I mentioned before that the Lifeshapes triangle is all about living a balanced relational life of UP (God), IN (Body of Christ), and OUT (those who don’t know Jesus or are marginalized/oppressed), and that it is a simple visual tool to remember something that seems to be intuitive across the landscape of churches.
Yesterday I met with someone who again confirmed this kind of thinking in yet another metaphor/image.
He talked about a discipleship tool they use called the “barstool of balance,” and mentioned that our lives (and churches) need to built on four equal-length legs, or the barstool is going to wobble, and may fall over. The four legs were:
Or UP (Spirit / Word), IN (Community), and OUT (Justice).
I appreciated his delineation between Spirit and Word, though, because it seems to me that many charismatic churches assume they’re doing “UP” well if they have some visible manifestations of the Spirit’s presence and power, but they are in desperate need of deep Scriptural teaching.
By the same token there are plenty of evangelical churches that assume they’re doing “UP” well when they have great biblical teaching, but are “practical deists” when it comes to the things of the Spirit.
This guy I met with said that we have thus created a false dichotomy where people think they have to choose between irrelevance (become a crazy charismatic) and emaciation (become a boring evangelical).
I wonder if we will ever get that balance right. It seems that each individual church has a strong point in one of the two areas. The church might be very biblically right (doctrine), but not living any of it out. Or as you said they do the Spirit and life stuff well, but they have so much Scripture twisted and confused. The struggle is the balance between the two. You don't have to choose one over the other, we just have a tendency too. Many church leaders don't have a strong balance in both, so the church follows suit.
I love the "up, in & out" stuff. Is that from 3D Ministries? Great material.
Ben Sternke says
You're right that churches and individuals seem to get 1 or 2 out of 3 – it's a challenge to become "equilateral!"
And yes, that material is from 3D Ministries. We've learned a lot from them in the past few months as we've participated in a Learning Community.