Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why won't anybody hire me?

The American church is at a cross roads. A cultural shift is taking place that makes traditional methods of reaching and connecting with people look different, but while a new crop of willing and Godly ministers want to get into the game with their new vision, passion and ideas, they are not given the chance because of a lack of experience. Because of this, many young men and women with a passion for the Lord and a zeal for ministry are relegated to taking jobs they don't like for the soul purpose of building a resume to get the jobs that they want. But what happens when a young person with passion and vision takes a job in an environment that doesn't share that vision and doesn't give them an avenue to implement those new ideas? Burnout. Young ministers are feeling more and more frustrated with the main stream church are "taking their business elsewhere." Ideas start to circulate and swirl around in the heads of these bright and talented laborers that "the church has no room for me," or that "they're doing it the wrong anyway, so I'll start my own church." I fear that a growing number of house churches and church plants are being built out of frustration and not out of passion or a call from the Lord. This causes people to think and ask questions about how they can make church and ministry different, a question that is many times valid and a good one, but that can also lead to radical changes in the direction of the church. Views of the disontented towards the mainstream church 1) They aren't reaching anybody. 2) They are out of touch with culture. 3) They are building something just for them with no desire to reach this emerging culture. 4) Church isn't exciting anymore. 5) Churches are too focused on theology and doctrine and not enough of those truely in need. Now, I'm 25 and searching for a job as a worship pastor, and so this comes out of experience of watching friends go through this transition and with battling my own frustration. I am fully willing to admit that this perhaps is not the case universally. However, I am afraid that if this idea of building out of frustration is prevelant throughout many in my generation, the answer to these grievances above are going to look something like this: 1) They aren't reaching anybody because their gospel is out of date. We'll change the gospel, admit that there are other ways to get to Heaven apart from Jesus. That'll bring people by the thousands. 2) They are out of touch with the emerging culture. So we create something specifically for the emerging culture. We will choose relevance over Biblical mandate and since the Bible is out of touch with emerging culture, we'll say it's a good guide book, but not innerrant and certainly not the only resource by which to live our lives. 3) They are building something just for them, with no desire to reach the emerging culture. They exclude our generation, so we will create church that only reaches a specific segment of the population, primarily those that are feeling neglected and we will exclude everyone else. 4) Church isn't exciting anymore. We will create different elements of worship; art, dance, prayer stations. We will meet the needs of so many who are discontented with the mainstream church by making church hard for anyone of another generation to connect with. We will use things like "lectio devina" which are designed to focus scripture and prayer on us and want God is trying to say to us and do for us. Let's do away with elders and leaders too. They get all the time at the podium anyway. Let's make it a sharing community where everyone gets a say. We'll include no filters for discernment and not test things against scripture, cuz after all, who are we to judge. 5) Churches are too focused on theology and doctrine and not on people who are really hurting. So let's just own all of Christian history. Forget the Reformation, forget councils brought together to cannonize scripture or thousand year old doctrinal differences that caused denominational splits. Can't we all just get along? There are people in need of help. Homeless people and those suffering from injustice. Let's not burden them with the Gospel but simply meet there needs. The sad part of all of this for me is that there are some ideas in here that tug at my heart. There are many people who are afflicted and hurting, struggling from homelessness, drug addiction or involved in prostitution. These people need a loving church and men and women who love Jesus to love them. I'm frustrated too with the mainstream church and their 75 piece praise bands and worship services not designed for intimacy and expeirence with God, but seemingly for a performance. However, God has moved historically and biblically through His Holy Spirit's response to our prayers and through the preaching of scripture to empower His people to reach their world for Christ. Methods have to change, I agree, but to change scripture, two thousand years of rich church history, that is the real danger.

1 comment:

thefury said...

You make some really great points on all of this, however, I disagree with everything you say (not really... someone told me that once, I thought it was funny and wanted to share). Where it falls apart for me is right at the beginning where you talk about the gospel. Changing it to say you can get to heaven by means apart from Christ. Seemingly implying that the gospel is getting to heaven. I think Scripture paints a much different and much broader picture.

OK... NT Wright says Pauls Gospel Message is that Jesus is Lord. That's it, but it has much more serious implications. For instance, under the rule of Christ we are free from all sorts of oppression. For Paul and the hearers in his day, no doubt Cesar or Rome. Christ also frees us from the oppression of sin, and ushers in the Kingdom of God. I think we need to stop thinking of the gospel in terms of heaven and afterlife, and remember that we believe in a resurrection of the dead, and a new heaven and new earth. I think this is so basic to our faith a proper escatology (understanding of end times) might lead to better eclesiology (understanding of how we do church).

Not heaven in the clouds when we die, but a new heaven here on a new earth when we are risen from our graves and join God in his glorious creation.

I think even to us who know all of this, it can be sometimes easier to just say getting to heaven when we die rather than all of that. But I think it is really important to make sure that we and others understand that the gospel is for living now... it just so happens that we will be living it forever.