Editor's Section

The Intelligent Church

Below are links to twelve pages filled with practical suggestions for making your church serious salt and yeast in the community.

The Intelligent Church

As we have said, especially in reference to the pivotal verse Romans 12:2 the appropriate metaphor for understanding change and growth is metamorphosis. Our instinct and intuition coupled with a close reading of scripture against two millennia of history lead us to believe that the church structures we have inherited are going through their own metamorphosis.

We hold that it is wrong to attempt to destroy the present structures, as it would be wrong to cling to them after new life emerges. With that in mind, then, we offer our suggestions for working within the structures we have inherited.

It is our conviction that one of the most pressing needs of global Christianity is the need for the application of intelligence within and from the Christian community. So, in talking about the intelligent church we will want always to have in mind the simple fact that the organized Christianity we have inherited contains and/or is structured from many elements that have entered without proper scrutiny. These elements have not all or always been beneficial.

We start with the view that it is not necessarily the job of Christians to get people into church but that it is the job of Christians to change the world. It should be clear to Christians that the Lord Jesus Christ in his recorded earthly ministry intended Christians to be God's agents in this world. Therefore the methods used by Christians need to be intelligently extrapolated from scripture and the key ingredient in this process is simple obedience. The Lord used metaphors such as light, yeast and salt. These metaphors necessarily imply that Christians may not choose an isolated life either as individuals or as community.

We are in the business of affecting the future. And if we determine to affect the future we would be wise to examine how the future is affected. In this examination our perception and understanding can be helped by reference to the behavior of complex systems. That, however, is an intellectual and perhaps academic exercise and when the intellectual and academic work has been done we will inevitably return again to obeying the risen Lord. So, why not just start there?

The intellectual and academic work still needs to be done and that is a job for specialists. We hope that Christians in academia would take up this job and begin to build a body of theology around it. In saying this we include the hope that these Christian academics will remember and practice our fourth rule for theologians: If you aren't doing ministry, you can't do theology!

We have said that metamorphosis is to be preferred to engineering and that to attempt to accelerate the process of metamorphosis is futile. We cannot extract a pupating butterfly without destroying the life. This is the framework of our thinking in the application of intelligence within and from the Christian community. It is not reasonable to suggest the destruction of our organized churches, although some of them seem to be in a process of self-destruction themselves. For example, the Church of England says that in 1950 some 15% of British people attended church and this declined to about half that in 2000. They say that at the current rate of decline there won't be a Church of England by 2015. Is this a bad thing? We think it may not be. Further, it may present us with the opportunity to do the tough theology and ask how Christians should behave in our world today.

That is one purpose of this section. While some parts of organized Christianity are slowly deteriorating, others are growing. A lot of the apparent growth is, in our opinion, due more to the empire building proclivities of some personally ambitious men and less to intelligent obedience to scripture. But somewhere in between the disappearing structures and the little empires is a vast number of Christians who want to do what is right. Most of these in the western world belong to small to medium sized churches in various denominations. They love the Lord, they read their Bibles, they support their home church and missions elsewhere. Most strive to live and love in ethnic harmony and many do not materially succeed as the world might view success. They do not become financial successes. Many never marry. Many are trapped in the modulated lifestyle imposed by market forces driven economies. It is for these people we offer this section.

Using our artificial demarcation of clergy/laity, we suggest this section will be of use to both parts of our current church structures.

Start with the sections under Within the Church.