Going, going … entrenched.

Spiritually, I think I am becoming more and more convinced that the modern American church is missing the call of Jesus. As we package our gospel in neat little boxes with fancy graphics and run our power point presentations to the same crowd that fills our pews week after week, there is a world outside our doors that is perishing and hopeless. We’ve taken Jesus command to “go and make” and transformed it into “sit and learn.” His command to feed has turned into “be fed.”

 

I recently read an account in Alvin Reid’s book “Radically Unchurched” that rattled me. Reid starts out his work talking of a young man named Bill and says that Bill’s tie-dyed shirt, his wild hair and his shoeless feet are all indications of his being a “recent” convert. I had to reread it a few times.

It reminded me of the time a YoungLife speaker came to my church with a clean-cut girl and stood behind the pulpit and told us that when she first came to YL she had pink hair and a lip piercing and wore wild clothes. He held her up like a polished trophy to get us all excited about how she had so obviously changed. It was as if he was saying, “Just look at her now! Look at what we’ve done.”

That type of stuff hurts my heart. Why do we look at externals and make judgements on the internals? I’ve known so many, lost, frozen-hearted people with nice haircuts, pretty clothes and well-manicured outter appearances.

I love Shannon. Shannon is an interesting child of God. She dares to put what He says into practice. She drops everything and heads off to serve the poor and oppressed. She sits barefooted on park benches and shares her lunch with homeless people. Her hair is crazy, her look is unique and her life is not wrapped up in material things. She looks a lot like the YoungLife girl probably used to look like. She is totally sold out to Christ and she finds little use for sitting in church week after week without putting her faith into practice.

The rest of Reid’s book is quite good. It challenges the church in numerous ways. But I hope we are not challenged to transform how people look while missing the core of what Jesus called us to when He called us to be reborn from above.

Shannon’s life shows me she has the heart of Christ. YoungLife girl? All I know about her is that she’s got a pretty haircut.*

* By the way … this is not an indictment on YL or its programs. In reality, the YL guy knew what it takes to get the suits to pull out their checkbooks. He did what works. This says more about the church of America than it does about YL.

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About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope and encouragement at conferences, workshops, church and civic gatherings.
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One Response to Going, going … entrenched.

  1. skoelker says:

    I could not agree more, Scott. We often talk of being "in the world but not of it" not recognizing that our churches have become not a reflection of our Lord but of our world. It's a world of "I me mine" and I see much of that in the attitude of believers for whom life is happily reduced to MY salvation (ticket punched, heaven-bound). The local church encourages the self-absorbed by running a weekly series on sin management for each of us during our "worship" times. We feel blessed to enjoy our comfy lives and are willing to open the church doors to anyone who wants to come in and find out about our favored status with God. We may not all be called to inner-city living among the destitute as Shane Claiborne describes in his book The Irresistible Revolution, but we will all see the poor and oppressed in our neighborhoods if we care to look. Some are dressed just like us. All need the Love of God, the most precious cargo every believer carries. Can we start to teach one another how to look outside ourselves and share that love?Your work with the PT kids and adults shows that getting focused on the essence of the Gospel changes lives. Shannon's got it right – it's about living God's love. spk><>

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