McNichols & Abandoning the Pastoral Church

In a RECENT POST, he quotes Jurgen Moltmann: “If Christianity is to become aware of what it is, we must abandon the pastoral church which takes care of people, which is the usual form of the Western church…. 96) This cuts through one of the false pseudo-Christian stories that the western church has adopted, that the church exists primarily to care for its people.

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My friend Mike McNichols has begun blogging again. And like before, it’s really good stuff. In a RECENT POST, he quotes Jurgen Moltmann:

“If Christianity is to become aware of what it is, we must abandon the pastoral church which takes care of people, which is the usual form of the Western church. Instead, we have to call to life a Christian community church. Either we set about this church reform by ourselves, or it will be forced on us by the loss of church members.” (The Source of Life, p. 96)

This cuts through one of the false pseudo-Christian stories that the western church has adopted, that the church exists primarily to care for its people. Rather, we exist primarily for the implementation of God’s mission for the sake of the world. And in that context, care and healing are properly found and experienced.

2 thoughts on “McNichols & Abandoning the Pastoral Church

  1. I am not sure I quite understand you yet. Could you clarify and explain a little bit more for me? Is this the same as the “church as hospital” vs “church as army” illustration that I remember from college? Or do you mean something else?

  2. Hi Egana. Thanks for the question.

    When I speak of the false story of the church existing primarily to care for its people, I wouldn’t classify it as the “church as hospital” metaphor. I believe that as the church implements God’s mission for the sake of the world, part of the natural expression of its life will be to bring care and healing to those who enter and participate in its community. Healing is a valid dimension of the local church’s mission as it equips people to be a community of Jesus’ apprentices whose daily lives continue to carry out what Jesus began in this world — God’s new creation.

    However, when this important dimension of the church’s life becomes THE reason for the church’s existence, then the church mutates into something other than what God intended. This happens when a local church’s members view the church’s life, structures, services and programs as existing primarily to meet their needs. The local church then becomes a vendor of religious goods, services and programs. It becomes a consumer church. It breeds over-reliance on the pastoral staff to teach, lead, and program so that its members’ needs are fulfilled. Ultimately, people choose to attend a local church if a majority of their felt spiritual needs are met — worship, teaching, fellowship, youth programs, men and women programs, evangelism and mission opportunities, a comfortable place to invite friends, etc.

    Now compare that to Jesus’ simple plan to introduce people into God’s kingdom (Matthew 28:18-20). Go out into the real world. Help people become Jesus’ apprentices. Immerse them into the healing transforming reality of the Trinity by joining authentic Christian community. And teach them to obey everything Jesus embodied, demonstrated and announced. Jesus commissions us with a very theocentric missional agenda for the church’s life and it is very different from the contemporary consumer model prevalent on the western religious landscape.

    I hope that clarifies what I was addressing in my post a bit better.

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