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October 4, 2016

Noisy Gongs and Clanging Cymbals

By Mark DeYmaz

In a recent opinion piece for CNN, Mel Robbins, an expert on human behavior and motivation, wrote about people and organizations known in the business sector as “disrupters.”The disrupter,” she writes, “is someone (or a group, organization, etc.) whose entire ‘brand’ is…to turn the way we do things on its head. …(Disrupters) break the mold, change our thinking about the mold and then hand us the new rules for how things work.” By way of example, Robbins cites companies such as Amazon, Uber, Apple, and Facebook that completely changed the game in their respective industries: from the way we think about retail and shop online, to how we catch a ride, our use of cell phones, and connect relationally on the internet. “Disrupters” such as these, she writes, “don’t fix what’s broken because they don’t innovate from inside the system.” Rather, they operate outside conventional wisdom turning systems upside down to effect systemic change.

Stated another way, disrupters see around the corner long before others have even arrived at the intersection of present and future. Because they can see around the corner, out front ahead of the curve, disrupters first define, then refine, and ultimately create new realities by changing the way we see things, think about things, and get things done. Once disrupters gain enough momentum they don’t just envision the future, they create and establish it. They frame the questions, shape the narrative, and influence the conversation. In so doing, they challenge what is and inspire what is yet to come.

Upon further reflection that night in my hotel room, I soon recognized that Jesus, Himself, was a disrupter. In fact, you might say that He was and remains the disrupter of all disrupters! Think about it:

  • He disrupted darkness and gave us light (Genesis 1:2, 3)
  • He disrupted the law and gave us grace (Galatians 3:23)
  • He disrupted sin and gave us salvation (Romans 10:9)
  • He disrupted death and gave us life (Romans 6:23)
  • He disrupted time and gave us eternity (John 1:1-2, 14; 3:16)

If Christ is a disrupter, and He is, surely He expects His bride, the Church, to be, as well: that is, one with Him in heart, mind and purpose. More specifically, He expects believers in local churches to walk, work, and worship Him together as one beyond the distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide. In so doing, the local church can become collectively disruptive: advancing the common good, influencing systemic change, and in the process redeeming entire communities along spiritual, social and financial fronts.

But therein lies the problem.

Due to the systemic segregation of local churches today, and in the eyes of an increasingly diverse and cynical society, the vast majority of churches (and therefore, pastors) in the United States have absolutely no credibility when attempting to speak to the most pressing concerns of our time, concerns largely informed by race, class, and culture. Therefore at a most critical time in our nation’s history, when demographic shifts are bringing change to America, most churches or the pastors that lead them are not framing the questions, shaping the narrative, or influencing the conversation beyond insulated audiences. The fact is, Christians and churches are as polarized as the society in which we live; and the people in our communities know it. They see it, and we are marginalized because of it.

Today, the typical local church is not disruptive: rather, it has been disrupted. In what should otherwise be the church’s finest hour, our collective witness has been undermined by a lack of thoughtful, proactive and holistic engagement on matters of race, class, culture and community. More often than not, our words are spoken too late only after problematic situations of real or perceived injustice arise and receive widespread attention. So when we do speak, our words ring hollow, inauthentic, and self-serving, whether spoken from the pulpit, on social media, or in the streets. Thus, in the eyes of a secular society, in what some refer to as a post-Christian era, we have lost the right to speak, to lead, or to be heard; that is, to offer Christ-centered, biblical perspective in moments of socio-political concern, confusion or crisis.

Is this not what it means to be as noisy gongs and clanging cymbals (I Corinthians 13:1)?


* This excerpt is taken from the book, Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community by Mark DeYmaz (Thomas Nelson/Leadership Network, April 2017). Click here to pre-order.


Mark DeYmaz

Mark DeYmaz (@markdeymaz) is a recognized champion of multiethnic church planting, growth, and development, for the sake of the gospel throughout North America and beyond. He is the founding pastor of Mosaic Church in Little Rock, AR, and a co-founder of the Mosaix Global Network. His books include Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church and the recently released small group study, Multiethnic Conversations.


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