I have on my office wall a frame surrounding gorgeous butterflies. I purchased them in the store of a Butterfly Conservatory where these wonderful little insects fly around, settle on your shoulder and light upon fruit and sugar-water containers left out within the tropic-like glass-in confines of the conservatory.
In the Modern Age, humankind thought it could fix everything and understand everything. Education, production and good economies — that’s what was needed. We just need to dismantle something, examine its pieces and parts, see how it works. Then, put it together again – et voila! Marvellous!
This ‘can do’ and must-know spirit was part of our life in churches and in church ministry, too. Pastors went and got their D.Min. so they could better understand how to ‘manage’ the church, often borrowing from the leadership and management principles of the times. Not all of this was wrong, for all truth is God’s truth, but some aspects of this attitude were harmful, as Jesus warned they would be, and taught His apprentice-followers to lead differently.
In the Modern age, we thought in terms of static, solid state components. Something was broken, something was missing – we fixed it, replaced it, introduced it, dissembled and reassembled parts. But sometimes there was no inner spark, no flame, no current – nothing to make it run again. The clock ran down, we put it together but it still won’t run. Now, in church life and in a lot of other areas of thought and practice in the Western World and her churches, some of the seemingly right actions in leadership, management, ecomic praxis and educational prowess, no longer work. So, what to do?
We realize that life (including church life) may be more organic, that it is something alive, growing, and reproducing (if it is not sick). (Doesn’t St. Paul say this somewhere?) If the Body is diseased, shrivelled, immobile and lacking in fruitful pursuits, how can it be healthy, active, moving in all of its functions once more?
The church body grows like the human body and reproduces naturally and normally, as a result of a love relationship with God. We will need to discover or rediscover, also, and begin to use and strengthen missional minds and muscles we thought we didn’t need ‘at home.’ They atrophied; the synapses did not spark. We were glad some had them – such abilities, thoughts and passions – but we sent them overseas. Mission work was primarily overseas.
Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Just so. There are things in life that cannot be merely reasoned out, measured out, disected and systematized in order to be understood. There are insights, discoveries, a life of the heart, mind, senses and spirit, taught and enlived by God’s Word and Spirit, to which also, and primarily, we must give our attention.
The Modern Age led people to organize, and analyze. My office butterflies in all of their beauty and in the midst of their life were chloroform-killed in order that they might be understood, preserved and shown off. They were pinned to a board, framed, given a precise and proper Latin name, and examined to the max. We know all there is to know about such matters – and so much more than the ancients, we think. And, we have lots of theories, structures and programs about how to run the church and live an ‘evangelical’ life. But are they – are we really alive, for all of such diligence?
Many in our day (‘Post-Moderns’ if you will) may or may not know the proper name(s) or how everything functions. They would rather that the butterflies just be ALIVE, so that in their darting beauty once more, they can — FLY. And we with them.