Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Certain physical symptoms point to a specific diagnosis, and a precise treatment. Now if the observation of the symptoms isn't deep enough, doesn't probe sufficiently, or ignores things that seem irrelevant, then the diagnosis may well be off, and the antidote ineffective.
Let's cut to the chase with an example:
What if you notice that a generation or two is missing from your church? Here are some possible solutions:
--more 'youthful' music.
--better use of technology.
--more relevant sermons.

Deeper observation might see a widespread disconnect in the country between these generations and the church as a whole—partly caused by too much connection between religion and politics.
So, the prescription might go a little deeper:
--have some conversations with university students.
--find some 'spiritual' topics for your sermons, served up in a post-modern style service.

But what if the patient has a deeper problem than a common cold, the seasonal flu (or H1N1)? What if the patient is terminal, actually suffering from a life-threatening disease?
--Is an anti-histamine enough?
--a couple aspirins?
--lots of fluids and a bowl of chicken noodle soup?

Is rethinking our style of music really going to matter?
How about retooling the order of service?
More technology and lights (maybe even candles)?
More relevant preaching?

What if it's rethinking Jesus that we need? Reconnecting with his love and compassion?
What if 'getting back to the fundamentals' means a trip of two thousand years, not just a few decades?
What if we need more than a trendy paint job, but a radically different looking building?
What if our reading the Bible means more than just a different font or contemporary language—but really needs us to have new eyes?

Let's look deep enough at the patient to see the depth and breadth of the symptoms. Then maybe we will discover what we really need to rethink.


ron cole said...

Great post Al, you're sounding the alarm clock that likely most churches need to wake up to. For most churches re-booting the hard drive is no longer an option when you've been using a operating system that is obsolete. I was wrestling with some writing today trying to flesh out the notion that the north American church functions more as an ideology...than on faith. still in pieces though...

Luke said...

i was in a church that asked hard questions and that explored things indepth.. that didn't rule out other religions because they weren't christian. now i'm in seminary. i want to plant the church i connected with all over the place, where ever i go. imagine if we had a few more churches like this.. then i would have more friends here with me in seminary ;-)

Al said...

Ron, perhaps our OS is often being updated, but still is prone to crashing. Lots of money and time spent on bells and whistles, but the core concept takes lots of resources and needs to be rethought--kinda like Windows Vista! I look forward to your thoughts on ideology vs faith.

Luke, if you build it, they will come.
Not everyone, of course, because some people are quite satisfied with the status quo. But some of us are looking for just that.
I am blessed by people like you who are combining good education with a passion for bringing in God's kingdom.
Some day I'll join the Church of Toothface.


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