I'm frustrated to put it gently, concerned to say it lightly, and heart broken to say it clearly. I've read countless books on the life of the church, Christian living and all the trends that have come and gone and the ones supposedly on the way for the church. Yet it is my current reality that has me nodding most enthusiastically at two specific books (outside of the Bible of course, which is more controversial and wild than ever in our current culture): Jesus Wants to Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden, and Rejesus, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. Both, more or less, point out that there is a desperate need for the church, and Christianity as a whole, to get back to Christendom (Jesus the Christ as center of the church and faith), which will invite people not to consume religious goods but to GIVE their lives to Jesus and so GIVE their lives away for the sake of Jesus. So where do my current feelings come into play? As someone on a team that has planted a church within the last year we have faced many challenges, with the biggest probably being "Christians" who have desired to have the church be theirs to have, rather than having themselves act as the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are in NEED. I could live with those outside the faith leaving the church because we preach and live Jesus, but when we have "Christians" leaving because "Sunday morning isn't good enough for me," then I take issue. People have looked me right in the face, or more often, straight through an e-mail, and said, "I don't get warm fuzzies on Sunday morning, and I'm not getting fed enough by the messages," which I respond by throwing up a little in my mouth. Recently someone new to the faith, who was confused by all the leaving, shot back at those who have left with, "Why aren't you self feeding? Why aren't you reading your Bible and connected to God on your own? I feel sad that you lay all the responsibility on Sunday morning." Ummm... AMEN! And yes, people said "warm fuzzies and being fed!"
As someone who has spent the better part of 13 years serving in some capacity within the church, I see where I/we have missed the mark. Too often I/we have worried more about those people crying for more fun, cool, and fuzzy feeling producing things, which more times than not, trumped Jesus sitting front and center of everything. I expressed this recently at a youth pastor's round table, and I was shot down because "you should be satisfied with planting seeds with whatever ways work to get people in the doors, without going over the edge." I guess my question is, what kind of seeds are we planting though? If I sprinkle in 10-15 minutes of Jesus amidst an hour and a half of jack-assing around, did I really do my best, or plant the best seed? To be honest, I have never felt more confused and I would love to have help, input and wisdom in where to go from here. Many of the young people, both youth and 20 somethings, have expressed an interest to be a part of something significant and do something significant. They are weary of all the bells and whistles, YET, they are also leery of TRUTH and have little problem living with a pluralistic society and theology.
I realize that I can't fully explain my heart and thoughts here, as it is all still swirling around, leaving me scattered. But I hope to ask questions and I truly believe that the Jesus of the gospels needs to be reintroduced. What does that look like? Does that mean the church will actually shrink in numbers, but grow in depth and purpose? If so, what do pastors (myself) do to support and take care of their family? Where is the church, who is the church? Is anyone out there?
Where I'm at