A Few Questions for the Church

Every so often I contribute to a blog designed for “young-adult” leaders in the church of the Nazarene. There’s a handful of us that post, and this was my last post. I thought I would share it with you. I hope you enjoy!

Find the original post here.

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I have a few questions rattling around my mind like flies at a picnic lunch.

In an effort to clear my mind of these flies, I’m blogging my questions. Because of this, I’m going to come at this blog from a different angle. After asking my question, I will give a short thought, or ask another question afterwards. These are intended to spur on some conversation.

1. If the youth of our culture is increasingly resistant to the church, what are they receptive to? Say, one day, I decided to minister to a remote tribe on a recently discovered island in the South Pacific. I go to the Foreign Missions arm of the Nazarene Church and tell them about my dream. They decide to send me. I take the tests, find a people group, and “set sail” to save the lost. (I concede this is dramatically over-simplified…but, just go with me here) What would my first responsibility be? I would need to find their common language, and find their value system. I would need to find what holds their trust, and find a way to contextualize the Gospel in a way that makes sense to them. I would have to be careful to not cross any cultural boundaries, or unintentionally insult the receiving culture. Otherwise my credibility would be damaged, and the possibility for an audience would be diminished. Let’s bring this to the emerging culture:  Is the language of the current church translating to the youth of our culture? Nothing is wrong with the Truth within the Bible. The Truth is timeless, and continually fresh. But in our explanations, are we speaking something unintelligible, and as a result worthless? As a church, are we making cultural sense? Also, and equally as important, are we being aware of the assumed boundaries set within this sub-culture? Or, are we damaging our credibility beyond repair?

2. Are we “For” more than we’re “Against?”

Sadly, the church has become known more for what/who we’re against rather than what/who we’re for. Sure, we have Biblical commands, and a calling to live holy lives…but are we living lives worthy of the Kingdom of God? Are we collectively choosing the messy way rather than the clean one? Are we willing to stop fighting American political battles in the name of God? Are we willing to go against common practice and fight for the groups deemed “lost” by others within the faith? Are we willing to take the hit for that reckless love? Are we FOR the incarnational love of Christ, and AGAINST the hypocrisy of legalism?

3. Are we using “The Arts” to the fullest?

Art matters to the rising generation. It doesn’t need to be professional art, it just has to mean something. Story is important, and if art tells a story, this generation wants to be part of it. We want to participate. The Church, historically, has utilized art to tell the continually developing story of God. We have over 2000 years of beauty that is inspired. Walk into a cathedral, and there is no doubt as to the gradeur of our God. Following the Reformation, the new church offshoot generally rejected the idea of art playing a major role in “church.” I believe, within the past several years, we are moving, once again, toward using art as worship. But are we willing to take that one step further- past worship music and dramas- in order to engage new forms of art? Are we brave enough to wade those rivers?

4. Finally, are we willing to break church-talk-taboos?

Our world is broken, addicted, and desperate for something real. Historically, the church has been unwilling to discuss the most difficult of topics openly. We preach about past “sins” but are unable to really wrestle with the “here and now” of life in the present. It’s easy to preach about the past because, well, it’s over. We can still keep our reputation…or even bolster it a bit…if we tell a good “past” story. What takes real courage, though, is to engage the current struggles of an addicted generation and create a space where those struggles can hang in the air, openly, and without condemnation. Sure, we expect the Spirit to transform lives…but there must be a level of trust and support before change can happen. True and healthy addiction recovery will never happen in a vacuum. This change will take time, patience and an acknowledgement that the Christian walk is often times far from perfect.  Though, when we engage the serious issues of our society, we will find that we can become all we were intended to be in Christ.

For more information, check out xxxchurch.com

I hope to hear your thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “A Few Questions for the Church

  1. Michael –
    Terrific post. Clear and easy to read.
    I am a big advocate of using the arts to the fullest and given more expression to our thoughts/ideas/prayers/hopes as Christians. Our belief in a loving God gives us room to express ourselves creatively. If we see our father in heaven as distant and unapproachable, our expression has little meaning or divine connection. If we see our father as punitive and legalistic, we are afraid to express anything that doesn’t fall exactly within the “Law”, we’re intimidated. The arts provide a measure for how we view God and a challenge for each new generation on how to tell the story of a love so big it went to the cross for us.

    Thanks again for the 24/7 prayer links, been reading through them for creative inspiration.

    Mark

    • No problem, Mark! I’m excited to see how things go, and how God moves in your prayer room!

      And about your comment, “The arts provide a measure for how we view God and a challenge for each new generation on how to tell the story of a love so big it went to the cross for us. ” – I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for taking the time to read, it means a lot!

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