16 August 2007

America's Next Top Model

Model One: Preach the truth. Be exclusive. Vote Republican. Evangelize the 'ol fashioned way. Stay away from the evil world. Spend as much time as you can with other like minded Christians, read the Bible and talk about how bad the world is.
The result - A few disciples, but they truly believe. Mostly inbred with little impact in the community. Many tithe. Depth and commitment to God and His word. People who are unafraid of the Gospel.

Model Two: Seeker sensitive. Be inclusive as possible. Secretly vote Republican, but Democrats are probably okay too. Some tithe. Evangelize by being nice and inviting people to a safe church where no one gets offended. Go into the less happy world briefly but come back to get more good feelings. Spend most of your time with like minded Christians and talk about Oprah.
The result - A larger number of followers (by comparison to Model One) but not much depth. Many don't know why they believe, other than that it makes them feel good and God is pretty neat. Revolving door problem. More service to the community in order to bring more people into the non-offending church on Sunday. Commitment to God...and Oprah, cause she's pretty neat too.

Model Three Missional. Be inclusive by living in the world of the outsiders. Politics doesn't matter as much as social justice and the environment. No one tithes but all give. Love everyone without question. Model Jesus, the way Jesus obeyed His father in being in intimate relationship to the outsiders. Don't invite them to church, but go be Jesus to them in their own spaces. Spend some time with like minded Christians on a regular basis to seek God, love Him, and build communitas. Spend more time with those who wander in darkness. Love them radically and sacrificially.
The result - The reality of Jesus is enhanced through how we live our lives. Diesm dies. A higher calling over politics and soundbites are demanded. Tithes are done away, and an entire giving lifestyle appears. A walk in daily repentance and humility springs up. Lives outside the commune-church walls are touched deeply. The kingdom is advanced as a mustard seed becomes a tree.

Which model do you want to date?


paul said...

it's all rather modelly, but nicely expressed options :)

my thought is whether Jesus is actually that good a model - as a catalyst/revealer/demonstration/inviter/stage setter/questioner/eye opener etc - yes a really great one but his context was predominately engaging a culture/people/faith who were already committed to YAWEH and who were expecting a liberating Messiah.

In that sense I see in Jesus a continuity and discontinuity, the continuing of the Jewish faith but the radical reinterpretation of the expectations of that faith. Or to put it another way Jesus wasn't so much asking the Jewish nation to stop being Jews but to start being the jews that God had envisioned when he had called them as his people to bear his image.

Which of course comes back to what was the primacy of Jesus message - what did it mean for him to invite people to repent for the kingdom of God/heaven was at hand?

Clearly as you say that has somethimg of model 3 in it but i would also say from how his followers took that on it has elements of model 1 and 2 as well (well maybe not oprah)...

How do we join the trinity in their ongoing mission of calling and gathering people who bear God's image where models 1-3 are not exclusive options but inclusinve possibilities where God's blessing spills out of all of them in order to bless the worlds each inhabits?

David said...

And in a sense Paul, you are correct. Although the post is full of my opinion, and although I certainly have a personal preference/passion, I tried not to make judgements on which model is better. There can be good and bad models in any of the three.

History however has been sorely lacking in model 3 until recently, and thus missing a major (dare I say the major) component in the Kingdom of God.

Paul became a gentile to reach gentiles and harshly argued against those who said gentiles had to become jews first.
Paul also harshly argued against those who spoke tingly words, rather than the proclaimation that Jesus is Lord of all; and demands all.
Severe words of correction for models 1 and 2. Both of which I have been a part of.

Not that model 3 is without fault, but in my humble opinion, this model most cleary defines what Jesus meant when he sent His followers into the world to make discpiples.

paul said...

yes, great thoughts bro. I think there is nothing wrong with the "be like a gentile" to reach a gentile but of course that throws up a whole raft of what does "be like" mean. Was Paul making a point about mission or a point about his commitment to giving up his rights, including his national/religious etc for the sake of Jesus and the gospel?

Which maybe is the same thing?

if I step back and look at the Pauline stragety of going first to the synagogue and starting churches with a lot of the converts to judaism who then reached their culture.

So here is Paul passionately going round arguing for the gospel and doing miracles and when he gets kicked out of the synagogue he sets up in someone's house and does the same. Planting churches, getting them established and then moving on.

All the models that we have are of course contextual, which is why i think it's worth doing what you have done and critique them and to try and reinterpret them for our own particular context - going out and being with people is a great idea, i think we have missed that at times in model 1 and 2.

I still can't help that model 3 tells half the story of the mission - it does the sending part well but i think we come back to the other side of the coin, what does the gathering look like.

Model 1 and 2 have some strong answers for the gathering part and even for the sending part they are pretty clear on the forms of witness etc but then they have been around a lot longer :)

David said...

Good points Paul.
In fact you might have inspired my next post, so stay tuned. :-)

paul said...

Thanks bro... Grin, as long as it doesn't involve groin tingling ;)