Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Models are Myth

I have been thinking recently that most models that are out there in the Christian world are myths. Hear me out on this one.

I think that some guy prays a lot, gets deep and serious about reaching people, and is then inspired by God with a way of reaching those specific people and he follows through with that idea under the leading of the Holy Spirit and in the end is successful. His success then becomes trumpeted through out the Christian world, rightly so because it encourages and inspires us all, he then writes a book on the subject and at this point people start to try and do what he has done and a model is created. We hear people within churches saying “we are using the willow creek model, the purpose driven model, the cell model, the G12 model, the hillsongs model, etc..”

Basically someone kind of stumbled along under the prompting of the Holy Spirit leading a responsive lifestyle and his God given gifts and was successful (note success in the Christian world so often means numbers!) THEN WE GET THE BOOK!!!

Now I am not totally knocking the books, we can gain a lot of wisdom from them and some very good principles, for instance Risk Warren says “if we concentrate on making something healthy it will grow, concentrate on health not growth” I like that a lot, he also talks about being “committed at the core and open at the edges” I like that also.

I just get this feeling that our willingness to run to models instead of God might frustrate him, we can spend endless amounts of money going to various conferences and purchasing various resources. May be a week away with our teams and just Bibles in a restful environment would give us more clarity as to the way forward. That to me would be worth investing in.

I think models, books and conferences can make for lazy christians.

Does this Model idea work itself out in scripture I don’t think so, did Joshua cross Jordan the same way that Moses crossed the red sea? Did the children of Israel take all the towns and cities in the Promised Land the same way that they took Jericho? Did Jesus have one prescribed way for healing the sick? Did Paul use the same methods to plant churches in all the different cities he went to?

The early church was formed by a group of people stumbling out into the market place under the power of the spirit and proceeding from there. It wasn’t a model but a lifestyle of responsiveness to an adventurous God.

Does that make sense?


jonah said...

Great stuff Brian!

I couldn't agree more.

I do have to say that I have benefited a great deal from books written by Christians, but not necessarily all that much from Christian books.

On the other hand, I don't want to be one of those folks that seem unteachable and insist that all they need is the Bible and the Holy Spirit. That sort of attitude smacks of pride. There are so many people that have gone before me that have a better understanding of God, ecclesiology, missiology, ethical and moral dilemmas and the Bible. It seems silly to discount their wisdom. That said, I think finding those people through their written works is not easy. A lot of times, the real gems in Christian literature are not easy to find. They seldom show up on the bestsellers list precisely because they don't contain easy to follow formulas or sure-fire routes to success.

Brian Heasley said...

Please, don't think for one moment that I am suggesting that we don't read other books. Personally I love books they are my friends. Didn't mean to offend any pseudo intellectuals out there and say don't read books. You'd be a total numpty not to read books. My next post will be "read books"

No one was discounting the wisdom to be found in books Jonah, just the wisdom of those who read them! how that in this over franchised world we occasionaly fall for a model before we fall on GOD

Anonymous said...

We are using the 24-7 model of prayer, mission and justice based on books written by Pete Greig....can we escape a model. Just asking.

Kirk Bartha said...

From Python's Holy Grail,


"It's only a model..."

(silly song with dancing knights of the round table)

"On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place."

I couldn't resist :)

Seriously though, I think you should title this point in your talk "Model vs. Myth" and have the wonderful ideas of Myth and Legend and Story expose the hollow facade of models. Models are too "perfect" and very Plato. Myth is so "organic" and very Aristotle. It's the difference between a "perfect" something up above us in a place we can't see (model) and an "organic" something right here in front of us and tangible (story). There is a famous painting of Plato and Aristotle where Plato is pointing up to the perfect forms in heaven and Aristotle is pointing down to earth.

I loved the movie "V is for Vandetta" for these very reasons.

Brian Heasley said...

scary isn't it! a model of prayer, mission, justice. Can we escape it? I do think that these are life principles rather than a specific model. I think that I was grumbling agaisnt the more presciptive models. I once had a key christian leader in the cell movement draw me a mathematical diagram to show me how cells should work(literally using numbers and showing me multiplications) and how that if we all led successful cells that did 4 w's it wouldn't be long before we took over the world. I think you are right Kirk I should have titled it model v myth!

Kirk Bartha said...

I'm looking forward to your take on evangelism as dance. Greek prefix "Eu" - "good" and dance as perichoresis... The Good Trinitarian Dance. Evangelism as the heartbeat of the Godhead beat box.

Two terms too tart for my tongue anymore "evangelism" and "discipleship" - the bevis and butthead of "Christendom". I also don't like apologetics... as if Jesus needs us to "defend" Him. But that's another thing all together.

I love how you start your points with declared weakness. That's the way of our Crucified God.

Linda-Joy said...

I like your thinking - but I have found some Christian books really helpful too.