(Warning: this post begins with a rant)
Now I remember why I have such a difficult time reconciling the biblical story with modern American Christianity. I had only been home from Emergent for one day when I heard that yet another minister I know has resigned from the church he served. His family had dedicated their lifes to serving a church in our city. Yet, in a bloodless coup several factions within the church voiced so much dissent that he had to leave. Yuck!
It is the politicizing of what we commonly call church that I find so disturbing. My only thought was “Shame on you.” No wonder people stay away from church as it is so called. I certainly don’t want to be a part of this petty bickering and self-centered crap. I guess that is why so many people today have a deep-down distrust of all denominational and institutional church systems.
Those outside of the church see that there is just too much sin and selfishness in our camp. I don’t believe that this has to be so. If we take the mandate to radical discipleship seriously then we will be too busy living as missional witnesses to argue and bicker about the inconsequential forms of our church service. ARGH ! ! ! ! !
Ok. . . .i’ve ranted enough.
I’m sure that as the Emergent church gains popularity, such stories will also be found there as well. After all, we are fallen human beings who daily need to remember that we serve Christ and the Church. The Church does not exist to meet our needs. It exists to bring Christ to those who do not know him.
I’m sickened by how easily we can get off track and become mindless consumers of religion instead of sacrificial witnesses. Avoiding institutions is not the answer as over time we only create new ones. There is an equal potential for good, evil, selfishness and love in the church in America. Yet we often see the dark side of human nature in the painful situations like my pastor friend is going through.
If a church body or institution is not always questioning themselves and seeking a repentant transformation, they often times will have these self-destructive episodes. The collective selfishness (dare I say, sin) of the people begins to deconstruct the church so it is evident that the Spirit of Christ is not in control. Unless the spirit of Christ transforms the community, these churches don’t survive this deconstruction and may split into two or more congregations or simply die under the weight of their deconstruction.
I’m sure you have seen these churches before. They were once vibrant communities that reached into their community with the witness of Christ bringing redemption to those who were hurting, disenfranchised and in need. Now the only visible remains of their congregation is a building that once housed them. It may be empty, converted into a nightclub, restaurant, home or other structure.
For a body of believers to survive their forced deconstruction, they must submit to Christ and not leave for greener-pastures like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Better yet, if they let Christ transform them, they may escape the deconstruction caused by their own petty, selfish desires.
The church in America is a powerful force but one that must be continually transformed by the Spirit of Christ. It is the apparent lack of this transformational essence that is the heart of my critique of the American brand of Christianity and its churches.
I’ll stop now……