I want to help make the church better. Seriously better. Like the kind of thing where everybody feels like there is a place for them. Where everybody is connected and a full participant.
I also want to help make church even more like GOD wants it to be and less like we’ve come to expect it to be.
If these two ideas appeal to you, then please keep reading. If they don’t; if you don’t want the church to be better than it is and an opportunity for more people to feel engaged while also following Jesus more fully; then go ahead and click away. You won’t hurt my feelings. Go ahead, because I’m going to keep moving.
The best way that I know of to deal with making the church better is to participate in its deconstruction. Not destruction or destroying. If you bear with me for a minute more, I’ll describe what I mean by “deconstructing church”. Then I’ll invite you to join me in a month-long investigation into the heart of church and church practice. This should be fun, informative, and hopefully, engaging for your soul. But first, I have some terms to explain.
Many of those who study deconstruction refuse to properly define it. It’s creator, Jacque Derrida famously refused to define it. In part because it, as a concept, is a means by which we can analyze concepts. For it to accept a definition for itself or a structure, would be antithetical to its very concept. Defining deconstruction is like creating an institution to critique the very nature of institutions. It is not only hypocrisy, but it would discredit the entire endeavor.
I believe that a more functional understanding of deconstruction can be of use, however. Perhaps adapting John Caputo’s understanding:
Whenever deconstruction finds a nutshell—a secure axiom or a pithy maxim—the very idea is to crack it open and disturb this tranquility. Indeed, that is a good rule of thumb in deconstruction. That is what deconstruction is all about, its very meaning and mission, if it has any. One might even say that cracking nutshells is what deconstruction is. In a nutshell. … Have we not run up against a paradox and an aporia [something impassable]?…the paralysis and impossibility of an aporia is just what impels deconstruction, what rouses it out of bed in the morning.
we might say for ourselves that we hope to examine a thing and all that makes the thing a thing, that we might participate in making that thing into a better thing.
If you want to dig deeper, here’s a good place to start.
That’s the deconstruct part. The other word that might attract our attention is the word “church”.
I will attempt to maintain the broadest possible understanding of church. We use the word in a variety of ways, most commonly to describe our buildings. Sticklers eagerly point out that church, or the ekklesia is the people gathered, rather than the building. This is absolutely true. We just love to call the building the church and forget that the people are the congregation proper.
We also think more broadly about the church universal and the governing bodies that make up the many churches into one church and then that whole web of all the churches in the world, we might call that the church. Ugh. How confusing.
When I speak about “church” I speak about all the faithful Christians in the world trapped in the mind-numbing semantics of their denominational pigsties AND those constellations of congregations who refuse to be part of anything bigger or play denominational politics or play nicely with others AND those free agents running around all by themselves unaffiliated and trying to find GOD in nature or drugs or other people. I’m talking the whole thing. But I’m not talking about individuals all by themselves. That’s the one thing I don’t mean. Because an essential part of being a Christian is being on this journey with other people.
So, when I speak of church, I’m not speaking of denominational politics or those petty divisions between “churches” or the confines of one’s personal faith system. I am speaking to us, to all of us. A great We that we might call the church.
Each day for the next month, 31 days, I will be posting about a different aspect of church. Some of them will apply to you and/or your congregation more than others. However, I will do my best to make these brief articles as relevant to the whole church as possible.
You can expect a short reflection and description and then a chance to respond.
You can take those responses to the comment section of that post, to your own blog, to your pastor or priest, or contact me directly!
And consider joining the Deconstruct Church facebook group! This is an opportunity to connect and share with one another what church could really be.
Are you ready? Then buckle up!
- Old Testament
- New Testament
- Sermon as Teaching
- Sunday School
- Children’s Sermon
- Adult Formation
- Bible Study
- Prayers of the People
- Cross or Crucifix?
- Pastor or Priest?
- Priest as Jesus?
- Words of Institution
- Nicene Creed
- Liturgy & the Event
For other networks