Perhaps the church is neither emerging nor re-structuring so much as re-claiming its true nature as an underground, insurgent movement. By that I mean that the truest work of the Holy Spirit always seems to be initiated among the least and the unseen bringing forth true kingdom life that is contrary and even subversive to the surrounding culture.
Tom Sine, in his new book (not yet published) “The New Conspirators” talks about “joining the conspiracy of the insignificant”:
In spite of the fact that our world is changing at blinding speed and the church is going through some very tough times God is still at work in ways that aren’t always immediately apparent. For some reason, God seems to delight in conspiring through the small, insignificant and ordinary to renew the church and transform the world. Eugene Peterson wrote, “The metaphors Jesus used for the life of ministry are frequently images of the single, the small and the quiet, which have effects far in excess of their appearance: salt, leaven and seed.”
He goes on to say:
Changing the world through the conspiracy of the insignificant has always been God’s strategy. God chose a ragtag group of Semite slaves to be the insurgents of a new order. God sent a vast army to flight with three hundred men carrying lamps and blowing horns. God chose a shepherd boy with a slingshot to lead his chosen people. And who would have dreamed that God would choose a baby in a cow stall to turn the world right side up?
Perhaps the real emergence of today’s church, the primary re-structuring that needs to take place, is in our own hearts. That we would be willing to be the unseen, unheralded ambassadors who heroically refuse to walk in the ways of this world for the sake of demonstrating a love that throws money-changers out of temples, embraces sinners, and forgives those who nail us to a cross.
Maybe, the moment we are no longer underground (unseen) nor insurgent (counter-cultural), we are no longer really the church.
Maybe, the moment “our movement” is recognized, written about, or even blogged about, it no longer has the characteristics of the true church.
Maybe, the moment we receive an accolade or an applause for what we are doing, it is time to look to see if the recognition has come because we have begun to agree more with our culture than the radical kingdom that Jesus preached and demonstrated.
Perhaps it is the underground, insurgent nature of the church that needs to be re-claimed above all else and maybe, just maybe, all of the “emerging” and “re-structuring” will take care of itself.
The first chapter of Tom Sine’s yet-to-be-published book can be found here.