Saturday, January 31, 2004

I thought this was really good from Chris Marshall:

Now to my next reflection. I am enormously uncomfortable with the focus on "up front" space and those who serve in it. In a perfect world, or better yet Kingdom Reality, there is no "up front" leader. The ground is completely flat, no one or no role exalted above others. The fact that we even are conscious of that space, in my opinion, shows how inculturated we are with top down structures, preaching focused services and staged worship as our paradigm for normative church. I asked Brian to not use notes, no power point, not use a stand and not to talk from the stage but from the floor. We intentionally faced the chairs at one another, not towards the stage or the "up front" space. We dotted the floor with round tables to foster life on life conversations. I specifically said in my description of the weekend that "the answers you're looking for will not come from this microphone but from out there (the greater community)". I may sound like a purist here, but in Kingdom economy there is no exalted role/space/gift. Church history has revealed to us how in certain periods, some roles were exalted over others. In modernity, no question it was/is the teaching gift or "up front". This is top-down thinking and I reject it. I think all this has exposed the need for a lot more growth in this area. Whenever we have a clear separation between teaching and serving and one is exalted or even noticed above the others, we do not yet understand the economy of Kingdom values and will not taste its reality here on earth...

...I spent 10 years climbing the ladder in evangelical ministry, being groomed to be the next super "up front" leader and what I learned is that it had more to do with being an American success story than anything to do with Christ following. I would go as far to say that until I learned to love 2 or 3 and be content in my giftedness, I really never understood what pastoring was. I believe the pastor who will thrive in the future will be one that turns in their pulpit for a guest bedroom, their preaching for true hospitality, their "up front" role for a towel and basin. Hospitality, which fosters powerful organic relationships underground will be the bridges that the Holy Spirit will use to bring healing to our communities. (by the way, women generally kick arse in this area). So men, learn how to clean a toilet and make a bed. Learn how to cut the vegetables and clean the dishes. Learn how to listen in conversation to people's stories as they share lives over a meal and be ready to respond with warmth and empathy with nobody to notice what your doing. The future leader will not be an expositor but a diakanos (table servant). If this is not enough for you, then let me end with this question: Who told you to be successful?

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