Neue is a new quarterly journal by Relevant Media that just rereleased with a more readable magazine format and leadership savvy content. The tagline is "Ideas Shaping the Future of the Church." A very short article by Scot McKnight (his blog) was a particular jewel in this new issue. It doesn't look like the content will be online anytime soon. Here are my highlights for the article Copycat Church:
In summary, Scot concisely and articulately connects the problem of copying methods and programs from other churches to a defining observation he has made in his career as a theologian and biblical scholar. He calls it his most important discovery of the last decade. In his own words:
For me the most important discovery in the last decade, of biblical and theological studies was two-fold: First, I realized that Jesus’s language was not sacrosanct for Paul and Peter and others.
Second, I realized they were doing exactly what Jesus was doing. That is, Jesus wasn’t “imitating” anyone when he articulated the movement of God in terms of “Kingdom of God.” He didn’t find this in Moses, or David, or Isaiah and restore it to its proper place, and the early Christian apostles didn’t “imitate” Jesus by expressing the Gospel with “Kingdom of God.”
The thrust of this article, carries the heartbeat of the ministry of Auxano and the book Church Unique: Every local congregation should think through their local context and their particular calling from God. And when they do, the articulation of their identity and direction will be stunningly unique! Scot's emphasis is that even the inspired biblical authors didn't copy each others words. Therefore, and even though we have the foundational revelation of Scripture, the Holy Spirit still creates new articulation of the Gospel through his people for different places and times. Here are some quotes from the article.
- Imitation has its place, but one thing imitation doesn’t promise is results. Unfortunately a lot of church leaders don’t get that fact.
- You can’t imitate Spirit-empowerment. You either have it or you don’t.
- There is one thing that’s clear: There is no movement of God apart from God’s empowering Spirit.
- The New Testament suggests that Spirit-empowered movements articulate the Gospel for a particular context for that day.
- Spirit, context, Gospel, word. Those are the elements of a genuine movement of God.
- The apostolic witness is the foundation of the Spirit-shaped truth of the Gospel. However, this does not mean that we simply puppet, or imitate the words of Jesus or Paul- for the New Testament does not do that itself.
- What we need is less imitation and more discernment through God’s Spirit.