Saturday, July 31, 2010

By the way . . .

I love the Saturday potpourri post that Scot McKnight puts together each week. He calls them Weekly Meanderings, and they're chalk-full of good reading.


Chaplain Mike has a good post explaining the terms evangelical, post-evangelical, and post-evangelical wilderness.


An old friend dropped by to see me this week. Guy I knew from my first church, back when I was a "baby Christian." The church was run by a madman in vestments, but we were trying to focus on "the positive," ignoring the psychic damage the madman was doing. My friend hung on much longer, but eventually walked away. Now he's a sort of humble rebel, pastoring a small group of old-timers who have also escaped that madman's fiefdom of churchly pain (I'm not kidding). I guess my friend wants me to come have a look, but I've moved well on from those days.


Back to the "wilderness" metaphor. Perhaps it's not the right term. Wilderness, biblically speaking, is sort of the other end of the spectrum from promised land. Like many of the commentors at the above-mentioned IM post, I'm not in a church right now. But am I in the wilderness? Everyone whose faith rests on Jesus--his life, his work on the cross, his present ministry--has truly found the promised land. In that sense, whether they're comfortably ensconced in a church pew each Sunday morning or not, they're certainly not "in the wilderness." But note: this "promised land" I speak of is not temple-centric. It is Christ-centric, borderless, and, yes, spiritual.

But I do accept the term "post-evangelical wilderness" as a cultural descriptor. A lot of people are ill-at-ease in the funhouse of contemporary evangelicalism. I mean, there is just so much diversionary nonsense!


As for me, the wife and I have been thoroughly enjoying our church-free Sundays. My suggestion is that we hold to our friends and "community" of faith with a firm grip, but to our Sunday morning church extravaganza with a very light one. Be diligent about loving and serving one another (I have not mastered this by a long shot), and be creative about worshiping together. The evangelical template for "worship"--attend a five-or-six song Christian rock concert, have a brief coffee-clatch, throw money in a plate so you can buy a glitzy sign for the highway out front, then sit and listen to a 45 minute sermon by the expert Bible guy and call it all good--it's just broken. It's repetitive self-enthralled narcissistic shallow and has as its core purpose--though no one will admit it--that everyone do more to sustain the whole glitzy shebang. We're rabbits running in circles!

Now, no pastor/church CEO is going to like hearing this idea--hold lightly to the Sunday morning church routine! They always push for more zeal about Sunday morning, more "faithful" attendance, more "sacrificial giving" to support the ongoing show. The idea of a decentralized non-templecentric faith is really hard for them to get. It doesn't "preach" well. But I believe it just may be the future of the church.

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