OK here goes…
I have resisted for LONG ENOUGH. I know some will suggest I should have resisted all together, I know my wife has said as much. She asked, “What benefit come from blogging about such a sad event as this IWT.?”
My answer after thinking about her question for a week?
It may stop this type of thing for even coming back to Perth and damaging the church in Perth.
It may stop this type of manipulative approach to faith from continuing around our globe.
This post comes, not from a desire to divide and destroy, nor a bitter heart or disdain towards the church, but rather, it comes from a desire to unite the church, to build the Church of Jesus, it comes from a love for His Church and a love and respect for all people created in God’s image, particularly those who are not in a relationship with our Lord.
Did I go? No I did not. I admit that I speak third hand from other people’s experiences. This testimony comes from numerous sources around our city, both the cynics and those who were in full support of IWT coming to Perth, some of whom were even employed in anticipation of the outpouring of new disciples as a result of IWT.
Why did I not go?
I saw the advertising, both the website and the flyers and smelt a rat.
I knew this was driven by YWAM, and for all I think about YWAM, I understand they are keen to see people follow Jesus, as I am. But was there any hint of that on any material? Any suggestion that this could just have been a Christian outreach? There was one small line suggesting that amongst other organisations and community groups that local churches were also behind this strange and mysterious visit to Perth by these muscle men and dancing islanders.
I smelt a classic “bait and switch“.
It looks like this –
“Flash, bam, boom, stretch, crash, pow, wooooohoooo, amazing, incredible, look at that etc etc”
then all of a sudden…
“JESUS JESUS JESUS, if you loved all of the above…ya gonna love Him too, come fwd if you want all of this cool stuff…oh and Jesus too?” (This was just what it turned out to be I have heard)
There were even people bending iron bars into the shape of Christian fish symbols and breaking baseball bats and making the sign of the cross and kneeling down…CHEESE…I Think I feel a vomit coming on!
So I did not go, nor did I encourage my kids to go even though it took place almost on our door step.
I asked my daughter what she thought it was when she brought the flyer home.
“Looks like a fancy show with some guys doing some fun stuff, what is it Dad?”
“These people want people to come to know Jesus, but they don’t want anyone to know this until they surprise them with it on the day. They are spending more than one million dollars to do this”
“Seems dumb hey, and expensive too, do we have to pay?”
“No I think they made Churches and rich Christians pay”
“I guess there are better things to do with their money…”
And I would add better ways to make disciples…
Agh but I am told that one quote coming from leadership was that “We are not after disciples, we just do the winning souls bit”
And that division is shown in scripture…where?
I wished I had been recording some of the horror stories from the past week up here in the northern suburbs, but maybe people will jump on and add their own stories in the comments, and no doubt some will add some positive stories that no doubt will surface. There has even been ugly press in the West Australian and local rags. The local school even wrote an explanation in this weeks newsletter home to parents.
There is always some good, but must we perpetuate the horror, abuse and destruction of the name of the church to justify a handful of good testimonies some of which may actually survive and even thrive in some faith community somewhere?
Some may also add their horror at me writing this post and my strong tone…trust me this is not strong! But you are welcome to shoot. I know you no doubt feel as strong about this event going ahead as I do about stopping the damage being done. Some people have invested much time and money into making this event work. You may say,”if you spent the time you spend complaining actually helping make this event work better it would be good!” – Agh Nope, you missed it!
We had parents that we are building relationships with from our school dismayed by what they saw as an incredibly manipulative event. They felt tricked, they were angry at the school for promoting it, they were disillusioned with friends and neighbours who invited them.
Why can’t we do 2 things;
1. Make faith a natural part of our day to day relationships. Make “Jesus” as natural a conversation in our relationships as the conversations about the holiday we want, or the dead patches on our front lawn…these type of conversations come all too easy, and Jesus all too hard.
2. Have the balls and simple ability to articulate our own faith story with friends instead of feeling like we need to “take them to a special event”. At this even we sit smugly (albeit uncomfortably at times) thinking “go get em preacher, you tell my friend about Jesus so I don’t have to, you smack em about with the reality of their futile lifestyles, their sin and their eternal destiny. If your friend responds well, COOOL! “What a great event, PTL!”
If your friend is offended, you join in with them criticising, apologising for the “insensitive preacher, not all Christian events are like that, I am so sorry”
But it’s too late, both your integrity and that of the church (and sadly Jesus too) is damaged and your chance for trust building and on going discipleship (and maybe relationship) is less if not gone.
These are challenges I wear myself, I am not just throwing them only at you.
Can we PLEASE start to get over the consumer driven religious experiential church structure we soak in within Western Christianity. (Obviously if your church does not fit this, the I am not talking to you am i?) I have to shake myself daily to realize just how sucked in I get by our consumer society, but when the Church starts to look the same and I get sucked into this too, then it is a sad day.
We are of another Kingdom, we are not of this world. Our shopping, our spending, our entertainment, our parenting, our dating, our marriage, our travel our use of resources, our relationships, our hospitality our everything should look different not the same. We serve a different Lord. Jesus is our Lord, not Caesar…or consumerism or GW Bush or Howard or Myself!
IWT organisers, I know you intended well. I don’t know who you are, and this is not a character attack, it is an attack on a way of doing, on a philosophy of Christian events…including Church services.
There it is!