The further I walk into my life as a follower of Jesus the more either/or dichotomies I find that I don’t like. In the past I took a side on most of these. In some cases I’ve taken both sides at different times! Here is the list of four either/or dichotomies I don’t believe in anymore. What are yours?
Church is either decentralized groups (Community Groups, Missional Communities, House Churches…) or a centralized organization.
At least in terms of belief I have tended toward the former for the past six years. For a while I thought the centralized organization was the primary problem with the American church. In reality both of these can be great assets for those seeking to be disciples of Jesus. Being in smaller, decentralized groups allows more freedom, involvement, ownership, and potential engagement with those who are not believers (though this is far from a given). Connecting to a larger gathering (and larger organization) is great for facilitating ongoing formation through thoughtful worship, studied teaching, and the tangible expression of an interconnected body. Both of these have large potential pitfalls, but instead of avoiding them because of that I believe we should pursue them both with vigor and faithfulness through the power of the Holy Spirit.
You are either missional or attractional.
Nothing like two words that don’t show up in the dictionary to create a good dichotomy. Mission done well by an individual, group, or larger church will be attractive. Really, if we live as disciples of Jesus together in the world, proclaiming the gospel and giving a tangible expression of the kingdom of God at work in community we will be missional and attractional. Again, both of these used in the wrong way can have pitfalls, but pursued biblically and thoughtfully we should always be both.
You are either liberal or conservative.
Despite the political season we’re in, I am using these with their wider societal connotations. We perpetuate a deep rift based on the way our society defines the sides of an issue–adhering to two narrow opinions instead of engaging the issues biblically and thoughtfully. We have more allegiance to a liberal or conservative social agenda than we do to Jesus. We back one side of every socio-political issue rather than pursuing a robust biblical worldview. I don’t want to be liberal or conservative and don’t care which one people label me. I want to be faithful to the ways of Jesus (and yes, I know I will never know what that is perfectly).
You either care about salvation in Christ or justice and compassion.
I think we’re kind of getting past this one, but where it still exists I don’t like it. These are both central to a holistic gospel of redemption and restoration–the gospel proclaimed by Jesus. A full picture of the gospel must even be filled in with depth and character around these two concepts. They are central but they vastly simplify the beauty of the whole gospel.