Some of you may be aware that I enjoy reading. It’s not uncommon for me to be reading two or three books at once! I’ve mentioned before that I am reading Michael Frost’s Exiles at the moment, which I am getting a great deal from. I’m also reading Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not The Church. This is a really good book, which contains discussions Dan has had with various people in regards to Jesus and church. It also shows how insular the church has become.
It was only a year after becoming a Christian that I married Jonathan; and I remember having so many questions about why certain things were done at church. Being someone who wasn’t brought up within the church, I really couldn’t get my head around all of the structure and what I considered to be pomp and ceremony. Amazingly though, I soon learnt not to ask questions and just accepted how things were. In Exiles Frost gives tells a story about a man whose Dad and Dad’s cousin had hypnotised hens whilst they were playing hooky from church one Sunday. Apparently chalk lines were drawn on the veranda of the house they were at, and then the hens heads were held to the line for a minute or two and once they let go of them the hen’s were hypnotised to the line, and did not move. Frost goes on to say that the church can be like this. We become hypnotised to the line. This is what we believe and this is how we do it, no one is allowed to ask questions. We only move away from the line when we get a quick kick, a wake up call. My wake up call came when Jonathan started questioning, whilst reading A New Kind of Christian (McLaren) five years ago.
I feel so sad when I read books like They like Jesus but not the Church because people who do not go to church do not really look favourably on the church, and a lot of Christian leaders quite frankly seem to be living in a time warp. People out there, especially those under 35-40 are searching for something, and a lot of them think that Jesus was a really neat guy, but they don’t want the church baggage that comes with it. Dan writes about how some church leaders really gave him a grilling because he was not at the church office every day of the week; especially because he went to coffee houses and met people, spoke with them, without a “conversion” in mind – he even did his sermon prep there. I am so disappointed that leaders felt this way; even more disappointed that they seem to think that it’s up to Joe Public to come through their church doors and get saved.
What do you think of when you hear the words Church, Christian and Jesus? If I’m honest when I hear the word church, I automatically think of bricks and mortar, not the body of Christ. Christian makes me think of a follower of Christ, but I always wonder in what sense?
As for Jesus; what can I say? Absolutely amazing guy, Wow – I can’t take in all of the mercy and grace. My lord.