One of the greatest tragedies that can afflict the post-pandemic church is that of getting tangled in a jungle of institutional analysis and missing an opportune moment—a kairos.
Pandemic panic can easily lead to shallow solutions and missed opportunities. It can force leaders to give all their energies merely to restoration of activity. Recovery of function becomes the most important goal of all.
Function must arise from being, and therefore institutions in crisis must re-examine and re-connect with the ontological (their essential being) or they will miss the kairological.
If churches are to benefit from theopportunities now before them, it will help to focus on two other Greek words. Bios and zoe are both translated in the New Testament as “life.” However, each has rich meanings and implications that are missed by not providing a more literal translation of each.
Bios refers to “life” that enables existence in a material world and finite time. God formed Adam of the “dust of the ground,” providing the human biological structure that could function in a material world.
Zoe often refers to life as God has it. Therefore, God “breathes” His life into Adam. Greek scholar Milton S. Terry, in his book, Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964) carefully delineated the difference between bios and zoe. In the Greek New Testament, Zoe is holy, victorious, and, and eternal — “the antithesis of death,” in Terry’s interpretation.
Bios expresses the existential life as corrupt, failing, and temporal. “In all its uses, bios has reference solely to the life of man as lived in this world.”
Two other words are important in relation to seizing the moment of the present kairos: “form,” and “frenzy”. These have to do with spiritual energy. There are two extremes of church. To borrow imagery from Ezekiel’s “valley of the dry bones,” the “form church” disregards the “wind,” and sees the process of renewal as the restructuring of the “bones”. The “frenzy church” disdains structure, not realizing that without structure the energy of the wind is dissipated.
The “bionic” church (whether form or frenzy), like the “bionic man” of a long-ago American TV series, thus has the appearance of life and structure, but is a human-contrived caricature of real life, incapable of ...