"The primary context for faith to emerge isn't a class on Christian doctrine taught by an expert. The context is an ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT with the world in need of repair." (Ken Wilson, Sr. Pastor of the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan)
I'm not one to memorize a lot of quotes, especially from books, but in the above quote I have found one that has struck my heart more than any other in recent memory and it will be committed to memorization. In reading his book "Jesus Brand Spirituality" I believe that Ken Wilson understands the movement that needs to emerge in order to right a very unbalanced world. I really hope not to offend the highly intellectual pastor or priest in this post, but I probably will. I have nothing against education or theology. I believe that the more education we have the better for us. However, if education (especially where Christianity is involved) is not balanced with "active engagement" with people in our communities then it is futile.
I have never believed in using this blog to get on my personal soap box, but this time will be the exception. I've had enough of the religious leaders who can debate someone into a corner, but when they see a lost, hurting, or dirty looking person in a corner they seem to develop selective eyesight. I'm going to be brutality honest in saying that I am trying to also distance myself from the ways of the traditional church as much as possible. Please hear me when I say "the ways" of the traditional church. The church, traditional church or not, is still the church, the bride of Christ. I will continue to pray for and bless our churches to become completely Holy Spirit lead and Christ centered. However, a lot of churches need to do some serious changing and if they refuse to do this there are going to be a lot of churches and even some denominations in serious trouble. I don't want to see that. I instead desire to see the great awakening that I do often talk about.
Let's be honest, when it comes to religion or Christianity, the average person in the neighborhood could care less about how many degrees we have behind our name, or the theology of all the different denominations. Those things are easily forgotten. You allow the average person in the neighborhood watch you walk in the footsteps of Jesus, though and they will take notice. They maybe could care less about your faith at the time, but it has been seen over and over who they go to when a crisis or illness hits. How many times I have heard comments from people who aren't followers of Christ say something like, "Hey, I know you like to pray.................."
I am not intending this time of ours to become a book endorsement. It's just that I have enjoyed Ken Wilson's book so much that I want to share some of his ideas and thoughts with you. Wilson talks about what He calls, in his words, "Jesus brand spirituality" which is really just an attempt to get us to return to a level of spirituality that parallels the way that Jesus lived. Can we again be honest? If Jesus was wanting to attend a church in 2010, (oh wait He actually does that) do you really think that He would be happy with a weekly quota of songs, an offering, announcements and a sermon, come hell or high water, while the man who just lost his dad, the wife who feels like dying because her husband walked out on her, the children who just lost a mom to cancer, or the couple who is desperate because this will be the week they lose their house, walks out the door the way they came in without being cared for or ministered to? You know as well as I that Jesus would have scoffed at that. Who was that group that he often was critical of because they were more concerned about tradition and appearance? .......Oh boy, I've gone and done it now. Sacred cows were probably meant to be left alone and now I've gone and shot one.
Believe me, I've already heard the question, "So what do you want to do, change the way we worship or do church?" YEP! It is time for a complete culture change when it comes to church. We need to ask ourselves how Jesus would do church, or more importantly, how Jesus would get outside of the four walls of the church and do church in the world. I was at a conference a while back. The guest speaker was even flown in, so you would think that it would have been worth taking note on what he said. His main point was that church can't be done the same way that it was done even ten years ago, yet the willingness to change very seldom happens because of the power of a very tiny word spelled f....e.....a.....r.
I'll tell you what though. Some HAVE started to change and I'm talking about both churches and individuals. Some ARE getting outside of the traditional box and the ones that have are beginning to make an impact in communities and families around them. The ones who are getting lost in the passion of (and again I use Ken Wilson's words) "Jesus brand spirituality," are learning how to repair a ruptured world. This movement, if you want to call it that, started out slow, but then it started to grow (where did I put those Dr. Seuss books?) and the pace is quickening. There is a growing desire to first bring healing to anyone who has been damaged or scarred by man, religion or the church (isn't that a painful thought?) and then to show them, one on one, of their value to God, His kingdom and society; teaching, equipping and then empowering them to become 21st century Peters and Pauls. Sometimes this is referred to as a shift, or a culture change. To me it is just rediscovering how God intended for things to be in the first place. When Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost"(Luke 19:10), there was a lot more behind that statement other than saving lost souls. Now before someone gets ticked off at me for saying that.....DON'T....until you have researched or studied what some of the key words were actually supposed to mean, such as the word "save", or even going back to verse 9 in Luke 10 and looking at the word "salvation." I know that receiving Christ is the first and most important step, but that doesn't mean it is the only step. It's time to stop accepting a traditional teaching just because it's easy to do.
Sorry about chasing that rabbit trail. I'll get off it now and return to the thoughts behind the re-discovering or shifting. One of the most exciting elements to this change was best expressed by a friend Sunday night. He talked about how EVERYONE has a piece to bring in what is taking place. Nobody should be left out. That includes you! You with destiny, importance and purpose in bringing ideas and dreams with you as we realize the potential of the Kingdom here on earth. The days of waiting on the sidelines and just hoping for a chance to play are nearing an end. For some, those days are already over.
Winning For the Kingdom