Continued Interview with Brian McLaren...

I've been horrible at keeping up with regularly posting Q&A excerpts from my now-months-old interview with Brian McLaren. But I shall press on!

"Brian, is ecclesiology, the way we're doing church usurping our First Love - Jesus Christ?"

Your question suggests, I think, a concern that some people are paying too much attention to ecclesiology and church pragmatics, and I certainly agree.

I think that a lot of us are tired of talking about the church so much, church techniques, church success strategies, how big are you, what's your growth rate, what's your budget, how many parking spaces do you have, blah, blah, blah.

There's a place for this kind of counting and technical idea sharing, no doubt, but as your question suggests, it can become almost idolatrous. And so can talk about candles or coffee or digital images, or whatever. I recently heard someone talk about the difference between saying "the church has a mission" and "the mission has a church" – I think that question points the issues up quite well. We might say, "The Trinity has a mission which has a church," and we'd be getting a healthy balance, putting God in the subject position. So of course there's a place for talking about the church, but as your question suggests, it can easily become preoccupying.

There are so many things that can distract us from our first love – and one of them is the church becoming preoccupied with itself. So this is a danger for everybody. That's why I'm so encouraged by the increasing emphasis I sense wherever I go on getting back to the deep practices of devotion to Christ, so that we keep Christ at the center of everything.

I share your concern when anything threatens the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, and the essential importance of sincere devotion to him.

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