The questions that matter
I was thinking yesterday about my lack of writing and was getting frustrated with myself. I was feeling all the stuck-ness in all the ways. I was driving home last night and there were these basic questions:
The problem with the church is _________
The hope for church provides is __________
I think I will start by trying to answer both as I describe the hole that is in the boat.
The problem with the church is….
That the plumbing is bad, faulty and does not properly carry the Kingdom of God, ie the Living Water of Jesus to the world. The church is meant to be a place where the thirsty can come and get the Living Water of Jesus. But the church has instead become plumbers and has formed a union with rules on how things must be built and contracted in each of the major denominations and sects of the church. All of them have the specifics. The problem is this - the plumbing does not work. It is long and complicated and the water does not always make it to the people. It is held in holding stations, filtered, things added, etc until the living water no longer gives life, but instead is something less and more all at the same time.
This imagery I first heard in Leonard Sweet’s book, AquaChurch. But I keep returning to it. A lot of what I hear from the news networks, on social media and around the church is version of following Jesus that does not align with Scripture. A lot of what I hear has more to do with talking about the plumbing, or a moral reservoir that the water has been withheld. I hear talk of water that has so many additives just to make it attractional that is no longer living, but instead doctored up for the consumer’s taste. You see the problem with the church is that it has lost a true sense of what is the source of its life and hope. The church has cared more about the plumbing than it does delivering living water to others.
This is the syndrome: The church has become so focused on itself and that has surpassed the focus on the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God envelopes all the work of God, in the church and outside the church. The church by becoming obsessed with the plumbing and not the living water has in turn lifted the functionality of the church far too high. When the plumbing becomes the center, the church lifts itself above the Kingdom work.
Let me say it this way: During the Roman Rule, the early church would go and collect infants that were being dumped on the trash heap because they were unwanted and not needed in the eyes of their parents. The church did the work of the Kingdom by taking the children in. If they had been worried about the ‘plumbing’ and how they were organized, they might have said, “will taking these children in impact our bottom line. And will other outreach be compromised if we collect these infants?” And this could have easily led them to asking, “how do we organize the church to get involved in the government to outlaw this practice of dumping babies at the city dump?” You see, the Kingdom way, is to collect the child and raise it. The way of the mis-focused church is to chase down things that are secondary and tertiary.
I think this at the root of problem, the hole in the boat per say.
Now to answer the question of hope. I must answer both to tell the whole story.