Bono Church

I see a major shift in how my students see church and it isn’t in musical styles or starting little anti-church gatherings meeting in homes. The revolution they seek has more to do with Bono than Barna. It is to make a serving church. [MORE]


Scott Hendricks said...

In Ecclesiology we read Cardinal Avery Dulles' MODELS OF THE CHURCH book, and one of them was Church As Servant. He asserted that this could never be the primary model for the church, as a servant to society. What is interesting about his claim is that there are SOOOOO many people (including Charles Finney - i.e. Xianity=social reform; John Wesley too?) who think that it IS the job of the church to serve/CHANGE the world (train up a freshman in the way she should go, and when she graduates, she will not depart far from it - nudge, wink UNV180).

Ecclesiology is still a huge issue: What is the church, why does she exist, what is her mission?

I guess if all Christians are called to serve others free of charge, how can the whole church do any less?

nate richardson said...

Is this an indicator of anything for our future?

i really hope so. in the last few years i have seen the shift, i hope to see more of one. the church is the only organization that exists for those outside of it. one of the best ways to show people love is to serve in a selfless way.

one of the most read books the last couple years by young adults has been the irresistable revolution. and i hope it catches on with all generations. another book that most impacted me was "one being a servant of God" by warren wiersbe" which you had us read back in the day in intro.

The AJ Thomas said...

My reccomendation to your students would be to hold onto those church planting plans. Move into cities across the countries in groups, and start the churches in their plans.

Leading significant change in an established church is a noble calling but one that most "kids" today don't have a thick enough skin for. They would rather spend 20 hrs a week working at starbucks to make ends meet that being yelled at by board members and ministering to their church rather than with it.

The AJ Thomas said...

It seems to me that this attitude is perhaps the logical outworking of the reformation. We move from the priest as servant and the people as recipients to the people as servants and recipients and now to the people as servants and the world as recipients. The priesthood of all believers moves beyond our ability to come to God directly (which really is no priesthood at all) to us serving as a preist between God and His world. As though we were his representatives on earth, or maybe even His body. If the priesthood of all believers is about christians serving each other than all we have really done is expand the priesthood but we have not changed it. If we move from the elite priest serving the everyday Christians to the everyday Christians serving the world than we have made a real and meaningful shift. Of course what we always need to keep in mind as we serve that there are even greater than food and shelter.

Sandra Leigh said...

Something that I'm noticing in a few nondenominational "service focused" churches in my area is: service to others outside the church is the major focus, until about 8 years down the road and those young adults become 30-somethings with kids of their own and now all of a sudden the church leaders want amazing children & youth ministries to be the focus of the church (just like the church that "they" grew up in). I wonder...can the church plants that your students are designing do both? (focus on service minstries & program ministries)?

Michael R. Cline said...

I too fit in the mold of your students. But let me just be honest, it all seems so great at IWU. Our church plants seem so tangible. I hope this class proves me wrong, but I'd be willing to bet that those that do go into ministry will look for a full-time job (with salary) before they'll even consider being bi-vocational and working at a church like the very one's they "dream" of. To take a job full time at a different church is not evil, I'm simply making a guess. Prove me wrong guys!

Tony Myles said...

If this indicates our future...

then it sounds like we have a future after all.

::athada:: said...

You might want to tell your students to learn about bi-vocational ministry from the black church. Black pastors (in general) have a lot more experience in that realm (or so I was told at a conference last weekend).

Something that might get lost in the shuffle at IWU.

Anonymous said...

I have not necessarily read a "study" of this sort before *thanks for sharing your observations* but I feel the same impulse in my heart. I, too, hope this is the future of the church.

Right now I'm reading "Unchristian" another new Barna release... and the perception our generation has of Christianity is disheartening. We need to show the world something new, something better... a people who are not called inward but outward; a people committed to healing the hurts of the world wherever we find them.

John D. Howell said...

I just read an article you wrote and I wanted to respond to it. I have much respect for you and I have been reading your articles since I was a college student. However, in this article, I’m bothered and feel compelled to comment. I hope that I have missed the point that you are trying to make with this article, and if that’s the case, please delete this comment and write it off as, “Bitter - Party of One.”

