Thursday, December 09, 2010
The Wisdom of Denomination
This is bad news for congregations, because while many pastors have written middle judicatories off as irrelevant or worse, the fact is that they are extremely important to healthy congregational life. At their best, they help grow and maintain a strong and healthy clergy, they head off destructive conflict and help congregations engage in healthy conflict, they hold individuals and congregations accountable to the whole Gospel, they confront parochialism and interpret the work and life of the wider church, and they model health. In doing all of this they build life-giving relationships between individuals and congregations. As a former middle judicatory executive myself, I have some times seen these things happen and rejoice in them.I never have understood why people have become "OKAY" with the sort of build-and-destroy cycle that has come to mark the evangelical church and parachurch. The "next thing" comes along and we flock to it like dogs returning to their masters, but then we tire of it and move on. Or more likely, with success comes a bunch of infighting as we try to slice up the pie of both honor and reward.
Dick Hamm is absolutely right when he talks about the managing conflict role for the judicatories. And there is something deeper to that - it creates a sense of permanence to the church in general. The church is not a disposal commodity to be replaced when a better deal comes along. The church is something eternal, lasting - reflecting that same attribute of God.
We seem to have lost tough with that reality today and we are lacking spiritual depth as a result.