Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Which Church Is Yours: Dragon, or Lamb?

Image result for john piippo
(Monroe County)
Pastors - I recommend reading:

Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan (See also this recent interview with Chan)

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus' Path of Power in a Church that has Abandoned It, by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

And one more - my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church

All three are about Spirit-led, Spirit-driven, Spirit-empowered churches. All three come out of deep concern for the American Consumer-Driven Church.

Goggin and Strobel, in their interview with Eugene Peterson, describe the American Church as following the "way of the dragon." Peterson writes:

"We choose: we follow the dragon and his beasts along their parade route, conspicuous with the worship of splendid images, elaborated in mysterious symbols, fond of statistics, taking on whatever role is necessary to make a good show and get the applause of the crowd in order to get access to power and become self-important." (In Goggin, p. 138)

Here is "the way of the lamb":

"Or we follow the Lamb along a farmyard route, worshiping the invisible, listening to the foolishness of preaching, practicing a holy life that involves heroically difficult acts that no one will ever notice, in order to become, simply, our eternal selves in an eternal city. It is the difference, politically, between wanting to use the people around us to become powerful (or, if unskilled, getting used by them), and entering into covenants with the people around us so that the power of salvation extends into every part of the neighborhood, the society, and the world that God loves." (Peterson, in Ib.)

Goggin and Strobel write:

"The way of the dragon is fixated on the spectacular, obsessed with recognition and validation, intoxicated by fame and power. The way of the Lamb is committed to worship, pursues God in the ordinary, and is faithful in hiddenness. The dragon devours and dominates, while the Lamb humbly and sacrificially serves." (Ib., p. 139)

They summarize the two ways as follows.

First, the way of the dragon . . .   

  • The pastor uses the church as a platform for personal fame, fortune, and influence.   
  • The pastor views ministry as an arena of performance, where some win and some lose.   
  • The pastor uses the people of the church as tools to accomplish their big dreams.   
  • The pastor relegates prayer and care, the heart of pastoral work, to “lower-level” staff because they don’t have time to waste.   
  • The pastor views other pastors primarily as competition. 

Second, the way of the Lamb . . .   

  • The pastor gives their life for the sake of the church, regardless of what they gain.   
  • The pastor views ministry as an arena of love and service, not winning and losing.   
  • The pastor embraces their congregation as people to know and love, not tools to use for other ends.   
  • The pastor views prayer and care as the centerpiece of their work, rather than an interruption.   
  • The pastor views other pastors not as competition, but as fellow shepherds on the journey whom they need for encouragement and wisdom, and who they are called to encourage and love.

(Ib., pp. 139-140)