Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Disciples' roots

Went to the Alexander Campbell Mansion last week in Bethany, West Virginia. Had been there in 1995, but learned something new about this place. Each night the house worshipped. As we think about emergent and missional culture that urges daily worship not merely weekly worship...here is the founder of the Campbell-Stone movement who believes that daily worship is key to development of spirituality. He also was bivocational in his ministry. He raised sheep on his land and used the money of house to do ministry. I had gone to Bethany expecting to meet the bookish and rigid forefather, but was engaged with other facets of his life that were more pertinent than his volumes of erudite writing. Alexander Campbell still can teach us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

block party

Saturday, Amy and I hosted a block party for the 80 houses in our neighborhood.
We were hosting in the spirit of the church and with church funds.
We were not going to promote the church, but if an opportunity opened up we would talk about church.

Evangelism is a little unsettling for me at times, because it is a whole lot of bait and switch. I remember world's largest banana split as a kid and then we get the Baptist youth minister convincing us to get wet, be baptized.

But that is not it for me. I give a gift, a block party or a drink of water, to a person to let them know that God cares for them and I do too. It provides an opportunity for me to tell them that the best I got is Jesus. I don't give Jesus, but I share how Jesus changed me. I do it through words if necessary.

I can't share with you why you need Jesus or if you will go to hell without him. No, I know that places filled with doubt, self hate, anger, resentment, and fear were large in my life. I know that with Jesus they are receding.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Book Review: The Fall of the Evangelical Nation

Walking through Border's the other day, I saw this book and immediately picked it up. Two things of note to me. Christine Wicker used to work for the Dallas Morning News that during the 90's had a great religion section on Saturdays. She was a key part of its success and depth.
I sat down yesterday and read through the whole book in about three hours. It is a quick read and I am not a fast reader. It is most antecdotal stories and stats that many in the church are very familiar with. She uses numbers that are not shock, she relies upon George Barna.
The thrust of her argument is that the evangelical movement is really as large as it thinks it is. It represents not 1/4 of the country but a mere 7% to 8% of the United States. She also notes that Christianity is not growing in the United States. This complies with other arguments being made like the strength of Christianity being found in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia. Philip Jenkins has promoted this idea in his book, the Next Christendom.
She not only argues that the Evangelical movement has been used and perhaps abused by the Republican Party and the conservative movement, but she also argues whether or not evangelical Christianity's main premise makes any sense at all. She echoes the sentiments of "The New Atheists."
Where she says that the evangelical church is failing is in two areas.
Those who are super committed to following Jesus Christ and his mission are becoming more and more disillusioned with the local church. They are doing faith outside a corrupted church.
George Barna agress and encourages this movement.
From a mainline perspective, I see this. I have seen people come to the church to make a difference and when they can't they leave. The church's bueracracy and rules conflict with God is calling them to do. They move to more conservative churches or leave. For Barna, he says people just leave and start something new.
Second area, people are becoming disillusioned with the evangelical faith. All of the bad stuff about evangelicalism comes home to roost and they leave. That is seen in Catholics leaving the church over clergy sexual abuse. It is scene in mainline churches as well.
So, what does this leave us with? She makes clear some very salient points. Leaders within the evangelical movement bluster about morality, but a majority of Americans do not live a moral life. The Southern Baptist Convention may say boycott Disney, but the Southern Baptist Men will not boycott ESPN.
To be hopeful, because her argument is a strong against evangelicals, but mainline Christians are no better. We are at the end of an age and there is a new age coming. In the midst o fthese transitions, I hope and believe that spirituality comes ot the forefront and this provides avenues for Christians to witness the grace, love and peace of Jesus Christ.