A Life More Ordinary?

Darby has birthed so many. Mclaren comes from Darby. I come from Darby and johnston does too. for such a small church association the impact of Darby and the brethren on Western Christendom is astounding. It could be he was on to something. I think it's time for me to research and read Darby.

Anyway, this post is about defining your Christian vocation by who you are not by your job. Pastors pastor, evangelists evangelize, even if they change tires for a paycheck and not because they took classes for a couple years. This isn't earth shattering in itself, but the blogger considers the benefit of tentmaking to the church.

"That aside, pre-determined categories of leadership bestowed upon individuals may be part of the historical tradition of church, but are they worth perpetuating simply to uphold a tradition and to anchor us within an historical framework? If my friend Pete Rollins is correct in his thoughts that through time science evolves and religion degenerates, then the moment a ‘pastor’ became recognized as a pastor because an institution so ordained it and paid him as such, rather than because he was ‘pastoring’, was indeed a degenerative moment.

As an example of what I’m getting at here, I am no longer a ‘pastor’ because whilst still on the Baptist Union of GB’s books, I do not pastor people any longer. However, that does not prevent me from adopting a missional posture in my current vocation or living as a disciple of Christ. Those who minister are ministers, those who evangelise are evangelists, those who pastor are pastors, and those who weld are welders. Job contracts or pay cheques have little or nothing to do with it.

I am by no means a ‘restorationist’ who believes that everything should revert back to the way things were done in the NT as though somehow it was perfect and we can actually just hit ‘reset’. As an aside, I’m coming to realize that the only two trans-cultural facets from the life and practice of Jesus and subsequent early church praxis, are servanthood and forgiveness. That however, should not deter us from listening to the voice of Paul as he attempts to lay good and inspired foundations upon which we too might practice...

What of our situation? As I’ve written of before, Christendom’s funds are drying up, leadership credibility is thinning out in the church, and there is, in general, a suspicion of organized authority (nb., however there is not a suspicion of leadership). We stand at a crossroads in the church as to the nature of our leadership. I do think it might be a cross-roads of opportunity though. Fortunately, many are debugged of the sacred/secular divide and understand the redemption of Christ as overlaying their entire reality. This makes the move from ‘ministry’ to ‘marketplace’ only a semantic move (note to readers, bin the use of the language of ‘ministry’ – it’s just not very helpful these days). Offices, factories and classrooms are the places for Spirited living. Church positions can be frequently too fraught with politics, fundraising (or worrying about funding), pandering, maintaining buildings, planning services, and spiritless strategizing over and against being ‘out there’ and working for the redemption of the world from within.

Speaking from my own narrative, I do miss the time to sit in coffee shops imagining, traveling to be part of various events, getting time to read endless thoughts from endless theologians and practitioners, hearing out people and their traumas; but on the other hand, not being beholden to supporters is liberating to say the least. There’s less potential for damage when you aren’t expected to hold up an entire community and single-handedly lead them. There is more scope for evolution and growth of the Church when disempowering leaders (be they conscious of their disempowering or not) are not in position. This is not to say that all considering ordination should bin the idea, but if more than a little of your time is taken up with worrying about raising support for example, then you might consider a Pauline ‘you know yourselves that these hands of mine have supplied my needs and the needs of my friends’ approach. It is to some extent natural that I arrive here having largely been nurtured in the Brethren. Founded by J.N.Darby who handed in his curacy in protest at converts being forced to swear allegiance to George IV as the King of Ireland, he and companions henceforth recommended converts busy themselves in the marketplace with frequent gatherings around common meals and in particular the breaking of bread."

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