Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reformation, Restoration, Reclamation

For those who are not familiar with church history here is a brief overview (with generalized dates):
AD 33 - The Way starts in Jerusalem
400 - Christianity is State religion of the Roman Empire
1000 - Catholic Church splits from the Eastern Orthodox Church
1500's - The Reformation breaks from the Catholic Church (and creates other denominations.
1800's - The Restoration Movement seeks to continue the work of the Reformation and restore the church to the first century teaching and practice.

Ok, are you still with me? Thanks. So in my school work I've been reading the biography of a guy named Walter Scott (you can find it here). He was one of the founders of the Restoration movement (today the Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and Disciples of Christ). People of his day were keen on seeing themselves as reformers in the vein of Luther et al; today people are talking about a new Reformation. I used to agree (and I may still, I'm not sure), but now I think we need something different. Luther and Scott and all their contemporaries had the luxury of working to change the church which lived in a culture that was mostly Christian. Today we live in a culture where Christianity is moving more and more to the fringes of society. We don't have the luxury of trying to change other people within the church when so many outside the church are living without any relationship with God.

So here's my plea: let's start a Reclamation Movement. Stan Granberg has said on many occasions that it is the job of the church to love God's lost people, but we usually only love those in the church. We need to work to reclaim God's people from sin and pain and poverty. We need to pour our passion and energy into reuniting God and his people. Reformation and restoration will happen within the church when we focus on Reclamation, but if we keep our focus on restoration/reformation then the reclamation may never happen. So, who's with me? Who wants to join the Reclamation Movement?


Unknown said...

Oh man, that's a clarion call I could get behind! Thanks for putting useful language behind thoughts I've been having for years now. "Reclamation" speaks to missional engagement with the world; I've always thought that I have a few luxury moments to discuss emerging junk with pastors I run into, but these are just that--luxury moments. The bulk of my time needs to be spent communicating simple gospel to those in desperate need of Reclamation. Not as intellectually exciting maybe, but that sounds like a temptation to sinful inward focus to me.

There is time for reformation thinking, and just as you said, it needs to be reforming our practices such that most of our time and energy is in the reclamation and spiritual formation of Christ-followers.

Amen brother, make a banner or something...

rich jandt said...

I’m always in, as long as I get a chance to kill the English.
I'll start reclamation with you, but I'm not sure the issues brought up by some of the others you listed are worthy enough to fight anyone over. The shortened thesis on one of those links I found particularly insulting. In fact, I would like to fight John Spong.
As much as I see dead branches, useless limbs, and corrupt evangelists in the body of Christ, we need to keep the same core beliefs.
I of course do not mean Accapella music; keeping women silent, stand with me as we sing, ECT. I'm talking about Birth Life Death Burial and Resurrection. The Redemptive power of Christ's blood. Actually building a personal relationship with Christ that can stand outside of corporate worship. There will always be a place for the hardcore, original language text studies that the COC is known for, but it shouldn’t be Sunday morning, where we bring our quests.
God can be found in archaic services with robes and Latin chanting. God can be found in small services with a conversation instead of a sermon. God can be found in a personal nature hike 1000 miles from anyone else. God can even be found in a text book, exegeses-ed out for a freshman in college.
What will our loving reclamation look like? One of the other posters of this idea had violence in mind. That almost seems like a Bush plan, Peace Though War. We could start doing big tent reclamations. Or maybe a joy bus reclamation. I think the most productive way to start a movement like this is to stop the judgments we all make on other people. Actually being friends with all the un-churched people we work with. (Sorry Tabitha, I used the word). Keeping it real with our churched friends, by sharing our struggles and asking for forgivness.
We can even open ourselves to new experiences and being open minded on subjects like homosexuality, drug users, non married fornicators, and all kinds of other sinners. What? Did I just say we should go out and mingle with homosexuals? I sure did. Their sins are no worse than yours. They are the ones who need to be loved. Do I want to do it, not at all, they really make me uncomfortable, just like druggies, and mentally challenged people, but they are the ones who need to be loved. In the book of revelation the quote about when did you feed me, when did you cloth me? Yeah, God is talking about desperate people who don’t look anything like you. People who made the wrong decisions in life and need you to help them. People who have AIDS from gay sex and drug use.
Where do those types of sinners fit into our congregations? Do you have a homosexual outreach program? How about drug user outreach? Ryan Peters and I were joking last week about starting an outreach to strippers and the pull would be to have free child-care. I think the greatest example of love would be to lay down your life for the life of your friends. (Actually I think that was Jesus) But wouldn’t another example of love be to become friends in the first place with these types of people? How about telling your new friends about Jesus and his ability to save them from their totally deserved deaths in sin? Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to sit in a nice comfortable church, and tell all your Birkenstock wearing suv driving “Jesus freaks” about how much you love God. But at what point does that become relevant? When does that become helpful or edifying for the body? There will always be the argument that some people don’t have strengths in evangelism, or that a church somewhere is best spending its money buying a huge plot of land and building a mega church, but I think that is a bunch of crap.
That’s right, a bunch of crap. I’m tired of all the stuff that we put out trying to be relevant, or witty, like we are tying to trick people into believing. Stuff like messages on the reader board outside of church, bumper stickers, Jesus fish decals. I saw a quip on a local supermarket sign (which is directly across from the local coc by the way) that said “witty remarks don’t prove your right” Bender said in an episode of Futurama (as he was welding a robot equivalent of a Jesus fish to the space ship) “here this aught to convert a few tailgaters” do we as rational thinking people actually believe that bumper stickers and little quips are going to help anyone meet Jesus?
So James, sign me up.

Mick Wright said...

I thought that was called an awakening.

Reclaimation sounds like something George Lucas does in his spare time. ;)

KMiV said...

Hey brother, you know I'm there.

Hunter and I were helping the folks at Dignity Village build their commons area today. I learned so much about construction from a bunch of homeless guys. I think I learned more about sharing Jesus today than I would have if I would have spent the afternoon studying for the sermon Sunday.

I'm with you.

Luke Coles said...

I love this idea. The harvest sure is plentiful. It's funny how this whole movement was based on unity and just fell into more division. I have a feeling that the reason so many don't see God as love is because we show division and hatred towards each other. Not only do we need to love on the lost, but also love on the "saved". We are all children.