important preliminary comments here (part 1)
our american identity here (part 2)
my framing theological assumption here (part 3)
the unfortunate results of being reactors here (part 4)
the unfortunate results of being simplifiers here (part 5)
the unfortunate results of being systemitizers here (part 6)
the unfortunate results of being highly individualistic here (part 7)
the unfortunate results of being overstaters here (part 8)
the unfortunate results of being enamoured of BIG here (part 9)
a few things we can learn from the church in other countries here (part 10)
to wrap up this ‘rant from a runt’, i’d like to talk about values. when ys began our process of reinvention 18 months ago, the first thing we addressed (really, the thing that brought about the change process) was a hard look at our organzational values. we identified a massive list of spoken and unspoken values, positive and negative. then we began the group process of creating two lists: re-affirmed values (values that had been part of the history of ys that needed to be kept close to the center of the radar through the change process), and new values. the new values were, primarily, positive restatements of some of the negative (unspoken) values we’d identified. there were six to start with, and we knew it would be a fluid list. since then, we have modified that list two or three times; but these new values have been one of the primary ‘compass arrows’ we’ve used during this shifting time of change.
in that spirit, i’d like to toss out four ‘new values’ for the american church. none of these will come as any surprise to anyone who’s read this whole series, or my blog in general, as they’re very subjectively mine. the crazy-absurd mental image i have is of a collection of the key leaders of the pop-culture church in america gathering together and stacking hands on these. ha.
i’m also hoping that these will foster further suggestions from many of you — in the comments section, and on your own blogs.
exploration is good.
we’ve retreated into a corner. or more accurately, we’ve retreated into dozens of corners, drawing our lines of demarkation and differentiation. we’ve swung the pendulum so many times and reacted so often and spoken (and written) in hyperbole so often and built our simplified systems so strongly that we no longer even know where our pith helmets are kept. entrenchment never got the church anywhere, and we’re fools if we think it will get us anywhere this time. exploring new ideas, new models, new assumptions, and (gasp) new theology doesn’t require a blind leap onto the slippery slope. exploration can be a wonderful and wild adventure — albeit, with risks. but the risks are one part of what makes the exploration valuable, moving us out of our comfort zones and into the wilderness of mystery, new possibility, deeper understanding, and full living. the kingdom of god isn’t behind our lines, it’s OUT THERE!
questions are (often) better than answers.
i’ve harped on this long and hard in the past, and taken lots of shots for it. and i’ve even softened it a tiny with with that parenthetical ‘often’, replacing my earlier ‘always’. full disclosure: my ‘always’ was my own characteristic overstatement. that said, i still long for the pop-culture church to embrace the value of questions. our security as believers is in the person of jesus christ, not the answers we posit. yes, yes, answers have value. i needed an answer yesterday about why my tire was leaking air, not a question. but — OH! — that the church would find joy in wrestling, in dialogue, in finding where we were wrong. i dream of a day like that.
let’s stack one hand in the middle and reach out with the other, rather than using both arms to create an impenetrable, exclusive circle.
i was first introduced to the idea of bounded sets and centered sets by tony jones, and have since read about it quite a few places. it’s been developed extensively in frost and hirsch’s book, the shaping of things to come. rather than restating, in my own dumb words, some of the great stuff that’s been written recently (please do read frost and hirsch’s book, btw), here are a few helpful links:
andrew jones’ reflections
helpful stuff from nextreformation.com
more helpful stuff from next reformation.com
we should demand that all christ-followers excise war metaphors as well as all us/them language.
ok, so maybe the first is possible, and the second is only partially possible. on war metaphors: yes, i understand they’re all over the bible. but that wording was to a people who were constantly under siege, constantly in literal battle. but these war metaphors (“a soldier for Jesus”, “let’s take this campus for Christ”, “the battle is raging”), used today, have all kinds of lousy side-effects:
in evangelism: they lead to a conquest mentality that is so contrary to the loving gospel of jesus
in cultural engagement: they draw the line in the sand, creating a false us/them dichotemy, giving the illusion that ‘we’ have all truth and ‘they’ have no truth. this creates a lose/lose for both sides of the stupid line.
in spirituality: these metaphors often lead to an obsession with evil, at the expense of resting in the power of the holy spirit
on us/them language: i realize we can’t completely excise this from our language. there’s a certain amount that’s normal and even necessary, linguistically. it’s just become too much of our focus. i’d love to tell you i’m stacking hands (in youth ministry-land) with tony jones and ron luce and josh mcdowell and jeanne mayo and chris hill and kenda dean. i’d love to see spend more time acknowedging what we share than deliniating what we don’t share. geez, i’m starting to sound like a miss american contestant, huh?
ok — so that’s my rant. thanks for joining me on this little journey through my pet-peeves about the american church i love!
next up in this series: nothin’!