Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Subverting Success, Transforming Transformationism

When one arrives at a robust appreciation of the differences between the civil and spiritual kingdoms, his understanding of a church's "success" will be, err, transformed. Conversely, when our expectations for our churches mirror those of common cultural institutions, we give ourselves a very clear measuring rod for determining how miserably we fail.

I mean, what other conclusion are we to reach when our stated aim is to change the world, and the world just isn't changing?

It seems to me that it is precisely here that the cross should play a central role in shaping our definition of success. If the New Testament pattern of "the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow" is at all germane to the discussion, then we surely must conclude that such concepts as power and weakness, boasting and shame, wealth and poverty, and success and failure should be utterly subverted and turned on their heads by what happened on that cursed hill outside Jerusalem all those years ago.

But they're not.

Instead, we hear that we must worship God "with excellence," which is code for worldly professionalism. Instead, we hear that the communities in which we worship should be so overflowing with appreciation for our service that they would beg us never to leave them.

One must wonder where we'd be if Jesus had "succeeded"? Peter, bless his heart, tried to properly motivate him, but instead of heeding his advice Jesus just yelled at him and then called him "Satan."