The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXVII
How do we retool teaching in the 21st Century Church? What would Sunday mornings look like if we allowed the people who are congregating together to “experience” Jesus rather than just “hear about” him? What does “learning about” Jesus even mean?
Who Is Jesus?
Answer: the Son of God, the Living Word, the Alpha and Omega, the First Fruits, the Sacrificial Lamb, the Resurrection and the Life, Hope Eternal, the Apostle of the Church, the King in the kingdom of God, the Groom coming for his Bride, etc., etc., etc. All “academic” correct answers, and I can provide scriptures to back every title given above. Using a Concordance, a “study” of the names of God and the names of Jesus can reveal academically “who Jesus Is”, who “I AM” as God identified himself to Moses. A Commentary on those names would also aide in our understanding of what “scholars” have thought about his names. Through massive amounts of “studying” the true Jesus, the Historical Jesus, the Christian-Judean Jesus, will be revealed to our understanding.
Answer: Jesus is the light that erases the “shadow of death” from the valley in the 23rd Psalm; Jesus is like the sunrise and sunset of each day, contrasting darkness to the colors of blues, oranges, and reds that splash across the painted sky we call the beginning and the end; Jesus is like the sweet sound of silence, softly singing songs so graceful only the spirit within us can hear. The poet shares through his five senses how he has “experienced” Jesus. The Songs of Solomon, is not just a “hot romance book” in the Bible, but a poetic tribute by a man known as the “wisest” man of his age who “experienced” God as his father David had, who was known for having “a heart” for God for he, too, had “experienced” God. Solomon was known to be “wise”, not intellectual, in his approach to “experiencing” life! Who better to write a romance book than a man who “experienced” hundreds of wives! Would that make for a reality tv show today!
Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I AM?” They reiterate what others have said, “a prophet, John the Baptist, etc”, but Jesus refocuses them again, asking them “out of their experiences” of walking daily with him, “but who do you say that I am?” Previous Old Testament scripture is not expounded on proving Jesus’ existence, but he wants to validate the “I AM” through their experience!
How would people in your congregation share their “experience” in Jesus? Through “testimony”, prose, the telling of “their story”, or poetically, the internal examining of their story?
Greg Bachman, my poetic cousin, defined the difference between “prose” and “poetry” as different points of view, or way we look at things. Prose takes an object as a starting point and “expands”, externally, on it, thus a believer starts with “salvation” experience and expands on how it effected his faith walk, his spiritual journey through life to this current point called today. Poetry, on the other hand, takes an object and “examines” it “internally”. The focus is on the object and remains on it, digging for insights, revelation, and new truths about it, thus “salvation” becomes an experience one examines through his six senses, our spirituality being the 6th sense, discovering all kinds of truths, revelations, and insights of what “salvation” means to “us” through our “experience”.
We need to bring the two worlds together in the 21st Century Church: The “experiential” spiritual world of the Living, Rhema, Word is in danger of becoming heretical if not grounded on the Writing, Logos, Word. On the other hand the “educationally” sounded and grounded academic world of the Written, Logos, Word is endanger of stagnation and death if it is not vitalized by the Living, Rhema, Word. JESUS IS THE WORD, both written and living! He is the “living” embodiment and total fulfillment of the “written” word! Only until the 21st Century Church embraces and accepts both the written and living “words” and written and living “worlds”, can it begin to be effectively united in word and deed.
The Westernized church fights to remain the academic defender of the “original meaning” of the 10 Commandments, like America fight to be the academically defender of the “original meaning of the founding fathers” when molding our Constitution. The church needs to “live” the 10 Commandments; Americans need to “live” the American dream or ideal. Without “experiencing” the 10 Commandments or the American Dream in our lives, we never really “own” the vision or purpose of its “original meaning” no matter what that may be!
As teachers in the five fold in the 21st Century Church, we need to allow those we teach to “own up” to their experiences of their faith in Jesus, not only “expressing” but “living” that faith. True, that “experience” will be grounded in the written Word, the Bible.
What would you think Sunday mornings “church services” would look like if we unleashed the believers to share their “experiences” in all kinds of forms rather than listening to our academic exegesis on Jesus and other religious topics! Could we handle a Sunday morning if it became a release time for believers to minister to one another, through one another, sharing with one another traditionally or creatively, than just being a music & sermon lead service? What if……. Daydream for Jesus!