Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Laying Down The Law

My take, from a board discussing whether believers are under some form of law:

Law is not authority. It is, rather, the one-off connection of man to authority. In our country, we elect people who make laws, which we then obey. So, obedience to the law is, in fact, a submission to the public consensus. The actual authority over us -- our "King"-- is 51% of the votes cast. But as it is impractical to hold a citywide vote every time someone jaywalks, we use law to effectively enforce the authority of the 51%. Law is the indirect application of authority.

The reason believers are not subject to law is that we have no more need of a one-off connection to divine authority. We are in Christ, who is our King. Law is extended to those who are beyond the direct relationship. In this case, those who do not believe. Those of us who are in Christ are ruled directly by Him, not indirectly via law.

It is helpful to me to understand the term "the law of Christ" in the same way as I understand "the law of gravity". "Law" in this construct means an understanding of the essential nature of a thing, rather than rules promulgated. IMO, the law of Christ is not rules promulgated by Christ, but a revelation of His person. Just as the "law of gravity" is a revelation of a part of our physical reality.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Time is Money, Just Maybe

I recently listened to an appeal by two nice young ladies who are doing children's ministry. They were asking for two things: more volunteers, and financial support so they could do this work full time. As a working stiff, I must confess I thought, "You want more time AND more money? That money you are asking for, well, I have to spend time earning it. I can't take Friday off and give you the money I would have earned that day."

I was not offended, for these folks were doing "ministry" the old fashioned way: ask to be hired as a ministry professional and then when you realize a few professionals are not up to the task at hand, ask for more help. Next time, it will be overseas ministry, or ministry to the aged, or to the sick. Send those folks on the rounds to raise support yet again. From the same brothers who had their wallet out last week. It's not the heart of the people that's causing ministry to struggle, it's the methodology.

Today I thought of a possible solution for my friends who are doing brick-and-mortar church ministry like this. What if you asked believers for time in lieu of money? The average Joe out here cannot go to meetings and ask for more money to support his calling as a bus driver or a teacher or social worker. We take our wages and make do. Then church members give a portion of those earnings over to their local group. But if your religion club sees a ministry as important, why not say--
"We'd like you to stop giving cash and give time instead. Instead of giving $100 this week, take a day of your vacation time and come serve soup to the poor for the day. Only put cash in the plate if you can't take a day off work to teach children or take elderly folks to the doctor."

We already do this with our "retired" members. If they can't give, they can drive the Meals On Wheels van. But most of us wage earners just can't do this under our current way of thinking. But value my time like you value my money? That can be very motivating.

Result? If this really takes hold, we get many more volunteers and much less cash flow to the institution. More willing hands, but more money left in their pockets to pay the bills. More work gets done, but the organization will have to pare down. Fewer professionals, more servants. People who can't afford to write a check can actually give more and feel like their contribution is appreciated.

If we are truly longing to see a work get done, this concept will get somebody excited. But if we are trying to make sure that "our church" has a thriving program, it will fall on deaf ears.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Ad Slogan For Christians

I realize that I post a lot in other places and some of those thoughts need to migrate over to the blog. So, here's something adapted from a recent exchange on a discussion board:

"Lord I believe; help my unbelief. The more I learn to love humanity the less I love people.

"These 2 old saying kind of describe where I am. I no longer have any use for the institutional church with all the politics and guilt trips. I am still attending some but I really get nothing from this type of service. I think our family will start meeting at our house and invite folks to join us."

I hear you.

Here's a thought to chew on about meeting at home. The whole idea of 'meeting' is pretty foreign to how we live at home. Meetings have agendas and expectations which turn into schedules and liturgy and organizations.

I have been in more home groups and house churches than I can count, and most wound up looking more or less just like Wednesday night services. We repeat what we know, whether we want to or not. It's just like when a man declares, "I'll never be like my father," and thirty years later, voila! He's just like old Dad. (Sorry, Dad. No offense!)

I have a radical suggestion that we change the entire basis for our getting together. Acts 2 says that the disciples devoted themselves to fellowship and eating together (among other good things). What if we started from here, instead of from "the apostle's doctrine"? Come sit at my dining table! We'll eat, and we'll visit. If there is something of the Spirit in us, it will come out. If we need to pray, we'll pray. But instead of tacking on eating and fellowship as "after we dismiss" activities because, let's face it, we did not do them during church services, let's start in a new place instead. And thus my new proposed slogan--

"Dinner! It's what's for church."