Do you ever feel like you just don’t care? Like somebody is talking to you about something, and you know that you are “supposed” to care about it, but all you can manage is a good fake smile. I feel that way sometimes, and I even want to care, but I don’t. At least, not completely. I just stand around trying to care, not doing anything but selling popcorn for the thing everybody else is so gung-ho about.
I honestly have developed an eye-twitch. Maybe it’s not involuntary, but it helps suppress other less appealing emotions I have to deal with when selling said popcorn. Did I ever say I wanted to get into “vocational” full-time ministry? I better read through my archives, because if I did, I was smoking crack. But don’t misunderstand me, the glass is not half empty. It’s half full. I mean, that’s what you want to hear, right?
So here are some questions I have. Not directed toward anyone in particular, but rather the American Church at large.
1. Why does a church have to be run like a business? When you run an organization like a business, even non-profits have expenses and income. Expenses, income and profit… but our 501(c)3 laws tell us that motivation and intent define what profit is. And if you run it like a business, what happens when the cash is gone? Pack up, go home? Are churches so dependent on the non-profit business model that they can’t function without that structure? And with a business comes the necessities for running a successful business: marketing, corporate policies, top-down structure, customer service, salesmen, etc.
2. Why do evangelical Christians, most especially the Boomer and X generations, think that huge costly stage productions are cool? I would ask the churches why they do huge costly stage productions, but there’s no need – the answer is in the people they are bringing in. At least, the Boomers and Xers. Maybe some Millennials are being swayed – those who are a little too caught up in the coolness factor of the Passion/Giglio movement. So I ask, why do Christians settle for theatrics? The rock bands, the videos, the dramas, the surface-deep theology…
3. A huge portion of the ministry world right now is wondering where all the 18-30yr-olds are. Traditional churches are way off base, trying to win Millennial hearts with the same style tactics that worked on the contemporary Boomer generation. Oddly enough, it seems to have partially worked for Generation X (the current 30-40yr-old group). Mainstream churches have caught on by offering completely alternative services, often with louder or different music, a grungy feel and a subcultural hipness. Really progressive churches move beyond even that by dabbling in to the “emerging” movement, where Millennial-focused worship gatherings throw out all of contemporary and bring all of ancient and traditional back. My question: is ANY OF THAT WORKING? Where are all the 18-30yr-olds?
4. What exactly is so great about a single local church launching and maintaining a bunch of video-fed satellite “multi-site” campuses across a city, State, or the country? Is it better than planting new churches? I don’t know. I do know that I bought into the multi-site “revolution” way too quick for my own good, and I will now admit I see its shortcomings. The real issue that multi-site churches highlight is the fact that “church” is so consumer-driven that it can now be franchised. The saddest truth is that there are dying churches out there who actually think partnering up with their local megachurch will make things better. Show me the money!
5. Why do so many evangelical Christians automatically associate themselves with the Grand Old Republican Party? I mean sure, most Republican politicians hold true the same social ethics as Christians. Like pro-life, keeping “In God We Trust” on the dollar bill, federal marriage definitions, and criminal executions. Oh yeah, and war. I hear that James Dobson of Focus on the Family will help start forming a new party if Rudy Guliani wins the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, simply because Rudy is liberal on social issues (abortion, gay-rights, etc). I think it will be GREAT to see Christians start thinking for themselves. On the other hand, I’d rather call myself a canuck and head north before enjoying the theocracy that a Christian-focused political party would create.
6. Why do so many American Christians hate? They hate gays, they hate Muslims, they hate Mormons, they hate people who drink and smoke, evangelicals hate Catholics, and vice versa. Sometimes the hate is completely authentic, transparent and maniacal like the insane members of the Westboro Baptist Church (who recently got fined $11 million for protesting at a soldier’s funeral). Other Christians show their hatred through their actions in utter disdain for their words of love.
7. Why are the difficult theological concepts held from the general Christian masses? At seminaries, pastoral students debate and toil over every imaginable aspect of God, the Bible and the Christian faith. But the toughest real issues stay in seminary and never make it to congregations. It’s almost as if pastors don’t trust that people can handle raw truth. They have to package truth, water it down occasionally, and add a dash of humor to alleviate the seriousness of theology.
8. Was Jesus more like Mr. Rogers or William Wallace? That’s a random, fairly shallow question, but here’s my answer: none of the above. From what I’ve read, Jesus wasn’t all that terribly meek like Mr. Rogers. He did hang around kids a lot, I suppose. But he also wasn’t a war general, fighting and killing for his life and freedom. Soldiers kill, fight and die for others’ freedom. Jesus died, minus the fighting, for everybody’s freedom. The Jesus I read about in the New Testament seems more like a Ghandi, or a Dalai Lama, or a Martin Luther King, Jr. He was like a pacifist, a non-violent protester. A revolutionary with a message of hope and peace. From what we know, he never wielded a sword against any other Jew or Gentile. Please forget about the violent Jewish stories in the Old Testament long enough to realize that Jesus came to change all of that. Did 1st century Christians fight back against persecution? No. That’s the kind of faith I want.
Those are my questions. I don’t expect many answers as it was mostly all rhetorical and intended for you to read whilst I vent my frust…er…feelings. As I type this I realize the common thread woven through those questions is my desire to see an actual real-life bona-fide revolution in the Church. Until then, there’s not much to talk about.
So sit back, relax, enjoy the productions. I’ll make some popcorn for you.