I see myself as a teaching-shepherd of God’s people, and my calling as that of equipping those people to be demonstrations of the whole demeanor and lifestyle of God’s New Humanity. So I get restive with all of that negativity that has been so pervasive in our society of late. We have been described as a culture of dis-satisfaction. So, of course, there is a lot of disheartening, frustrating, really crappy stuff going on out there. So what’s new? But complaining really doesn’t accomplish anything. The Tea Party mentality that pervades so much of the political scene has it counterparts in all segments of society (including the church), and in every nation and culture. Yes, it is abundantly present in all too much of the church, and among those who are ostensibly Christian folk, alas! But it doesn’t resolve anything. It is totally uncreative.

This first began to dawn on me as a young pastor in a very troubled church community. As we began to patiently put together some encouraging and creative solutions within our leadership team, there was one elder who was obsessed with his ‘power’ at having been elected an elder, who was total against everything that the rest of the leadership team of elders was proposing. And as the church began to respond and to emerge into a degree of harmony and fruitfulness, this guy was quite certain that all which we were doing was going to have disastrous consequences, and was very vocal  about it. It became more and more obvious to me, as I began to get some feel for my pastoral leadership role, that the guy had never proposed any positive and creative alternatives. He was just opposed to what we were attempting. It came to a head one Sunday morning when he waited for me until every one had left and assaulted me with the charge that I was making grave mistakes. My circuit-breaker snapped. I backed him right up against a wall and asked him what positive solution he would propose. He had none. So I said: “Carl, the day you have one positive idea for God’s purpose in this congregation, I will listen to you, but until then I can’t take you seriously.”

Maybe a bit strong, but it reinforced in me that you cannot bring about positive health or creative solutions by being always negative and complaining. So churches may be inefficient or forgetful of their calling, and floundering in inertia, … what is my role, or our role, as those who desire helpful, purposeful change. Perhaps a whole new paradigm is required. Think of the Silicon Valley/digital culture folk who sensed needs and put genius to work, and so have created a whole new way of living for this 21st century. I frequently access the website: Singularity which reports on all of the awesome discoveries and practices of an emerging generation. See a need/problem—find a solution. I am blessed by the writings of Alan Roxborough and Mark Lau Branson as they probe new forms of being a faithful church. I read the news of those who see the U. S. Congress as currently dysfunctional, or similarly their state legislatures, and so do ‘end-runs’ by developing local, mutually encouraging community-focused solutions which avoid all of the fruitless partisan frictions that have ruled in the past.

You and I, as representatives of God’s New Humanity in Christ, are called to be a life-giving, creative, innovative force … beginning where we are in this imperfect, often frustrating scene. We are to be a people of hope, of love, of alternative solutions and new forms to bring into being the fruits of the Light—humanitarian, collaborating, righteous, non-discriminatory agents of strategic innovation, of faith, hope, and love. That should always keep our juices flowing.

… And, by the way, if you find these Blogs provocative, suggest to your friends that they subscribe also. Then I always appreciate the comments you can feed back to me. Do it. Thanks.

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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