Sunday, September 30, 2007

Becoming Churchless 101

If I were to ever offer a course on church planting, my first class would be titled Becoming Churchless 101. It would last about three years and I would charge you a matriculation fee of about $7500 a year, just to give it credibility and help me pay for my bi-annual study breaks. The point of the class would be to pull you away from your culture and immerse you into the one you want to bless. Consider the difference between your Sunday morning as a church attender, and that of a churchless person. An average churchless Sunday morning. See what your average churchless person gets to enjoy on Sunday morning. Sleep in. Read the paper. Make breakfast. Play with the kids. Go back to bed. Watch a little football. Have an early tee time. A typical day at The Church As We Know It. You, on the other hand, spend five to six hours on Sundays orchestrating a mass movement of your family to a place for your kids to play with other kids, which is really what much of The Church As We Know It has become. You have to get everyone up, fed, dressed, in the car, buckled in, transported, parked, and delivered or dropped off at the right room. Once in place, you make your way with the crowd into the big room with the band and other visual and auditory presentations. After the information has been dispensed in the prescribed amount of time, you must make your way back through the maze to retrieve your little ones who hand you the coloring sheet of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors, to which you comment, “It’s beautiful.” and you’re stuck wondering what to do with it. During all of this migratory movement, you manage to have a few brief interactions with people you know along the way. “How’s it going?” “Good, Busy, but good” “Let’s get together sometime” “Yea, let’s do.” But your son is tugging on your arm to go so you can get to Burger King and get a new Transformer. You finally get to the car, get the tribe in place and you depart for a quick lunch before the afternoon’s activities commence. And that was church for you. To some of you, you have no idea what I’m talking about. You love Sundays and all the activity and movement and chaos and people and so on. If so, my advice is not for you. To others of you, your immediate reaction to this description is defensive. How could I discourage the assembling together of the saints? If so, my advice is not for you. But some of you know what I’m saying. Is this the kind of life I want to invite someone in to experience? What would make your average churchless person give up their morning routine for yours? This is why I propose you do the opposite. Give up your Sunday morning culture and adopt a churchless one and see what results. If you are serious about planting a church, I would bet it would affect the kind of church you end up with. You just might begin to see the Church of the Future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Weight of the World

In the culture I was raised in spiritually, my college buddies and I were taught that the only thing that stood in the way of seeing people come to faith was our lack of courage to share the Gospel. Along the way we were equipped with a Summary of the Information and were assured that there were people everywhere dying to hear it. Time and again, men, mostly, told their stories about how easy it was to get folks to make a positive response to the Information and added something about how hard our hearts must be if we don’t do something to join in. Most of the storytellers, as I recall, had come through the Jesus Movement in the late sixties, early seventies, when there seemed to be a genuine response to spiritual concerns. Among all of them, there was an assumption that this same kind of thing was just around the corner and that the world has yet to see what God can do through one college student whose heart was completely committed to Him. I bought this outfit and wore it for years, but have finally discarded it since it doesn’t fit me anymore. It doesn’t fit me anymore because this statement assumes there has never been a fully committed person in history up to now, and that if I could somehow summon enough commitment, I would hold the key to the Next Great Awakening. I liked thinking that way as a college kid, but not as a man in the midpoint of his life. Maybe its age, fatigue or just wisdom, but I can’t take on that kind of weight these days. I prefer the yoke that was termed as easy and light. It’s easier for me to believe that the Future of the Age doesn’t rest with me and my level of commitment. I like the idea of having a part in the process, but not being in charge of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Die Trying

Google the phrase “worship industry” and you’ll find the latest in discussion about what’s wrong with The Church As We Know It. Why does it seem there is so much out there describing the problems but not a lot of visible evidence of any kind of sweeping change? You would think with as many experts out there expounding on the predicament that eventually we could find a solution somewhere. I have to place myself in that category. I have devoted much of my blog describing what I hope for The Church of the Future. I have plenty to say on what I think is missing, but do I have any answers either? What drives change? One word: survival. We change or die or maybe we just become irrelevant, and then die, but bottom line is this; we won’t change until we see that we must. Change, however, offers us no guarantees. I am undergoing significant change and reorienting my life course, but I could also die trying to change. And while I may die trying, I hang onto the hope that maybe someone will take inspiration from my failure to actually make the difference that I never could usher in. Agents of change have a tough road to walk. If you are a watchman like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s lonely out on the wall, waiting, watching, looking, waiting, waiting, and waiting. There aren’t many who check in on you, or even know what you do or that you even exist. But you take solace in the responsibility of your role. You know why you do what you do, even though others don’t. Your motive in not their appreciation.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Looking Back

I know I joke about my problem of listening to Christian talk radio, but there is a purpose to my occasional tuning in. I think of myself, not only as a Watchman, but also as an Explorer. I have felt misunderstood in both roles, with the biggest one being labeled as one who is angry or bitter toward his past, or who has drifted from his faith. This is not the case. It is actually the opposite. My faith appears to be alive and well more today than I can remember. My religious lifestyle and practices look much different than they ever did, but outer culture is not an indication of inner vibrancy. Two seemingly conflicting points on the map face the explorer; the Horizon and the Shore. Both represent necessary destinations. The Shore provides safety and security. Nothing wrong with either. I’m glad I was nurtured in this environment. We probably need more of it. The Horizon, on the other hand, represents the future of the Shore. The survival of the Shore is actually dependent on exploring the Horizon. What lies beyond water’s edge may have great implications that would permanently affect the Shore. Would the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina be as bad if those on land really understood the gravity of the oncoming storm? I have committed this season of my life to sailing toward the Horizon. To do so, I’ve had to leave the Shore behind, that being The Church As We Know It. I’m only a few years into my journey. I don’t know that I have much to report, but I do plan on staying in contact. One way I do this is to listen to what leaders from The Church As We Know It are saying on the radio. It’s like getting reports from the Shore, the culture and way of life I left behind. I compare what is being said and taught against what I am finding over the Horizon. If I see a storm coming, will I have the ability to communicate what I see to those on the Shore? I hope so.