"I'll Have A Double Galatians. Hold the Psalm."
Ken Medema once sang about our Christian culture's creation of the "corner drugstore Jesus pushing happiness pills." Well sung, Ken.
I am startled at the responses to the previous post. My friend, Bill Kinnon, is wondering why his essay and mine have struck such a sensitive nerve in the evangelical community (see previous two entries). "Grace" offered insights into the underlying issues of "church" gone awry and Jamie points us to a preferred missional future.
It's risky writing as we did because some will think we're petulant or whiney or bitter. As far as I can tell, Bill is a happy guy. And I'm enjoying the place God has called me to at this time in my life. Others may conclude differently. Such is the risk when you reveal the "family secrets."
I don't think Bill and I are seeking to place blame on anyone. We're trying to address a prevailing form of USAmerican/Canadian "church" that is spinning out a lot of negativity. Disillusioned people are fleeing congregational life as we have come to know it. Pastors are jettisoning a toxic form of ministry parading under the banners of "success" and "cultural relevance."
Remember "paint by numbers" kits? This is the USAmerican church. Just like McDonald's across the States---all the same---so is the average evangelical church. Same songs, same current trendy stuff, same effort at some kind of coffee bar. We older folks poke fun at teens wanting to express their "individuality" and end up in the same jeans, same shoes, piercings, same T-shirts, iPods, etc. as all their friends. Why do we joke about the teens when we sit in our churchy cultural sameness from sea to shining sea? For all the fuss about GenX, etc. versus Boomers, I even see an ocean of sameness in the emerging church. The 'conference-ization' of anything is the evangelical way.
We don't have honest evangelicalism. We have an American Christian economy driven by market share and media. You got a good idea? Publish it (with a workbook). You got a creative ministry? Put it on a DVD. You got a heart for the poor? Make money off of it. Anything is marketable. Bank on it.
Christians are investors in the corporation. What is their profit share?
"I pays my money and I makes my choice." Christians are consumers.
"May I see your menu, oops!, I mean your church bulletin..."
"Is this service rated G or PG? I hope to God, not R."
Q: "Are we going to do the 40 Days of Purple?" A: "Yeah, after we do Experiencing God and before we do Alpha."
"Can I bring my snack, oops!, I mean my coffee into the theater, uh, sanctuary?"
Who wants to serve in that mess? Who wants that mess in the first place? A whole lot of people and pastors are saying, "Not me!"