Wednesday, I re-posted a blog from James MacDonald about soteriology vs. doxology as the driver of church mission and structure. Here are my thoughts as it pertains to profiles:
* I respect and root on each of these churches. Nothing critical in my heart meant here.
The first thing I think, rather than just theory, are church examples.
Observation #1: I've evidently really studied and visited soterios churches moreso than doxa churches.
Observation #2: Are our stereotypes correct?
Sometimes. Not all the time. And- I don't think I know well enough at this point of study to draw definitive conclusions- just suppositions.
Here's what I mean in some profiles:
I've visited Hillsong NYC. I have a mancrush on Hillsong, and have watched their worship leaders in what I see genuinely pursue God for years- I would consider them a doxa church, actually.
Now, when I was there, an associate who I won't name was there teaching. I'm very hesitant to write anything negative here- so suffice it to say it was not as Biblically rich as I'd have hoped. I root them on, and consider that to be an exception there, not the rule.
I've visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Fresh Wind Fresh Fire changed my life when I was 17, and even though their church style is about as different from me as you can get- I loved that church and would attend there. It was like a foretaste of heaven- unity in diversity, joy, great Biblical teaching- simple, yet let the Word speak for itself. Doxa.
I've visited Northpoint Church. One of the primary models of the soterios church. I loved it. I was inspired. Deep worship? That's not what they are trying to do- it was two songs and done- because the thinking is all through the grid of what people who haven't yet trusted Christ would be touched by. Which I respect... but is that where the church is supposed to stay?
I think Northpoint is worth studying. I respect what they are trying to do. Are they growing? For sure. Are people becoming deep followers of Christ? I don't know. Either way. We sure have a lot to learn from them- my wife and one of our staff members are headed there next week to learn.
I've visited Newspring Church. The ones famous for covering ACDC and Van Halen during service. Perry Noble has this way of saying about anything and getting away with it. I visited Newspring expecting it to be way aggressive only, and I was wrong. I loved Newspring. I actually saw them minister with a broad brush- trying to reach all kinds. I saw lots of "blue hairs" in the audience as well as college age. My wife and one of our staff members are headed there as well, in part because I insisted on it- I could attend Newspring.
However, almost every teaching series is "Pump it Up" or "House Party" or "Unleashed." Now, that's intentional- they are soterios, trying to see people trust Christ. I respect that. I loved Perry's teaching. Would I stay in that teaching mode exclusively? No.
I've visited Elevation Church several times and have contacts there. They've been so helpful for us, giving us tours, answering questions, training production guys- even to the point of giving us their phone numbers so I can ask questions. Terrific guys.
I think Elevation, although I would consider them a soterios church, to be most middle-of-the-road. They are much more doxa than meets the eye. They seem to me to engage intentionally and aggressively people who need Christ- yet truly worship and set the stage for deep things. I would absolutely attend Elevation- them, Newspring, and Brooklyn Tabernacle were my favorites.
I've never been to Harvest Bible Chapel, although I've read James MacDonald's writings. They are inspiring and I see such a pure heart. I wasn't as receptive to him watching Elephant Room- but there is such a purity of heart in Vertical Church you can't help but love the guy.
Even in the beginning of the book, he wrote: "getting people back to church is pointless unless God comes back first... many iterations are all horizontal substitutes for God come down, we all get rocked and radically altered, Vertical Church."
My detailed thoughts will come later- but for now- even as a worship leader, comparing the two-
Can you have your cake and eat it too?
Depends on what your cake is.