Friday, May 20, 2011


‎"Guys who went to Bible college/seminary & graduate to a sheltered nerd lifestyle where they read books & argue with other nerds about what Christian leaders are doing but not reaching people or doing much other than babysitting consumer Christians in some declining cul de sac church are not merely a joke, but also sinful." Mark Driscoll

So I have done something I never thought I would do. I have given blog space to MD: someone with whom I agree very little. I don't know the context of what he said, but its a challenging thought.

I have had a difficult week. I have labyrinthitis; an inner ear viral infection that leaves you with vertigo and an IQ drop of what feels like 50 points. I am mid backlash from making some tough leadership choices. The young people in the estate (no lets be honest, maybe four young people) have waged war on the building in which my church resides. I am struggling to encourage my church to be mission minded when actually thats the scariest thing in the world (and don't pretend its not!).

I am sorely tempted to retreat to reading books and talking about them with people who already agree with me. Hell I am tempted to just talk about books.. I can feel the call of intellectual safety.

But this morning my whirling head is challenged by Driscoll's words. Recycling Christians is the threat to mission in the UK. Its not secularism, its not interfaith; its the fact that we are happy to shuffle discontent consumers and call it mission. We spend so much time tweaking things so that we don't offend people who have been hurt by church that we are neglecting the vast swathes of people who have NEVER been reached with the news of a better day in God's Kingdom.

I'm not dismissing people's pain, anyone who leads a church knows that you ignore that pain at your peril. But I am saying that we have to keep hold of the reality that church is about the other. Its not about people who are like us. Its not about reading books with people who already agree. Thats group therapy.. and has its place, but lets not call it mission.

And so I challenge myself- to keep people mindful of the other. But also to not be content with just knowing lots of people outside church, but let us believe that these people too can encounter Jesus and be changed (but thats different post).

Thoughts? (including, don't blog with an IQ dip)

p.s. Driscoll refers to guys.. discuss!


Shelly said...

very thoughtful blog today :o)

i suppose it might be easy for people to get caught up in thinking that the Church is for the people, rather than thinking that the Church IS the people.

(or so it seems)

Alex said...

Really interesting. I'm not sure I get it though. It sounds like you're suggesting there's an opposition between changing the church so it doesn't screw people up and being a church that is fully committed to outreach?

I do think the church needs to 'tweak' a few things, but that's not just to make it a more comfortable place for the people already in it. Doesn't our ability to reach a lot of those new people depend on us not coming out with stuff that doesn't make sense any more? That's especially true if it's what we're saying about stuff people care about, like money, sex, justice or indeed who gets to go to heaven (I'm assuming it's the Bell book which prompted Driscoll's comments)

I get that we shouldn't let chin-strokey conversations get in the way of doing what we need to do, but aren't they part of not being passive consumer Christians and being fit for purpose, rather than a distraction from it?