The Church of Disunity
Ryan Schendzielos, The Church of Disunity, (Rapid City, SD: Shelter 50 Publishing), 2015.
As I commented to my colleagues at a recent meeting, "How many pastors do you know who are recommending that others read the most recent theological book published by their church janitor?" Ryan is a pastor with many talents and one of them is his ability to work in a bi-vocational setting, serving a congregation while earning his rent and grocery money from other jobs - among them the cleaning of our church. I have been fascinated by Ryan, by the emerging congregation that he, until recently, served as pastor, and by his fascination with deconstructionist theology.
In this small book he is very accurate at naming some of the challenges faced by the contemporary church. We have striven too much for sameness, agreement, and common belief when it is the nature of our faith to be complex and multi-faceted. The contemporary church (and perhaps the church in many different generations) has tended to be a collection of people who are very similar discussing mostly what they share in common. Ryan dares to envision a church that can live in harmony without striving for unity - for being the same.
Like the rest of us, Ryan is perhaps more effective at diagnosing the problems and less effective in his "solutions." Still, there are some suggestions that are meaningful, even if they have been tried. His recommendations, understandably, are most applicable to the small-sized congregation that he served and would need to be adapted for larger and more entrenched congregations. Still, he seems to have a good grasp on the directions of the emerging church and I suspect, the church of the future may conform more to his vision than to the traditional structures that we now see.