The 21st Century Price For Church Unity
Recently Nick Francis, a friend of mine, gave me an extremely insightful diagram he developed displaying four camps of Christianity: a) the evangelical, he called the “Vision Driven – Mega church “Marketing” model; b) prophetic, the “Value Driven – Emergent Missional” model; c) teacher, the “Virtue Driven – Theological Message” model; and d) pastoral, Venture Driven – Process Ministry. In his diagram he outlined each camps needs, values, strengths, weakness and definition of community.
What each group valued caught my eye. The evangelical Mega Church camp valued corporate productivity while the prophetic Emergent Missional camp valued authenticity. The pastoral Process Ministry valued structure and organization while the teacher Theological camp valued teaching the word, content, and clarity.
As you have seen in earlier blogs, I have wrestled with what “laying down one’s life for his brethren” (I John 3:16) means to the individual believer. This diagram illustrated to me for the first time what it might mean corporately for the Church, for to have unity in the Church, something Jesus specifically prayed for in John 17 which has not occurred in over two thousand years, the corporate members of the body might just have to lay down what they most value on the altar to see what the Lord will do with it! Those very things each camp valued has been the wedge of division in the Church, but I believe they should actually be the things that brings unity if they were laid on the altar. Each camp has exemplitory strengths and glaring weaknesses. The strengths and values of each camp could augment, support, enrich the other three camps if they were laid down on the altar and received by the other camps to strengthen their weaknesses.
Anything we hold on to can be hard to release. We have to release a sinful life through repentance to receive salvation. Giving up that “precious” garbage and lifestyle is hard for so many as shown in C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Giving up something we “value” is very difficult because we are afraid we will lose it. It becomes the very thing we hold on to. Jesus tried to show this to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day, when telling them how they were so hung up on Moses whom their tradition valued that they lost sight of the light, their Messiah, the savior of the world who was right in front them physically.
I once heard a speaker give the illustration of the little boy who had a friend over to play, but every toy his friend wanted the little boy grabbed and held on to. Soon the little boy had his arms full of toys while his friend had nothing. Who do you pity? At first you think the boy that had nothing, but that is wrong; it is the boy who has everything but holds onto it and all those toys become useless, in fact they become a burden, and no body gets to play. That illustration is a perfect example of the different Christian camps today in the body of Christ: they hold on to everything they value, keep it exclusive, and prohibit the others in the Church upon receiving what had been their strengths.
On a practical level, in public education at the secondary level, each “major subject” (math, English, science, & social studies) values their content area and feels their subject material is the epitome of education, refusing to cross curricular lines while teaching. I was placed on a “multi-disciplinary team” at the middle school level where we had to work of retooling, changing our secondary mindset, by having to, at times, lay down our academic elitism for the cause of a multi-disciplinary” project which always had a greater impact on our students than did our individualistic subjects. More learning, and a better quality of learning, was done when we were willing to lay down our disciplines in an effort to work together. The same is with the Church.
At the center of this diagram given to me was a circle with “Truth Ephesians 4:11”. Amazingly each camp individually believes they exclusively have “the truth”, but the truth lies in the middle where they all come together, willing to lay down their values, give from their strengths to one another, and receive from the others to bolster their weaknesses, thus defining true “community”.
The person missing in his diagram was the apostle. I believe the 21st century apostle, like Paul, a 1st century apostle, should be appalled at these divisions (I Corinthians 1). The 21st century apostle has to not only “see” the big picture, like these four camps, but allow the Holy Spirit to lead him into leadership that would bring the four together, showing each camp their strengths and weaknesses while calling them to reach out to their fellow brethren who emphasize different values. Only by leading them to the altar, teaching them the “power of the cross” where the “supernatural” dissects the “natural” can a “God Moment” occur brining unity in the body of Christ. That unity is what will usher in the Lord’s return. Let’s begin to lay down our values on the altar corporately, and lay down our lives for each other individually, and watch what the Lord is about to do.