Deconstruction

I was going through my files on my hard drive this weekend and found a text file of a thread I initiated on a message board I once was a part of. I thought some of the comments would be worth posting on this blog. It was from 2004.

Leon Longard
Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:42 pm Post subject: Are we in a
rush to deconstruct?

It may be just me, but often when I discuss postmodern
ministry with others it seems many are in a hurry to
deconstruct everything from the past and assume we’re the only
one’s who have it figured out. We create “straw man” images of
“the church” and use it to describe everyone whose not in our
camp. We read the latest leadership trends (which is not bad
in and of itself) and fill our literature with the latest
trendy lingo. If we’re not careful, we create a whole new set
of code language by which we judge whether or not someone else
is “cutting edge” enough to talk with.
If we take time to listen to others beyond the code speech and
catch phrases, we might find there are other people out there
in some unlikely places whose hearts actually beat with the
same passion we have. They just may say it a little
differently.

matthewD
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:36 pm Post subject: i love
deconstruction

i have to say that i love to deconstruct, as anyone can see
from my posts around this idea exchange, however, leon has a
very good point here.

i think we need to be careful with our deconstruction. we are
not any more objective than those we criticize as being
foundationalists…

we are products of our history and our culture. we do best
when we seek to learn from the past, not just to tear it down.
Psalm 1 has very harsh words for cynics, and that’s what many
of us deconstructers have become. we need to call wrong wrong,
and to question why the modern church has fallen away from
many important marks of true discipleship, but i sometimes
find myself looking to tear everything apart. if something is
big and successful, my first thought is that they’re just
doing clever marketing and playing to the consumer church
mentality. this is not good.

when we deconstruct, we need to be sure to reconstruct. this
is how Jesus works. he deconstructs us through conviction of
sin and repentance, but reconstructs us through reconciliation
and redemption. when we reconstruct, we go back to the pile of
deconstructed parts and find the truth that may have become
hidden or distorted in the past and try to shine it back up
and put it back in the central place it belongs.

we are not better than those modernist foundationalists, but
we can become better than our contemporary culture if we learn
from the mistakes of the past and build on the victories of
the past.

i feel like i’ve just typed a long string of cliches. i always
come to play here when i’m too tired to think creatively and
communicate intelligibly. hopefully, i said something worth
the time you just invested in reading this.

much love.
_________________
.m.

Leon Longard
Posted: Sat Apr 17, 2004 10:26 am Post subject: a first
century deconstructer

At least you admit it when you’re rambling, Matt. Joking
aside, what you said was worth while.

Another passage to look at here is Romans 11. Paul was
definitely a deconstructer in the first century. He was often
accused of tearing down Judaism. I like the warning he gives
to the Gentiles, especially in his illustration of grafting
branches in vs. 17 – 21. It seems like the Gentiles were
starting to get a little proud in their attitude toward the
Jews. He warned them that God could as easily remove them from
the tree and graft the Jews back in.

Pride is always a danger. We need to be careful not to get too
impressed with ourselves. We’re not the root, we’re merely
branches of a tree that’s been around for 2000 years (more if
you include those who have been following God since creation).

matthewD
Post subject: too much consumin going on

here’s a noodle to chew on:

why is the north american church going the way of the buffalo?
because we’re too interested in playing up to the ever
changing demands of bored christians.

i believe there is some real thinking and rethinking about
what the Church should look like for the future as worldviews
change around us, but the more reading and rethinking i do,
the more dissatisfied i get with the proposed answers. so much
of the emerging church movement has very little to do with
actually answering the questions pre, non, and post christians
are asking. in our media saturated and over-educated society
(yes, over-educated. everyone’s a pseudo-intellectual, but
still very much ignorant. over-educated, under-learned.)… in
our pseudo-sophisticated culture, christians get just as
quickly bored with church as the whole nation gets bored with
fashions and music genres.

i’m seriously guilty of this. thanking God for the revelation
as i type.

emerging church culture is trying to beat the boredom, but it
never will. we are fighting a losing battle on those grounds.
we need to shift our focus elsewhere. yes, there are valid
questions on that battlefield, but the main thrust of our
attention needs to be on kicking the boredom out of consumer
christians through real knowledge and real action to fight the
cultural, social, economic demons of our day.

let’s get up in arms about AIDS in Africa, and de-facto
segregation in our schools, rather than music styles and
church decor!

i think it may be time to do more and think less. that sounds
dangerous to an analytical mind like me, but i think it may
be true.

am i a nut?

xaelias
Posted: Tue May 18, 2004 1:16 am Post subject:

Nope Matt, rest assured. In good new-fashioned postmodern
relative terms, the nutness is minimal when compared to this
big-boned ball of neurosis.
It’s good to see that even though Matt and I don’t get to
dialogue as much as I (perhaps we) would like, we’re on a
quite similar wavelength. I would, as a matter of mere
linguistics, like to disagree with the “over-educated,
under-learned” in that education is the expansion of the mind
while learning is rote and more like Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic
assembly line. Perhaps it should be the other way around:
education, not learning. (And moreover, perhaps I’m splitting
hairs.)

