Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Show of Hands

By a show of hands, who reading this is going to church on a regular basis who isn't paid to do it? Anyone? I didn't think so...

The problem with the reformation, and probably one of its greatest contributions to the history of western civilization, was the creation of the alternative. Not to give too much credit to luther and the boys, but they proved that if you don't like what's offered, make your own. And once someone else has made their own, if you don't like what you've got you can join up with them and if you don't like what they've got, make your own. What should have happened with the reformation? It should have been a wake-up call to the church catholic and everyone should have gotten back together, worked it out, and even called back in the orthodox church. And all of this should have occurred within the lifetime of martin luther. that's reformation. Instead, we get denominations.

One of the strongest arguments in favor of market mentality is its inevitability. Go ahead and try to wash your hair without making a choice to support a brand. Have some dinner tonight without choosing which beef producer you want to advance on their quest of world domination. Try taking a crap without choosing which toilet paper brand is the best.

My point is this, that wherever there is an alternative, there is the market, and there is 'success' in our context. For the church, we see individual churches causing their own schisms (traditional/contemporary w/i same church), thus growing larger and creating a market within themselves. Create your own alternative and people don't have to go somewhere else to get it. Tack this onto the necessary free-market adapting that was already mentioned by jenny and you've got the current state of affairs. The churches that have not given in are called dead by those that have because 1. The congregation is too homogeneous (they are filled with old people) 2. they refuse to change and 3. they are not feeding the flock. While there are some true challenges in these claims, I suggest that the exact same critique can be raised against most thriving, market driven churches. 1. The congregation is too homogeneous (they are all young, or white, or black, or rich, or poor, you get the drift). 2. they refuse to change (do NOT question Willow Creek, the building project, etc.) and 3. they are not feeding the flock (at least from the pulpit, or for the most part at all and they are not feeding them Christ in the sacrament. This is an amazing, unnoticed flaw! Reference church history!). The argument is made that it is thriving because people are coming, people are making commitments, and people are changing. But by what standard? Where is the gospel going? Who's selling everything they have and giving it to the poor? Why are there still hungry/poor/homeless people within feet of these churches? Why are pastors quitting and elders screwing around and getting divorces if it's going so well?

Jonny, I think you may be right that we're screwed. I honestly do. You're right to say that any church not accepting the business model will not 'get off the ground.' What's needed is not a revolution of the thinking of individuals in the market churches, but instead one option may remain. 1. a true reformation, where the flaws, shortcomings, and evils of the market-evangelical church is called out from within, loudly, and in print (CT) with an actual course of action. 2. This course of action will be painful, tragic, and risky. Those who act will be called divisors, rejecters of the Gospel, and will be excluded. For a pep talk, reference the prophets and Jesus. 3. A reclaiming of the history of the church, centered around the word of God and the sacrament of communion, an open table of fellowship where all are truly invited. This may begin as a separate community, but the object should always be reunification with anyone and the separation should never be on your head, i.e. follow Luther and wait until they kick you out.

So this is my dream right? The main problem? I have to get to church on Sunday and sit through the crap that is before me. I have to somehow find myself within the community.

And Dusty, you forgot that match-ups don't matter when Shaq can dunk on everyone. Lakers in 5. Honestly, come on abshire. The more every other Laker is outplayed the better for Shaq and the better for the Lakers. I choose Shaq.


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