Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Country club" Christianity

I am continually astounded by the brilliance of the people surrounding me in the blogosphere. Not as in Steven-Hawking brilliant, but by people who have seen the truth and are not afraid to speak it. Like my Canadian brother-of-the-heart who goes by the unlikely pseudonym [rhymes with kerouac].

Whenever I am at risk of standing in lines, I've been reading his book, Today At The Mission, which is selections from his first year's blogging over here, and came across this clearly-prophetic post. The whole thing is brilliant, but this passage speaks to my heart in a way that hurts:

There are churches in our city that have no problem raising a million dollars for a new building (complete with paved parking lots, air conditioning and broadloom) but can't seem to spare a fig for the dying and the damned on our downtown streets. The exact phrase my friend used to describe these churches was "Christian country clubs."

And none of this would be an issue if it weren't for God saying this: "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his blood, suffered without the gate." In all of Christian history, thought and practice their can be no holier place than the cross. Yet the cross was not found in the Temple, nor in Jerusalem, the very City of God. It was found outside the city, in the wild and desolate place of Golgotha, the place of anguish, of humiliation and shame.

He puts in words what has bothered me about so much of suburban Christianity for so long. I've used that "Christian country club" phrase too - so much so that I stopped bothering, because that's all I saw.

I've been invited to a round half-dozen churches lately - and I've been resisting going to any of them. Part of them is pure sloth - Chris works until midnight or later on Saturdays, and Sunday just doesn't sound like fun to leap up and go. But it's also the idea that a considerable chunk of what the institutional church does would definitely fit the term "incompatible with Christian teachings." And I just don't want to be bothered, to be honest. (Now, to be fair, there is still a significant majority of the church whose actions mirror Christ's words. I just haven't run into them much...)

It's like having been burned in love - there is a significant desire not to commit again, for fear of getting burned again. The last time the church burned me, it hurt for a long, long time. I'm just not going to make that kind of commitment until I'm sure - really, really sure - that it's the real McCoy. And if that's cowardice, then so be it. To paraphrase what Gandalf said so succinctly in The Two Towers, one who has been escorted to the door will not willingly go back in a second time...


Poor Mad Peter said...

The church you need (not necessarily the one you want) will likely find you, Steve man.

birdoparadise said...

The energy of change comes from below, not in the powers that be. How can a church mature if the people who can change it turn away? I will challenge you to be spiritually aggressive instead of waiting for the "right" church to appear. Find one that comes close to being what you need and be the catalyst for making it Christ's home again.

Mark said...

Might be linked to the rise of "emergent", post-modern-ey kinds of churches, eh?

Anonymous said...

i think that their are no perfect gatherings of people for the worship of God...even saved people that are in the body of Christ. that is because not one person is perfect. no matter how we go about it and how much we want it to be the way it should be, it will happen the way that things are right now. a church will not "find" you, for you are the church. and the you will not go into a group of people and change them, but God will change them from the inside-out. Love God and Love one another...Love your neighbor. that is it. that is enough. so, go to a gathering of believers and Love them.

Love to you.