Saturday, July 02, 2005

I'll Take Jesus Door #3, Monty!

Over the past several days, my friends Rob Asghar and Tod Bolsinger have been discussing the same thing, on different yet parallel tracks. Rob has been discussing, as fairly as I think is possible, the history of profound failure in leadership at Hollywood Presbyterian. Tod is beginning what I hope will be a longer discussion of what the church should really be about. You really need to review what these two have been saying.

Tod's recent comments have me thinking about what we expect church to be, and about something I mentioned
briefly before. The picture Tod paints of today's church is something I have heard him mention before, of church as some kind of "spiritual smorgasbord", or buffet table, in which you pick the things you want, and leave the stuff you don't like on the table. We tend to demand and then take from church what we want, and leaving the rest behind, including things that might bring so many more people to relationship with Christ and His Kingdom. It gives me the willies sometimes; "Give me Jesus Door #3 Monty, I will take Promise Keepers, Joel Osteen, and hanging out only with people that look like me!"

Maybe in many ways, this is what is wrong with the American church, and why the vitality and charisma of the church here seems so lacking compared with the explosive growth of the church in the third world . Just look at what happened to the church in Western Europe; and I wonder if we might be heading that way as well. Perhaps this is what has been wrong with Hollywood Presbyterian, and why it has gotten itself into such a mess. Too many trees, and not a good view of the forrest. It was "church as usual", or "church for a select few", or too oriented around the personality of a well-meaning but overly controlling pastor. We American church folk need to reexamine the way we do church, the lives we lead, and the core mission of this Jesus fellow that we follow.

However, if we do this, really follow this Jesus, its likely to be messy. He is going to ask us to love the unlovely, to do the hard thing, to live with less possessions, and for our lives to be less self-centered. I am the first to admit, as an only child, that I don't like some of these ideas. Lord help me where I am weak. Help us all.
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