The Practical Benefits of Doctrine

We always, infallibly, act according to what we believe.  More specifically, we act according to what we believe will bring us the greatest happiness.  If one is faced with the decision to be disciplined in his/her diet, or to have a slice of red velvet cake, then chooses the cake, it is because  he/she believes that the cake will bring greater satisfaction than being disciplined.

But, what about will power?  I have really wanted the cake and walked away even though I didn’t want to.  Didn’t I act contrary to what I believed would bring me the greatest satisfaction?  Actually, no.  What motivated me to walk away?  It was a future happiness attained by disciplined dieting.  You see, the will is not where the power lies.  The power lies in desire.  What we truly desire most dictates the decisions of the will.  And doctrine informs the source of desire.

Everybody is living according to a set of doctrines.  Doctrine is simply a teaching.  We have teachers all around us trying to instill in us a set of beliefs by which we will live.  Advertisers try to teach us that satisfaction comes in buying their products.  There are political teachers that vie for our allegiance to their particular worldview.  Whatever teachers we buy into will determine what we desire, and as a result, what our wills pursue.

Christian doctrine, likewise, is about informing the source of our desires.  The reason we need to study doctrine and theology is so that our desires will be transferred from temporary, inferior pleasures to the eternal and superior pleasures found in God.  Sometimes we will get a taste of these pleasures in this life, but often they serve to keep us from eating the cake so that we will reap their benefits later.

 

Advertisements

The Business of Church

I just finished reading Andy Stanley’s 7 Practices of Effective Ministry for one of my classes.  I have to say, I’m not sure of my impression of the book.  The seven practices described are very helpful.  Stanley refrains from the excessive detail that marks other books I have read on church leadership.  The brevity of 7 Practices leaves the application of the steps to the church leader to implement.  In other words, there is not a lot of opportunity for readers to try to imitate North Point Community Church.  So, the actual content is good.

My difficulty lies in the presentation of the content.  The book begins with a fictional conversation between a discouraged pastor and a business man who is not involved with church at all.  The business man teaches the pastor about running an effective organization.

Before I begin my rant, let me just say, I know that all truth is God’s truth.  The source is irrelevant if the content is true.  Second, I also understand that churches with large congregations must adopt management strategies to keep things running smoothly.  I get it.  However, I struggle with the corporate world portrayal of the church with talk of marketing and branding.  These concepts are, to me, a weak substitute for evangelism and authenticity.  Corporate world language in church matters has the feel of cold calculation aimed at the bottom lines of congregation size and giving totals.  In the same way, a pastor’s use of “people skill” often comes dangerously close to manipulation.  When I read the gospels and the accounts of Paul, I do not see people skills, but genuine love expressed in saying what needed to be said, whether in confrontation or encouragement.

I have been through training in Evangelism Explosion.  I think the material is good, especially for people who lack the confidence to share the gospel organically.  However, the trainer I sat under presented the material in a very salesman-like manner.  It felt plastic and packaged.  In an attempt to increase effectiveness in sharing the gospel, the scripted sales pitch approach may actually work against this goal in our current cultural setting in which postmoderns are skeptical of neatly wrapped packaging.

Here’s a thought.  What if the church, instead of being transformed by business principles, actually influenced how leaders conduct their business.  What if the church trained business leaders in Jesus’ principles of leadership: genuine concern for people, servanthood, generosity, etc.?  What if the church adopted a different set of metrics and counted how much money is going out instead of how much is coming in?  What if we counted how many people leave the church to engage in mission instead of many people are sitting in the pews?  What if the church were to conduct itself as though it is a wholly other type of enterprise than the corporate world?  

The church can learn things from the business world.  But, I believe we must be much more discerning in which lessons we adopt and how we implement them.

 

 

 

I Have A Dream!

I have a really big dream.  I don’t know how to bring it into reality, but I can’t seem to shake it.  I know.  If God has given me this dream, He will make it happen as I depend on Him.  However, depending upon God is not a passive thing.  The Apostle Paul talked about struggling and working with God’s energy.  In other words, God made things happen through the efforts of Paul.  God works through the works of His people. 

 

So here’s the dream: (1) a church that pursues doctrinal/theological truth, (2) a church that loves people in missional/incarnational ministry, (3) a church that trains people in both of the above for the multiplication of churches.

 

Doctrinal/Theological Truth

 

I believe the primary reason for the stagnation of the church in America is the neglect of deep, spiritual truths.  There are multiple national surveys that indicate American Christians largely lack even a basic knowledge of the Bible.  This cannot continue!  How can the church, which claims that Christianity is about knowing God, continue to survive if it ignores the very source of knowledge of God?  How are we supposed to endure difficulty with our faith intact if we do not seek our hope in the Scriptures.  How do we distinguish ourselves from the world if our worldly mindset is not transformed by God through His Word?  Theology matters!  It matters greatly!

 

I desperately want Kinesis Church to passionately pursue doctrinal/theological truth.  I want to be part of a church that will not settle for moralistic life-lessons, but longs to know ultimate truths.  Therefore, my dream is for a church that teaches theology from the pulpit, in classes, in homes, and any venue that we can imagine.

 

Missional/ Incarnational Ministry

 

Theology is not an end in itself.  It is meant to fuel worship, which is the valuing of God above all things, in all things.  Theology reveals to us a God who is of such supreme value and beauty that He is the ultimate satisfaction of every desire.  It also teaches us about the pervasive blindness of humanity to this truth. 

 

We see family members, neighbors, and co-workers who are trying everything in this world to satisfy their deepest cravings: sex, materialism, drugs/alcohol, etc.  They need Jesus!  I want to be part of a church that wants nothing more than to see people escape addiction and vain pursuits by coming to know the only true and lasting satisfaction for their souls.  I want to be part of a church that gladly and boldly proclaims the gospel and works for social justice, all for the glory of God.  Therefore, my dream is to train people for missional ministry in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces.  I dream of a grass-roots church in which the congregation has the ideas for and carries out the ministry of the church.

 

 

 

Missional Training Center

 

The big dream is about a church that trains people in theology and mission. I want to see church-planters, pastors, worship leaders, parents, businessmen and women, laborers, teachers, etc., trained to know the Bible and to make Jesus known. Trained people will then start other churches with the same goal.  I don’t want to merely plant a church, I want to see a movement happen.  I want southwest Missouri to love Jesus.  I want the Midwest to love Jesus.  I want the U.S. to love Jesus.  I want the world to love Jesus!

 

That’s my dream.