Thursday, 28 September 2006

Recharge ~ Elective... McChurch

Last elective, seems like this blog is going to be overflowing with Recharge charged material. This is actually providing a really good release for all the stuff I’ve been thinking about from the weekend.

McChurch – ahhh it was the name of the elective that drew me in. After going to Bel’s first elective I’d decided to skip this one, in fact I was going to skip the 4th elective session all together, and just hang out with some mates who I only get to see a couple of times a year. In the end though I was walking with Jono and he had decided to go to McChurch. (Sidenote: My friend who broke his neck, suppose to never walk again, has been out of hospital a week and came up to Recharge for the whole weekend. It was great to see him getting around almost normally. Still so much healing to happen though. I was able to spend a lot of time with Jono and I enjoyed every moment of it – end Sidenote)

So in the process of just walking with a mate I ended up at the elective anyway.

Should all Christians operate & look the same? Is it possible to have a church that offers a real experience that suits the community, or must every service be pre-packaged? Is Christianity just a franchise – like Maccas, convenient & easy, rather than healthy? Discuss how “McChurch” might actually be keeping people OUT of the Kingdom of God, in contrast to the lengths Jesus was willing to go to in order to get them IN!

Great topic, so much potential for great discussion on how the Church really is meant to function, and how we do things wrong in the West; however I really felt the way the elective was done it failed to deliver.

Again a good story, a travel story about trying to find a lookout in Indonesia, in the pitch dark, to watch an amazing sunrise. Not having a clue where they were going there was much pain, fear and eventually help from a local man and his horse. Eventually they found their way to this lookout just as the sun came up. As they got to the lookout she sees a tour group arrive, driven by bus and shuffled out to the lookout to witness the sunrise.

How pre-packaged and boring is the tour group idea! I know I would have preferred to be in Bel’s shoes and even though it wasn’t the easiest way to find the lookout, she got to experience so much more, and interact with the local community.

Is that what the church has become? A pre-packaged deal where people know what they are going to get, they can turn up sit for an hour then leave. Or in most cases, know what the package is so not bother turning up at all.

Does that church then pre-package itself and go off on a mission field, and expect people of a totally different culture to accept the Gospel on the pre-packaged terms. Do they even think that your standard Aussie will be drawn in by the McChurch? (Sidenote again: That’s almost a mute point, what is a ‘standard’ Australian! So much multi-cultureism there’s about as much cultural differences in different parts of Sydney than there is going to Africa! – end sidenote).

That’s about where the elective ended it’s prepared speech – after that there were more promos for Global Interaction with a DVD about work going on in Kazakhstan. I found their DVD very ‘Getaway’ and not really showing what the organisation were doing in the country.

The open discussion at the end started churning up some good stuff. We outlined that there was a pre-packaged church, and that wasn’t totally Biblical. She mentioned we need to find a different way of doing things so we meet people where they are already at (the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman), but she didn’t really give any ideas on how to do that. And also how the McChurch can involve itself in getting into the communities around it.

My personal beliefs are that McChurch needs to change… is Whitehill a McChurch?? I think it’s been trying to break away from the pre-packaged stuff, but there’s more to do. However larger developed churches need not sell their land and become emergent, there is still a place for the traditional church, but it needs to be community service based. It’s another personal thing, but I hate programs, rosters and planning meetings, I think they develop this pre-packaged McChurchiness which I find so bland.

Anyway back to the elective discussions. A friend of mine (who just happens to be the director of WEC Australia) opened the discussion about asking what role the McChurch had in this scheme of things. He was playing a little ‘devils advocate’ sounding like a pro-McChurcher and there were a couple of ‘emergents’ in the crowd and they bit.

There was much discussion about how the church should be relationship based, how it should be community centred and that they need to be visible. But through all of it no one mentioned how the large established churches could continue to be involved in Gods work.

I love the emergent church idea, but I find it hard to accept when they are so condescending of the established church. The people in this elective that bit to my mates comment were very anti established and pro emergent.

I missed the part where my friend answered his own question (we left when the time came for the main meeting to start), but someone told me later that he explained how WEC works with its church planting.

Working with the established church to grab support to go into a unreached community. The people who feel the call move in, live with, establish relationships and join the community they want to reach, all the time with the support of established churches in the area. This allows for shared resources, a sending base as more people become in tune with the new outreach and a fellowship with the greater body of Christ. I’ve personally seen this at work in The Gambia, as the Evangelical Church of the Gambia (ECG) works with WEC to plant churches in different villages. WEC missionaries live in the communities, but it is also through ECG that the church is established.

I don’t think that people in that elective realised that the director of WEC ( a church planting organisation) was amongst them. He never said exactly who he was, and never mentioned WEC (which is pretty humble I think), but he did explain a good Biblical plan for planting churches in new communities, being culturally sensitive, meeting needs and spreading the Gospel.


Anonymous said...

Good reviews Deano. Always helpful to read the perspective that the punters had of the electives. It's good that you can still be regurgitating it all a few days later. In a throwaway world you are retaining information that is useful to you.
Keep blogging.
The Car Park Dude

g said...


I hope I did your stories and explainations justice.

Twas a tiring weekend, and soaking in info was not as easy as usual :-)

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'm cool with what you wrote. What I said and what was taken from it is always on a sliding scale between thes peaker and the hearer. Sometimes the speaker doesn't communicate effectively enough.
My brief summary of both electives:
God Of The Car Park - our luxurient lifestyles sometimes reduce us to treating God as a Genie to add more fine detail to our already priviliged lifestyles [hence the car park analogy] We believe theologically that He is interested in every detail of our lives - but we can overstep the mark and turn Him into a Genie. Challenge: think bigger, pray bigger, and next time you can't find a car park at Chermy, walk -and spend the extra time between parking and spending by thanking God for your: car, money, shops etc. He can give you more than a car park.

Christocentricity: really basic - at various times the primary emphasis of our Christian activity can have little to do with Jesus. Often our theology is shaped by philosophies/agenda's/theologies that are not Christ centered.
Happy blogging

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was searching for a friend's blog and came across your's. Don't know who you are but I'm Chloe. I was part of the organising committee for Recharge this year. Great to read that you enjoyed it!!

g said...

Thanks Chloe (haha i love that name) for ur comment...

how'd u come across this blog??

twas a good weekend, i know a few of the people on the committee - so if you ask Peachy or Derrick who Deano is they'll know.


Anonymous said...

Hi Deano,
I really did just stumble across you're blog. I was looking for a friends blog and knew that she had blogged about Recharge but I couldn't remember the address of her blog so I searched for Recharge and came across your's.

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