If people are going to gather in buildings every Sunday to proclaim their beliefs of the existence and power of Hope in their lives, shouldn’t that existence in their lives be evident in our culture? If something or Someone has impacted them deeply enough to create conviction of Truth, should the certainty of that Truth and Hope be attractive? If so, why are things getting worse and attendance in the buildings becoming less?
Could it be that those that gather have completely lost touch with those that don’t? Could it be that the perspective and rhetoric is alienating based on things such as economic status, race, and even divisions among those that believe regarding the right ways to believe? Do we really care about the people whom the One we claim to care about came to save?
I was at a conference lately of “missional” leaders who make a life out of challenging the perspective, form and efforts of the church to push the need for interaction outside of the walls of our cathedrals. I’ve read quite a bit of their stuff and been involved in that discussion for quite some time so some of the talk was familiar. Two things in particular stood out, however, as encouraging:
- One of the speakers cussed. I mean the “f” word cussed. Now, I don’t think cussing at such events at these is necessary or worth making a habit. I did recognize the potential value of shaking this auditorium full of religious leaders in their sterile framework of language. The world talks differently than we do. At least be ready for that to know that the presence of the “f” word is not a stop sign in our effort to reach out, it’s a present reality of the intersection between the church and the rest of the world. Get over it and get over yourself if you are shocked or offended that someone, even a preacher-type guy, uses that word.
- Another of the leaders asked a pointed question of the church leaders attending the conference. He asked, “is it safe to leave purses or cell phones sitting around in your church or is there a real risk of them being stolen?” His point was that if it was safe, then you likely are not inviting people from “out there” to come “in here.” The only way to impact our culture is to relate to them and if we won’t even relate closely enough to make it inviting for them prior to them being socially acceptable then the illusion of the potential impact is only fooling those on the inside.