Thursday, May 05, 2005

church and dandelions

Maybe some of you are fighting the same battle that I am. I try and try but they keep growing and multiplying. They have become my spring-time enemy. I am speaking of course of dandelions. Though I spray and spray, my Ortho-Weed-B-Gone just doesn't seem strong enough. Dandelions find a way to grow, reproduce and multiply.

An organic thing multiplies. In order to grow, each cell must reproduce itself. Different cells have different purposes and may look a little different, but if it is a living organic thing, its cells will multiply. This is also true for the church.

In my opinion, multiplication must be a the heart of the Emergent Church. But there is a price to pay for multiplication. It takes energy. It takes time. And it is not easy. It is much easier to fall into the traps of specialization and excellence. By truly valuing multiplication, the church must sacrifice on the alter of modernity the value of excellence.

What does multiplication look like? Multiplication should happen on many levels in the church. It happens at the level of task. Tasks must be taken care of, especially on sunday mornings. But things like set up, music, audio/visual, food must all be transferable. It is the job of the person running the sound board to not only run the sound, but also to raise up someone who will learn to do the same. And, in time, teach them to multiply themselves as well.

Multiplication also happens at the small group level. Leaders of small groups must raise up the next generation of small group leaders. Two leaders should become four. Then the experienced leaders take the new leaders under their wing as one small group becomes two.

Multiplication happens at the large group level. Each local expression of the church should always be moving in the direction of planting new churches. As small groups multiply, the church grows. As the church grows, it looks to help launch a new community. This moves into the idea of clusters or networks of churches.

Most importantly, multiplication of the vision and values happens as people are welcomed into the community. Disciples are made as they meet one on one with people who have walked with Christ for a little longer than they have. The Great Commission and Great Commandment begin to become a part of the new people in the community.

But why get rid of excellence in the process? I would say that we are to do everything we can the best way that we can. But its a matter of priority. Do we prioritize loving people well or having a smooth sunday morning? If we want to be good at loving people well, then we will give them a chance to be a part of us. We will give them a chance to miss a note or a powerpoint slide. We will be ok with kids who cry and with mics that go dead. If these things mean loving people and welcoming them into our community, then we will choose love over a nice packaged look sunday morning.

I guess its less about choosing multiplication over excellence than it is about choosing what we want to be excellent. Do we want an excellent look or an excellent love?

I am left with the conclusion that multiplication is a must for the church. As the Emergent Church peels away hierarchy, theology and community, the value of multiplication needs to be on the forefront of our minds. Healthy, living, organic things multiply. I am reminded of this truth everytime I look at my lawn.


At 8:03 AM, Blogger brendar said...

Ortho Weed-B-Gone, properly applied will kill any and all dandelions. Perhaps the answer (to both quandaries) is in the timely application.

Note:John 12:24 "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

If the herbicide is applied early enough is will kill the weed before its flower develops thereby preventing the development and release of seeds. If you wait too long to apply the herbicide the seeds will developed and disperse and germinate producing new weeds even though the original weed has died.
Within the church multiplication occurs in much the same way. As you have pointed out there must be sacrifice and something's must stop altogether in order for new life to begin. Good post.

P.S. Corn Gluten is a good seed germination inhibitor

At 4:41 PM, Blogger gar said...

"Do we want an excellent look or an excellent love?"
Well said, my friend.

"As the Emergent Church peels away hierarchy, theology and community, the value of multiplication needs to be on the forefront of our minds."
JWs and Mormons multiply. Muslims multiply better than most. There must be some qualifyer, eh? ... weed or fruit?

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Mark said...

JW's evangelize door to door. Mormon's breed, very few new mormons are converts. And Muslims breed and conquer. Most of the expansion of Islam has been by taking a land by force and subjugating the peoples.

Christians have tried all of these methods throughout the history of the church. Maybe its time for a new model. Maybe multiplication is that model.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger tali said...

weeds are weeds because they strang;e everything else. is that the cost of multiplication the way you describe?

At 7:15 AM, Blogger gar said...

"Maybe its time for a new model."
Umm ... new?

At 10:36 AM, Blogger brendar said...

Chappy, I like your idea about choosing between having a church that tickles our fancy, impresses people or a community that supports multiplication though love.
I was perusing the internet looking at the websites of local churches and I came across these two statements from the same church,
"If the name of (this) Church is going to be on something, that means the name of Christ is on that something. And if the name of Christ is going to be on anything - we want it to be quality. Christ deserves our best and so do those who need to hear His message."
"Because all people matter to God, we are committed to providing everyone the opportunity to express their full devotion to Jesus Christ with unhindered passion. As such, we have begun gearing our Sunday Morning services toward two worship music styles in an environment of excellence that honors God."

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Hi Mark, I stumbled upon your blog from Tall Skinny Kiwi, which I stumbled upon from my friends blog. I like your thoughts. It does seem that many churches are more concerned with being clean, excellent and crisp rather than real, loving and beautiful.


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