Monday, February 27, 2006

The Emerging Church, second installment

Don Miller has summed up my mistrust of the Emerging church movement in just one paragraph. One paragraph. Blue Like Jazz is brilliant--and I say this not only to fulfill the copyright limitations (this is my review), but also because I really think it's true. Donald Miller's work is full of "zingers;" that is, powerful statements that bring about not just emotion (extreme amusement, conviction, shock, etc.) but also cause the reader to think. In talking about discussing the "postmodern church" (whatever that is, and honestly, I don't think it's possible, but that's another post entirely) with one of his friends, Don Miller addresses the idea of being "culturally relevant:"

"I don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing." (emphasis added)

Wow. "Passionate about nothing." That really sums it all up. It's sad to see folks that are intelligent, articulate people turn into Emot-ombies (hee hee-I just made that up): a group of believers that become mindless zombies--who are yet curiously animated because they are so caught up in the emotion of it all. It's quite a paradox, and it makes me sad. The whole world is passionate about nothing, quite a bit of ever-changing, flashy, amazing nothing. That nothing comes in different packages (sex, power, money, etc.), but it all comes back to a quick-fix to fill the emptiness inside. A church that is obsessed with being "hip" and "with it" just offers one more flashy package, wrapped up in a pretty gift bag of self-centeredness. With a big fat destructive-behavior bow. But now I think I've carried this analogy too far. Oh, well.

Instead of rejecting the old-school, modernist, 1960's look (I didn't like the carpet, either, but that's just not the point!), how about we reject the world instead? No, not the people, but the false values of pride, selfishness, individualism, etc. that Jesus rejected. Jesus never got on to the Pharisees by condemning their obedience to the Law. He was angry because of their obsession with the Law, and their rejection of the One who could fulfill the Law. Likewise, I don't think His frustration of a more traditional church would be with rituals, but rather with instances of relying on those traditions, clinging to those rituals, and forgetting what they forshadow. It is imperative that we focus on Christ, and embrace the tools (such as communion) He has given us as ways to remember Him, not as ways to access Him. The answer to moving a church out of a rut is not moving out the hymnals. It is in returning the focus to Christ and His mission and methods. Christ came to love and to heal, and He chose to build up, love, and teach His disciples to do so.

It seems that too many people want to bring in new, shiny ideas and methods and call it good enough. Why reject the old merely for the sake of the new? That's not what Jesus did. He showed the good Law of God perfected in His person. He taught that the Law no longer condemned the believer, not because it was bad or worthless, but because it was fulfilled. Obviously, the analogy breaks down pretty quickly, but my point remains that just because a church sings hymns or doesn't dim the lights for worship doesn't mean that it's a bad, outdated, or useless church. And just because a church has rockin' praise choruses and several flavors of coffee to offer doesn't mean that it's better equipped to fulfill the Great Comission.

It's sad that so many people no longer appreciate the feel of holding a hymnal while worshiping the Lord. There is something so beautiful and sacred (oh! heaven forbid!) about holding a book full of songs (that the saints of old wrote and sung) and knowing that someone of the previous generation of believers (who built the very church one is standing in) held that very same book before. And before anyone even starts about how "the church is not a building; it's a group of people, blah, blah, blah..." I know that, and when I say that they built the church, I mean it. The very people that chose red carpet and pink stained glass windows were the ones that put up the timbers and brought in the people with love and kindness.

That is the answer: bring in people with love and kindness. Sure, offer coffee, update the look, whatever. But those things should be mere icing on the cake. If, at the end of the service, all that people are left with is the sludge at the bottom of their cup, that's just as bad as if they only heard a bunch of meaningless "thees" & "thous."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Breaking the Silence (again), literally!

Thanks to Team Redd, I have been inspired quite a few times now! I love it when I don't have to think. Here's my leg of the musical baton race, finally completed:

Amount of music on your computer?
9.79 GB! iTunes rocks.

Currently listening to?
Besides the music in my head? The second Indelible Grace cd

Five songs that mean a lot to you?
Wow. This is tough!
Ummm...

"Just As I Am" by Andrew Peterson (see a previous post to find out why)

"It is Well" (that's a hymn, so I'm going to cheat and do another one)

"Crush" by Dave Matthews Band (I listened to this a lot when Kennan was in Atlanta and I was still back in NM during our engagement)

"China" by Tori Amos (hey, a girl's gotta have some angst in her formative years, and I choreographed a dance to it in college, so that's a sweet memory)

"Sweep Me Away" by Matthew Perryman Jones (Matthew Perryman Jones really "hits me where I live")

"Spare Change" by Eric Peters (it's even better live!)

Top five albums?
MPJ, Nowhere Else But Here

Indelible Grace Music, Indelible Grace II

Andrew Peterson, Behold the Lamb of God

Randall Goodgame, War and Peace

Pearl Jam, Vs. (I can hear Gaines shuddering from here)

Last album bought?
Eric Peters' new release, Scarce. It should be here sometime next week or so. Whoo hoo!

Recent discoveries?
I have recently discovered the quirky and talented Mr. Eric Peters (and I've also discovered the fact that I'm rapidly approaching middle age, but we won't discuss that...)

I guess I can pass the baton on to Patricia, since she followed directions last time (well, as much as she ever does, ha ha) and Daniel, because he's the last friend to nag me about not posting more often.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

NINJANEERS!

Our friend Daniel just informed me that I'm married to a "Georgia Tech Ninjaneer."

Definition: n. (nin-juh-neer') A totally sweet engineer.

That's awesome. I can't top that, so I'll leave it there!

hee hee