My kids were raised on “The Little Mermaid” and in an early scene as Ariel surfaces to discover the “above” world her noble companion, a seagull named Scuttle plays the role of sage, helping her in her discovery. He emerges with a fork and tells her it’s a “dinglehopper” and in the joy and fascination proceeds to comb his feathers with a fork. In doing so he renames and changes the purpose of the fork. There is this fascination with new worlds and the freedom to rename and the enthusiasm of discovery that is in many ways necessary and in some ways essential. To see through these eyes is fresh and beautiful; and yet, in some respects difficult and naïve.
I was reading a blog on Missional Communities, or as I would say “Dingle Hopper Church,” because as you dig further it is simply a new name for what Jesus intended all along. I get that a name sometimes needs to be changed. I did it years ago removing the term deacon because the name created baggage to the actual function and yet it didn’t change the essence. Missional Communities or Dingle Hopper Churches are wonderful and absolutely necessary and completely and utterly not new. They are, however, the enthusiastic rediscovery of the beauty and function of the body of Christ. Sometimes we need to rename to rediscover but as Shakespeare said, “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”
I love the enthusiasm and am happy to call a fork a “dinglehopper” if it gets us back to the proper function of church. I don’t, however, feel the need to comb my hair with a fork. Renaming and redefining are two different things. The church has structure, it has offices, it has roles and has a clear mandate and mission. The church is not a group hanging out musing deeply about Jesus and trying to be “real”as an end in itself. The church is real, it really evangelizes and really serves. The church really worships and it really has structure and order. The church practices and it really grows. Combing your hair with a fork and calling it a “dinglehopper” is not discovery; it is deception if the essential function is lost. Missional Communities are not the church, unless they fully function as the church; and churches that don’t fully function as the church aren’t either.