Following my last post that referenced Revival, Awakening and Reformation I am here focusing on reformation. The reason being that wisdom points to the need to pursue reformation as both a means and an end for revival or awakening. Now, I confess this post has been a struggle to write. Partly because it is a broad subject that requires focus and partly because I need things to settle in my heart to write about them. So here we go.
To reform something implies that we have the constituent parts but need to make them into a new shape. Obviously Jesus is the most important part. If we remake church structures that He doesn’t fill we have merely wasted our energy. That being said, a thought has persisted in my mind for some time. I have been thinking about Choice Architecture. I came across the term and included it in my Dissertation. The basic idea of Choice Architecture is that we can structure environments to influence behaviour.
I have been thinking about this in terms of how the average Sunday church service is structured. There are two aspects, the physical space and the relational space. I will go a bit deeper, but first some scripture followed by some thoughts on leadership.
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:11–13 (NKJV)
These passages focus on having the body engaged in ministry. The first one referencing the need to make space for body sharing and ministry. The second looking at the role of leadership.
Leadership isn’t about power and control. It is about drawing out the gifts and callings in people and releasing them into their gifts. When I lead teams at work in my various roles I believed that my responsibility as a leader was to create an environment that freed my staff to function most effectively in their gifts and calling. I have long believed the same thing about church leadership. Whether in small or large groups I believe leaders need to create space to release the gifs in others (there are some great example of this in the article by Craig Keener at the link below).
When we think of creating physical space, we may have limitations but consider the focus of the average church building. The focus tends to be on the sanctuary and the pulpit. Just as the frame and matting are designed to draw our eyes to certain aspects of a painting, so too, our physical spaces are designed (or default to) drawing our focus to certain places. In considering this I invite you to think of ways to make the physical space about Jesus and about creating opportunities for the body to minister to one another as Paul encourages in 1 Corinthians 14:26.
Relationally, how is the church body structured. Is the default mode power and control or relationships. For decades I have been personally opposed to using the term pastor as a title. I have no issue with the term, I simply recognize that the terms apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher in Ephesians 4 are job descriptions not titles. Thus, I think we need to relate to people as people to build relationships and titles, in the church or elsewhere confer something but also create barriers (Choice Architecture). I could say, ‘that is pastor Fred’ or I could say, ‘that is Fred, he is a pastor. His focus is on nurturing and feeding the body.’ The latter creates a different expectation.
As this is getting long, allow me to draw a conclusion. I think if we reform our churches to be more relational and to release the many gifts among us, we will see more revival and awakening. Conversely, if we persist in intercession for prayer and revival and awakening, we have an opportunity to reform our churches. Either way, we have before us the opportunity to build something that looks like the church Jesus said He would build and see it spread into the broader culture. As we become a place where those who become part of us are released fully into who they are called to be they will affect those around us in the culture with truth and life.