In my opinion, the biggest treath to christianity we have today is individualism. This belief that so permeates the culture of the modern man, has long ago stretched it's influence to the church itself. And while individualism is loosing ground in this post-modern generation, it's still there.
Why is individualism so bad? Because it goes against the very nature of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is about a Christ-centered community. If everyone is thinking mostly in themselves, where is the community? Where is the family? In Jesus words, how can a house stand divided against itself? When everyone thinks in himself, there's no room for us.
In practice this reflects everywhere in christianity. Christians go to a meeting that they like the most, and not because that's the one Christ likes the most. It's more about what makes people feel better. They go to receive and not to give. They go to feel blessed and not to bless. They go to be served and not to serve. And in the end they live a self-centered christian life instead of a christ-centered christian life. And what is sad about this is: they don't even realize that.
And that's why the church is so divided in our days. Every doctrinal difference is used as an excuse to separate churches, to create denominations, as if this was the way to solve the problem (read 1 Cor. 1:10-12). As if there was any excuse to separate the body of Christ.
In this easter day, when we remember Christ sacrifice and ressurection, let us remember that the kingdom of God is all about crucifying ourselves, and let Christ be king in our lifes, as a community of believers. We must die to ourselves, so that Christ can shine through our lifes.
Alguns olham para a igreja dos tempos de hoje e querem ver uma reforma na igreja. E quando falam de reforma, pensam numa igreja onde a música é mais fixe, onde as artes são usadas liberalmente, uma igreja que se adapta à sociedade à sua volta. Uma igreja com um estilo adaptado à nova geração.
Embora todas essas coisas sejam interessantes ou até importantes, isso é apenas uma meia-reforma. Uma reforma que muda apenas a parte superficial da igreja. Estamos a aplicar uma maquilhagem e umas roupas novas, mas o âmago continua o mesmo.
Existem coisas mais importantes que também necessitam de reforma. Mais importantes porque todas as outras surgem daí. De que adianta mudar apenas o aspecto da igreja? É preciso ir mais fundo e mudar a verdadeira causa do problema: um cristianismo que tem cada vez menos a haver com Cristo. Um cristianismo individualista, consumista, egoísta, centrado em nós, que faz de Deus um servo nosso. Em que o que interessa é o que me faz sentir melhor.
A igreja precisa de uma reforma, mas mais do que trocar de roupas, a igreja precisa mudar de atitude. Em vez de nos focarmos no que Deus pode fazer por nós, devemos focar-nos no que nós podemos fazer pelo seu reino. A igreja precisa voltar a centrar-se em Cristo. Os seus membros precisam deixar o individualismo, as divisões mesquinhas, e unirem-se num mesmo propósito: Ser como Cristo e expandir o seu reino por toda a terra.
Marc just wrote an excelent article sumarizing my series of articles "When missionary organizations say jump". He did such a great job, that I had to mention it here. I mean, he just made my articles sound much better!
Once I read in this article a very funny answer to this question. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read since I wasn't expecting it. But then the best jokes are allways done just after you say something serious enough.
Well, what's a missionary? And you can forget about searching the bible for it: It's not in the lists of gifts and no one is called a missionary there. So, where do you go to find out what a missionary is? Well, you have to dig deep into the church tradition. Or maybe not so deep...
The concept of mission is understood everywhere in the modern church. A missionary is someone that goes to another country to plant a church. That's the basic concept. We call that embrionic church a mission. So, if missionaries are church planters, who planted churches in the early church? Well, that was the work of an apostle. So, reason would lead you to believe that missionary = apostle... But that's not exactly so.
The apostle was sent by a church. A missionary is sent by a missionary organization. The apostle supported himself financialy most of the time, the missionay is fully funded by the missionary organization. The apostle empowered people to follow Christ as a community, while the missionary most of the times creates a leadership that ministers to the "laity". The apostle left the church early in its development, even before there were leaders assigned, and so the community was given room to grow on their own. On the other hand, the missionary stays in the church until a leadership is fully developed, and in many cases, becomes the main pastor of the church.
I believe it's time to consider this differences. Why did the apostles plant churches that didin't need their presence to grow? And why do modern missionaries plant churches that depend on the "clergy" so much? Until we can answer this questions properly, we'll never be able to make a difference.
Já antes o tinha afirmado neste blog, e volto a afirmar: Os relacionamentos não são meios para atingir um fim.
Por vezes espanto-me que algumas pessoas pensem que me conseguem enganar tão facilmente. Pessoas que não me contactam há muito tempo, e que de repente lembram-se de mim, e que "por coincidência", precisam de algo de mim.
