I have a few thoughts swirling around about imagination, memory, identity, and potential for change. Just to be clear, this isn’t an angry or bitter rant. I am just thinking out loud and sharing some not-fully-developed thoughts.
Cindy asked in the previous post, “What now?”
There is important and necessary work happening in the conversation in an attempt to re-imagine what church is when we remove the Christendom lenses through which most of us have always known church. At this point however, it is mostly theory and conversation.
In The Forgotten Way, Alan Hirsch asserts that embedded within us is an apostolic memory that he refers to as mDNA. If we were to remember and realize that aspect of our identity as the people of God, the church could be transformed from an institution to an organic missional movement.
Even for those experimenting with changing models and methods there is an innate tendency to modify and remodel aspects of the dominant model. I really wonder if we are capable of imagining beyond what we have always known.
According to Alan’s mDNA, it is within us. Yet it seems that the power of the memory we are imprinted with may be a force greater than mDNA.
Instinctual drift is the tendency for organisms to revert to their natural tendencies, a history of learned behaviors so ingrained that they have become second-nature. We instinctually drift back to these known patterns by default.
In the Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch said:
“One of the major blockages to unleashing Apostolic Genius is our adherence to an obsolete understanding of the church. A people whose imagination of what it means to be God’s people has been taken hostage to a less than biblical imagination of church.”
Not only have our imaginations been taken hostage, but our desires have been captured also. I said in the previous post that we have the church we want. The majority of us live among people completely entrenched in and satisfied with the church model I described in my previous post.
I am doubtful that we will see church re-imagined to the degree that Alan describes. I am also doubtful that the dreamers who attempt to launch into something new will overcome the instinctual drift to revert to the inherited memory of church or to overcome the resistance from the masses whose expectation is for the institution of church we have always known.
While diagnosing the need for change is important, what will become of a handful of people asking “what now?’ in the shadow of the Christendom machine?