Church plants are springing up every five miles all over the nation. Each has the same basic purpose, but with completely different motives. This concerns me. I agree with the basis of the idea that church needs to change. However, I think we need to be very very careful as to how we approach it.
Movements have been labeled Missional, Emerging, Reformission, etc. We’re not dealing with movements. We don’t need a name. We’re dealing with people. By labeling these movements, we’re boxing ourselves in. We must be very careful to not build cookie-cutter approaches of how to “do church” into these movements. Challenge all you want, but understand your audience before you just plain make things worse.
There is a book by George Barna titled Revolution. I won’t write a book report or even review it here (maybe later). However, he labels this group of people rethinking church as “revolutionaries.” I love the term. My mom thinks it conjures images of war. Webster defines “revolution” as:
a sudden, complete or marked change in something
Culture has changed since Jesus’ time. Culture has changed since your church was founded. Culture has changed since you were born. We need to embrace change or we’re going to be seriously irrelevant if we aren’t already.
Where we have to be extremely careful is the fine line between revolution and rebellion. I’ve spoken to too many people involved in planting a new church that say something along the lines of “We’re going to be a church for people burned by the church.” Right away you’re founding your body on rebellion, a dangerous ideal. You’re saying that church is bad (it probably is), and we’re going to do it better (you probably will). What you’re also saying is that “church pissed us off, so we’re going to show you how church really should be done.” Stop now.
I’ve actually heard the statement “church should be done like this.” Church should be “done” however best addresses the needs of the culture in your community.
God can’t bless a bitter attitude. What God can bless is meeting people’s needs. Take that exact same group of people who have been “burned” by the church and find out what else they have in common. Just take out the “we’re frustrated” piece and focus on building honest, positive relationships. So what if they’ve been burned by the church. The point is building a relationship with the one true God, not a group of people called a church.
Yes, church needs to change. We need to get up out of the pews and make a difference in whatever culture is around us (there are probably several vastly different cultures within a five-mile radius of your church building or your home – pick one).
We need to be smart about how we spark change. Saying “church sucks” may work to inspire some folks (it did me), but it would anger others, backfiring completely. We could spend weeks talking about who’s problem that is. Sure, the people who get angry when challenged shouldn’t be angered by the idea of change, but I have a feeling we can make much more progress with more effective communication.
Understand your culture. Build relationships. Change what needs to be changed. Just please, please, please communicate effectively. Your message may be right on, but if you don’t understand your audience, or you communicate that message poorly, you’re going to have bigger problems than you started with.
Since the pilot, the television in our house has been tuned to NBC on Monday nights for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s a beautfiul portrayal of the pressures that surround entertainment in this day and age. At the same time that special interest groups are fighting for their right to free speech, other groups are fighting to silence that which sheds negative light on their particular message.
NBS, the fictional network that airs the fictional SNL clone, Studio 60, heavily controls what sketches make it to air. If small-market Terra Haute is threatening to not air the show, NBS balks. That was then. In the pilot, the current producer freaks mid-show (it airs live, as does SNL) and walks on camera to slam the censorship that is a result of ridiculous political correctness for the sake of art. This, my friend, is real life.
The show continues and we find that the newly hired president of NBS actually stands up for art, by refusing to continue the micro-managing, hiring back the ex-writer and producer that were on the show in its hey-day, and brute-forcing her way through protests, small markets refusing to air the show, etc. All of this leads to newfound success on the fictional network and show.
So, what’s the point? Several articles and conversations have recommended a boycott because of the token sketch causing the ruckus at the fictional Studio 60, titled “Crazy Christians”. Though it airs, we never get to see the sketch, so we have nothing to go by but the fictional show’s frenzy. Also at the forefront of the criticism of the show is how the female lead is portrayed as a hardline Christian and somewhat “nutty”. Because the show paints Christians in a negative light, and makes fun of this seemingly “nutty” group of people, we, as Christians, should not watch the show, regardless of its entertainment value.
