There is something much more exciting than MMA.
"In this corner, with a seminary degree from Trinity, 8 years of overseas experience- give it up for the humble, hospitable, Jesus loving... Brian T..."
"In the other corner, with some sketchy church based training, 4 days (3 1/2 really) of experience in Turkey, with a big mouth, and just enough knowledge of Greek to be dangerous- put your hands together for the proud and arrogant...Mark Arant" (the crowd goes wild!!)
Okay, so it's not Ultimate Fighting, but watching me cage fight with the workers here about how to go about church planting has to at least be mildly entertaining. Last night I had Brian tapping out with the 1 Corinthians 14:22-26 hold. Tonight I got him with a practical example of another church that is working here (to which I was accused of being a pragmatist.)
If you are just browsing for one of Leatha's recipes or a family pic, please stop here.
If Mark has had you fooled into thinking he is a humble person and you want to keep that image of him. Please stop here.
If you want to hear a rant about church planting overseas. Read on.
The hip trend in overseas work is the house church movement. This involves contextualization (making church as normal as possible for the people group you're working with) and reproducability (don't help the locals out in any way financially). So, we can't do buildings, we can't have traditional church services and we can't pay their rent or salaries with foreign money.
So the solution to planting a church where there is no church is to share JC, disciple new followers for 6 months, then put the handful of people together and hope they figure out how to do church. Here's the problem: it's not working.
Here's the other problem: the traditional model (rent a building- worship through song and teach the Bible) is working. The Vineyard dudes blow into town, set up some drums, crank up their amps, teach them how to interpret the Bible, dreams, etc- and there are churches to show for it. The Presbyterians (the kind who believe in Jesus) say some chants, say the Lord's prayer (good for them!) teach the Bible, get some charisma from the Florida revival (I'm not even joking)- and boom the church is rockin'.
Granted, planting a church in Turkey isn't as easy as "just add water" but...
Of course the Turks don't know how to do church- they won't know unless we show them body life and what church even looks like. The workers here refuse to let the Turks be apart of their fellowships. They say, "church is for believers, not unbelievers." That's when I dropped the 1 Cor. 14:22-ff bomb.
It's this ecclesiological (beliefs about church) haze that bothers me. Or maybe it's an opinion (they need to do church this way) that is not working. I know we've had a few disagreements about how to do church over the years, but when I think the Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Vineyard brothers (ok, that's not such a stretch) are leading the way in fulfilling the Great Commission, shouldn't we humble ourselves and do it the way we do it in America (GASP!)
How many stories do we have in Cstone of people driving into the parking lot and saying, "God is here" or weeping through the service? Hundreds. (that's not exageration)
Here are some findings I have unearthed in 4 days:
- Turks think going to a house meeting is wack. That's what the communists did.
- A building makes the meeting/church service feel legit.
-Turks want a place to visit and see church firsthand (the only 3 Turkish testimonies I heard involved observing the church in action and being compelled by it. One even saw a vision of the Vineyard church building that God would lead him to weeks later).
- When our student was asked by a Turk, "Can I visit your church?" our student had to say, "Sorry you can't come." Isn't there something wrong with that?
Are you kidding me?!!! It's 1:21 am?
Brian, I know you're reading. You have been an awesome host to me this week and an example of Christ in flesh.
Now get back into the cage and let the readers hear your side (Fair warning- this blog is not a level playing field, as I will delete any comments I don't like or think will give you the upperhand) :)