me thinking about the church. part 3.

14 October 2009 4 comments

When it comes to change (*gasp! *choke!) in the church, we are often handicapped, our legs taken right out from under us, because change means choosing, and choosing means some are on one side and others are on another side. And all of this means that when we try to DO SOMETHING, try to GO SOMEWHERE, there will be someone who doesn't like it. And do you know what happens next? We capitulate to the most conservative voice and decide not to cause a ruckus. The Conference administration team gets a call from a concerned woman with a shrill voice, or an influential man with gravitas... But maybe what we need most is ruckus.

The truth is that we consistently handicap ourselves by the moralization of personal and cultural preference. In the business world, the bottom line is profit ("How much money can we make?"). In the non-profit world, the bottom line is effectiveness ("How many people can we help?"). But in the world of the church, the bottom line is rightness and righteousness. This is especially true in my own denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because we correctly place a high value on theological correctness and obedience to God. And yet, this rightful priority is also obstructing our effectiveness and strangling our mission. 

We have made every decision into a moral one and it has stolen from us the very necessary skill of discernment. We Christians have a terribly difficult time distinguishing "what I like" from "what is right." And as we fight against the plague of moral relativism, we are poisoning ourselves with the virus of over-moralizing. And by "we" I mean "Christians," those bearing the name of Christ, which includes me. Everything is spiritual, which means everything is theological, but that doesn't mean everything needs to be organized into RIGHT and WRONG boxes. I have this hunch that there's a HUGE pile in the universe that God has labeled "Either."

Innovation is risky because it means choosing which means "sides" and that definitely means ruckus. But innovation could very well be the difference between life and death, in which case, it's probably worth the risk.


  • Nicholas said...

    I've been re-reading the Donald MIller book Searching For God Knows What. In fact, I just finished today. What you're saying here reminds me of one of his central themes: that the gospel of Jesus Christ is relational. Yet we have made it into many other horrid things, including but not limited to a gospel of morality. Morality is an effect of the relationship [cause], but like you said, we've made it into the bottom line. Bummer. In other news, Honda makes a sweet scooter called the Ruckus.

  • Anthony said...

    A struggle of mine is granting value to someone else's perceptions. I have been told often that it is important, but where is the balance between standing up for the "Constituent" or following conviction? What if change is the one thing holding us back from zeroing in on greater truth? Thank you so much for the series. They cause critical thinking and provide clarity.

  • Andrea said...

    Hmm. I might have to think about all this for a little while. But yes, I agree that we spend a lot of time trying to please people who don't need to be pleased. There is wisdom in listening to others who are in tune with the Holy Spirit. But there is little wisdom in listening to others who just have a loud voice and/or lots of money. :) Sometime I would like to hear some of the examples that fuel this particular thought line. Maybe when you're here in C-dale? Soon? Or maybe when I go to Andrews next weekend! :)

  • Ben Schnell said...

    I like it when you think about the church. Over moralization is a great way to describe it. I hadn't thought about it like this, but yeah, ruckus can be really good.

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