset.

There are some and, thank God for them, who have been able to rise above and discover God’s call on their lives. They are not Purpose-Driven ™, but rather Spirit led. God moves in their lives. They know what they’re about.

Perhaps I’m just ranting and I’m sure I’ve gotten off topic. The bottom line is this: I believe we, as the church, have stopped equiping and empowering Christians to make a difference in the world in which they live. Instead we have created followers of programs.

If there isn’t a DVD or book, or training involved, we don’t know what to do. We have forgotten how to listen for God’s Spirit moving in our lives. We study our Bibles, but do we allow God to speak through them?

There are some connections between Open Source software development vs. Traditional (read Microsoft) software development and the Emergent Church vs. Traditional Church. Perhaps I can flesh that out some more. The thing to remember is Microsoft is finding out the old software model doesn’t work. We, in the church, are discovering the old model doesn’t work. Yet, just as it is very difficult for Microsoft to change, so it is for us.

Structuring Church

Now…for some ramblings….

I’m a structure kind of guy. I use to be a Systems Administrator (computer) and so systems and structures facinate me. Now, I’m bringing the same thought process into the church. But recently I’ve been looking at things differently. I use to be into programs and stuff, now, I think as a chuch simplicity is what is needed.

Yet I serve a traditional church in a traditional denomination. I don’t think I can simply stop everything to implement a more simple existence. Instead, I would love to be able to work and keep what is working, yet tweak the structure some.

As I see things currently, there are basically three dimentions I would like to see: Celebration, Cell and Service. I redefine the term cell to mean any type of group that brings you community. Celebration is basically that. Celebration/worship/whatever you want to call it. Service is on hands, on going serivce to those in your community.

What I’m finding is that we have celebration (or something like celebration), we are beginning to find cell, but I believe we need to focus on service. The two Cs should empower our service to the community. Yet, what I’m finding is that between the choir, worship team, youth group, committees, Sunday School, Dance groups, kid’s ministry, there is quite a bit of service but it basically focuses on keeping the Sunday Morning celebration going, or keeping the building open.

I have a hard time telling someone that the work they do on the finance committee, or trustees, or in the choir, isn’t really service. Yet, the service that I am convinced we need is service beyond ourselves into the community.

There seems to be a catch-22 here. People are involved in service, but not in service to the community. They are already busy, perhaps so busy that choices must be made….so, how does one choose and what does one loose?

Vision Vs. Obligation

I was talking with a pastor friend the other day. He is one of those who seems to be able to do just about anything. He started an orphange in Uganda and now is in my area (his home town) starting a church). He still goes to Uganda a couple of times a year.

To help support his church planting he operates a couple of businesses (I don’t think he has turned 40 yet).

Since I pastor a traditional UM church, my world and his are vastly different. However, he shared with me that he lost his Children’s director and Youth director because he asked them if they had vision for the area or were just doing it out of obligation. Of course, he said, they told him they wanted the meeting so they could resign from their positions.

At that point he said, “I have a lot of people willing to be helpers, as long as I’m the one giving them the vision.” Now I understand as pastors we do have responsibility for vision setting, but I tend to fall on the side that God can (and will) share his dreams with His people.

Churches need the helpers, but they also need those who are willing to step up and help make God’s dream a reality. If it is only the pastor with the dream or the vision, it is easy for the ‘helpers’ to one day decide they don’t want to help any more.

How do helpers become visionaries? Good question. My answer, so far, has been helping people be “open” to God’s will in their lives. Plans can be imitated, passion can not. Passion comes when people encounter a living God. People encounter that God when they make space in their lives for God. My quesiton is, how does one convince people to make space in their lives for God?