Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Old Stocks, Please

Here’s another reason I will never be invited back to speak at the Church As We Know It. I’m not burning these bridges on purpose, or maybe deep in my subconscious I really am, but feel I’m only trying to speak about what makes sense to me now more than ever. Also, I’m not trying to be contrarian for the sake of stirring up controversy. I just look at the practice of my faith in a very different light now.

At the risk of burning in theological hell for this one, I’m really puzzled about the use of bible language to describe the future of church movements. Is it really a good thing to refer to our gatherings as “Acts 29” models, or as “New Testament” churches? Is it best to define what the future needs by going backward instead of forward?

No, I don’t hate the Bible. Just follow me for a few more paragraphs.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think about this in seminary, or in my years of being a part of the Church As We Know It. Maybe it was because I was too close to it all to see how I might be worshiping a sacred cow all because of a culturally held value, instead of a faith-based one. But I have to keep coming back to the words that were recorded of Jesus when he told his followers, “greater things than these you will do, if you have faith in me.” My question that is begged from this statement is: How will looking to recreate what has already happened lead to a movement any greater than the one we are trying to imitate?

Many of us yearn for awakening. We seek a movement and like to feel we are a part of the next wave that will roll like the tide and change the course of history. I know, I’ve been a part of it, and in some ways, still want it to and believe it can happen. I was convinced that the Passion Movement was going to usher in a cataclysmic event that would affirm Bill Bright’s vision of seeing spiritual awakening in his lifetime. But I was still looking backward, not forward.

Notre Dame Football is a case in point. Guys my age think about the Fighting Irish much differently than the 17-year old high school recruit looking to play football in college. It’s the older folk that want to get their school back in the National Championship hunt by speaking in terms of tradition, core values and past successes. Talented Prep Star doesn’t relate. He’s looking ahead, not behind. Why spend his abilities on a school that seems irrelevant to where he’s going?

We’ve done the same with the Future Pastors. They are the young men and women who show talent, leadership and vision, but instead of giving the keys of the Church of the Future to them, we want them to take over something of ours instead of creating something of their own. And when they don’t show an interest, we mark it up to the flaws in the generation.

Could be the problem lies with us.

Like it or not, Current Pastor, people like this are the future, and they are the ones that are going to replace you.

Both you and Notre Dame are going to have to contend with the future of your existence. Are you going to build a future or continue to create a world that looks like your past? If I were you, I would seriously take a look at the defensiveness my words are stirring up in you. I’m not talking about being relevant or dumbing down the message or diluting the Truth. If that is all you can see of this post, either I’m not being clear or we need to have a few beers together so I can explain what I mean further.

I’ll buy.

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