As our Executive Director (Bill Taylor) noted in his blog post last week, we are shifting our focus in these posts to “rebuilding.” He appropriately challenged us to recognize the universality of the divine calling we have received as part of God’s family – the call of the church is a call to us all. As we then begin to process thoughts about rebuilding, we must recognize both the present reality as well as the divine design we are working toward. This leads us to this presently controversial word of “deconstruction.”
In some measure, we are at a place of “rebuilding” because of COVID, but it is more than that. COVID regulations and ripples did not singularly change the context and effectiveness of our ministry, though it exacerbated or magnified what already exists in some measure. The last several years also laid bare what we are doing, in a way, clearing the table for us. The question then is: “What was swept off the table of ministry in the last several years that should be put back on?” That is for each of you and your churches to sort out, but I want to suggest that it will be hard to do that well without engaging in a form of “deconstruction.”
“Deconstruction” has been getting a lot of press lately. I have people asking me what I think about it, and how we should respond. Without getting too deep into the manifestation of deconstruction we are seeing in Christian celebrities (that may be a topic for another blog), I would want to clarify that in its essence deconstruction is not the same as destruction. Deconstruction is not equivalent to abandonment – though that seems to be an equivalency too often implied. Deconstruction is a more careful and thoughtful process of taking something apart for the sake of understanding and improvement rather than a critical spirit engaged for purposes other than rebuilding.
The truth is that to rebuild we must first disassemble, or at least review.
COVID did some of that deconstruction for us, but it has left lots of work for us to do. I believe that healthy deconstruction is only a first step – whether it is personal or corporate. The next steps are evaluation (bible based) and then rebuilding. Bill has helped us to begin to think about the rebuilding portion.
Unfortunately, some of us refuse to reconsider anything. Others too easily dismiss what has gone before. Neither approach is right and both invite trouble. Peter is one example of someone who wrestled with this same process. He had to reconsider the reality of Jews & Gentiles and rebuild his approach to ministry. That is deconstruction in its appropriate application: guided by the Holy Spirit and motivated by a concern for the lost, growing God’s church, and bringing honor to His name.
Where are you at in the rebuilding process? Do you refuse to revisit your plans and strategies? Are you simply longing to put everything back together as it was before? Or have you inappropriately thrown out all things historic too dismissively, simply because they were used by a previous generation or leadership? Hopefully, we are wise enough to avoid both of those ditches.
Additionally, let’s hope that what we have built is made up of components so evidently valuable and appropriate that when our ministries are deconstructed, they will reveal the great building blocks of God’s amazing truths, the sources of hope and purpose, of love and charity. And may we have the humility to allow others to test what we have been building, and building on, to make something stronger, better, purer, and even more effective. In fact, let’s be building blocks on which those coming after us can build upon to reach higher for God’s kingdom.
Maybe we need to avoid the word “deconstruction” because its meaning has been hijacked. But the concept we must not run from. To rebuild well we must not tear down and abandon, but disassemble to evaluate what parts still work, what parts are necessary and valuable, and then reassemble with those pieces. To do this well we must listen to the Holy Spirit and the truth in God’s Word. In fact, that approach is at the heart of our heritage in the Free Church. So, let’s rebuild well!
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