Meanderings & Musings

I’ve started reading the book by Steve Murrell, WikiChurch: Making Discipleship Engaging, Empowering and Viral. Steve shares his own perspective as part of his involvement with VictoryManilla, a “Megachurch” in the capitol city of the Philippines. He compares the growth of this kind of church with that of Wikipedia, contrasting the Wikipedia’s creators’ first attempt, Nupedia, with the supersite that now exists.

In 2001, one year after Nupedia launched, Wales and Sanger started Wikipedia as a feeder system for Nupedia. The idea was to allow non-pros, non-scholars, and non-experts to write articles that the Nupedia scholars would review. The articles would then make their way through the extensive Nupedia approval process. By the end of 2001, volunteers had submitted more than twenty thousand “wiki” articles.

It took the experts three years to create twenty-four articles and the non-experts one year to create twenty thousand articles. At the time of this writing, contributors from around the world had submitted more than seventeen million Wikipedia articles, and according to an independent survey, most are as accurate as
traditional encyclopaedia entries written by recognized experts.

Unfortunately, many churches today function more like Nupedia than Wikipedia. They allow only credentialed professionals to lead evangelism and discipleship efforts while volunteers are expected to show up and pay up, but not engage in serious ministry. Imagine if the situation were reversed. Imagine if every believer, not just paid leaders, were engaged in ministry. That’s a WikiChurch. That’s the Book of Acts. That’s what is behind VictoryManila’s growth.

I love what Michael Scott, the fictional regional manager on the sitcom The Office, says about Wikipedia: “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone, in the world, can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”

Is there a lesson here for churches today? You betcha!

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An insightful article on contemporary worship has appeared on the Christianity Today site (thanks Stephen!). Here’s a telling paragraph discussing the medium and the message:

In this process, however, it seems to me that the church caters to short attention spans and relies heavily on stimulating emotional highs during the service. Instead of facilitating an encounter with the living God, the methods themselves become the overwhelming focus. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education commentary, Timothy Beal observed that “a hallmark of American evangelicalism, at least since the 1940s, has been its ready willingness to adapt its theological content to new media technologies and popular trends in the entertainment industry. Implicit in that openness is an evangelical counterdeclaration to Marshall McLuhan’s: The medium is not the message; the message, or the Word, transcends whatever media are used to convey it. But in the long run, is the constant evangelical adaptation of the Word unwittingly proving McLuhan right? I think so. That is partly why we find so little coherence within and among the various groups and movements and productions that pass as evangelical.” At some point, style of presentation affects the substance of Christian identity and teaching, often by blunting its sharper edges. It is probably no accident that many contemporary churches offer a diet heavy in biblical images and metaphors, leaving actual biblical theology in short supply. (Read more here.)

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We all seek resolution in our lives. We love to see things all wrapped up, all loose ends tied, all questions answered. We don’t live with the unresolved well–at least I don’t. So, being aware of my need (and the stress looking for resolution always causes in my life), this came as a reminder via MINEmergent:

 I beg you . . . to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given  you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live  everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday for in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke

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While on this train of thought, Richard Rohr examines the idea of discernment while addressing the topic of having a consistent ethic of life:

The spiritual gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10) is when good things can be recognized sometimes as bad things, and vice versa. Discernment has largely been undeveloped among ordinary Christians. . . .  It invites people and even forces people into “both/and” thinking, rather than simplistic “either/or” thinking. This is the difference between merely having correct information and the spiritual gift of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8-9). Both are good, but wisdom is much better. It demands the maturity of discernment, which is what it takes to develop a consistent ethic of life. I admit the vast majority of people are not there yet.

Once we have learned to discern the real, disguised nature of both good and evil we recognize that everything is broken and fallen, weak and poor—while still being the dwelling place of God: you and me, your country, your children, your churches, even your marriage. That is not a put-down, but finally a freedom to love imperfect things! As Jesus told the rich young man, “God alone is good!” (Mark 10:18). In this, you may have been given the greatest recipe for happiness for the rest of your life. You cannot wait for things to be totally perfect to fall in love with them or you will never love anything. Now, instead, you can love everything. (Adapted from Spiral of Violence: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil)

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 Perhaps a camel can’t go through the eye of a needle without God’s intervention, but here’s proof Jesus and the entire contingiency of disciples can, thanks to micro scupltor Willard Wigan. This and many other amazing micro scupltures may be found on his web site.

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