To say that something/anything is mediocre is hardly a compliment. It indicates that it is beneath standard expectations. When it comes to Christ’s church, it is tragic. The church is to be the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. It is to be the body of Christ. It is to be the communal demonstration of God’s new creation, of God’s new humanity. It is to be the glory of God, the radiant display of God’s nature in a human community in I lifestyle, its relationships, and in its passion to communicate the love of God for this broken world. It has been called the missionary arm of the Holy Trinity.

That said, such an awesome and transformational community is far too rare in most people’s experience. It is far too convenient to attend worship services and appreciate them, to be somewhat anonymous in the community, to support the institution financially, but hardly to sense our responsibility to the mission of God in the realistic vicissitudes of the “Monday morning world.” There’s a little limerick that says it well: They do it every Sunday, they’ll be over it on Monday. It’s only a habit they’ve acquired.

We desperately (that word deliberately chosen) need to regain a wholesome and transformational ecclesiology (study and understanding of the church). We need to find a few others, a thoughtful group in our church to pursue this calling, and to help and challenge to cast off mediocrity (lukewarm-ness?) and to pursue excellence in our mutual lives of obedience to the mission of Christ for his church, and not be drawn away by difficulties, false teachings, and pathological personalities.

Whenever a Christian community forgets, displaces, or dilutes Christ’s own purpose for the church, the church becomes mediocre, returns to just another human community, to acceptable ‘chaos’.

It is not surprising that this takes place so commonly in our church scene when even theological seminaries frequently have no required courses in ecclesiology or missiology, so that church leadership becomes complicit in the ecclesiastical chaos. I’ve struggled with this for a long time, especially in the ten years of my career when I sought to be an encourager to faculty and students in fifteen seminaries. Out of that I wrote a couple of books which could be a resource to those provoked by this blog: Enchanted Community: Journey Into the Mystery of the Church, and Refounding the Church from the Underside (both over my name: Robert Thornton Henderson). A third in this series deals with the spiritual conflict involved in the battle to maintain the church’s integrity: The Church and the Relentless Darkness.

To be continued … If these occasional blogs are helpful to you, then pass the word along to your friends.

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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