Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ted Haggard and Al Gore

The challenge of communicating any vision is getting your listener to properly translate your words into the same mental picture that you see. If I spend all my energy painting an image of an apple for you, but somehow you think I’m describing an orange, then I’ve not done my job as a communicator.

I feel this way as I try to explain what I mean by the Church of the Future. I don’t have concrete examples in the same way as if I were telling you about the Church As We Know It. When you hear me use the word, “church,” you already have a prejudice toward the topic. So I search for other means to be understood.

Take the recent Green Revolution, for example. There is a section of our population that believes with all their heart that the earth is on a collision course with disaster because of the damaging effects of global, man-made pollution. Now my point is not to judge the belief, but to point out why the movement may be viewed with skepticism.

As a believer in global warming, if you try to convince me of your argument with anger and manipulation, you’re going to lose me. If fear is going to be your primary means and you get me scared that the sky gonna fall, I might bite, but how is that different than the Y2K craze ten years ago? I will change temporarily, but what happens when I don’t feel the same urgency a few years later?

In addition, I will further doubt the validity of your claims if your movement only looks like a means to make economic advancement by selling me products labeled “green.” And I am especially offended if those “green” products turn out to be inferior. You don’t look authentic in my eyes. You become yet another charlatan, nothing more than a facsimile of the hack preachers that give the Church As We Know It a bad name.

My point is not to forge an opinion about the Green Revolution, but rather to point out why I think it will end up with the same reputation as the Church As We Know It. It’s building itself on a foundation of fear and not love.

The Church of the Future will not need to make you afraid. It will recognize you are already full of fear. It will not need your money, so it won’t make you feel guilty about what you do with it. It will believe you are capable of blessing others and doesn’t assume that if you do as you please, that the natural outcome will be wrong. It believes your motivation comes from the divine transformation called rebirth, regeneration or a handful of other big theological terms.

One reason I recommend not going to the Church As You Know It on Sunday mornings is to give yourself a chance to step away from it and get a different perspective. It allows you to see the forest and not just the trees. It might allow you to understand why you feel so bored, so pent up, and frustrated.

You might see what I see.

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