Tuesday, September 25, 2007

22. Teacher

Excuse me...I have a question. The function of teaching in the traditional church has by far been the championed gift for the past 100 years. Think about it, what do you do the majority of the time while you are at a traditional style church? You sit and listen to someone teach. Now I do not want to come across as downplaying this important gift in the body of Christ. I have had life changing paradigm shifts from powerful teaching and teachers. But if I can repeat an age old saying "Too much of a good thing is not so good."

In the second movie of the fantastic four, these two heroes try to get married and have a happily ever after. The only problem is, the bad guy wont quit. I use Mr. Fantastic to represent the teacher because in the movie he is the genius in the group. (And...there is only four of them and there are five gifts!) He is the man with the information they all need. And while the biblical idea of teaching is more than just transferring information to another host, the institutional church has certainly narrowed this gift down to Sunday school and the sermon.

I chose this picture because it represents what has happened to the body of Christ as it pertains to the five gifts. Teaching and Pastoring have married each other and dominate the traditional style of church. (Although I would jokingly say that it is primarily a patriarchal relationship between the two. There is normally not much real pastoring going on in traditional churches.)
This unholy wedlock is partly due to a natural process of institutionalization in which organizations and communities solidify and turn inward to manage their identity and existence.
Institutionalization is usually seen when the organization begins marking off the borders of their group to clarify who is in and who is not. The establishment of boundaries is of course not necessarily a bad thing. There are idoelogical boundaries for the community of God. Like the gospel, the identity of Jesus etc. And there are praxis boundaries like the moral catalogues in the epistles etc. In fact, all communities have boundaries, whether they be ideological, praxis, images, locations etc. While boundaries are a necessary ingredient of community formation, they are not intended to function as barricades to outsiders.
So what does this have to do with pastors and teachers? When the functions of pastor and teacher enter into holy matrimony, to the neglect of the other gifts, (leave and cleave) this is exactly what the community ends up doing!
This is not necessarily because the pastor and teacher want to usher this in. It is really a byproduct of the apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic gifts being relegated as black sheep in the family.When the first three gifts of APEPT are missing, the Jesus community reflexively aligns itself with preserving the present order and patrolling it's borders.

I am not advocating that we do not need teaching and pastoring. I am merely saying that their needs to be a great divorce followed by a family reunion. In order for that to happen, at least three things need to take place.

1. Break up the incestuous relationship between pastor and teacher. Their union is natural in that they feed off of each other. But it is unnatural in that they are members of the same family! The gifts of teaching and pastoring are all to ready to pair up and sequester themselves off into a position of patriarchy in the church. Breaking up this disastrous duo means making space for the other gifts in the body.
2. Allow the teacher to teach the body about APEPT and their dynamic roles in the body of Christ.
3. Read Alan Hirch's two books The Shaping of Things to Come and Forgotten Ways. (This one is easy.)
There are a number of inhibitors to allowing APEPT to function in the body. but this is a start. Awareness is step number one.