I was in London this morning and I stopped in for an 11:30am service at All Souls Church, spiritual home of John Stott and a pilgrimage spot for evangelicals. Speaking of evangelicals, check out this article from the Star-Telegram.
“Evangelicals need to hew even more closely to the most conservative and literalist standards of the Bible. They need to stop making nice to attract seekers. They need to unload the slackers.”
Did she say unload the slackers??????
Also in the article is this: “They’re admitting what their own studies show — that evangelicals almost never convert a native-born American who wasn’t raised in a church. That most evangelical growth comes from stealing the sheep from other denominations. And that they’ve stolen about all they can. . . They’re also admitting that most evangelicals won’t evangelize. And if they did, it wouldn’t get them anywhere because the usual methods don’t work.”
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Not sure about “hew even more closely to the most conservative and literalist standards of the Bible” and I don’t mind attracting seekers, but the system we’ve created seems to convert seekers into slackers with great efficiency.
Of course, then we need to come up with some sort of definition for “slacker” and that’s where the idea falls apart.
Christine spoke at FBC about a month ago. I’ve purchased and read her book about the evangelicals. Also a good exposition along the same lines is this article by Sally Morgenthaler. It’s a bit less strident. http://www.allelon.org/articles/article.cfm?id=402
For the most part, i agreed with the entire article- made me wonder if they should even use the word evangelical –
As per Slackers, yeah that part hit me kinda hard, because there is no definition – actually, lots of us could fit in that category – depending on what day it is! I do believe there is a heaven and a hell, and that not all have a celestial ticket that goes to the top floor.. (i really hope i won’t get there and find Hitler- i might then have some mighty big questions for Big G!)
But i don’t use the 4 spiritual laws as a litmus test per say- It’s a lovely frame, but is often used as a “check this box” if you want to “be saved” criteria.
I kinda think that is what some of this is all about- the rigidity – almost to the point of rigamortis or reading the bible with a straight jacket on. There is no room to breath, or think, or experience the Emmaus part of God.- Feels more like the joke of “what is black and white and red/read all over?”- (newspaper for those unfamilar) – parts of God’s kingdom that make the pulpit news.
There’s this low-level panic, it seems, among churches – the fear that they’re not succeeding. A typical church vision statement might read like this:
“First Church exists to intentionally reach people for Christ.”
Insert the words ‘succeed at’ into the statement, and it reads like this:
“First church exists to succeed at intentionally reaching people for Christ.”
The critical difference is this; if people are not reached for Christ, First Church doesn’t say, “Oh no! We didn’t reach people for Christ – woe is them! Instead they say, “Oh no! WE FAILED to reach people for Christ – woe is us!”
the pew study is more evidence of what we know and feel in our bones by instinct: the end is near, and so is the beginning
Having a hard time placing The Star Telegram…
but I was more shocked by: “hew even more closely to the most conservative and literalist standards of the Bible.” To me, that spells trouble with a capital F.U.N.D.A…
But the article brings up some important points about universalism, which apparently to them, is splitting evangelicalism in half (I personally don’t think so, I just think it is a lack of theological understanding of the average post-modern American evanjellyfish)
But it’s a really important question to ask… will universalism infiltrate the post-modern emerging movement? (or has it already?)
Thank you for posting the Star-Telegram piece. For those of you who can’t place it, the Star-Telegram is in Fort Worth, Texas. The editorial editor asked me to write something about where evangelicals are going next after he heard me speak at the Cooperative Baptist meeting in Memphis.
Ohhhh. I might be guilty of that. I am guilty of that — sometimes. Especially on my Huffington Post blog. If any of you have ideas for that, I’d love to hear them. It’s called God’s Country and is about politics, especially the presidential race. My email is email@example.com.
If you thought this piece was strident, you’re going to really think I’m in flameout on the post that’s up on HuffPo right now.
I get frustrated with the press for talking about the same things in the same ways year after year. I’m a journalist and I’m as guilty as anyone of following the pack. So some of it is frustration with myself.
