My friend Paula showed me a recent blog post from Skye Jethani where he writes about his “Daisy-Cutter Doctrine.” Jethani is the managing editor of Leadership Journal which is owned by Christianity Today International.
So what is this new Daisy Cutter Doctrine Jethani writes about? It is named after a military weapon designed to do intimidate the enemy with an explosion so massive, that their desire to fight is stripped away. Jethani allegorizes this weapon to the the approach many churches take toward missions. He relates his own experience with speakers at large conferences aimed at energizing the audience for the “big” mission of the Gospel. Jethani writes about these popular conference presenters this way…
Throughout the stump speech, the presenter will wax eloquent about the fate he or she foresees for the new generation of church leaders in the audience. “Your generation will do what mine could not.” “The young leaders in the church are leading the way by throwing off what’s come before.” “You will be the generation to change the world.” Convinced of their manifest destiny, the twenty-somethings will head off to breakout sessions where they will learn the skills to impact the world-usually from other twenty-somethings.
In my study of Church history, this generational bigotry has, in my opinion, been one of the biggest barriers to fulfilling God’s mission for the world. If we are going to really fulfill the Gospel mission, then it must be done by recognizing it is not the task of one “chosen” generation or one “chosen” leader. It is the task of all God’s saints working together in the unity and power of the Spirit. Jethani, goes on to explain why the Daisy Cutter Doctrine is so appealing.
The shock and awe approach to mission is extremely appealing to people shaped by consumerism. It taps into our consumer-oriented desire for big impact and feeds the assumption that large equals legit.
But there is a less incriminating [I think Jethani means “obvious” not “incriminating“] reason why we are attracted to the Daisy Cutter Doctrine-a big mission seems to logically demand a big strategy… So we ask, how does Coca-Cola impact the world? How does Disney impact the world? How does Starbucks impact the world? And we forget to ask the only question that really matters: How does Jesus impact the world?
…through much of its history the church in Europe employed conventional (worldly) means to advance its spiritual mission. This resulted in the gospel being spread by the sword. We now look back at the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the slaughter of native peoples in the Americas mournfully. Centuries removed from those atrocities we wonder-how could people do such things in the name of Christ? Did they not see how inconsistent those methods were with the ways of Jesus? At the time, of course, they did not.
Jethani makes an excellent point. Let me extend his comment. I believe that each generation has its own methods to fulfill the Gospel mission. Each generation has some inherent blind-spot which feeds the mistaken notion that their methods are the enlightened path to achieving God’s call. Cultural bias is one reason why we need the wisdom of every generation to overcome our blind-spots.
The implications of this “Daisy Cutter Doctrine” are huge for our time. Jethani rightly points out some flaws within the church in seeking to fulfill our Big Mission using Big Solutions from Big Corporations, but I think he also reflects one of the major blind-spots of our culture. Does this flaw reflect Jethani’s hypocrisy? Or is it simply his own generational bias? I will share the details of Jethani’s own “Daisy Cutter Doctrine” in the next post and you can decide for yourself.
In the meantime, I want to leave you with a great quote from Phil Vischer of VeggieTales fame. Vischer’s blog is the newest link on my blogroll and his quote is the perfect shield against the Daisy Cutter Doctrine.
I no longer use the word dream as a noun describing a goal. We misinterpret passages from the Bible like, “For lack of vision the people perish.” From that we run off and go, “Oh, we’ve got to have vision, we’ve got to have dreams!” But it was Henry Blackaby who first pointed out to me that when we interpret that verse to apply to our ambitions, we’re completely misinterpreting it. A better, contemporary translation is, “For lack of revelation the people throw off restraint.”
We’re not called to be a people of vision, we’re called to be a people of revelation. God speaks and we follow. We’ve completely taken this Disney notion of “when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true” and melded that with faith and come up with something completely different. There’s something wrong in a culture that preaches nothing is more sacred than your dream. I mean, we walk away from marriages to follow our dreams. We abandon children to follow our dreams. We hurt people in the name of our dreams, which as a Christian is just preposterous.
That doesn’t mean I just sit here waiting for God to hand me a Post-it note with tomorrow’s agenda. But I brainstorm, I have ideas, I put them on the wall, and I pray about them. Then one of those ideas will start to percolate a bit, start to bubble, and then I chase the bubble to see if that’s where God is moving me. But if suddenly God seems to be moving me in a different direction, I let go of that idea, because it’s just an idea. If I keep calling it my dream, I’m holding on to it too tightly until it becomes something I can’t let go of. And the only thing I can’t let go of is God. Everything else should be held with an open hand.
