You (Church) Must Unlearn What You Have Learned

Remember the scene where Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing is sinking deeper into the swamp on Yoda’s planet, Dagobah.  Luke is surprised when Yoda tells him to lift it out himself.  When he tells Yoda that lifting a ship with the Force is nothing like lifting stones, Yoda replies, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

YodaYodaThat statement applies to lots of areas of life, don’t you think?  I’m still trying to unlearn that Pluto is planet, that movie tickets cost $6.50, and that I can eat almost anything and not pay for it on the scale!

In our churches, we need to unlearn some things, too, don’t we? 

We need to unlearn, for instance, our assumptions about what will bring people into our churches.  Great music or great preaching are not going to bring most people through the doors of our churches.

We need to unlearn old methods of outreach and evangelism.  Sharing the Four Spiritual Law with people on the beach (something I used to be pretty good at!) freaks people out more than it draws people in.

We need to unlearn some of the language we use to talk about God. We need to recognize that words so familiar to us could turn off or at least mean nothing to unchurched folks.  We know what words like “save,” “redeem,” “reconcile,” “law,” and “grace” mean; but those words can be like a foreign language to those outside our churches.

Check this out:

Missional communities representing the reign of God will be intentional about providing the space, the time, and the resources for people to unlearn old patterns and learn new ways of living that reveal God’s transforming and healing power. (Missional Church, Darrel Guder, ed., 152)

Here’s the question.  How do we create the space to unlearn those “old patterns”?  I want to suggest something we’ve tried in my church that has helped us begin to unlearn what we need to unlearn.  We call them “Neighborhood Connection Groups.”  And I’ll tell you more about them in future posts.

What are some old habits and patterns in your church that you need to unlearn?  What kind of success or failure have you had in doing that?

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