One of my driving reasons for starting ministrieslab as a “church” is the realization that what church means is changing quickly. In my mind, ministrieslab enables its members as ministers with the resources needed to engage in the world. That differs from church that sees itself as the center of a Christendom like culture in which the Gospel and Great Commission rule the land and all are members of the big church downtown.
My wife and I raise guinea pigs. That makes us part of an obscure hobby with maybe 1,000 other folks across the U.S. We meet at shows, often in barns, wearing jeans and sweats sprinkled with animal hair.
A hobby this small has its own dynamic, and it’s much like a family. We attract colorful eccentrics and needy people. We gossip, fight, and disagree about silly things. We may be “related,” but we are very different. We also rally around one another in times of crisis.
And in most cases, we have found a place where we can be fully ourselves. That makes our hobby a sort of living laboratory for how to see and embrace people as they are, warts and all.
In other words, without even thinking about it, we are living into Jesus’ vision of community.
This type of community-as-church is my hope for minstrieslab and one of the main reasons we’re using tools like our Reddit subreddit as a place to facilitate community and encourage people to either participate anonymously or join in.
I’m no Paul for sure, but I look to his example of taking Gospel out of Jerusalem and the Galilee and out into the uncharted more Hellenistic audiences of Turkey, Greece, Italy, and the Mediterranean as inspiration as I head back to finish my MDiv. It wasn’t a completely popular decision among the earliest founders of what would become Christianity as evidenced in the New Testament and extra-biblical sources (especially Galatians). In a modern analogue, there’s a vast sea of cultures that are made vibrant by tools like the web that have a great deal of potential to add to the fabric of Christianity (christianities) in our own era. I want ministrieslab to play a role in these communities much as the same way that organizing forces help guinea pig enthusiasts find their own voices.
ministrieslab looks towards a future of church that is very much like Paul’s own Hellenistic Mediterranean.
More from John Backman that describe some of this…
This would be a massive shift. The Church would no longer be a nexus of power, but rather a facilitator of service. It would stand on the sidelines, the way a head coach does. The game happens on the field; the coach simply gives the players the necessary resources and guidance to play well. It is an important role, but not the central role.
With the Church’s facilitation, people could immerse themselves in the world more fully oriented and better equipped to love all, accept the outcast, be vulnerable, and commit to others in a way that does not end with the first falling out. People living like this could do a world of good. The treasures of the Church would be used in service to humanity. Christendom would inform individuals and cultures rather than trying to control them.
That’s where I am with ministrieslab. I have no idea where it is with me yet. I can’t wait to find out.
In the meantime, join our community if you’d like.