Pete Rollins, WW II and Orthokardia

The following is a repost from September 2012 - I thought I would try a few repos to see if it is helpful.

Some time ago I wrote about moving away from the dichotomy of orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right action). Rather than placing emphasis on beliefs and actions, Christians are called to emphasis the heart. Thus to abandon orthodoxy and orthopraxy is to embrace orthokardia.

Peter Rollins shared a story about how the Prime Minister of England during WW II fearing defeat was told of two ways the war could end. The first is the "natural" end to the war which would entail 10,000 angles coming upon the earth and destroy the Nazi war machine with swords of fire. The second way the war could end was the "supernatural" end which would entail 50,000 Englishmen parachuting into the heat of battle and drive out the Germans.

The point that was made by Rollins in light of this story was that the angles are natural in that they would be measurable. Swords, fire and angels fall into the natural because you would be able to see them and measure them. We all know the war did not end this natural way. Rather it ended in the supernatural.

Thousands of Englishmen had a change of heart and courage swell up within them to provoke them to parachute into danger. This is supernatural because you cannot see a change of heart. You cannot measure courage. And yet this is what happened. It took the supernatural to end the war.

Likewise, orthodoxy and orthopraxy are natural. You can see "right beliefs" you can measure "right action". You cannot see a right heart. You cannot measure orthokardia. Orthokardia is supernatural.

Church is a there to meet my needs. Right?

It is a common way to understand the church as a place where someone goes to have their needs met. This is in part why we look for a church that has a good children's area, biblical preaching/teaching, solid small groups that are not full of crazy people.

And so churches work to ensure that we are meeting people's needs. And we want to ensure people's needs are met because that is what we are supposed to do. Right?

Well, if the church is under the impression that we are to meet people's needs, then yes, we should work to meet people's needs. However, this not only creates environments where churches do not know what they are called to do but it also creates environments where churches will do everything for the sake of someone's needs.

Rather than meeting people's needs, shouldn't a church be in the position to change people's needs?

The church that is under the impression to change people's needs will have a much different way to do ministry. This church will be a place where people are changed, not just satisfied. This church might be smaller and less "full" in the pew on Sunday. This church might also be the most nimble and life changing place in the community.

So let me ask you, is your church set up to meet your needs or change them?

I love change! (As long as it is not happening to me.)

It is one of those things that as life goes on change happens. People get married, jobs change, people get older, graduations, births, anniversaries, going back to school; change happens because that is life. An odd thing about change is how much we all live with it everyday but many people are insistent that they do not like change. This just is a crazy thought. People like change otherwise there would be no growth in life.

There is that story that is told every year in the UMC about this time. There was a minister who asked a congregation who was in numeric decline, "how may of you love your grandchildren?" Every hand went up. "How many of you would give your money to ensure your grandchildren did could have what they needed." Again, hands raised. "How many of you would sacrifice everything you had for the sake of your children's life?" Hands up. Finally the minister asked, "How many of you would be willing to have different music in worship to ensure your grandchildren felt free to worship here on a Sunday morning?"

One hand went up...

So let us be honest with ourselves, we all love change, as long as it is happening to someone else.

This stands in direct conflict with the Gospel which says we are to die to ourselves, we are to be transformed and resurrected, we are to change so that it is not our will but God's will that be done on earth as it is in heaven. Again, Christianity is not about beliefs it is about living a way that being in this world that builds trust and that can only happen if we ourselves are willing to change.

Analog and Digital

Many people talk about the differences in being a "digital native" and a "digital immigrant". This difference is more than just how savvy one is with technology but seems to speak to a way of viewing and engaging the world.

In the style of Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a digital immigrant if you are giving directions to a location rather than just giving a physical address - you might be a digital immigrant. Or if you print out emails - you might be a digital immigrant. 

Digital native/immigrant language is not very helpful to me because it seems to categorize people by age. If you are less than 35 years old, you are a digital native. Older than that and you are an immigrant. But being a native or immigrant has little to do with age and more to do with worldview. 

I have met a number of young people who are savvy with technology and yet think very analogically at the same time I have met much older people who do not know snot about technology but think much more digitally. 

To this end, I find it helpful to talk about digital thinking and analog thinking.

This is not an essay on the full definitions of analog and digital thinking, but one point of divergence seems to be rooted in how each thinker deals with change.

There are a great number of people who identify the church needs to change - it is the nature of that change that  is the point of tension. Analog-ers want the church to change by just being better at what we are doing. We need to be better teachers - so we try to use video and twitter while preaching. We need to be better at selling ourselves - so we get involved with every social media we can imagine. We need to be better at managing the money - so we higher consultants to help with a stewardship campaign.

On the other hand, there are the digital thinkers who also identify the church needs to change, but not in the same way. The church does not need to just do what we are doing only better, but we need to do things differently. We need to change the way we preach not just do it better. We do not need to be better signs but build better people. Stewardship campaigns are no longer serving the purpose of helping people be better stewards, rather they are pledge drives with Jesus language. 

Analog thinking leads to a place where we build church buildings because we want the church to be around forever. Digital thinking leads to a place where we build the kingdom because we know the church is not what we are called to build.

These are just some basic thoughts that are not original and others around the world have already pointed out that how we address change is not generational but more worldview specific. It is the job of the digital thinkers to learn how the analog thinkers address change because it is the digital thinkers who are calling into question the sustainability of the current systems.

Quick question - do you think the church needs to be better (more efficient, greater communication, etc.) or do you think the church needs to be different (new language, different focus, etc.)?