You mentioned that one of the ways you are motivating your students is by having them create a church planting plan. I think it's nice that you have them create a church planting plan. I think that's a great exercise for them - it'll stretch their mind and it'll move the students towards thinking about how to strategically impact a city. It gives them the tools they need to build a successful business and create a synergy that will build a nice place for people to go and practice their Christianity in well organized events and planned outreach opportunities. But I don’t see how having your students spend hours on a church planting proposal is going to help them build a serving church.

The problem with a church planting proposal is that it is developed from concepts and ideas that the students already know and understand. It’s exciting to create these proposals, but it’s not going to create a serving church. Why? Because I would venture a guess that the majority of the students in your classes have never been involved in a serving church. They want it, then long for it, they’ve heard and possibly read about serving churches, but they’ve never been a part of one. In fact, I would even go one step further and say that if your students ever actually were a part of a serving church - they’d probably leave within 6 months because it won’t fit what they actually think it should be.

Instead of having them create a church planting proposal - why not have them create a plan that might have an impact on culture today? Why not have them create a plan that works towards social change instead of creating a plan that is just going to add to the millions of voices clamoring for attention in today's society? If they could turn those young, brilliant minds towards creating a service that is desperately needed in today’s society - maybe then they will begin to create a church that is worth going to.

The thing is - this kind of social change ministry works. Ever heard of the Salvation Army? They started out by serving others in the community. How about Compassion International? Think about the work that they’ve done. What about Tom’s Shoes? In case you’ve never heard about them - for every pair of shoes you buy from them - they GIVE AWAY a pair of shoes to children who need them!

Even most of our local churches are still today being impacted by a direct response to social change. What is it? Sunday School. Sunday School was originally started as a school for the poor. The concept of Sunday School was created in England around 1780 where churches began offering rudimentary instruction to working people on their free day. It is a far cry from Sunday School today - but that does not change the fact that it’s history is rooted in social change!

Imagine a church doing this today. With all the problems we have in society today - would those men and women from 1780 be content with a well-written plan to start a church? I don’t think so. I think they’d be out starting organizations that work towards solving society’s most pressing problems.

Maybe the best thing to do for these students when they graduate is to put these young and gifted individuals in a low-paying, high-school graduate level job. Surround them with bitter, angry, hurting people who hate everything that the church represents. Keep these future leaders out of the relative safety of the ministry and put them in a place where they have to fight for everything they believe in. Let them sit there for a couple of years and if they can come out of that situation with a love for people and a deeper passion for sharing the message of Christ at any cost with the lost, then give them the ball and let them change the church. Let them learn exactly what the world is desperate for and then have them create something that targets those specific things.

Cause that's what we need. We don't need anymore of our young leaders "pastorized" in the relative safety of the local church or in the “adventure” of a well-planned church plant the minute they graduate from the shelter of college life. We need them raw, hurting, bleeding, and desperate to do anything to show the world the love of Christ at whatever cost. We need them fully aware of what the world needs and hungry enough to make a difference about it.

My hope for the next generation and the generations to come is that they will be more interested in being the hands and feet of the body of Christ instead of just being the mouth. We've got enough mouth's around - what the church needs is people who are willing to step in and actually do some work, myself included.

Eric Roemer said...

I think this is a great assignment. I wish I had more times in class where I felt as if Idealism was being fostered and encouraged.

It is so great hear that God is putting the same calling and longing it so many young laborers at the same time. It makes me sad/frustrated that there are people with their own baggage that will attack and criticize the vision of those people that just want to do all the good they can do. I think that when we are allowed to believe that a perfect God has called us to a holy task, and when people stop getting in the way of it... we will see the kingdom built and grow in places that it has never been before.

"is this an indicator of anything in our future?" I think this is a wonderful indicator of our heritage that maybe we are ready to began to live out again.

This post and the comment above remind we have the words of one of the greatest theologian of our time,
"...Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again...

“And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For ... something something something???"

Thank you for helping to legs to some of your students dreams.

Alan said...

