Aggravation being a gift (and a curse), I spend a lot of time stirring the stagnant waters in which the church, for the most part, finds itself. It is true however that many in the church are aware and awake, and causing ripples. There is an ever-growing movement within the church that is reminiscent of John Wesley and the old Methodist revival days of 18th century England (even for those who do not claim to be either Wesleyan or Methodist). There is also a paradigm shift occurring, the likes of which we haven’t experienced since the first couple centuries of the Christian era. It is interesting that the movement and the paradigm shift have something in common that the church (bound in Christendom) has long since abandoned. What the church has lost, but the movement and the paradigm shift demand is, not just a Christ-centered focus, but a life lived out of the Resurrected Christ lifestyle.
Church, centered in the Resurrected Christ, concerns a balance of two fundamental practicalities. Where the old paradigm attempted to teach the right information in order to get the right behavior, the new paradigm (and its movement) strikes a balance between invitation and challenge. I do not question the idea of teaching the right information (theology – the Logic of God). I simply question what the old paradigm thinks is “the right information” – I question their theology – when the end-goal is “right behavior” (religion). Invitation and challenge necessitate faith, which necessitates the Resurrected Christ for living life.
An invitation to humanity to live in proper relations, with God, with other humans, and with creation, is the mission of God in Jesus Christ to humanity. The challenge is to live a lifestyle out of the life of the Resurrected Christ, not out of the alienation of our personalized religions; to be the expression of Christ in creation, not expressing our own fallen nature to the world. The challenge is to equip multiple cultures to be the collective church, not to build a church with a singular culture. An imbalance in these two is catastrophic, producing something else altogether, something almost worse than having neither of the two.
No invitation and no challenge is an apathetic society. Status-quo is inevitable. No one is invited to share in the life of the society and no one is challenged for not inviting anyone. This church is balanced between their lack of excitement and their lack of interest.
No invitation and all challenge is a members-only club. No one invites anyone because everyone is challenged (continually) to find someone who fits the requirements. Judgmental criticism for not mirroring Club Dead members is acceptable in this church.
All invitation and no challenge is a consumer culture. Anyone and everyone are invited, but to challenge someone contradicts the economics of the culture. This church needs people to be needy so as to sustain the budget and the image. The only challenge is maintaining the product.
A balance of a lot of invitation and a lot of challenge is the Body of Christ. Everyone is invited into relationship and everyone is challenged to invite everyone into relationship by the life of the Resurrected Christ living in everyone. This church has no consumers – the people are empowered for life – and no clubs – the people are included in the life of the church. Enjoying God every day, everywhere, and at any time (even those times that are not officially designated as “church services”) is now church. This was the motivation in the Methodist movement, this was the combination that pushed the Good News of Jesus Christ off the map, and this is the life for living in the Resurrected Christ in the new paradigm.