The church in the West is undergoing rapid change. We are shifting from an Enlightenment worldview to a Post-modern philosophy. The positive side of change is a stripping away of cultural encumbrance that has kept us from fulfilling the Gospel. The downside of our current transformation, is that we are all-too-often exchanging one cultural norm for another. One form of church is torn down, only to be replaced by a newer more culturally acceptable form. One set of political mores, is replaced by another.
One example of transformation comes under the rubric of Social Justice (ie. poverty, homelessness, AIDS, etc…). In serving the needs of the world, one of the key purposes of the Church–Evangelization of the lost–has been replace with the purpose to befriending the lost. The call to demonstrate the mature love of Christ has been supplanted by a childlike fascination with wordly-compassion.
Tokunboh Adeyemo writes a salient response from an African perspective in this article entitled, “Contemporary Issues in Africa and the Future of Evangelicals”
To the world, the Church has the responsibility of witnessing for Christ and discipling the nations (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19). This does not preclude works of charily which are an intrinsic part of the good news. However, caution needs to be exercised in this area. The Church is not an organisation for social and political asylum, nor are we to use divine resources to bribe people into God’s kingdom. Since the Church is in the world but not of the world, she should not be indifferent to the social, political, and economic struggles of mankind; neither should she sacrifice her ambassadorial function at the altar of social involvement. Our Lord Jesus Christ liberates the total man: the material and the non-material. Thus he says: ‘If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free indeed’ (John 8:36). The Biblical sequence begins with an internal spiritual regeneration and reconciliation of man to God, manifesting itself in an external physical transformation and reconciliation of man to man in society. The task of the Church therefore is to confront (not maintain dialogue with) the world with the claims of Christ as deposited in the Bible. This mission, central to the heart of God, his Son, and the apostles, must be the mission of evangelicals to the world. The New Testament Church was a missionary Church; and so must be ours. We must go forth (i) with a thorough-going Biblicism which does justice to the claims of the Scriptures, and (ii) with a Biblicism that is both contemporary and relevant.
Does the love of Christ include tangible expressions of kindness? Yes! But, our mission is more than alleviating the temporal pains of this world. We, the followers of Jesus, have a greater call to give the world a hope beyond the ‘now’. We are ambassadors of God’s Kingdom to this passing world and we must live accordingly.
Lest we forget…
Thirst is not quenched by micro-loans for building wells, but by the eternal wellspring of the Spirit.
Jesus replied, “Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life. (John 4:13-14))”
The hunger for meaning is not satisfied by wheat–bread, but through Jesus–bread.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But I told you that you have seen me and still do not believe…
50 This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 Then the Jews who were hostile to Jesus began to argue with one another, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him (John 6:35-36; 50-56).
The longing for love is not fulfilled in giving trinkets and bobbles, but in the person of God who IS love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. 10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:7-14).
I know how some folks will respond, “this kind of faith is not practical.” But therein lies the problem.–Faith in the West is impotent. The power of Christ, through His Spirit, to transform the world has been entrusted to preachers, politicians and pop-stars. The church must not give Her grand place in the Kingdom to become the Sugar-Daddy to the world. Do we really believe it? Are we able to live it!
Jesus, the undocumented worker, returned home to Mexico from living in America. His family said to him, “Jesus, why have you returned home from America?”
“it is difficult to understand” he said, “so let me tell you a story.
The kingdom of America may be compared to a Government who wished to settle accounts with a Mortgage Lender. When the Government had begun to settle accounts, one Mortgage Lender ,which owed 700 Billion dollars, was brought to account. But since the Mortgage Lender did not have the means to pay his bad debts, the Government simply printed up more money and gave it to the Mortgage Lender so he would not be ruined.
Later, that same Mortgage Lender, now bailed out from his 700 Billion in bad debts, went out and found a homeowner who owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Mortgage Lender seized the homeowner and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So the homeowner fell to the ground and began to plead with the Mortgage Lender, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But the Mortgage Lender wanted his money and he took the homeowner’s property and forced him into bankruptcy.
So when his fellow homeowners saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their Government all that had happened.
Then summoning the Mortgage Lender, the Government said to him, ‘You wicked Mortgage Lender, I gave you 700 Billion to pay all your bad debt, should you not also have had mercy on the homeowners, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
And the Mortgage Lender contributed many thousands of dollars into the coffers of the Government and contributed to the campaign funds of the many politicians and the Government was happy.
The homeowners were grieved, but still they elected the same leaders again and again…”