Sunday, April 22, 2007


It's good to be able to laugh at ourselves.

Dan McDonald is a friend of Bill Kinnon and Dan pastors Grace Toronto Church. Dan has jumped into the People Formerly Know As conversation. Here are Dan's thoughts on People Formerly Known As The People Formerly Known As The Congregation"

"I raise a glass to the People Formerly Known as the People Formerly Known as the Congregation, who, upon hearing that their disaffection had created a tsunami-like publicity wave that was about to become a Zondervan marketing campaign and then a new para-church ministry (40 Days of Anti- Purpose?), quietly realized that it was no use. Even their defiance had become hip. Soon CNN would be calling, and Larry King would be asking them for an interview. Sigh.

"And so, with heavy hearts, they looked around for the most authentic expression of Christianity they could find. It wasn't in the Christian bookstores. It wasn't in the radio programs. It wasn't even in the TV shows; Lord, no. Oprah didn't quite make it. Benny and Jimmy and the TBN gang had too much hair spray and too many white suits and ever-white teeth. And it was no longer in the blog weave known as TPFKATWhatever, which was now hopelessly popular, cool, hip, and with it.

"So they dragged themselves down to the local church. Not the magnet Uber-church that took up 15 acres of land, but the local church with the faded sign and the musty carpet. And there, they found something bizarre.

"Second-rate music, draggy announcements, bad children's stories, dated PowerPoint templates, and something else.... real parents who were teaching children about Jesus with joy in their hearts. Ushers who loved to serve. Snacks teams that laughed as they missed the last part of the service just to feed a hundred people. Guitarists in tears over a cheesy illustration by the young pastoral intern, who was so nervous he had forgotten to button his shirt properly and was speaking for 58 minutes because by gosh, since he only got to preach twice a year, he was going to tell them everything he had learned in the past 6 months. And patient singles, couples and parents nodding dutifully to him, knowing he was nervous and helping him feel loved and prophetic and useful. and finding that in those 58 minutes were some very helpful things for them, because a Voice was using this intern in his inadequacy.

"And that Voice, the Voice of the Shepherd, touched the PFKATPFKATC. And they remembered why it took them so long to become the PFKATC. Because despite the second-rate production values, the Spirit was here. He promised to be wherever two or three are gathered in His name. Excellent it wasn't- Cheesy it was. Authentic? Go ask the snacks coordinator if her joy is authentic, and she'll think you're from another planet. You can't DREAM UP this kind of second-rate cheese combined with this much first-rate joy in our culture any more; it has to be authentic.

"So they- the PFTATC, that is, decided to be radical and do a crazy thing. They called up the People Presently Known as Pastors, and found a bunch of peope equally frustrated, tired, restless, and hopeful. And they talked. And the PFKATCongregation realized the PPKATPastors hardly read blogs, because they are so busy dealing with the complaints and needs of the People Still in Their Congregation. The pastors were stunned that these people cared so much; they had assumed the leaving was because the PFKATC cared too little.

"And lo and behold, they each found out something wondrous and true, and that is this: that the people presently known as pastors mostly got into the pastorate for people like the PFKATC, because you care so much about the kingdom. And so do we.

"And so I raise a glass, as a Person Still Willing To Call Myself a Pastor, to You, the People About to Be Known Again As The Congregation. I know church isn't what it should be. That's my fault- and yours. I stamped it with my pathologies, and so did you. Don't try to bail on your responsibility just because I got paid to do this full time. Guess who paid me? This sucker is OURS, first to last. It's wounded, and weak, and corrupted, and full of hypocrisy- I agree.

"But the funny thing is... it IS the body of Christ. A messed up, messy, ego-saturated, hypocritical institution on earth. With idiots like you and me running it, what did you expect? Oh yeah, and one more thing - it is also His Bride. The glorious, triumphant, sinful yet forgiven, cleansed, spotless Bride against whom the Gates of Hell shall not prevail.

"If you turn your back on His Bride, you turn your back on Him. And since you are His, you won't do that. You will come back and help make the Bride beautiful again. Because you care. There is enough piss and vinegar and sadness and passion and real, Spirit-groaning hope in these blog threads to start a new Reformation. It's high time we started. Who's got the nails for the Door? I'll bring the hammer.

"And drink a glass to you all.

"Welcome back.



* * * * * * * * *

Bill Kinnon commented, "Dan made me laugh and skewered me with the truth."

Dan, I, too, thank you for your wading into these PFKA waters and bringing a perspective that can easily get lost in the turmoil of "doing church" in the 21st century.



At 4/22/2007 7:12 PM, Blogger Flyawaynet said...

I didn't see a link in this article, does Dan McDonald have a blog of his own?

At 4/23/2007 6:45 AM, Blogger kent said...


At 4/23/2007 7:16 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Bill mentions that Dan is in the process of creating a blog.

At 4/23/2007 7:17 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

bingo. I agree.

At 4/23/2007 7:23 PM, Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Ahhh...that's a nice post.

The first sermon I ever preached was for a little congregation of 5 or 6 older people in a nice building with musty carpet smells hanging in the air. Most of the churches I supply preached for had fewer than 40 active members, and the church I most loved to serve on a regular basis was a congregation of perhaps 10 (counting children) out in the countryside of Missouri. Small churches will always be more home to me than big churches, and this person formerly known as Preacher might find his way back to such a church someday soon.

At 4/23/2007 9:44 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Thanks John for posting Dan. Excellent thoughts for continuing the conversation. I've just put up The Exodus Church Part 3.

At 4/24/2007 10:20 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

I like the variety of ideas and the spirit of the PFKA series.

At 4/24/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

THe conversation continues! I'm enjoying your Exodus Church series.

At 4/24/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are churches out there that are hungry for teaching and are passionate for those who are caught in the crossroads. Perhaps they are hungry for the teaching you have to offer. Perhaps they are the kind of people that you can become great friends with, if only you were brave enough to walk through their doors.
I say to those former pastors and congregation members, those with wounds to be healed, and those with scars that show your pain - be encouraged! Don't give up on your passion. To give up your passion is to let go a piece of yourself. Never lose sight of God's plan. There are churches out there that will welcome you. It may be a long journey to find your place, but any valuable prize must be gained through challenge.
There is a place for everyone. It may not be in the first church you visit, it may not even be in the first 10 you visit, but you will find it. When you find your place, you will be filled with peace and joy; for through this place, God is reaching out toward you. He is welcoming you back to his church. Your father wants to welcome you back to his house and your brothers and sisters are waiting for you.

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