Generational Transference in the Bible: Implications for Today’s North American Church (Part 3)

Generational Transference Passing
(Continued from previous post…)

Second, a local church should structure itself adaptively.  The church’s life, both in concept and in action, should be based on organic and missional metaphors.  Snyder notes that Scripture transforms even the static “building” and “temple” images of the church into organic ones: “living stones,” a growing building, and even a temple alive in the Spirit.[1]  When the identity of the church is viewed as Christ’s body[2] or as his bride,[3] then the life of the church naturally involves movement as well as issues of health and growth and reproduction.  According to Stevens and Collins, this biblical approach to structuring leadership and ministry means that the “most productive direction will be to work with the culture and systemic organization of the church” and reinforce the mutuality and interdependence of a congregation.[4] 

In an adaptive structure, an organization resists possessive leadership, resists institutionalization, and releases creativity to address paradigmatic challenges.  Stevens and Collins point out that a flexible network structure discourages goals that elevate leaders to the detriment of the rest of the body.[5]  In other words, possessive leadership and rigid establishment cannot be bedfellows of the bride of Christ.

In this way, generational transference principles will tend to reflect the adaptive practices of organic and missional communities within the contexts of life rather than static traditions, buildings or programs.[6]  Transference principles will perpetuate beyond the construct of tools and resources, echoing the ongoing life breathed into the church by the Spirit.  Furthermore, because the church is alive acts as a living family, transference principles will tend to echo cooperative and partnership themes.

[1] Snyder, 90; See 1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-22

[2] E.g. Romans 12:5

[3] John 3:29; Revelation 19:7

[4] Stevens, R. Paul and Phil Collins.  The Equipping Pastor: A Systems Approach to Congregational Leadership (Alban Institute, 1993), xviii-xix

[5] Stevens, 7

[6] “Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the church do from time to time; the church’s very nature is to be God’s missionary people.” Roxburgh and Romanuk, The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), xv

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