Participatory Movement

While it is true that one can expect to be categorized by a single negative action, it can also be said that a single positive action does not necessarily speak to an individual’s habitual character (attitude, worldview, etc.). In other words, we can accidentally do what is good once in a while, but we purposely do not daily. The depths of our relationship with Jesus Christ can be an agent of change concerning this observation. But the fact remains: What we practice (or not) gives evidence to what we value (or not).

For far too long now, “church” has been a spectator sport. We come, fill the seats, watch the show – once a week – and have a satisfied sense that we have done our duty. “Church” once a week is a single act, not an habitual way of life. To participate AS the Church, rather than spectate IN the church, is what it means to be a Christ follower and not simply a Christ admirer. To “participate AS the Church” means we are the human expression of Christ to all humanity (and not only a select, targeted few).

I know that for many, the leadership of the church has left no place for those who wish to participate (in fact often it has been discouraged), but I also know that many others sneer at the thought of being more than a spectator and insist that “the pastor gets paid to do the work.”  Ironically, the latter are those (so-called matriarchs and/or patriarchs) who fight to maintain control of the “ministry” of the church (i.e., the money!) while at the same time having no notion of the “mission” that is the Church (i.e., the love of God).

The Church that Jesus built (and is still building, today) has always been one where everyone participates. Paul warned the Thessalonians not to continue to be “spectators,” and to the Corinthians he explained that the Church (by definition) is made up of many members who “participate” as differing parts of the whole (body of Christ).  

The Church is a movement from ideological values to values that are lived-out. It is true that Jesus effects transformation in the heart of the individual, privately. It is also true that Jesus effects transformation in the heart of the corporate, publically. While Jesus Himself works internally to change the individual, Jesus also works externally in the corporate (i.e., the Church) as an agent of change in the world. The individual (parts) participate as the corporate (whole), thereby expressing the Body of Christ (the Church).

A spectator can experience the reconciled relationship between God and ones-self (for a while at least). However, I do question whether or not a spectator can experience the reconciliation between God and humanity as a whole. And I flat-out deny that a spectator can experience the reconciliation between humanity and ones-self (as a member of humanity). A spectator can experience the fact that God rescued “me.” Perhaps, even, a spectator can experience the fact that God rescued “us” (though doubtful). But only a participator can experience the fact that God reconciled “us” to one another.

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