I was invited to engage with some friends on the matter of providing a Strategy and Innovation service to corporate groups that seem to get stuck in a rut, and cannot get their people to think beyond the confines of their walls - or so they think.
After a while, I realized that it was going to be a difficult thing to do in the hometown where I work and live, where people are generally hesitant to tread new waters or explore newer territory (that despite their claim of being a trailblazer city - though I must admit, their claim can withstand the challenge).
My own retreat from that endeavor and subsequent immersion into the apologetic realm reoriented my thinking efforts and I have no regrets. The enterprise of understanding what we believe is far more enriching, rewarding and has brought me to a surer footing on matters of theology.
However, with all the reading and observation of the studies involving the various aspects of Theistic apologetics, I've come to see a different aspect of it, in light of innovation and strategy.
There is much being said about the new church movements being spearheaded by Erwin McManus, and to a degree, Rick Warren and the other megachurches - which have rankled many a traditional church organization because of they way that they conduct their congregational activities. Though I must say that they have succeeded in part by attracting many people who would have otherwise not considered attending church services, I honestly think that they've merely managed to repackage the entire enterprise and just made it more appealing.
A close examination of the way that Jesus of Nazareth approached the traditional mindsets of congregations of His time would have my innovating friends pointing to Him as a true innovator in that respect.
However, on examining the approach even further, far from innovating, He just made it a lot simpler for the Israelis to come to the God that they regarded as far and fearful. And better yet, He also made it possible for ordinary people who believed in Him to do exactly as He did, and He made sure that His followers knew it.
The book of Acts and church historical accounts up to the 4th century attest to it being true. Augustine's "City of God" point to at least 75 particular incidents, with one he witnessed with his own eyes.
However, somewhere along the way, we all lost it.
In my readings of the Kingdom Triangle of JP Moreland, the possibility for a revivification of that approach towards expanding the Kingdom is made even more real. Dr. Moreland, through his book and his lectures which can be downloaded and listened to from his site (http://www.kingdomtriangle.com) points to the three essential factors that caused the outbreak of believing followers in the first century following the resurrection and ascension of the risen Jesus: a life of the Christian mind and of thinking biblically, spiritual formation and it's disciplines, and the exercising of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit by believers manifesting the power of the Kingdom.
I come across a great many believer friends that point an accusing finger of possessing "head knowledge" that can't be as relevant as the practical wisdom of Christian conduct - which I feel could use a bit of empowerment, if they'd let the Holy Spirit take part. The case of Peter/Cephas, the supposed simpleminded fisherman, always arises, and somehow when the matter of his mental development between the time of his first hand education at the feet of the Master to his writing of 1st and 2nd Peter arises, they fail to realize that a good thirty years of spreading the good news of the Kingdom had passed - and in that time, his reasoning skills and ability with doctrinal discourses had developed considerably.
But sadly, to propound on this and be an active proponent of this thought to the majority of traditional church leadership would almost certainly result in controversy. First of all, to mindsets that have succumbed to a near naturalist worldview, this will appear as "weird" and it won't surprise me if the more influential among the conservatives would label this as heretical and cause yet another division in an already very divided body. I can imagine our Lord already rolling His eyes because of it.
Yet, I can't help but observe that this is exactly the kind of reaction that He had experienced in His ministry. His message was too controversial among those that had already established a status quo, that could not AND must NOT be challenged or revised. They were comfortable with it, so why fix what ain't broke?
In that light, the Innovation proponents possess the advantage in explaining why the box must be broken first before they can be free to think out of their boxes. But to do that, they must first study the way that the King first broke down the message of the Kingdom to those He proclaimed it to, and how He demonstrated it to them while incarnate and after He conquered death. The Kingdom Triangle does this very well.
You put those innovators within the worldview of the Kingdom Triangle and spread THAT message of the Kingdom - I have no doubt that the spirit of the Acts church will live again. And yes, there will be persecution - from both the traditional church groups and the forces of darkness. But that's part of the package.