Serve to Rule

In Critical Mass – Part 2: Service as the Technique, North notes that Christian Reconstructionists have no churches (as of 1991), and annual conferences are ineffective.

So, how shall Christian Reconstructionists expand their followers?

The Solution: Local Service

What is the solution to this problem? It seems to me that the only likely solution in the near future is for the person who has Reconstructionist beliefs to begin to apply those beliefs in a practical outworking of local service. As I said before, the great advantage that the city has is that it attracts such a large number of people that they are able to demonstrate their talents in very specialized forms of service. I think this is also the meaning of Romans 12 and l Corinthians 12. The Church as a whole throughout the world is to provide all of the services needed for the worship of God in the extension of Christian civilization (Christendom). A denomination should specialize in certain forms of these services, and such a denomination will attract people who happen to have these talents.

Within a congregation, the only means of gaining long-term influence is through service. If an individual defends what are regarded as peculiar ideas, he has to overcome the initial skepticism toward those ideas by becoming a well-known servant of others in the congregation or in the community or both. Consistent service to the needy in the congregation is a way of overcoming ideological resistance. Paul understood this, and so did Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Those people who selflessly serve others around them tend to have good reputations. If it is clear that the ideas which they espouse are consistent with, and motivational for, the kind of service that is praised by all those around them, the ideologically peculiar individual in the congregation can overcome resistance toward his ideas.

What this means is that Christian Reconstruction, in order to be successful, has to develop a commitment to service, a detailed program for service, and motivated individuals who will dedicate themselves to the program. No one form of service is primary, but anything that relates to charity, self-improvement, education, or personal development will be most consistent with Reconstructionist ideals. This means that there has to be a dedicated attempt on the part of those who hold the Reconstructionist position to make a positive difference within their congregations and denominations.

To gain leadership, Reconstuctionists must prove themselves to be good followers and servants, and not troublemakers or church dividers.

Jesus taught us that if you want to lead, you must serve.

Dedication and Leadership

Douglas Hyde, in his remarkable book, Dedication and Leadership (Notre Dame University Press, 1956), outlines the way in which the Communist Party in England in the 1940’s extended its influence. The leaders always knew the party would be small. They also knew that it could have great influence if the members of the Party were dedicated, and through personal self-discipline and hard work could become prominent individuals in their own organizations: their trade unions, churches, schools, communities, or whatever. The Party’s strategy was to train its members to become the most productive people in the circles in which they traveled. In doing this, they systematically gained influence way out of proportion to their numbers. These people gained leadership through dedication. (A similar strategy was adopted, though not self-consciously, by Puritan merchants in England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. They gave money to charities way out of proportion to their numbers.)

It is this attitude of service, when combined with personal self-improvement and self-discipline, that is basic to the success of any new ideological movement. If the Christian Reconstructionist movement is unsuccessful in developing dedicated and self-disciplined people who are committed to a lifetime of service, then the Reconstructionist movement will not achieve very much. It will become little more that an historical curiosity that receives an occasional paragraph in obscure specialized histories of American Christianity in the second half of the twentieth century. We should hope to be more successful than this.

This means that we have to go beyond ideological rigor.

Good theology is not enough.

(We really should study James more!)

It means that we have to extend our ideas into the realm of practical action. Intellectual rigor is not sufficient; dedicated service is also mandatory. This is why I think it is wise for individuals who can operate within a particular congregation or denomination to remain where they are in order to serve as many people as possible. Jesus said that by their fruits you shall know all people. The more people who can see the positive outworkings of the Reconstructionist position, the better off the Reconstructionist movement will be. It does not pay to become known as the Reconstructionist with the chip on his shoulder, or the Reconstructionist who divides organizations. Better to have our many critics gain this reputation.

Amen, and amen!

This approach to Christian Reconstruction tends to be non-denominational. This is not because reconstructionist should regard the denominations as irrelevant (although the activist Anabaptist wing of the movement does think this way); it is because Reconstructionists should regard all the denominations as relevant. It is to the advantage of Reconstructionists with a vision of service to gain recruits to the movement from within their own congregations. This is a much better strategy that any attempt to create a separate econstructionist denomination. (…)

Conclusion

The goal is consistent public service. The goal is not purity of doctrine at the expense of service. Doctrine should be purified in the outworking of service. Christianity is applied theology, and this application should be both word and deed evangelism. It must be both theoretically rigorous and visibly practical in the eyes of those around us (Deut. 4:5-8).

“Doctrine should be purified in the outworking of service.”

Words to live by.

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