Gray Is My Favorite Color

I tend to find myself in the middle a lot.

Most of the time that's where I am most comfortable (which is probably why I'm a Methodist). Methodists are people of the middle - or, a phrase that I prefer: "the radical center" - if we were fans of the Counting Crows we would surely be singing along with them: "yeh, well you know gray is my favorite color, I felt so symbolic yesterday. If I knew Picasso, I would by myself a gray guitar and play." Our pastors write books called Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, and we find ourselves straddling the middle on almost every social, political and theological issue. Most of the time I am very comfortable with this; but then there are times where I think to myself, "make a decision for God's sake; take a stand for something; pick a side!"
My biggest struggle right now has to do with the whole missional/incarnational vs. institutional/attractional ecclesial model thing. My problem is that I read too much. I've read everything there is on the "emerging/missional" church, and I agree with much of what is being written; but not everything. Then I start to read everything I can on the "traditional/institutional" church, and I agree with much of what is being said; but not everything. I have some very good friends who serve in the Conference that I serve in who are doing some amazing things within a missional church paradigm. I also have some very good friends who are doing some amazing things within a traditional/contemporary church paradigm.

What I want is to hold the two in tension. I want to be able to do what I love to do within the walls of the "church" building: preach, sing, share in fellowship with other believers, baptize, preside over communion, officiate weddings, teach Bible studies etc, AND I want to be able to do what I love to do in my other parish: the world: serve at the Rescue Mission, volunteer in the schools, hang out with folks who don't want to come to "church," etc.

I went to a Conference on Church Planting a couple of years ago in Orlando and attended a pre-Conference workshop called Incarnational or Attractional. The folks doing the workshop had crossed out the "or" and replaced it with an "and." Unfortunately by the end of the workshop all the "missional/incarnational" folks were on one side of the room and all the "institutional/attractional" folks were on the other side of the room.

And all the Methodists were hanging out in the middle of the room having coffee.

Actually, we were almost required to take a side.

And I didn't appreciate that.
So much for the "and."

I think there has to be a way to bring the best of both of these concepts of how to "do" church together. There has to be some gray in this painting somewhere.

I'm determined to find it.


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