Sunday, August 31, 2003

vampires again?

Sure, more vampires. That is, more implications of how reductionism has affected our experience of Christ. Just one more for today:
If the only goal in life is to attend church regularly, then the only job of spiritual leadership is counting those who attend. Hence the focus on church growth here in the states. If 500 people attend my church, I'm really "better" that you if you have only 250 people. And that's exactly how pastors feel. When they meet together the guy with the most attendance wins. Then the goal of all behaviors for a pastor and those who serve with them is to simply have more people. That's all. And for a very long time I thought that was cool. For many years I helped pastors grow their churches. Now, a natural part of the church is to grow and something is wrong when it's so boring that nobody wants to show up. But when the only reality is to create a warehouse of those who've "prayed the prayer" then it's just the same as a business. And the only two "spiritual" acts of leadership are a 30 minute sermon and 20 minutes of leading worship. The rest of the week is running a business. I was enamored with being a business owner. And spent lots of time teaching pastors the tools they'd need to run their businesses too.
In reading about the time when Aidan lived, especially after 660AD, this confrontation happened in their world as well. The Roman church was a business, and preists were concerned with the trappings of success. the bigger the diocese, the better you were. By comparison, Aidan walked everywhere, had no delusions of grandeur, and encouraged his preists to live simply and to be servants of those they served. In comparison, Roman bishops lived like kings and loved it.
So, tommorow is Labor Day here in the States, and a good time to reflect on leaders who serve and reject the trappings of success, so that those who labor can experience a little more of the presence of Jesus.
Part 3 commin' up,

Friday, August 29, 2003


Yep, freakin vampires! It's the first "jenga" stick that made my view of discipleship and church life deconstruct. I didn't go looking for this, but it sure found me. Vampires, right. Sorry. It's a quote from Dallas Willlard, a prof and all around cool guy fron UCLA. The messenger of this was Todd Hunter, and it went something like this. "Christians are vampires, they only want Jesus for his blood." Translation? Here goes. 20th century evangelicalism has focused on "salvation." That is making a one time decision to repent from your sins and have your sins forgiven and therefore be able to live forever with God. And while there isn't a thing wrong with that, I did it on March 26th 1980, it's uh, well, um kinda weird when you think about it. The word to make this easy to "get" is "reductionist thinking." That is, the entire scope of the bible is reduced to praying for 30 seconds, and to quote Todd, "make mental assent to a specific group of beliefs about one specific view of Jesus' work on earth, namely "substitutionay attonement." That's Jesus taking my place on the cross since I've sinned and deserve to die. It's one critical part of what Jesus did on the cross. But, it's not close to everthing he did at the cross. And even weirder is what has happened to christians and their churches in the west since following Jesus was reduced to just this.
1. It's all we talk about in church. It's the litmus test of every sermon, song, conversation with a friend, everything.
2. Once you've "prayed the prayer" life is essentially over. You are now prepared to die. You will go to heaven.
3. Church doesn't talk generally about what to do now, except to talk about this view of the attonement with anything that moves. And that's what effective disciples do. And that's evangelism. And the heart of most sermons. In fact, no matter how obscure the Old testament passage, in most of the churches I've been in (a ton) connecting it with "the saving work of Christ on the cross" is all that matters. This one thing takes up 90% of all the thinking and acting in church.
4. It's has grown into an excuse to not discuss, learn or see anything else in the real world. And we can use it to hide from anything which makes us uncomfortable about the life and ministry of Jesus
5. It's not interesting to people outside the little clique which belives this stuff. As Todd says in his own wonderful way "its not winsome." And he's right. It's not! After 23 years it's boring. Very. To the point where being with most Christians was boring, being in church was boring.

And here's the worst part. When we reduce the Gospel to "just this" church life, and discipleship in the english speaking world is this. Go to church for 2 hours per week. Tithe (give 10% of your income to the church.) Read your bible every day. Pray. Maybe serve at church, be an usher etc. And since this is my blog I say that's crap. We essentially say that except for 2 hours on Sunday and a half an hour a couple times a week, our lives are the same as before. And hey, we need your money so go and earn all you can. We baptize 95% of American/Western culture and just tinker with the edges. Sorry, crap again. Jesus didn't die so I could be a safe, comfortable American. He has called all of us to a radically different way, which we get to ignore since we're focusing on the attonement.

Part 2 tomorrow

Thursday, August 28, 2003

begining the journey

So. Why blog? A few things come to mind. One is I'd like to share how I came to the beliefs I hold now, compared to the ones I held just 3 to 5 years ago. My hope is that beginers on the "New Road" will feel less alone and get courage to continue their journeys. Another is that alot of the folks I want to stay in touch with write and read blogs. And finally I want to add whatever part I can to the new things God is up to on the New Road.

And why the name, Aidan's Legacy? Aidan was Bishop of Lindisfarne, and all of the Northumberland coast, (about 2 hrs south of Edinburgh) in the 650's. And he was a very remarkable person. In many ways he's responsible for the growth of the Christian faith in the English speaking world and eventually you! His ability to integrate mission and monastic, to maintain an organic flavor of church life, and to be a model of humility and compassion makes him someone we all can learn from. He was doing emergent, post(pre) modern, organic, wabiSabi church 1400 years ago. A legacy indeed.

And what's the "New Road?" For me it's the place where I currently journey. I spent 20 years in seeker church, systematic church management, pastor focused, money and attendance centered, evangelical church. I did consulting for pastors and churches as a full time job and have co-authored a book on "planting' that kind of church. And while I still passionately follow Jesus, I can no longer handle doing church in that old format. And part of the future of this blog is to tell my story of how I came to all this, and where I might go in the future.

And if we've met you know that the way I describe what the critical parts of my path have been, is using the metaphor of the game Jenga. Lots of wooden sticks crossed on each other, and then stacked up. Then each player pulls a stick out hoping that the pile doesn't fall as they remove it. My blog for the next little while will be about those specific sticks which made old church come crashing down for me. Deconstructed if you will.

So. jenga stick number 1 tomorrow?

See ya then,

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

This is day 1 of Rob Lewin's new blog, Aidan's Legacy. Hope you enjoy!