My Personal Rebellions

I'm really getting into reading about a more missional, incarnational church than the one I grew up with. My current church environment is more missional and incarnational than the church I grew up with, but I'm really only starting to get the picture!

One thing that's hit me as I read about this new stuff, is that most new things are an improvement to what's gone before, and by definition, new things are often then a reaction to those before. Maybe it's semantics, but I feel for me it goes deeper.

As an example of improvement/reaction, in my Computing degree we studied the development cycle of computer programs. The standard way to develop programs over the past few decades is called the "waterfall" model. One of the facets of this model is that a lot of design work takes place up front, and then the program is developed out of that design. Now, what if the project gets canned after the first few weeks - the time where all the 'design' work happens? You end up with nothing for your time (some bits of paper, maybe). Or what if the requirements change, which means you have to go back and muck up all the original design? This adds a lot of overhead to making changes as things progress.

Out of these two issues and others, a new kind of way to develop programs was put together which does not do this design phase (as such) and which allows more flexibility for requirements to change down the track [1]. This new method addresses the big shortcomings of the "waterfall", but, no surprise, has shortcomings of its own.

So, there's improvement, but the next iteration is just that - an iteration. Something will come along later and take its place, (hopefully) catering to the needs of the people and addressing some of the problems in the previous iteration. And there's most likely no "perfect" model to work from.

I have been guilty of examining my church upbringing in a harsh, critical light - you know, "What a stupid idea to do x in order to reach those people who really need y?", "Church x always did y and that's why no-one goes there anymore", or "If only the pastor was leading in a more x way". It's OK to look for improvements, isn't it? But at the time that I was elbow-deep in this kind of "righteous" judgementalism, one thing stuck in my mind till just recently: something I read in a daily devotions book, that pretty much said that a lot of this "reaction" model was rebellion. Plain and simple. Wow!

I realise it may not always apply like this, but the statement hit me and I realised I'd been rebelling, primarily against God and really putting down His people. I'm trying to be more conscious of looking for "improvements" in the way I do church that are not done in a reactionary way (as in, they're doing it that way, so I'm not going to). If I have to drag someone or something down so I look better, then that's got to be a problem.

I don't know why this issue of putting-down can be such an issue for me. It has the effect on my friends and those I work with of causing dissension if I go against something someone else in the group has said, cause often I get emotional about the whole thing. It's a real test for me to be able to say to myself, if I get the chance to display unity instead of self-justification, I'll take the former.

So maybe for me I can say that new iterations of "doing church" are just that. There's no perfect model. And I have to believe that the people who I have looked on as "getting it wrong" had the same heart, if not more of, for reaching out to people.

[1] For more info on this, see

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