As we continue to navigate what we want Good Shepherd to do and be and how we want it to feel, the following distinction keeps roaming around in my head:
Are our experiences therapeutic or theocentric?
Now those are big sounding words but they actually communicate relatively simple truths.
We live in a culture that is therapy-focused. We often redefine sin as sickness. Thus, the solution is therapy or healing as opposed to repentance and renewal. Broken people want to be put back together — often in recovery groups or individual counseling. Many times, our environments at Good Shepherd have that kind of vibe. I believe that’s both a strength and a weakness.
The theocentric concept is the other side of that coin. The word literally means “God-centered.” (Theo is Greek for “God,” while centric means “centered.”) From this perspective, the focus of any church gathering is to honor & praise & meditate on God — his character, his power, his attributes. Our Calvinist friends are brilliant in crafting environments that begin and end with God-centered reflections.
So what’s the solution?
Perhaps I’m asking the wrong question in all this. I have an idea that when you have a theocentric focus then therapy happens naturally. In other words, when you dwell on who God is, healing happens in the deepest part of the human heart.
So: therapeutic or theocentric? Answer: yes.