I’m just saying

We need to understand the new culture in which we are placed. Notice I said understand. Not be intimidated. Not feel as though we have to give in to get along. Not wave a white flag in cultural submission and just hope that we would be thrown a few institutional crumbs to maintain our existence.

We need to understand post-modernism with its embrace of mystery and its cafeteria style spirituality. We need to understand that there are multiple generations since the baby boomers who are deeply disillusioned with the church and doubt its ability to be about any significant cultural change. We need to understand that there is a spiritual relativism and pluralism that no longer grants to the once dominant Christian church any home field advantage.

We need to understand and have confidence that Jesus is, in fact, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The same Jesus that conquered sin and transcended death is the same Jesus that can bring transformative life to the hungry and searching today. The same Jesus that transformed the disciples, turning them from a frightened and hiding mob into a force that swept out of Jerusalem and transformed their world stands ready to empower disciples today if we will open ourselves up to that kind of power.

Where is Christ’s transformative power needed today? Transformation suggests a need to move from something TO something. What do we need to let go of? What do we need to embrace?

6 thoughts on “I’m just saying

  1. I think you are on to something. I have struggled with this issue for a long time – my own diminishing desire to be an active part of the struggle. I have been disppointed in myself and in “the church.” As I was thinking how to reply, I thought of my town. I can think of 9 different houses of worship – 9 buildings to be staffed and maintained (just saying). Does anyone else think that we are splintering our resources? I agree, we need to find a new way to be relevant without giving up what is good and wonderful. The Good News Bible made an attempt many years back, but didn’t really catch on, maybe because it only translated to modern language without addressing our completely different lives. Perhaps we need to find the parallels between biblical lives and our lives. As a woman, I have a hard time with the fact the the Bible was written by men who lived in a time when women had very little say. That is still true in some religions……

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    1. Hi Kathy, thanks for your thoughtful note. The last city where I served had over 1500 Christian churches. When one considers houses of worship for other religious group my guess is that the number grows close to 1900. Within 5 miles of the church I served there was over 100 churches, including 8 or 9 of my own denomination! Are unnecessarily fractured? I would say yes. The call to current relevancy is not an abandonment of sacred truth, but it is a willingness to share those truths in ways that our culture finds persuasive. The struggle is real and it does get tiresome. That is why we need each other to keep going. The issue of who “wrote” the Bible is an interesting one. As one who has a high view of the inspiration of Scripture I always posit authorship with the Holy Spirit. I recognize that men served as the recipients – in some fashion that we don’t fully understand. For me the issue of patriarchy is a much greater issue in the formulation and maintenance of the church. We still struggle with that!

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  2. If truth is absolute, the truth of God’s law should remain the same whether a thousand years ago, today or tomorrow. If the culture practices something wrong, it’s not a question of being afraid of new – but faithful – formulations. Right is right. If we acquiesce we set ourselves adrift perhaps never to recover or fulfill whatever mission God intended for each of us in the world.

    In ancient times didn’t God sent his prophets to centers of sinfulness to bring a message of repentance and salvation? And doesn’t repentance lead to fulfillment and joy? They were not sent to blend in with the culture. Are we sure “faithful formulations” isn’t a convenient code for dodging the truth? Are we headed for being swallowed by a great fish while trying to escape in the wrong direction?

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    1. Hi Chuck, I agree that truth is truth. I agree the church has the responsibility to maintain a prophetic voice in today’s culture. I actually think that the church is in a healthier position today to do that as compared to those earlier times when we we served as a chaplain to Christendom. I can’t speak for others, I can only speak for myself but faithful formulations are hardly code for “dodging the truth.” To the contrary, faithful formulations are holding folks, institutions, and culture accountable in ways that our message will not be misunderstood or easily dismissed.

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  3. I come from the Silent Generation, the one before the Baby Boomers. What I see from my too long practiced silence are generations that have lost their way. I don’t mean just individuals but the church itself. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And His truth is an absolute truth, not changing with the ages and spiritual relativism.

    I believe what folks, the church and the world really hunger for is to be grounded in a spiritual rock that can be counted on. Something that doesn’t change and let you down with every new whim of culture. I feel the greater church today is has lost its way and needs to come back the sure unchanging truth of Christ.

    What do we need to let go of – just trying to fit in with the culture. What do we need to embrace – getting past the fear of speaking and acting openly in faith.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts Chuck. Scripture declares that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever but culture, language, and customs do change. I believe we make a mistake relying on formulations that declare that truth that are hundreds, if not over a thousand years old. We need to be willing to embrace current language and metaphors that speak to eternal truths. We must not be afraid of new – but faithful – formulations. I fear that we have drifted in the name of relevancy and then, when we lose sight of the anchor that does not fail, we wonder why we are adrift. I am interested to hear what others think. PLEASE….join in!

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