Monday, October 03, 2005

Whos DNA

Who’s DNA?

If one does a little search of many of the Emergent Churches it won’t be long before you come across the little catch phrase “Our DNA”. This seems to be a way of explaining where they came from. They will sometimes go into a quasidenominational explanation or just say what is the bottom line of what this local church is about.

Some “good” examples would be Connection Church
Another example of this would be St Combs Community Church

Now the real question as I develop a new fellowship is Who’s DNA am I spreading?

I was told at one point by a pastor at a very large church here in Billings “IF we plant a church, it will have OUR DNA in it.” At first I thought, of course, that is how it should be. Now I think much differently.

Let me say this, there is only One who’s DNA we should be concerned with and that is the Holy Spirit. If we are concerned that our church model, or our understanding of what a church is, is what is most important then we are missing out on what the Holy Spirit is trying to accomplish. As an emergent thinker, I desire to keep pure the essence of God who I often refer to as The Real. I think we miss the boat to say that our model or our thinking is only what we will be part of and support. Granted I am not talking about heresy or abusive authoritarian thinking, but rather God planting a vision in a man to start a fellowship by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is what Paul did in Acts. His vision was God’s vision and Paul let Jesus do His works through him to accomplish God’s will and purpose.

It seems, to say we will only spread our DNA is to fall into the trapping of modernism. To only think God can and should be expressed in the way WE see fit.

I was looking for people to support me in this new fellowship in Billings and was recommended to The Acts29 Network I checked them out and they seemed to be a fine organization… and I am sure they are. The issue came up, as I am not a Calvinist. I have some Calvinist leanings but as a system of theology I see it is too limiting of God. In fact I see it as too over simplified. I was told I needed to study it more as was told I could not hold both that man has free will and be elect. I thought that was a bit narrow thinking. I was then told, “ I don’t think you and your vision would be a right fit as we desire to spread our DNA.” That was one of the first times I heard that phrase. Again, who’s vision and works and ministry are we spreading… who's DNA is most important? Paul could have only reached out to the rich and powerful and to a degree in his travels and adventure to Rome he was attempting that very thing. Yet, at the same time many of the churches Paul started had the poorest people in them, and they are the ones who supported Paul and the other churches the most. So if we see only one “target group” that WE want to spread our DNA to, we miss out on the blessings of those who are different and can also bless us in ways we might not have realized.

The bottom line is this; we must be more concerned with God’s purpose, and will and vision then our own. We can be hurting the cause and find ourselves doing what we see the modern church is doing as we create environments of isolationism and exclusivism.
We must not set ourselves apart for our purpose, but for God’s purpose. We must not exclude those who think differently as they are as worthy of heaven as anyone of us is.

Doctrines and theology are great, yet let us not let those stand between someone and Jesus. I am not saying through them out, just be more flexible and try to see what God is doing. If you read scripture Jesus blew the religious leaders away often by breaking the pharisaical law. This is what enraged them in their self-righteousness. Beware that we do not fall into that.



leviathen said...

killer post bro!

I whole-heartedly agree. The DNA Theory has come up so many times for me. Its great that people want to bring people up under them that have a similar view. but......

it seems to me to be a bit selfish. someone so wrapped up in their way of doing things that they cannot see the enjoyment in others doing just as well in a different way.

great way of putting it.


John F. said...

Nice I love the way you put it. I think if you are totally afixed on him that is all that should be left is he's DNA. If you are leaving your DNA than I think you are not loving God with all your heart mind and strenth. I could be wrong but just my thoughts.

Steve S. said...

The sentiments are great Iggy, its the practical working out of this position that show its health...

...I would whole-heartedly concur with what you state; "let me say this, there is only One who’s DNA we should be concerned with and that is the Holy Spirit." (Although I have to dispute the statement, "fall into the trapping of modernism." As Willard refers to it, the "vessel trap" is a human phenomenon found in modernity, in antiquity, and, as you are repudiating it, in postmodernity.)* This is hopefully the fervent desire of all, the question that divides is simply put: What is the DNA of God?

I would be the first to line up behind you (and Augustine) in the cause of "unity in the essentials and charity in the nonessentials," but the question is what is essential and what is not.

The language you use could quite easily lead someone to support your obvious emphasis on the Gospel over choice of worship music, ministerial garb, or other equally silly sources of argument; yet it could also cause one to question your unwillingness to challenge those who deny the teaching of Jesus or His church. (This would depend on which you mean, for those of us who have yet to become familiar with your postings; I am a friend of Levi's by the way and am here by way of the link on his blog.)

I personally believe that the finer points of calvinist theology is a silly reason to divide a church or an organization. Yet, there are very solid reasons for "agreably disagreeing," on certain issues. It begs the question, which are the hills you would die on?

Upon reflection, I can also see reason for standing firm on issues that I would not necessarily die for. To make this practical...

...I would die on the hills of the authority of scripture, the apostle's creed, the trinity (perhaps this list is not exhaustive, or in order of importance)... I would not die on the hill of the operation of spiritual gifts (as I understand it), however this would be a a sticky point for a community of christ-followers to be on different pages about. Stating that "I can only give my name to people who are willing to take with it my DNA," is to me another way of saying, "I cannot stand up and give my endorsement to people who do not live in ways that I believe are in accordance with God." ...and this does not exclude an individual from following that statement with, "...however, I fully concede the possibility that I am wrong on this point."

I think it simply boils down to this: if I were to agree with your statement, "Doctrines and theology are great, yet let us not let those stand between someone and Jesus," I would have to know just what you meant by "doctrines and theology," "Jesus," and what you mean by "someone and Jesus" coming together. In short...

...I would have to know your DNA...

Steve S. said...