Mr. Howell's comment about building serving churches struck a chord with me.

As a graduate of Coach Drury's leadership class and a current Pastor, I feel led to defend my fellow students.

These kids do want serving churches. Their not as concerned with wages as some would believe.

I believe that they became engaged with the idea of church planting is because they see a void in many of today's churches.

How often are serving churches doing what they have been doing for the last 30 years and are not open to changing things up. The excuse that grandama and grandpa did it this way and it still works doesn't set well with us as students, pastors, (me) and future pastors. If the current system isn't going to change for the better of the community that God created, then what better way to open these kids eyes than to equip them to go out and create churches to make servants themselves.

Many of my classmates recognized this "servant" attitude as a result of the teachers at IWU.

These church plant programs will have had an impact already. I suspect that one or two students out of Drury's class will go out and plant a church. And not necessarily in the city. Could be a third world country, or maybe a place in the middle of a cornfield right here in good ol Indiana.

As for a plan for social change, that is done in another class that Coach D teaches... Local Church Ed.

We learn how to foster individual and corporate spiritual formation within the church.

I think when Wesley started his "classes" a few centuries ago, he was not only about God's community and serving, but also effecting change in the world as well.

Just a 42 year old student and Pastors thoughts

Alan Downing

John D. Howell said...

I've been out of traditional church leadership roles for a couple of years now on an extended sabbatical and I've come to the shocking realization that we as the leaders of the church are not doing nearly enough outside of the confines of the church. I used to be of the mindset that the church is the best way for God to work and after taking some time away from the ministry and working in some para-church ministries I'm realizing that maybe the church isn't always the best option.

I've also realized that even with the best of intentions, we sometimes unintentionally try to limit how God will work. My thoughts on my response was that there must be other options explored - whether it's in a Church Administration class or a Christian Education class. Not everyone in Keiths classes should be in the ministry - some of those students have the capabilities to create opportunities outside the church that can directly and dramatically impact the people in the church. So rather then limiting them to a church planting proposal - open it up to something that they might truly be passionate about.

Baggage? Yeah - I've got some baggage. That baggage is what makes me passionate about what I believe, desperate to reach out to others who are hurting, and authentic enough that people are willing to build a relationship with me. It's just understanding that God can use my baggage to bring about His desires in my life, that's what I find so amazing! I would think that just about everyone has some baggage - if you don't - go get some!

As far as obscure quotes from dead theologians and musicians (It's Bob Dylan BTW - and I'm sure he's wishing he had made some different choices in his life right now) - Those are nice if you're going to be living in the past - but they don't cut it when you've got children and families being torn apart and lost and lonely people within the shadow of your church steeple.

Oh, and for what its worth - I'm ordained in the Wesleyan Church and a third-generation Wesleyan. I attended both Indiana Wesleyan University and Oklahoma Wesleyan University - as did both my parents. I've served as a Youth Pastor and a Senior Pastor. I've worked with new church plants and I've closed dead churches down. I'm passionate about church planting and everything to do with church. I'm working weekly and often times daily with churches and para-church organizations helping them learn how to use technology in their ministries. Lastly, I've been a virtual student/follower of Keith's teachings and writings off and on since 1994-5.

So, I'm looking at the church with much of the same training and instruction that the few who have personally written me nasty-grams are looking at it from. I'm just seeing a greater need in the church then new church plants. I believe that comes from being able to willingly and intentionally step away from full-time ministry and gain some perspective.

Maybe some of you who are so confident that the church is the only answer should try stepping away from full-time ministry and getting involved with a para-church ministry. You never know what God might want to teach you through that experience!

Keith Drury said...

Thanks for the good comments...and it is only friday still...

SCOTT: Yes... well put ...ecclesiology is where we need LOTS of work among Protestants

NATE: It is a hopeful sign I think.

AJ; Ironically very few actually plan to plant a church... they see a serving church an easier revolution to bring about in an established church than the boomer revolutions were. Most want to go into an established church--that is another change I've seen.

SANDRA: You have described well the shift occurring from young adulthood to middle adulthood--the 'service" the church provides to my own kids gets more important when you have them ;-)

MIKE CLINE: see comment to AJ above.

