“Recalibrating Concepts of Church” is part of George Fox Seminary “Ministry in Contemporary Culture” series and was held on February 4, 2009.
What they wanted to do at this presentation was to bring five noted authors together to discuss a single issue “Recalibrating the Church“ and then allow for interaction and conversation between each other and the conference attendees. The authors were: Alan Hirsch, Dan Kimball, MaryKate Morse, Len Sweet and Frank Viola. It was moderated by Lance Ford.
(The hand is an actual part of the graphic image.)
Recalibrate: To calibrate something anew. Calibrate means “to standardize by determining the deviation from a standard so as to ascertain the proper correction factors.”
From the perspective and context of their latest book, each author had 20 minutes to deal with what they felt needed to be recalibrated in the church.
The following is an edited and condensed version of my notes. They are often paraphrases of what I was hearing and don’t reflect all that an author said or their exact words. The interaction between the authors was some of the best stuff, but hard to capture.
Dan Kimball — They Like Jesus But Not The Church
We have to go back into our communities and see them as a missionary would.
Instead of having a model to copy, we rethink how a missionary would plant a church reflecting the values and people of the local community.
The NT gives some guidelines on what a church is, but there is almost unlimited freedom in how it happens.
Some things that need to be recalibrated:
- Recalibrating leadership “ (Eph 4:11-12) There is no difference in status between those who are paid staff and those who aren’t. Staff = everyone who serves on mission, not just those paid. Pastor = shepherd.
- Recalibrate language — We have to change our language. For example, being the church instead of going to church.
- Recalibrating buildings — The building is your equipping center.
Not-yet-Christians often fine Jesus followers creepy. One of the others mentioned that creepiness often is a reflection of attitude.
Len Sweet — Do you think Christians were any less creepy in the 1st century than they are today? Lots of laughs, but interesting point.
Frank Viola “ Reimaging Church
“Reimaging Church” is a theology of church as organism as opposed to organization.
The most important chapter in the book is “Church Practice and God’s Eternal Purpose.”
Gen 1-2 — God created people who were not in need of salvation. There are over 30 themes in these two chapters that speak to the internal purpose of God. These themes are like golden threads throughout the entire narrative and find there culmination in the last two chapters of Revelation. Therefore, winning souls is not God’s eternal purpose. It is not the end, it is the beginning.
Dan Kimball — But we are in a post-fall time. What were Jesus first words to the disciples? They were about making them fisher of men and his last words were to go make disciples. How can we not make this an important aspect of what we do?
I don’t recall a satisfactory answer to Dan’s question, but in his book Frank says this, “Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not against any of these things. On the contrary, I’m strongly for them. But God has a purpose “an eternal purpose“ that humans were to fulfill before sin entered the scene. And He has never let go of it. Everything else is and should be related to it.” He then quotes DeVern Fromke as saying, “Redemption is not the end, but only a recovery program. It is but a parenthesis incorporated into the main theme.”
Marykate Morse — Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence
Her theme was “Recalibrating the Concept of Power.”
One thing we have to figured out is how to get along with one another. We have to get our hands on this thing called power.
Myths about power:
- Myth: Leadership is embodied in a person whose thoughts and ideas must be followed. Actually leadership should be a corporate experience. The group is part of the process. Leadership is an activity, not a role. It is a process between people.
- Myth: Power is a corrupting thing. Actually power is a very neutral thing. It is just something that is able to cause or effect change. It is how it is used, there is a stewardship issue. In Luke 7 you can see how Jesus contrasts with Simon. Power is a good thing to cultivate when you think of it as something we use to bring others into the conversation and involved in community.
She said that other myths are covered in her book.
I think it was Len Sweet who strongly suggested that we read about the body language of power in her book.
Alan Hirsch — ReJesus
Reformation is not the critical process, but refounding is. We don’t need to reform church, but we need to find and practice the way of the Founder.
Rebooting is a recalibrating process. This is just what needs to be done within the church, i.e., reboot the church. But we are in uncharted territory, because the model that has been our guide for 17 century’s, although good and effective in its day, will not work in our post-Christendom culture.
ReJesus — Getting back to Jesus. Taking us back to our founder. There is nothing more important to the church than rediscovering Him. It is Christology that will rejuvenate and recalibrate the church.
- Jesus defines our understanding of God. It is not just that Christ is God-like, but that God is Christ-like.
- Jesus set the model for discipleship. The gospels need to be our primary text for studying about Jesus and how he worked.
- Jesus must be the center of church. How is it that people can say they love Jesus and not the church? It is because the church doesn’t reflect Jesus and his values.
- Jesus must set our mission. What is it that we need to do to be like Jesus? We need to discover Jesus and not holiness. If we are going to reflect Jesus we should take up his values and our mission should reflect those values.
- Jesus sets the agenda and model of ministry. (At this point we were three hours into the presentations and my laptop battery was spent because I forgot to turn off the WiFi function. So I didn’t capture anymore on this point.)
Len Sweet — So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life in the Church (due out in March)
To be honest, I didn’t find much to take note of in Len’s presentation and he was rushed for time. It may have also had to do with my lacking attention span.
Got any reaction or comments to share?