The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part LVIII
I remember the song in the ‘60’s called Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds. The lyrics read, “little boxes, little boxes, little boxes filled with ticky-tacky; little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same. There’s a green one, and a pink one, and a blue one and a yellow one, and they are all made out of ticky-tack, and they all just look the same.
And the people in the houses all went to the university where they were put in boxes, and they all come out the same. And the doctors and the lawyers and business executives, and they put them all in boxes and they all came out the same.
And they all play on the golf course, and they drink their martini’s dry, and they all have pretty children, and all the children go to school, and all the children go to summer camp, and then to the university where they put them all in boxes and they all come out the same.
And the boys go into business and marry andraise a family in boxes made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same. There’s a green one, and a pink one, and a blue one and a yellow one, and they are all made out of ticky-tack, and they all just look the same. ”
Churches are no different, for Baptist produce “Baptist boxes”, Lutherans produce “Lutheran boxes”, Pentecostals produce “Pentecostal boxes”, Non-denominationalist and independents produce “Independent boxes”, etc. No matter what label the church group, they produce “their own kind”, their “little boxes”. All these different boxes boast of being under the same label called “The Church” because they all try to produce the same image, but they look different because they look only as their own kind.
Can an individual local church produce different boxes? It is tough, but it can only be done if there is diversity in the church itself. My blogs have been about that diversity, known as the five fold: the recognition of evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, and apostles in every church. There are believers in almost every church who have the burden to win the lost, who want to nurture and care through hospitality, who want to teach the Word, the Bible, who want closer living, intimate spiritual walks with Jesus, and who have a burden for the Church as a whole. They are already there! What a diversity of points of view or passions, but how do you get these diverse dialects to speak the same language, the language of the Church, the language of the active, living Word of God? I propose only through relationships and accountability to one another.
It is amazing that opposites attract in marriage; what was the weakness of one they find to be the strength in their spouse. Diversity is often the very strength of a marriage though it does bring it own conflicts when it seems the two are not speaking the same language. Communications is a key to a successful marriage. Even though each spouse can be coming from a different point of view, a different passion, what seems like a different language, only through constant dialogue, communicating with one another can a strong lasting marriage be molded, formed, or bonded. The same is true with the Church. Diversity is its strength, and only through continual communication between God and His people through the Holy Spirit and between God’s people to each other can meaningful, successful relationships be established in the Family of God.
An evangelist can give new birth to others, a shepherd can give nurture and care, a teacher can give the foundation of the Word of God, the prophet can give spiritual life, and the apostle proper over sight seeing over the other’s gifting while drawing their diversity into unity. This unity through diversity can only be done when each and every one of them is willing to give to the other, but also receive from the other, from their strengths. This giving and taking by “laying down one’s life” for each other brings accountability like has never been seen in the Church for centuries.
The Church’s calling has not been to produce “little boxes” labeled with their groups identity, but reproducing, developing, and equipping its people to grow into the image and maturity of Jesus Christ, bringing unity to this diverse body. People should see Jesus when looking at a believer, not a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Pentecostal, an Independent, etc. The Church needs not to major on the minors, producing little boxes, but major in the birthing, nurturing, and developing of people into the image of Jesus Christ, a major undertaking! Only through this development will come true accountability!