I see too many Christians (and have been doing a fair share of
unwiring during this past year of experimentation and
discipleship with XA here at UWSP) who are so learned in what
to do, when to do it, how to do it and where to do it without
even having a clue as to why. Why is it that we need to serve
and love recklessly (as another similar type, ninshitsu, said
once)? Why is it that people need to come into an encounter
with the spirit/power of God? Who What Where When How, but no
Why. Any self-respecting journalist or student of such
profession will tell you that all six principles of reporting
are necessary to providing a sound news story. If there is no
reason to doing, then there is no rationality and our message
is compromised in its delivery by incomplete and prideful
people who practice an incomplete and prideful religion.

American Christians (perhaps ‘churchians’ is a better word for
them) know how to do the two fast songs (deemed praise), three
or four slow songs (deemed worship), stand up, sit down, fight
fight fight. There’s so much manipulation via conditioning and
social psychology that Christians in this culture are no
different than anyone else. In the immortal words of Zach de
la Rocha through the prophetic voice of Rage Against the
Machine: “Now you’re under control, now you do what they told
ya…” (And yes, the real prophets are found where you
wouldn’t expect them.)

Consumption (definitively) was considered a bad thing until
20th Century Americans tweaked it to what it is today.
Consumers destroy and have no consideration for the welfare of
the whole. A great resource on this in depth is the video
“Affluenza,” probably available in a library near you. A book
sharing the name also exists, but I have yet to read it. Point
being this: Agent Smith was right.

Matt, you’re absolutely correct. Christians should seize the
helm of local and global issues: poverty, education, disease,
reconciliation, et cetera. We did for hundreds of years (lest
we forget that we also did many stupid things for hundreds of
years….blood-letting, anyone?) and when we ceased to serve
and started to consume, we also suspiciously lost our
credibility. If a pastor/CEO has a hard time being treated
seriously by Christians after a failure of any kind, how much
more so a Church that has failed continuously for years by
society? (Free Marv Smith.)

It’s not about us, but about unrequited service to the people
around us in the name/authority of Christ: in which case, I
say that we shouldn’t be in a hurry to deconstruct, but that
it can’t happen soon enough. A deinstitutionalized church free
from its cultural idolatry will be infinitely more influential
no matter what post-whatever emerging beavis we live in,
because we’ve given up on getting ours.

Finally, apologies to Huey Lewis: we don’t need a new drug. We
need a good, long time in the subculture drunk tank until
American Christians come to their senses. Then we’ll start
making wholesale changes. Until then, the freedom fighters
fight on, Che Guevara-style.
_________________
The Assemblies of God will be stronger when it finds the
courage to raise theological questions for which it may not
have ready answers. – Blumhofer

Leon Longard

Tue May 18, 2004 6:27 am Post subject: Maybe we’re
all nuts

Hey Matt and Brent. Glad to see someone chimes in on this
topic every once in a while.

Matt, what you’re describing is basically modernism in
post-modern clothing. It’s a trend to focus on style (the what
and how) over substance (the why). In Fearless Faith John
Fischer (St John to Brent) said something to the effect of all
we end up with is “our stuff” vs “their stuff” and in the end
we will loose.

Tina and I are now part of a church plant in Northeast
Minneapolis where they are wrestling with how to re-engage the
neighborhood. Still when you’re used to an events mentality
it’s hard to break old patterns. At a family meeting last
Sunday night we scrapped most of the events on our calendar for
the year and are going to get more involved in neighborhood
level events, such as one leader spends two nights a week
teaching classes at the rec center in her neighborhood. Tina
and I are block club leaders. The pastor has bought a
paintball rental business and is having regular interaction
with a club that is his regular customers.

In Chi Alpha this may mean encouraging our students spend a
certain amount of time involved in another non religious
student group. Everyone has other areas of interest. A couple
of students can team together to help with a floor event (no
strings attached).

Bryan Z
Posted: Sun May 23, 2004 3:37 pm Post subject:

Hey folks, if I may chime into the conversation . . .

I think that Matt has hit on something that is dead on–we are
playing to the whims and wishes of bored Christians, and
trying to be “seeker sensitive” to the pre-Christian, without
ever really offering anything for them to seek (or sense for
that matter). Does anyone really care if the music is like
what we hear on the radio, the preacher wears a tropical shirt
and we use power point?

This is the point that I have reached in my own ministry–I am
tired of catering to church kids, while at the same time my
campus is going to hell around me. I am tired of majoring in
minors and not fulfilling the mandate that God has given us to
reach the lost. The really scary thing is that I don’t yet
fully know what Chi Alpha is going to look like in the fall on
my campus. But everything that I (or anyone else in the group)
propose doing will be subjected to one question: WHY?

I kinda like what Earl Creps has to say on this point when he
talks about being missional. Too many churches and ministries
operate with a huge maintenence zone of programs and projects
to make Christians feel better about themselves and only a
small mission zone (where we’re actually interacting with
non-believers and helping them move toward believing). What we
need to do is turn that inside out and have a huge mission
zone where we are fulfilling our mandate and a small
maintenance zone where training is offered to help people
fulfill the mission.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s