10 Reasons To Embrace The Participatory Paradigm

Keith KettenringAncient Paths, Christian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Holly is ready to throw in the towel. As a Christian for 18 years, she’s done everything she’s been told to do to become a good, mature believer. She reads her Bible and prays almost every day. She attends church weekly and even teaches 1st & 2nd grade Sunday School. She substitutes on the worship team. She hosts a small group for career woman in her bungalow house every Sunday night. Yet, she wonders about her spiritual condition when she constantly gets angry at her boss for being such a jerk. She hates it when she becomes impatient with people who are “less than competent” or when she spouts out a sarcastic remark or when she manipulates people to get her way. And above all, it really bugs her when she acts so self-righteously. Shouldn’t she be better by now? How is she any better than the good-hearted “pagans” she works with? 

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I believe it’s time for a new way to live the Christian life. Not that’s not quite accurate. I believe its time to re-discover the ancient, time-honored way of living as a Christian (which is new to most of us). The Participatory Paradigm is one way of exploring this “way.” I’ll be opening up its components in future posts, but for now…

10 Reasons to Embrace the Participatory Paradigm 

  1. It’s how Jesus lived. Jesus lived as a human in full fellowship and communion with the Father and Spirit. He taught, healed, and died as a participant in the Trinity. He is your example, source, and motivation to participate in the life of God. Do you desire to be like Jesus? Then learn to participate in his life. 
  2. It’s how the Church understood the Christian life for 1500 years. It is what was taught by the Church until the Reformers and their followers altered the meaning of salvation. One of the many unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation was a theology that, in essence, removed God from being everywhere present and filling all things. Engaging the Participatory Paradigm is a move towards classical Christianity. 
  3. It is a solidly biblical viewpoint. I’ve tried to demonstrate its biblical veracity in previous posts. Verses that are used to support a spiritual growth model fall short in doing so. Passages that fortify communion and union with God abound. 
  4. Its use can be effective for a person to become virtuous and godly. The only way you can become like Jesus is to experientially “know” him. All human beings, including non-believers, can improve themselves and become a better people. What sets true Christianity apart from a mere self-improvement program? Answer: the very life of the Trinity flourishing in and through you. 
  5. It is satisfying and fulfilling. You get a taste of the “fullness of the faith.” God IS much more for you than you can imagine. So, don’t imagine it. Live it. Only by participating in God can you be filled with God. Thinking about Him won’t do it. Being emotional about Him won’t do it. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” “Be still and know God.” These are participatory and experiential invitations.  
  6. It leads to less judgmentalism. A litmus test for any spiritual paradigm is its ability to radically change a person from being judgmental to being loving. Any paradigm itself does not produce this kind of change. It must be appropriated and lived into by the individual. Yet, the Participatory Paradigm provides sufficient and powerful means for this radical change to take place. 
  7. It results in less discouragement. When the Participatory Paradigm is engaged, the reality of our nothingness and God’s “everythingness” is experienced. There is no need for measuring progress. Thus, there is no reason for disappointment at not reaching the “goal.” 
  8. It doesn’t ask for measurement. The whole focus is different. It’s not about making progress but about living in relationship. Measuring a relationship can be dangerous. Measuring progress is futile since it involves making comparisons to some vague “standard.” Its better to set aside expectations of God and yourself and simply know God.  
  9. It removes the tendency towards legalism. Due to its relational and communal nature, the Participatory Paradigm directs your actions and thoughts directly towards the Trinity. Its simple sacramental and ascetic approach effectively eliminates the need for complex understandings of theology or methodology. 
  10. It provides the context for real humility. This is the clincher for me. Having dealt with proud, self-righteous people most of my life, and seeing one in the mirror daily, I was staggeringly stunned to discover a few people who were actually on a path with Humility. These people were also living the kind of life I’m trying to describe using the Participatory Paradigm. Genuine humility can result by engaging the Participatory Paradigm. 

Which of these 10 reasons resonates most with you? Why do you think that is so? Share below. 

Dr. K