A few weeks back The Pew looked at the trend of culture overwhelming the place of the church in society today. We recognized that there is also a church culture, the way we do things. I did not look back to dig up an old bone but rather acknowledge, might still be some meat on that bone. We have started a Wednesday nite study at church that looks to be challenging. The title tells a lot, “A Charitable Discourse, Uncomfortable Conversations” edited by Dan Boone. The book hits right at my attention button within the first three chapters. We are doing, or plan to do, a chapter a week.
A few things off the top of the page.
-we have become to comfortable within the confines of our faith
-Confrontation with those who disagree with your thoughts will take most of your time and not allow you to tell your story.
-is there a place for us between the unchurched world and religious fundamentalism
-we are the odd ball, the world has changed and accepted the possibility that sin can be managed and defined by society
-we have found a way to escape accountability
-we have grown comfortable with a predictable faith
-the uncertainty of these days has created frustration and anger among the people of the way
This is a good read. You might want to look it up. Moving on, I have a strong feeling that the culture of the day has always driven the direction of the church for some time now. I don’t look at it as an us against them thing but rather a natural reaction to being comfortable and not wanting to rock the boat. The boat being your denominational affiliation, your church and in some instances your faith. What brought me back to this blog of a few weeks ago? Beth Moore…..well another one of her books I have read. I enjoy her writing and have used her books in bible studies over the years. Her book “The Beloved Disciple” had a few points to consider within this “culture” discussion.
Luke 16: 16
16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
Right off we get a hint at the discourse that is building within the Jewish society and church. “The Law” or the new way, the “Good News” which would it be? From the book Beth Moore writes that the year was 28 AD and it had been four centuries since they had heard a word from God. Life was pretty good for the Jews at this time and the absence of a word from God had left the people comfortable and not really receptive to something new and to the religious leaders of the day, this new thing was totally without merit.The people had withdrawn into a world they could control and shut the door to maintain its reliance on “The Law”. they didn’t have much of a relationship with God. Then along came John, John the Baptist.
2nd Peter 3: 3,4
3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
They had not heard a word from God for some time and were lulled into this closed-door thing comfortable in the old way. I love the way Beth Moore puts words together to paint a picture that comes to life even in today’s world. After 400 years of silence, out of the wilderness comes the Word of God! John’s voice was loud and had the authority of God in it. From the wilderness all the way to Jerusalem it is heard, people were drawn to this strange man and the door was cracked just enough to bring the Sadducees and Pharisees from behind the door to hear this “new thing”. Beth Moore has a great way of painting the picture….Jerusalem had pulled a security blank over its head, keeping only what they accepted to be true, determined to preserve the old and rejecting change,” pulling the blankets over their heads the Sadducees and Pharisees kept their heads from getting doused in change.” (Beth Moore)
So here we are today a church mired in confusion and endless debate about how to proceed. Is the loss of membership real are just a figure that reflects the changing church landscape, denomination by denomination. Even the question of how do we reach people is prefaced by the conversations around who are we trying to reach and then of course how? If this is not enough to contend with, we are having debates as to the true meaning of certain scriptures in today’s society and changing moral standards as defined by society in general. We do not have a man in rough clothing and a strange diet yelling in the desert and if that were to be, most people would be to busy to listen.
I see a difficult path ahead as we continue to adjust to the ever-changing demands of societal culture, while we ourselves question what we believe and struggle to adjust church culture to fit our comfort zone. I don’t have an answer but this weeks blog never set out to find one. Are we looking for church growth or lost souls? Who decides what people we seek out to share the message with? I can say with confidence that much of what we believe to be necessary to reach those folks in the desert does not always include the following. Exciting services, great music, congregational services, family life centers and other things that are designed to get people to come to your church. Now this may seem to be a harsh assessment of current practices, some of these do bring people in and some of these cause disputes and create debt. One last question. What does the calling of a Holy Spirit infused church look like? I don’t see us going anywhere until we answer that question.
Thanks for visiting The Pew this week, please come back!
Life is Good