I have been catching up on some podcast listening which is made easier now that I have started to return to the gym as I like to challenge my thinking as I challenge my body physically. I particularly like listening to Rob Bell sermons from Mars Hill Michigan. Two other podcasts I listen to regularly are the Moot podcast and, more recently I have discovered, the Nomad podcast.
It just so happens that both the moot and the nomad podcasts have an interview with Kester Brewin. Complex Christ, one of Kester’s book, was pretty formational for me and so I was intrigued to hear what he was speaking on in these podcasts and I was not surprised to hear him covering a lot – both are worth listening to, and you don’t need to go to the gym to do that!
One of the things that Kester speaks on is ‘the temporary’ which is worth giving some thought to. I think Kester was saying that church and communities like that only ever are temporary as they serve a purpose. If they become permanent then they risk become idolatrous such that people end up serving the church rather than the church serving the people. When organisations become idolatrous in this way then often we see violence occur as people as people feel the need to protect their structures.
This, claims Kester, is one of the things that Jesus demolished when he came through his words in Mark 2:27. WE need structures, says Kester, that we inhabit rather than structures that control us and therefore we need to regularly look at them to ensure that the structure/organisation/church is being helpful. When it no longer is then it needs to be brought to an end or changed.
I think I partly agree and I think I partly disagree. Part of me wants to stand up and shout ‘yes’ because it actually makes a lot of sense. The other part of me is concerned, however, for the many people who need some stability and who would be quite unsettled to think that everything around them is temporary. But then, one of the things that so frustrates me about established church is the ‘we’ve always done it like this’ attitude which destroys any attempt to engage with real life.
I guess, on balance, if we have an attitude of temporariness acknowledging that we need to keep asking the question ‘is this helping’ and being ready to chance to enable us to hold on to the permanence of our need to engage with God, people and culture relevantly then that coud work. Or is that just a little too confusing?