TONY: It is encouraging I think.

ADAM: You bet--the "black church" has that down pat!

OHIO: I've wondered for some time that all the talk about the "generations" actually is often merely God nudging the church a new way--and the emerging generations often hear that most clearly in their 20's--while the rest of us keep on doing what we heard in our 20's. Good point.

JOHN: Gee, that speech sounds about like the basis of all 7 of these plans! that's exactly what they did..interesting.

ERIC: Yeah... though I must admit that I 'forced" the church planting plan... I'm not sure if the assignment was more open if church planting would have been the first choice of many--as I said above to AJ.

ALAN: a good eye-witness report on the assignment... of course the assignment actually is not about church planting (there is another course on that) but about administration... getting students to see how much administration goes into a thing like a romantic church plant... but you know and remembered that... though readers not graduating from the class might miss it...

JOHN#2: You are right that many will not be in the church... indeed (according to my estimate) HALF will never even reach the church... and half of those who do will not make it more than five years. (See earlier column on that this fall)

Randy said...

Fascinated by this discussion, raised in the Wesleyan Church, a bit (or alot) stodgy with regard to what I perceive as fad-addiction commensurate with today's culture, fearful I will miss the heartbeat going on here, not wanting to do that.

It does seem true that we can so easily miss the question of being that Scott raises. But I am loathe to critique what Keith so well describes. I could learn by being around students with this kind of heart. Thankfully I do know some that way and they help me a great deal. John's comments, I think, are well-considered. And the old mantra comes to mind and applies in every facet of this discussion: "Keep doing what you've always done and you'll get what you've always got." Says to me that its not all wrapped up in the doing but in attention to the inward life, from which will flow the rivers that change me, my neighbor, and the world. Which brings me to my sense that our inner life as a church is so poorly fed that we really have little to offer the world. Thus, all the doing from any angle and within any church is problematic without adequate return to life-change.
Carmudgeon, stick in the mud, cynic? I pray not.
I do want to listen to God on 'my own front porch'. Gotta get that plank our of my eye. James might say a little bit of doing would fix a whole lot of being. May be.

Chap said...

Okay, I've lurked in here to long and this subject actually caused me to enter the fray.

I to see this "serving church" generation moving up the pipeline. Here are my observations...

1. I don't see this generation unlike any of the others before who want to do church differently than their predecessors.

2. They are naive and idealistic, but hey that's okay you should be in your early 20's.

3. We've had serving churches for years--they're most often para church ministries like Pregnancy Resource Centers, Salvation Armies, etc... IMO this is the only good model that will effectively "target" people groups like the homeless or single moms.

4. It's interesting to me that when the epistles talk about "loving one another, serving one another" it's in the context of existing "church" relationships. Yet, these are the verses that many in this generation cite as the motivation for serving others outside the church.

The difficulty in "running a church" is that the church is a holistic, intergenerational endeavor. It must reach the concentric circles that exist within it from birth to death AND reach out to those lost outside the church walls.

The great difficulty and challenge of the great commission and the great commandment is to hold them in tension with one another.

As a local church pastor this often comes down to the nitty gritty of determining yearly budgets and the allocation of resources, or whether to go ahead with a proposed building expansion.

My only prayer is that this new generation will "stick with it" and move through their naive' yet noble notions about the church to loving the church, warts and all.

Crossway Community Church said...

Yeah. They are dreamers. I hope that you didn't let them get away with just making a nice statement...because they are going to have to find enough people to serve the world, and enough money, and if they end up with a church full of single mothers, they are going to need help long after the district pulls out.

Also, no one has warned them about what working bi-vocationally is really like. It's like never having your own life. And no job that you can get with a CM degree out in the world will come close to paying off your school debt, so I hope their spouses get VERY good paying jobs.

But, I think you should let them dream. Joseph was a dreamer. Walt Disney was a dreamer. Just please don't make them wake up in a way that they doubt their call and fall away from ministry all together.

Anonymous said...

Oh John- but Bob Dylan still lives!