And I get frustrated with Christians because they’re having less and less influence on a culture that needs wisdom more and more each day.
Slackers. I use the term because Calvinists are pushing so hard to clean the rolls of, what do they call them? The unregenerate?
But that sounds so close to the degenerate that I didn’t want to use it. And how many outsiders know what unregenerate means? Wouldn’t slackers be the unregenerate?
Hey, Kiwi, great blog … visited often …
I would have to really agree with “getting rid of the slackers”. Sometimes Jesus was very harsh with those who seemed to always have excuses for not fully committing to his message and the life he called them to. And he freely let people leave if they didn’t feel they could handle it.
Being the Word and Love, this was love for him to make this clear. I agree that we don’t set those types of standards of commitment in the guises of being “nice.”
Again, cool blog and I appreciate all your efforts and the things you share.
Hello Andrew, happy to be unloaded with you! See you at Greenbelt.
I would be inclined to ask who’s to blame for a church full of slackers-the slackers themselves or church leaders whose model of discipleship produces slackers instead of missional Christ-followers?
Where exactly are the slackers who need to be dumped-sitting in the pews or standing behind the pulpits?
Excellent comments. Don’t want to do shout-outs but I rarely feel inspired enough to comment. I’m encouraged by some of the like-mindedness (and challenged).
I appreciate the discussion that Christine brings (and thanks Andrew for posting) though I haven’t figured out the conclusion she calls for. Perhaps I should read the book. As individual believers and as a Church, we should take notice of some of these points.
Regarding the “unload the slackers” comment, first, to those who might be bothered by being called “slackers”. Can we as the Church really be offended? As a Church, are we giving our best to the glory of God and to the world?
Personally, I am not able to defend this accusation.
Do not get wrong, I love the Church. I am humbled that I am a part of it, that I serve it, and I believe in it’s hope but I will not lie for it. We are not being faithful with the opportunities we’ve been given, nor are we being faithful with living out the gospel. We are slackers.
I read the comment as motivational hyperbole rather then a call to literal action. First how would you actually unload the slackers? By excommunicating them or firing off a warning shot by issuing an ultimatum? Second, who are “they” because if I am honest with myself, I’m being asked to condemn myself. Thirdly, if we had a “how”, and a “who”, can we be faithful in our Christianity and actually dismiss those who are not performing spiritually up to this newly agreed upon par? We must always carry our weaker brothers and sisters, serve them, lead them, confront, reconcile, pray for them and realize that many times WE are the weaker.
Which perhaps may bring us closer to bringing goodness to the problem. Maybe we can confront the slacker-mentality in our churches by being more faithful, more loving, more sacrificial, and more Christ-like.
I like the sentiments of the last commenter, “We are the slackers…WE are the weaker…Maybe we can confront the slacker-mentality in our churches by being more faithful, more loving, more sacrificial, and more Christ-like.”
Right? What else is there?
Goes along with Christine’s assertion that:
“From outward appearances, Christian faith doesn’t change behavior for the better.
Evangelicals divorce, do drugs, drink alcohol, have sex outside marriage, have abortions — you name it, they do it, at the same rates as everyone else. At the same time, they are well known for espousing political policies that favor the rich over the poor, would deny equal rights to gay people and support war.”
It is true. People are not ‘afraid of hell’ or ‘hoping for heaven,’ but everyone is susceptible to love, hope and charity rightly expressed. What is else is the Kingdom of God but the character and virtues of God lived out here and now?
The old forms must die so that the example of Christ can be seen once again.
If Evangelicalism is the old form that is so encrusted that Jesus can not be seen but for the crap…then let that form die.
I’m not making a judgment on the doctrine of universalism, but here’s another thought: If all you are interested in is a conversion, a prayer of faith, and not following the hard example; why wouldn’t you start to think that everyone gets a ‘pass’? Makes your job a lot easier don’t it (or at least lets your conscience feel better)? I can see the thinking now, “This conversion stuff is hard, but what if in the end, God takes care of it anyway?”