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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Monday, March 06, 2006
The Position Driven Church...
Truly, I wanted to find an image of a person riding a bicycle in the least effective way possible. Ideally, he would have been sitting on the handlebars facing backwards while peddling with one arm, steering with one leg, and using the other to ring the bell. He would have his helmet securely affixed to his free arm, which would otherwise hang limp at his side, and he would be dressed in a clown suit business suit. The best I could find however was this picture here, showing a bunch of ways not to ride a bike.

Sigh. I work with what I got.

It eats me up inside to see a church working in the flesh, and more so when that church is blissfully ignorant that such a thing is possible, and worse, that they are the poster child.

I am gifted pastorally - whatever that means. I suppose it means that I love to open my mouth and talk about God, and that when I do others like to listen. I think it means that I have a tender spot in my heart for God's people - a deep desire to see them know the Lord in a living, real way. Spending hours studying the word of God in preparing a message or study; or spending time in private instruction and discipling - these things are the bread and butter of my joy. When I minister in this capacity I am focused, driven and tireless. When I function in the body according the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given me - I do not have to generate the desire to do it - the desire is there already.

In the same way, if I function in a capacity for which I am not gifted, regardless of how proficient I might become at it, I am still only operating in the power of my own personality and in the power of my own strength. While a particularly talented person may "get the job done" he or she won't be driven from within to do it - the pressure he or she is answering is entirely external.

I call this the Position Driven Church.

Take for example the notion of Sunday school. It began in England around the year 1780, providing rudimentary instruction to (poor) children on the one day a week that they weren't working (yes, children worked back then). Employment of children in various industries at the time brought youth together of similar ages who after working together all week, would congregate on Sundays playing in alleys and wharfs and generally making a disturbance wherever they did.

Sunday schools were supplied as an answer to this weekly rowdiness, and originally taught polite behavior (civility, cleanliness, proper attire, etc.) to the youth of England, but by 1790 the idea had already taken off in the U.S.

In 1811, a Presbyterian minister (Robert May) opened a Sunday evening school to instruct religious doctrine, and unlike the various other Sunday schools - this one was free. By 1820, hundreds of similar Sunday Schools had been started, focusing teaching protestant doctrine to the underprivileged poor.

Somewhere along the way, I think it was about an hundred years ago or so, Sunday School stopped being about providing religious instruction to poor people, and turned into providing religious instruction for the children of Christians. Good or bad - this eventually evolved into what we have today. On the one extreme we have parents who imagine that it is the "church's" responsibility to have "Sunday School" - in order that their children do not grow up heathens. I can't say for sure, but it was probably about the same time that people stopped reading the whole bible, and started focusing on the NT, psalms and proverbs (which would explain why they are not familiar with Deuteronomy six).

Today, whether a church needs or even warrants a "Sunday school" service - they all must have one, because if they don't (God forbid!) then someone might forgo joining their church (gasp!) and find a church with a better baby sitting system. Frankly, and this disgusts me, but many people are more offended by the idea of having "noisy children" in the sanctuary than they are about putting their children into the hands of people who have never been called into the baby-sitting ministry.

I am reminded of that passage in the bible where the little ones came to Jesus, and He sent them away to be "ministered to" by Nathaniel because as it happened it was Nathaniel's turn to look after the child-care.

Okay, there is no passage like that - and for many good reasons, each of which would require its own post.

My point is not to demonstrate the extra-biblical nature of Sunday School, and how it no longer resembles its noble beginning, and furthermore how in most churches it is little more than a Christian flavored daycare (though I don't mind if you picked that up ... ), my point is that the modern church typically looks around to see what other modern churches are doing, and presses itself into whatever the mould du jour happens to be. If other churches have Sunday School, we should have Sunday School!

We no longer (did we ever) look at the gifts God has given a local body - rather we presume that our body has a gift to meet every need we presume to be there. If the church down the road has Sunday School, we must also have Sunday School, and so we open some positions, call for volunteers, and stand back in confusion when no one shows up, or when those who do are clearly doing so just because there is a position to fill and not because they are called to it.

Invariably among the volunteers that do offer themselves, many will be new Christians who need to be discipled themselves, many will be simply "filling the void" - that is, they won't want to do it, but will feel guilty that they are not doing anything at the moment and so will offer themselves out of guilt.

There is a fundamental error in creating positions to be filled; and correct me if I am wrong here - but it seems to me that the way it ought to work is that we look at what we have.

I am reminded of making model cars as a youth. I would buy a model, open it, and build the model that was in the box. It seems to me that the modern church opens up their box and begins to build a model Ferrari regardless of the fact that they have the pieces for a model T Ford. They announce all the pieces that are missing, then jam whoever shows up into them.

This is not the way to "do" church.
posted by Daniel @ 3:12 PM  
  • At 6:04 PM, March 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree Daniel. I think when Christians are in the Word, prayer, and seeking after God and spiritual growth, God will use them and the needs in their particular congregation will be filled. That should be the pastor's first concern.
    I think Sunday School is great - if the Bible is being taught. We always had Sunday School - for every age group - before church -and then joined our parents for the service. We learned how to sit still, amuse ourselves quietly(mom's hanky made a great dolly), practiced reading by singing the songs, learned harmony, were often included in the service in some way as well. There were 'sword drills' where we competed to find and read the scripture first - thus learning the Bible.

    Unfortunately many parents cater to their children's preferences, before they consider God's preferences. And of course they prefer to not to go through the effort of teaching 'sit still, be quiet, listen, stand up, sing...'
    It's much easier to send them off to Sunday School or Children's church, where they can run and wiggle and be amused. So of course even very small churches are afraid not to offer some kind of program during the service,(even for 4-5 children) because visitors won't return.

    It is also true that most of the children's programs offered are very high energy, so the older Christians that once would have 'taught' are not involved. That leaves 'high energy' younger Christians that obviously might be sincere but not have the wisdom or discernment necessary, and who should be in the service being taught themselves. (I also have known youth who were involved in Children's Church only because it was how they got out of attending church themselves).
    (Sorry this got rather long!)

  • At 8:22 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Jim said…


    Good post, I would like to see you do a more indepth study on this one possibly suggesting some alternatives to the status quo.

    We have become too complacent in the way we do 'church'. In the process of becoming relevant many modern churches are throwing out the foundation of scripture in preference of exciting and stimulating programs.

    We must get back to the purpose of the corporate gathering of the saints. If we don't seek reality, 'purpose driven' whatevers will continue to abound and flourish.

    In Christ,

  • At 12:35 AM, March 07, 2006, Blogger pilgrim said…

    We have Sunday School for all ages.
    I teach one of the classes.
    I think it is important to keep things on track biblically--we use excellent biblical material.
    And it is not babysitting.
    We are all in the sevice together-we used to also have "Junior Church" during the sermon, but have stopped that. We all learn together.
    There is a nirsery, but it is only for the youngest--and people are free to keep their children in the service no matter the age.

    We have made deliberate decisions for various reasons--among them the concerns you list.

    I have heard of churches where it does equate to babysitting, and we were concerned our "Junior Church" was such a thing.

    I enjoy us all being together for the whole service, and having flexible choices for Sunday School, with classes for the whole family.

  • At 12:05 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    You make a great point.
    I have often thought that people holding "positions" in church ministries hold them out of obligation (I know I have) and it is not healthy for them or the church.

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