Tuesday, 2 October 2012

All Saints Word - Functional Structures

    Functional Structures. "Organisational and leadership structures which enable all of the above to happen rather than obstruct it! Structures which are flexible enough to change when necessary."  #8/8 Qualities of Healthy Growing Churches
What is this Quality?
Read Exodus 18:13-27, Mark 2:18-22 
In Exodus 18 the scenario makes us ask; if every complaint has to go through Moses – who will be listening to God? Who will be leading the people to the promised land? It's a recipe for disaster. Moses father in law says “Get a functional structure” - use empowering leadership – gift oriented ministry – etc. If its not working – fix it.
How is it shown in Jesus?
Jesus: “New wine into new wine skins” Mark 2
Jesus honoured the law: “not one jot or tittle” would be written off.
But Jesus would not comply with the status quo interpretation of the law. His disciples ate grain on the sabbath, why? Because they were hungry. His disciples ate and drank with sinners. Why? Because they needed to call sinners to repentance. He healed on the sabbath. Why? Because the man's arm was withered and the kingdom would not stand aside. The old wineskin of “the law” was not wrong, just inadequate to contain what God was doing “now”.
The “structure” was OK for the old covenant, the old age. Righteousness rewarded. Sinfulness punished. It was clear and simple. You knew where you were. Rich? You must have been good. Suffering – you must have done something wrong. It's the old wineskin.

But the new wine says “forgiveness”, “redemption”, “renewal of mind”, “cleansed”. It goes from lame to walking, from blind to seeing, from deaf to hearing. It allows people to break out of the stranglehold of sin and begin again. It is like new wine – still fermenting, bubbling with life, growing, maturing, reacting, fizzing – the old structures can't cope with it. Bang! Temple sacrifice is redundant when the Lamb of God appears. Who needs Sabbath observance when Jesus says “I will give you rest”. Who needs the temple's holy stones when Jesus makes us “living stones”.
How is it shown in NT Church?
The church was “aided” by persecution – the diaspora spread the infection of the gospel throughout the known world. It went ahead of the structures. “We must elect someone to replace Judas” to cope with these 120 perhaps? - bang!  3000 in a day! We must tell them to behave like Jews – bang! Gentiles are speaking in tongues. Ever spent a day building an elaboate waterworks on the beach only to find that the stream bipasses you and finds a better way to the sea- or the tide sweeps in and laughs?
Paul and the council at Jerusalem. Like sandbags against the tide. The church and the judaisers. Like herding cats. The Roman empire and the army of martyrs – like trying to hold sand. And later – the corrupt Christendom can't hold back the reformers zeal. The dour puritans can't contain the Anglo Catholic revival. The Church of England can't quench Methodism. The stolid evangelicals and dead formal religionists can't squash the charismatic revivals.
But we have tried – and tried – and tried again.
We want it to stay the same! We like “old”. We like power! Thank God we failed!

How is it shown in our Church?
What “old wineskins” do we have that are stifling healthy growth?
Exclusive rules for a Church wedding? Gift of Grace denied on grounds of age, race, sex, intelligence?.
Baptism welcome -  superstitions, new birth obscured.
Things need PCC approval? Licensing/Ordination? Time-serving? Exclusive Teams?
Paper based systems? Technophobia?
Giving our “change”? Generosilty stifled.
What are our non-functioning structures? What are yours?
If its broke - fix it!

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