Some people fail to see the humor in this real world fight against Studio 60. The show ignores the protests and boycotts of Bible-belt markets and airs the sketch anyway. They poke fun at the protests. Yet, here is the same group of people, in real life, boycotting a show that is poking fun at the group boycotting the subject of the show. Seems kind of counterproductive, no?
Besides the fact that I enjoy the entertainment value and humor of the show, I see something that we as Christians can take away from it. Lose the bubble mentality. Look at the show from the perspective of the “other side.” They’re writing the material into the show because that’s how they see us. Why give them more ammunition by taking the defensive and boycotting the show that is making fun of us boycotting?
Rather than fight against the show, use it as research. Find out what they’re really trying to say. Is it simply humor for humor’s sake? Satire? Probably, but let’s assume for a moment these people really do hate Christians and are using Studio 60 as their platform. Find out why, and embrace it. What a concept, huh?
We as Christians too often take the defensive approach. Sure, there is reverse discrimination happening all over the place these days for the sake of political correctness. By taking the defensive approach, we build this little bubble around us and prolong the idea that “Christians are crazy.” When people think of Christians, they think of protests, annoying “ram-it-down-your-throat” evangelism, boycotts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Joel Osteen. Why prolong the insanity? We don’t want to listen to what they have to say about us, but we’ll talk all day and night about what’s wrong with them. People, believe me, we have our flaws too.
Remember, Studio 60 is an entertainment program. You may not think it’s entertaining, but don’t make it your platform for saying “Christians aren’t crazy.” We may not be crazy, but the rest of the world sure thinks we are. By doing exactly what they say we do by being crazy, we don’t help our cause any. It’s time we actually do something to change the world’s opinion of us and speak their language.
We don’t have to change the message, but we definitely have to change they way we present it.
I’ve been meaning to get a new design up on this site for quite some time. I really dug the Hemingway theme, but I decided that since I’m a designer, I should probably come up with my own thing.
So, I’m playing this weekend. I may stick with it. I might not. You’ll probably see a lot of broken things, but I’m kinda doing this in real time, so bear with me.
Update: I know there are bugs in IE. They’ll get taken care of eventually.
Update #2: So I didn’t play as much as I had planned. It looks like things are going to stay this way for a while though. My current to-do list now includes tweaking the layout a bit, filling out the missing content, adding the archive pages, and expanding the footer. Well, that and actually start writing interesting things here. I have some top secret features that I’ve been working on for a while that I’ll reveal as they are completed.
Expect something in-depth weekly, with smaller posts throughout the week. I’ll hopefully be filling up the “Found Objects” section more frequently as well, as my current source for interesting links, Andy Rutledge’s Design View, has (very) sadly gone offline for the forseeable future.
In the past few days I have seen and heard several advertisements for companies who state “[product or service] from the name you know and trust.” All but maybe one of these companies I had never even heard of. This type of advertising drives me crazy. Should you be telling me who I trust or should I be able to decide for myself?
One of my duties as Chairman of Technical Ministries at FBC Ellisville is to mix sound on Sunday mornings. I was blessed this morning with one of the most amazing sets we’ve done in a while. It was only three songs, but it was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had there in my twenty years of attendance.
I felt like I couldn’t dare keep the recording for myself and needed to let the world hear what we heard this morning. For copyright’s sake, let’s pretend you all had planned to attend and as part of our tape/cd or shut-in ministry, this is our preferred delivery method.
- Oh, Praise Him
I hate to say it, but this one was better in rehearsal. Regardless, though, it is one of my favorite tunes of all time. David Crowder can write, man!
- Worthy is the Lamb
We’ve been blessed with a tremendously talented couple that has joined our band and vocal team. This song features quite possibly the best female vocal I’ve ever heard. No, really, I mean that.
I know I only put up two of the three songs. We also did Trading My Sorrows, so maybe I’ll ad it sometime soon. These were just my favs.
I feel like I should also point out that both of these tunes are straight board mixes. There was no post applied at all, except a bit of trimming. Kudos to Ford AV for their system design that means I can provide a board mix that is as good if not better than the live mix.