The “They Need Me” Delusion

Greg Younger Flicker CC
Greg Younger Flicker CC

I spent a number of years in the world of Short Term Mission Trips. I don’t regret it. We worked with a long term focus, and in spite of many “learning” moments I trust that the Kingdom of God was advanced in the earth.

But I did have the opportunity to observe many interesting things about how Americans tend to view “the lost” and “the poor” and “the needy” in the world.

I remember preaching the Gospel of Jesus in an Indian village. The temptation was there to see the beautiful people in that village as helpless lost people that needed me to bring Jesus and save them.

I chose a different path. I chose to see each person whose eyes met mine as a brother or sister human being, equal to me in every way. I was just a Messenger. A Servant. I am not the Savior.

We Americans sometimes like to be “missionary tourists.” We like to go out and save those poor wretches in the rest of the world.

This little rant was inspired in general by my life experience and in the moment by this article over at TheVeryWorstMissionary.com:

“I want to fill a rental van marked “Tourist” with unbelievably rich people and then I want to bring them to your middle-class neighborhood to take pictures of you and your kids and your house and your cars.”  [Read More]

Church: Institutional or Organic?

I found this picture in a similar article. Click it to go read some great thoughts. 🙂
 

Asking the question “should the church be ‘institutional’ or ‘organic’?” is like asking whether or not light is made up of particles or waves. Light has the properties of both particle and wave. So in one instance it may be more useful to study light as a photon moving through space, while in another instance it may be more useful to study it as a wave of energy.

It is the same with the idea of “church.” Some aspects of “church” seem organic and almost unstructured, while other aspects of church would be virtually impossible to achieve without administrating some kind of plan and organization!

There are at least two mistakes available to us as we build local church communities. On the one hand we can be so afraid of being “institutional” that we refuse to practically organize to achieve the duties and goals for which the local body is responsible. On the other hand, we can so desire order that we stamp out the dynamic and organic “alive and growing outside of precise human control” element of church life.

So the answer to the question “is church organic or is it institutional?” is “yes!” Church is an organic, dynamic, living institution!

Sometimes there seems to be a fear of being an “institution” because that word is associated with buildings or legal structures.

Websters 1828 Dictionary defines the word “institution” like this:

  1. The act of establishing.
  2. Establishment; that which is appointed, prescribed or founded by authority,and intended to be permanent. Thus we speak of the institutions of Moses or Lycurgus. We apply the word institution to laws, rites, and ceremonies, which are enjoined by authority as permanent rules of conduct or of government.
  3. A system, plan or society established, either by law or by the authority of individuals for promoting any object, public or social. We call a college or an academy, a literary institution; a bible society, a benevolent or charitable institution; a banking company and an insurance company are commercial institutions.

The Local Church Body has been “instituted” or established by God. It has goals and purposes. It has traditions and methods appointed by God. It has a leadership. It has tasks to perform. It is alive, growing, and multiplying organically. The kind of leadership appointed by God is not top-down and controlling; but rather operates more like shepherds, farmers, trainers, and equippers.

The Local Church Body is an Organic Institution.

There are Elements of Equipping Leadership: Pastors and Teachers (Shepherds or Elders), Apostles (Foundation Layers, Traveling Builder-Uppers of the Church, Missionary Pioneers), Evangelists (Bringing in New Believers and Equipping the Body to do the same), Prophets (Bringing Words from the Lord in Season and Equipping the Body to do the same).

There are also Elements of Administrative Leadership: “Deacons.” Those who administer the distribution of aid to those in need who can not be cared for by their family. Financial administrators. Administrators of any of the common property of the Body. Administrators of Events or Activities. Organizers of Food. Etc.

If there is going to be any life to this “church” thing there will be things that need to be organized! If the organizers try to grab control rather than trying to guide the living flow then the organic life is at risk of being stamped out. If the life givers resist any attempt to order, plan, and strategize then the overall effectiveness of the body will be limited.

Order and Liberty, Power and Structure, Flow and Guidance, Participation and Leadership, Grass Roots Born and Spoken into being by Visionary Leadership.

All of these dynamics and orders can be seen in the Scriptures.

We need Power and Form. Spirit and Truth.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have anything to add to the discussion? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

How Do You See the Poor? – Part 1

The answer to poverty in the world is not for rich westerners to be the saviors of all those poor wretches “over there.”

Consider this short video at WorldviewTruth.com: Don’t Look Down On the Poor

Christian Education Reform

What About That Prosperity Gospel Thing?

*This article is a follow up to this one: http://jondavisjr.com/2012/05/03/christianity-causes-prosperity/

Gary Brumbelow responded to my comments at the Darrow Miller and Friends Blog here: http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2012/05/10/does-dna-teach-the-prosperity-gospel/

Thanks for the thoughts Mr. Brumbelow!

Here are the comments I left in response to that article:

Well, now I feel special. 🙂

Thanks for your response.

I found this very interesting:

Elizabeth Youmans, points out, “Prosper” in the Hebrew does not necessarily refer to material wealth, but means “to accomplish what is intended by God.”

It seems that in Christ prosperity flows from the internal to the external. I love the way it is said in the greeting in 3rd John:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3rd John 1:2 – http://bg4.me/3_John_1_2_NKJV

I believe that this includes material prosperity as well as soul prosperity, but not in the sense of it being a formula or a right. It is more like a “tendency.” It is also quite natural. Being changed on the inside leads to living differently on the outside. Living according to God’s principles tends to produce God’s results (unless He permits testing or persecution, of course).

So I am looking for the right way to say it to try and remove the stumbling blocks from those who have prosperity-gospel-phobia. 🙂

I think I would say it like this:

If you seek God before all else and live life according to His instructions you will prosper in your soul and you will also tend to prosper materially in the temporal world. This should not be misconstrued to mean that Christians should live for earthly riches, neither should it be misconstrued as a guaranteed escape from suffering and persecution in the “here and now.”

What do you think? (or what does anybody passing by this way think?) Is that a good way to say it? Am I missing anything?

Somehow this needs to be included:

Doing things God’s way works better – both in eternity and in the here-and-now.
I see several areas of difference between pop-prosperity and truth.

  1. Prosperity Gospel makes prosperity seem almost as something that results from superstition; truth includes the requirement to live according to God’s instructions.
     
  2. Prosperity Gospel seems to ignore the idea of “taking up your cross and following.” Truth includes this idea.
     
  3. Prosperity Gospel seems to be focused on “me” having a better life. Truth seems more focused on being equipped by God to fulfill His destiny for oneself.
     
  4. Prosperity Gospel seems to see material prosperity as something that can be gained and guaranteed by following a spiritual formula. Truth requires natural formulas (work ethic, integrity, wisdom, etc.) as well. Truth also acknowledges persecution and suffering in the temporal reality. (Ok, I know this is kind of another way to say #1)
     
  5. Prosperity Gospel seems to see material prosperity as a right; truth seems to see material prosperity as a natural tendency resulting from doing things according to how God designed them to be done.

🙂

I’ve already gotten some warnings to beware of the word “prosperity.” But, wow, the Bible sure has a lot to say about all kinds of prosperity, and it seems that material prosperity is included in that content.