* modern church

...are you using this term to mean "bad church?"

I would have a hard time swallowing the assertion that all churches with modern worldviews, or with modern worship gatherings, or with modern methods, etc. are "creating environments of isolationism and exclusivism."

(Again, I haven't read any of your posts before, I lack context for your asides)

iggy said...

thanks for your comments!

Thanks for you questions. I will not be able to answer them but I hope I can help add to my thoughts to make them clearer.

1.I say, “fall into the trappings of modernism” as when one claims that their way is the only way. Our doctrine is the only doctrine. It often expresses in a hidden humanistic approach, as “we will only plant a church with OUR DNA”. Explore that a bit and discover the hidden statement within the sentence. I can’t remember the big word for this at the moment. Yet, we miss what is most important. In a way one can say “our DNA” and have it reflect the values that God has given to THAT fellowship. Yet, one can then over look that those values may not be the core of the Planted fellowship as the needs and values of the people who attend are different. To say “OUR DNA” to me implies that our system or values or whatever are the main ones and you must follow our system, value, or whatever. I believe that God gives vision and in a way this vision should be our DNA. Often this is stifled by denomination, and the success of other church plants. I am not saying that one should disregard advise or study other views and ideas, only that as God gives vision one needs to stay true to that for TRUE SUCCESS often not measured in the same way a program orient Church would.

2.I am for allowing people to explore their faith and seek God in ways that allow for a relationship with Him. Often we quibble over such none issues. I am not saying anything goes. Believe me I have been on the receiving end of those who believe they need to set me straight in my belief, yet as I look at their life I see a sad and weak relationship with God, most often based on performance and not Love. I stand against those who without realizing have kept others faith from growing. No one has perfect doctrine. Doctrine does not save us, only Jesus does. So often we replace the Holy Spirit with Doctrine. We worship the bible and not the LIVING WORD Who is Jesus.

3.I have good friends who are Calvinist and many who are Armenians… I am neither of those. Yet, both of those systems of doctrine are exclusive and designed to refute each other. I consider that as cancelling them selves out. I agree that some doctrines as the Deity of Jesus and Salvation by Grace are to me the most important. I will not fight over whether the communion bread and wine turn into the literal body and blood of Christ or if we should use real wine or grape juice. Or that Jesus never endorsed wine, nor drank it… or that we should not use instruments in worship or not. (Which to me is a sad misunderstanding of what worship really is). Or that it is a sin to miss a service or to not attend church ever time the doors are open. Liturgy or not? Such are doctrines of men.

4. The bottom line is that as a child of God I have God’s DNA. As I press into His heart I receive His vision and purpose for me. I see that “modern” and even some so-called “emergent” churches deny the Holy Spirit to move, as He desires. Do we as leadership trust our own ways? Or do we trust the Holy Spirit that dwells in all believers.

5. Steve I use Modern as a distinction of an age of time that has come to a close. Modern is not bad nor is it good. It can be both.

The distinction is like this. The approach to biblical studies as an example.

Modern approach: Take a frog. Dissect it, cut out the organs, attach electrodes and see the frog legs jump. Take notes and claim to know and understand a frog.

Emergent approach: I am a ten year old and frogs are cool. They are fun and they jump and I chase them with an abandon.

A frog to a scientist is dead and just parts. To a ten year old a frog has life and jumps and gives the desire to chase and follow it.

Both have their place, yet one exemplifies how one show desire to pursue God.
If you go to many mega churches on can be more alone there then anywhere else. Many churches make it very hard to “get involved” until one does all the classes and is approved by someone in the leadership. Often this excludes people from being able to do what God is calling them to do.
Another example was in an article on The letter was from a young girl who was once in a ministry that was really helping the homeless. Her letter went on to say that she had to drop doing that because she was too busy doing ministry at her church.

Again, it is not about good or bad but about values and priorities.


Steve S. said...

thanx for the reply,

"we trust the Holy Spirit that dwells in all believers"

"wherever two or more are together, my presence will be among you"

aren't these some of the most exciting phrases!

I love Lewis' assertion of the body of Christ in its entirety (the worldwide, past, present, and future Church) being the proper "apparatus" for discerning the heart and will of our Father!

Our lenses are always so narrow. (I'm pomo, modern, evangelical, charismatic, etc., etc.) How boring if the body of Christ were all an eye! (I think I read that somewhere...)

I am always so enriched by a simple visit to a mass, or a story from the third world (I just finished reading an author who refers to it as the two-thirds world, but thats for another time), or a "word" from a pentacostal brother or sister.

...I am reminded of a recent event:

I was praying with a group of people, one of whom happens to greatly annoy me (at least lately). I began to pray for unity with this person, and then thought of the phrase, "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit," which makes the point that we are already united, we must simply maintain it.

It was then that I remembered the passage directly preceding this one...

..isn't it amazing how many of my "problems," and "issues," (I won't call them... sins) simply dissapear with the least bit of humility that enters my heart.

My we always know the blessing of humility, and the unity with others that this allows us!

iggy said...

Amen.... smile

Eric St.Clair said...

Well said. I hear echos of Bonhoeffer. To me that is a good thing.

Rick said...

i hear in "DNA" the whole "how are we made?" question. as a church body, how we started or how we approached things first will determine how we move on from here. or in the conversation about older churches changing, it's about changing the existing make-up, the DNA, in order to make the new direction natural somehow.

or i hear that the people before me have built into my life, and i'll move on in their DNA, working it out in my own personal vision, etc.

good stuff, thoughts on your end, too. thanks for posting that.

iggy said...

I agree with what you see, the issue to me is how much "we" and how much "HE". To cut off ones vision and calling by choking it with man made ideals, is blocking God's will, to me.

Thanks and blessed,