What metaphor am I following?
At a recent conference we had a stimulating conversation about the metaphors we follow in our lives and the church. For the past few years we have been deconstructing the whole ‘what is church?’ question. The church live out the script of the metaphor or metaphors they choose to follow. The tricky part is that we can live the script of a metaphor without really knowing that we are doing it. Some of the metaphors that invaded the church are: CEO metaphor, business metaphor, team sport metaphor, military metaphor ….. and so on.
For the last few days I have been thinking of the church in terms of a family (a metaphor used by the Apostle Paul in his writings). It seems to me that most churches function on the border of dysfunctionalism – like most families, if you don’t think your family is then it’s time to wake up and smell the roses!
Anyway, one of the ingredients of a healthy family is discipline. Dad and Mom administering discipline in love, without it everyone turns into a snotty brat and all kind of evils prevail. Take for instance the older brother picking on his siblings, he or she asserts their ‘power’ in a negative sense. Now in a family the parents of this older child will surely administer discipline – not expecting the younger ones to take the fight totally on themselves (I acknowledge that there is a developmental process in which they will have to stand up). The parents will administer loving discipline towards the older child and thereby bring order and unity to the house.
Now in our family, the church, who are our parents? I think it is the elders – they are the parents – with life-experience as in ‘being older’ and ‘maturity’ I add maturity because we know, sadly that some people don’t mature with age. Therefore they are responsible for the discipline in our family. Are we living this family-rhythm in our churches? Mostly, No. That makes me sad. It is probably to simplistic to think that we should aim for only one metaphor – I think we are indeed governed by a few of them.
Anyway I was wondering if the 5 of you who are reading this blog could give me some feedback on the metaphors that govern us as church communities?