We desperately need a fresh theology of us. Movements are about us.
The church is plagued by a theology of me. The individual has become the great end of God’s plan for mankind. We are told, “If you were the only person on earth, Jesus would have died for you,” and “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” This may be true, but it misses the grand plan. In fact, it misses the entire gospel. God’s plan was never for an individual – it was for a redeemed people. The entire story of scripture is about the relationship between God and his people – not one person.
Jesus did not die for me. He died for us. His plan since the beginning of time was for us. We need a new theology of us.
This changes everything. It forces us to re-think our soteriology, ecclesiology and leadership development. Some of it will offend our theology rooted in over a hundred years of individualism. Movements of the Gospel are not about me. They are about us. They are not about you. They are not about your brand or your non-profit. They are not about my organization. They are about us. The grand plan of God to redeem us.
As the Western model of church has spread around the world, it has shaped church into a “collective of individuals” rather than a “body of believers.” It has changed worship from a community function to a personal experience in the midst of a crowd. Worship used to be about us declaring His worth. It has devolved into a private emotional experience designed to build up my own self-worth. It used to be the sacrifice of a community. It has become a consumer-driven music industry.
A theology of us will change our disciple making. Making disciples used to be about helping people grow in Christ. It has become about delivering good sermons that tickle itchy ears. We have shifted from a focus on helping people mature to a focus on good oration. Our measure of success has become compliments on the sermon or likes on Facebook. We need a theology of us that places the focus back on the growth of the people – the formation of healthy faith communities that together impact society.
Together. Community. Us.
A theology of us will re-shape how we lead. Jesus modelled team. He built team, functioned in team and empowered a team. We value rock stars. Our leaders function alone. They direct teams, but they are not part of teams. They use teams, but they do not build teams. They own teams but they do not release teams. Even Jesus did not build alone. Team is not a group of co-workers who meet occasionally to plan and compare results. Team is task-inspired but not task-driven. Team is about us.
Army. Bride. Body.
I am aware that I am already treading on dangerous ground, so I will not presume to understand all the implications of what I am saying. My intention here is not to present a new theological paradigm in its entirety. It is simply to prod, challenge and spark a conversation.
How do we move from a theology of me to a theology of us?