We talk a lot don’t we?
I am having so many conversations around the topic of church I wonder sometimes if the devil has this plan to just get us to talk lots about God’s church so we don’t actually ever become what was intended.
On the other hand I wonder if God actually wants us thinking, dialoging about it, refining it, finding better was of doing it, questioning what might be practices that surpress creativity, freedom, justice etc.
Why is it that when you are passionate about beer, it seems that you keep ending up in conversations with others passionate about beer too. When you feel strong about…lets say a particular social justice issue, others tend to find their way to you (or you to them) who feel the same way. All the people in the church who hate the preaching (or the preacher for that matter) all seem to end up in the same small group or around at one persons place for lunch after the sermon each week.
Of course you can make it happen. All you need to to drop the right lines, hints, even a sigh in the right place will do it, just to indicate what you need to send the signal out to another you have feelings on a given topic…the radar picks up perfectly if the other/s feel the same way or not. If they do, then the ground is slowly tested in conversation until you have formed a political party, a social action group or a church split over your hobby horse. It was never your intention, it just happened that ‘everyone felt the same way’! (My kids say that!) It sure feels like everyone does feel the same way because our radar is only tuned to pick up “MY” coloured blip.
So why then, even knowing this and being so aware of this do I honestly keep ending up hearing or landing in the middle of conversations about people being tired of certain aspects of the traditional church. Sometimes I agree with the coments. Sometimes I say so, sometimes I disagree with the comments and sometimes I say so. But I try not, mostly, to ever ‘make’ them happen, no sighs, no comments, I sus out if they have read my blog, or know what I think before it comes up. In fact I had someone in a small group last year open up innocently and say,
“Hey guys has anyone ever heard of this emerging/organic church stuff, heaps of people are challenging the commercial, ‘popular’ way we are doing church” I am like “really, did you want to talk about this?” The conversation went no further that night, and in fact never has with that couple.
Is it me? Or is there a mass movement around, bigger than ‘p’d off, burnt out pastors’ frustrated with a system that may have burnt them, bigger than extreem left wing weed smoking liberal Christians, bigger than honest hard working missional evangelist church planters…these people are your average pew warmer, only they seem to be getting bed sores. They seem to be tired of sitting in church programmes, tired of what some have called ‘spiritual masturbation’ (excuse me, but it is in quotes so it’s ok), that is the constant injections of ‘church’, the constant feeding of systems that seem in many cases to lack genuine care of individuals and instead sees people as means to an end, that people become ‘useful’ for my cause or my programme.
I honestly had someone say recently about a couple moving to their church, “these guys will come in very useful to me”.
There are people, normal people (that means not like a trained pastor like me!!) asking big questions about church. These questions wont all end up in wierd looking communities with no accountability, no teaching, or running off hand in hand naked to the organic vegi patch together . These people may simply stay put and ask the hard questions, they may become our church leaders of tomorrow, in churches that look and feel different. Churches that may still have ‘stuff’ and have need of money to pay their bills and build their buildings, but something underneath will just tick differently, feel different, they may well be the catalysts for a massive ground swell of new look christian communities (yes churches if you like).
These people are the ones doing the talking. I am sitting regularly with people who are from my own church and others and someone will innocently say, “What do you think about the way some church does such and such…”, “What did you think about the materialistic feel of such and such a conference, don’t you think Jesus would weep over that?” “Have we lost our way in the area of genuine discipleship?” etc etc.
Options For The Genuinely Concerned-
- Go off and start something new, ignore what is disliked about the old, just focus on doing what is new (some have and are going for it, no doubt the fact that humand are involved it may get messy, but yay them) – Traditional Church seems cynical and critical of much of this on the whole.
- Stay and get bitter and twisted and cynical about the way things are. – The Church would find you hard to cope with…so would most of the world!
- Ignore and deny that there could be anything wrong, suppress all doubts, avoid all conversations. – You would hate you as you lack internal (self) integrity.
- Stay and be a thorn in the side of the church, positivly challenge everthing that you feel contradicts your ideal, look for healthy dialogue, feedback on your thoughts – Your church would be driven up the wall by you I guess.
Keith Farmer (Former Principal Australian College of Ministries) once said that he believes that the church is on the verge of it’s first ever reformation. Sure we have had theological reformations before, one major one…where us non-Catholics emerged. But Church in pretty much the ‘form’ it is today, has always looked pretty much what it looks like on the whole.
We do what we call pub church, but we wait till the pub is empty (Sunday morning) and we move in. That’s not pub church, that a normal church in an empty pub. Try it when it’s full!!!
Keith asked the question I ask me (and you) “What does a global reformation of the Church look like?” And if this is really happening, and if this is not a fad, but a move of God…what is he doing, and why? What was the kind of Church/Bride he was coming back for? Radiant? or Rich?