Monday, February 14, 2011

DOES THE CHURCH WANT TO BE THE CHURCH?

I wrote this while sitting in a cushioned theater seat of a megachurch on Sunday.  It could have been written from within any church facility or fellowship.

Does the church want to be the church?
I'm not sure.

It seems to want to be successful.
It wants to be bigger.
It wants to be attractive.
It wants to be phenomenal.
It wants to be known as authentic.
It wants to have lively, uplifting gatherings.
It wants to be notable.

But does it want to be the church?
Can it bear to be broken again and again?
Is it honoring the poor with anything more than leftovers?
Does it really want to do justice?
Does it make room for misfits and difficult people?
It is being faithful to its ever-changing locale?
Is it ready to serve in obscurity?

Does the church want to be the church?
Or, does it just want to be what its current leaders think it should be and want it to be?
I wonder.

3 comments:

  1. I'm reading right now, Eugene Peterson's "Working the Angles." I expect you've read it. He - and I - would say that the Church that wants to be the church that it is today - is probably not the Church of Tradition and history. It's not the church where past members of the tradition get to vote on what defines the church.

    Great text, btw - if you happen (very unlikely) to have not read it.

    ~ marty

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Marty. I have and have read 'Working the Angles' and appreciate Peterson so much.

    Still, I wonder who gets to define church.

    I have no interest in "traditionalism" or harkening backward.

    To me, there are commitments which Jesus and the NT writers made clear and priority that are transferable and essential in every era of the church if it is to be the church in fact.

    My sense: there is a lot of picking and choosing about which aspects of the church that contemporary (I mean current--whatever the preferred mode) church fellowships and communities want to emulate. Ultimately, however, the church, if it is to be authentic, will need to embrace the fullness of its Biblical mandate.

    To the point: the megachurch in which I was sitting as I wrote the piece will ultimately need to embrace people of racial diversity and of low income in numbers and in a manner well beyond the token level it currently acknowledges. It will have to grapple with justice issues which it currently skirts/avoids. It will expand its vision/mission/ministries not in response to an established church growth agenda/formula, but in response to hoping, hurting people in its locale.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a wonderful post! I am going to a megachurch now myself--yet as one who spent most of her Christian life in churches of around 100, the same questions have to be answered. They are writ larger in a church of 18,000 then in a church of 150 but they are the very same questions. I long in my bones for a church that will model racial and economic diversity especially. That would be a radical community, that community that demonstrates that such different people can get along in community, worship and commune with God together, and do things in Jesus' name together. That would make the world take notice!

    Blessings to you. Liz

    ReplyDelete

Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.