Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Key Paradigm Shifts

A number of years ago (1995) Sally Morgenthaler wrote a pivotable book called Worship Evangelism. The premise is that true Christian worship is a powerful tool of evangelism, contrary to the common perception that seekers services are the only way to mass-evangelize in the 21st century. I read it eagerly when it came out in the Nineties.

However she has written an article where she has done some backtracking because the result of the book has been that people have not done the harder work of evangelism (of being involved in the community, of sharing faith, of serving others) and have instead opted for the easier work of getting lost in the worship service. She says it this way: "When I wrote Worship Evangelism, I’d had no intention of distracting people from the world outside. I only wanted to give them another way of connecting to it. I certainly had never meant to make worship some slick formula for outreach, let alone the one formula. I’d only wanted to affirm that corporate worship has the capability to witness to the unchurched if we make it accessible and if we don’t gut it of its spiritual content on the way to making it culturally relevant."

At the end of this very good article she provides a list of KEY PARADIGM SHIFTS in the current church world that will help understand the context of what church looks like in our culture.


Church as a place you go, a destination point
Church as body of Christ released into the waiting world

Church produces programs for people to consume
People of God live out the gospel for people to see and experience

Worship as event: It all happens inside
Worship as whole life: Romans 12:1,2

Corporate worship as image management (Public worship becomes a carefully presented persona)
Corporate worship as reflection of reality (Public worship is an overflow of who we are the rest of the week)

Received spirituality: We believe because we were raised in a certain faith
Reflexive spirituality: We believe because we have encountered, wrestled with, and tested revealed truth

Organization as a machine with interchangeable, disposable parts
Organization as an organism: a living system where every member is vital. There is no superfluous membership.

Top-down structure; vision by edict
Flattened structure; leadership as influence, not power and authority

Closed Source—vision, ideas, resources, strategy come from CEO, leader, and staff
Open Source—the priesthood of all believers in action: vision collaboratively owned; grassroots innovation the norm

Micro-managed process
People-releasing process

Excellence = quality of performance
Excellence = level of engagement and transformation

© 2006 Sally Morgenthaler

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