Because we have reduced the church to our programs most of what we now do feels much more like a business that needs to be well-run that a family that needs the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe we will value unity in the Spirit until we give up this approach that plagues nearly everything we do in the contemporary Protestant church.

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  1. Ben Toh October 4, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Thanks, John. Fully agreeing with what you shared, would this statement be theologically correct that “our ecclesiology has exceeded our Christology”? Thus, what we do as a church becomes more prominent that who Christ is and what He has done.
    Someone said that the work of God starts out as a movement, and then becomes a method, then a monument, and finally a museum. Ludicrous as it sounds, when method prevails, it almost seems as though God is dependent on the church/Christians to advance the work of God, rather than the other way around, as you said.

  2. John Rowland October 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Let me ask a correlary question…
    Has the church traded discipleship for programs? Even what we call “Discipleship Training” is a program with an instructor up front and instructees in the seats. A far cry from “as you sit down, as you rise up and as you walk along the way.”

  3. John H. Armstrong October 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with Ben’s comments completely though a pretty radical divorce between Christology and ecclesiology has deeply harmed much evangelicalism.
    John is spot on too. Even “discipleship” training is another program, not a lifestyle learned under care and love. We are pragmatists and look for results. God looks for life and changing our story in the process.

  4. October 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    The Lausanne Theology Working Group paper “The Whole Church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world” has issues a warning that sounds similar to this, John. They write, “But we want to stress that the church exists for God, and should not be used as a convenient local franchise for the delivery of external strategies, objectives and targets.” Do you think this is the same thing that you are talking about?
    I have some questions about what this actually looks like. I invite your feedback here:

  5. John H. Armstrong October 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I am so glad you are going to South Africa to the new Lausanne conference. I am praying for you Cody.
    Yes, I think this does get very close to what I am saying here. I believe this means the church does not look like a store that dispenses goods and services but a family that embraces and restores people to health in a community of love. There is a lot more but this directs the general idea at least.

  6. Cody Lorance October 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Thank you for your prayers, John. I leave next Wednesday.

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