Os relacionamentos, ou são honestos, ou são manipulação. Tão simples quanto isso. As pessoas não são algo do qual nos servimos. As pessoas são seres que devemos amar, independentemente da utilidade que elas possam ter.
"Assim, acabo meu envolvimento com o mundo evangélico. Termino minha militância com o movimento ao qual me dediquei por mais de trinta anos. Estou desencantado. Chegou a hora de encerrar minha associação com esse imenso guarda-chuva que hoje abriga uma das religiosidades mais pernósticas da história. Não quero mais estar incluído no mesmo rol de pessoas que considero pilantras fardados de apóstolos. Tenho pena desses drag-queens culturais que se deslumbram com o imperialismo de um George W. Bush. Não consigo ouvir missionários que prometem milagres a granel."
update: Antes que haja algum mal entendido, isto não é um ataque ao movimento evangélico. Ser cristão para mim é título suficiente.
To end this interesting and grumpy series, I would like to speak about what should happen when everything works:
Joe gets vision, language knowledge, a correct basic understanding of the culture, spiritual preparation (some bible school may be part of it), financial support with no strings attached, and he goes to the place God showed him. When he gets there, he starts investing in people, being salt and light, creating relationships, integrating in culture, helping people in a genuine way. People start to embrace the kingdom of God, and a church is born.
The church grows (I'm not talking about numbers here), and becomes a real family, with everyone learning to follow Jesus in everyday life, discovering their gifts, practicing their gifts, ministering to each other. A real new testament kind of church. And then, the missionary becomes the full-time pastor of this church and creates a leadership to minister to the laity...
Well, if this was a podcast (audio article), in that last phrase you would listen to the vinil scratching. Wait a minute! The missionary becomes the leader? Creates a distinction between clergy and laity? The clergy ministers to people while they sit on their pews? Not in my Bible! And I would love to see anyone showing this happening in the new testament! Go ahead, give it a try.
When the church is planted, dear church planter, it's time to move on. It's time for that community to rise up and start walking on their own. If you did a fine job, the church will be just fine. A nice leadership will rise within the church, and they will be able to stand on it's own (keeping relationships with other churches, of course). If you fail to do so, even if you teached everyone to be a minister, they will see you as the special one, the leader above them. And that place belongs to Christ.
Do you want to know what happens to churches where the church planters stay as pastors? The church planter is seen as someone above, and people fail to minister one to another, they become dependent. That church will never be able to stand on its own, and they will have a crisis when the church planter retires/dies. Some people even call this kind of church planting colonialism.
Do the work, and then leave in proper time. That's the best gift you'll ever give them. One day, it will be time to go.
Estou um bocado farto de ver a porcaria a ser varrida para debaixo do tapete. As coisas que correm mal são abafadas, e não se fala mais nisso. Não se tratam os problemas, não se aprende com o passado, não se analisa o presente, e logo cometemos os mesmos erros do passado. E tudo em nome do perdão e do não julgar os outros.
Precisamos tomar uma atitude mais responsável. Algo correu mal? Então vamos descobrir porquê, e vamos fazer o necessário para que o erro não se repita. Se há coisas para tratar, vamos tratar em amor, e não numa atitude de julgamento. E se houver coisas a perdoar, vamos perdoar. Agora, esconder a porcaria, é que não dá. É que o lixo por baixo do tapete já é tanto, que temos dificuldade em andar em cima dele.
A rule I have learned with time is this: If you want to understand what kind of community a missionary will create, follow the money. Where does the money come from? What kind of churches or organizations are funding the mission?
Some people may say: No, if you want to know how the community will be like, you have to see the background of the missionary. Well, in my experience, as strange as it may sound, money speaks louder than the missionary tradition. If the missionary as a vision, and the ones funding have another, the missionary will be oscilating between the two, and end up being "convinced" or substituted.
Beware of money with strings attached, you may not like those strings. If some organization is sending you, they will tell you when to jump and how high, and you may not like the game. If for some reason the vision God gives you changes while you are in the mission field (and that will probably happen), you'll have no say on it. They will say jump and you'll have no option but to do it. And that will create great stress on you.
You want to have freedom in the way you plant churches? Get funded the opposite way. Discover where God wants to send you and what kind of church he wants you to plant, and then present the project to churches or people that might support you. And if it's not enough, get a job in the country you are going to. But do not accept money from people that will try to force their own vision on you. It's better to have to work in a secular job than to have to put up with the stress of pleasing people that don't have the same vision you do.
Why do you need this freedom? It's not so you can do your thing, it's so you can do what God really wants. Because you are the one in the field, you are the one that will start to understand what kind of strategy is needed. You are the one God will be dealing with. And you don't want to get to a position where you have two lords: God, and the missionary organization.