reFUNCTIONation suggestion # 40 : May we repent of preservation as an emphasis among the “churched.”

imageI often wonder if we have misinterpreted the Parable of the Wineskins. At least as I have typically heard it taught. I am not sure it has anything to do with giving up old ways to try new ways OR change and tradition not being able to exist together OR older people needing to make way for the preferences of younger people.

I wonder if it has to do with fulfilling God’s purpose in our intended season. I wonder if it has to do with the ongoing restoration of our King making all things new.

If this is the case, then preservation of what we have held as priority of purpose may need to surrender to prioritizing the Purpose that has always been preserved.

God’s purpose, to be exact. Not what the church has always done, but rather what the church is to always be doing.

It is not as simple as “same old message told with some new methods.” In line with the very purpose of this blog, implementing new “church” methods results in nothing but new “churched” forms, unless the intended function of the church is emphasized and lived.

But in too many cases, the “churched” fight to preserve “church” as they have known it. That’s not quite what Paul meant when he told Timothy he had fought the good fight. The “good fight,” or more literally translated “the good struggle,” is exactly that – the struggle that comes when those who live with Jesus on His good mission to declare His eternal love to His estranged beloved struggle against the evil forces who strive to undercut that mission by destroying God’s beloved before they believe they are loved.

When we fight to preserve “church” as we have known it, like it’s some self-absorbed experience or event intended for the “churched,” then we become agents of the evil forces striving to undercut the good mission.

Erwin McManus asserts one important point that we tend to overlook in his book Unstoppable Force. He suggested that the church as an organism rather than an organization tends to act more like an organization rather than an organism. One way the church does this is by trying to preserve church as an organization. This was never intended. Church is an organism. Organisms die.

Now, all metaphors break down. This one breaks down at the point of “the church dying” in the sense of ceasing to exist, which according to Jesus is not going to happen. But that was not Erwin’s point.

Like a seed that is planted dying to become the fruit-bearing plant it was intended to be, the church must always die to themselves to become the fruit-bearing people Jesus intended us to be. The moment we begin to exist for ourselves is the moment we quit functioning as Jesus intended.

Grandparents love their grandchildren. My dad listens to Lecrae because his grandchildren want to while they ride with him. They, in turn, listen to Willie Nelson because their granddad wants to. Maybe not as often, but still, you get the point.

The Grandparent lives to give life to the grandkids. We as the church must do the same.

That’s why making disciples of Jesus must remain the only purpose of the church, defining all programs of the church, never just an add on to church activities.

Lord Jesus, help us not to preserve what we have but to join You to give away what we have been given.