Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just how biblical... ?

"How biblical do you want to be?" - is a strange question to ask pastors and leaders but never the less one of the most important ones we need to enter any conversation. I hope I am not a pedantic legalist, nor a culturally insensitive bigot, however I simply cannot escape the sheer wonder and mystery of seeking to find God's architectural design for our evolving conversations.

Having been through 3 'revivals' and having savored the richness of 2 church planting stories, I am amazed at what we defined as 'biblical' and therefore essential. Without the slightest ounce of judgement on those days, we were all learning as we leant into the God story as we understood it at the time.

What is imperative is that we use this matrix in our conversations:
  • What is biblically / theologically imperative,
  • What is prophetically strategic,
  • What is culturally essential,
This gives us much space to explore the direction of the Spirit within the integrity of the text. Whatever is not clearly biblical we now examine as:
  • Is this 'biblical'?
  • Is this 'unbiblical'?
  • Is this abiblical [meaning is the bible fairly silent on the matter, so we use other realted pieces to evaluate its legitimacy]?
The use of scaffolding then comes into play. Where there is an 'abiblical' quotient to the conversation, we realize this now enters the scaffolding component. This is not a heaven or hell piece. This is not a 'hill to die on' piece. This is not a 'Paul and Barnabas parted' piece. All that we are talking about here is a seasonal element that we help to put up the building, but that must come down when the structure is up.

Of course there are several things that do get in the way of us fully pursuing a fully biblical form:
  • Personal preference,
  • Tradition or a reaction to it,
  • Culture or subculture,
  • History,
  • Fear,
  • Habit,
  • Absence of debriefing / critique,
  • Pride,
  • Defense of the previous generation / leaders,
  • Peer pressure...

I know this is quite elementary, but as we enter the beginning of the year, it is good to honestly matrix ourselves again through the lenses of scripture to ensure we keep shaping our journey through the essence of the biblical text. All else are helpful but seasonal, if it is not unbiblical.

For example:
  • Service length and scripting is diverse and creative in the text - one liturgy cannot be seen as 'the' biblical way or being more biblical than any other,
  • There is no word to describe the title of the guy who leads the elders. Now we now that there is no leadership egalitarianism either in God or in the text, but there is no defined role for such a person on the E team, so we have to be comfortable with scaffolding of 'senior pastor' [not one I like], 'visionary pastor' [not one I am comfortable with as it implies that all vision comes from them and that is simply not true], 'lead pastor' [one I do like as it speaks of the Rom 12:8 gift that this person seems to have to catalyze the team], 'lead elder' [is good but in some countries this implies a bivocational person who is part of the church's management team rather than the biblical picture of pastoring as well]...
I hope this helps... keep the conversations going - for through them we will find the mind of the Lord 'It seems good to us and the Holy Spirit".

1 comment:

  1. Chris, I like your comments around the proverbial scaffolding - good way to describe it. Also I find the lack of debriefing/critique such a seedbed of innocent or uninformed habit, which seems to start off as a relatively innocuous act, but has the potential to become an unhelpful tradition.