was talking with a much respected pastor friend recently who
suggested that what may actually be happening in the church at
present is not ‘de-construction’ but actually ‘de-struction’.
interesting observation and a valid concern… so I thought I’d take a
few minutes to think out loud about what the differences may be
between the two.
(For those unfamiliar with the idea of ‘de-construction’, my
layman’s explanation is that its to do with exactly what it says –
de-constructing or disassembling what we are familiar with in terms
of church life and structure – but ultimately (hopefully) with a
view to re-construction – putting the essential and vital components
back together in a way that has biblical integrity and reflects the
true nature of church.)
what might be the differences between the ‘de’s’?…
First up I have a feeling that attitude and intent has a heap to do
with what is experienced. If the attitude to the established church
is ‘you’re a bunch of idiots and wouldn’t know a church if you fell
over one’ then its more than likely destruction. Harsh hurtful
criticism (or even inane whinging) and mindless demolition of ‘the
church’ is not helpful to anyone – and is way too easy to do in a
context where most congregations are struggling.
also have a sense that de-struction pulls apart the old with little
regard for what may be valuable and worth retaining. It tips baby
and bathwater down the gurgler. De-construction is aware that there
is a baby in there that we need to be able to find and
protect, because the baby is of great valuable.
It’s possible – and likely that de-struction will have little, if
any long term value – it will simply leave an ugly mess for another
generation to clean up. Whereas de-construction, while painful, may
actually give birth to new forms and expressions that ultimately are
more healthy and true than what went before.
Maybe its also possible that de-struction is so intent on reform
that it ignores the people toll in its scathing bombardments
(friendly fire perhaps?) Whereas I imagine de-construction to be
about walking with the people thru the change and hopefully growing
with them. Destructive types seem to talk about the church as ‘them’
whereas ‘de-constructionists’ speak of church as ‘us’.
then I’d have to say that de-struction can probably be accomplished
by anyone. It doesn’t take too much grey matter to swing a
sledgehammer. On the other hand de-construction requires some degree
of thoughtful informed action. And if its with a view to
re-construction then it will require a sharp mind, a well formed
biblical ecclesiology and a healthy imagination.
Just a few thoughts… If you have any others then I’d like to hear
them. Having said all that I haven’t offered my take on what I see
happening, but my guess is that it’s probably a bit of both. When
people are discontent its easy to pull out the wrecking ball and I
have observed a fair bit of demolition work. I think I’ve also been
involved with people who are further down the track, who are
concerned with the issues I mentioned above and who are seeking with
integrity to re-construct/re-imagine/re-discover what it means to be
the church again.
not an easy line to walk and I sense that anyone with a cynical
streak will be prone to de-structive tendencies!
Unfortunately even de-construction is painful (particularly for
those of us who are long term churchies). But it’s a vital process
for us to embrace if we want to see the bride looking as beautiful
as she can be and if we want to re-connect with a world that sees us
largely as a relic of a bygone era.