Linkathon 10/10, part 1
October 9, 2012
- According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, one-fifth of Americans now describe themselves as ‘religiously unaffiliated’. So far, I’ve found three articles –
- one Protestant (Ed Stetzer),
- one Catholic (Dwight Longenecker)
- and one atheist (Hemant Mehta) – that address the subject at length. I’ll post more as I come across them.
- Matt Redmond asks why people leave the church. Wenatchee the Hatchet comments.
- Collin Hansen interviews Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind.
- Brian McLaren is interviewed by the Red Letter Christians blog.
- Anthony Sacramone is skeptical of the claims of a neurosurgeon who says he went to heaven.
- Albert Mohler says the ‘real struggle is between Christianity and post-Christianity‘.
- Wartburg Watch says Thabiti Anyabwile ’causes a ruckus’ at The Gospel Coalition regarding Puritans and racism.
- Bad things happen when one drinks a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen (HT).
- Even worse when one eats roaches in a contest to win a free snake.
I thought that the Redmond article was pretty good (although I don’t understand the weekly wringing of hands posted here weekly – the church is doing fine).
Redmond sounds like another one ready to jump ship from evangelicalism and head in a Lutheran direction.
I did appreciate him pointing out that Lutherans are the only ones talking work and vocation..
This may be a little controversial, but Lutherans prepare people if they leave the church – to survive as a Christian in the world, maintaining faith, even if not connected directly to the church.
Evangelicals make people dependent on the church (please note that I am using small “c”). Evangelical churches have become like bomb shelters with the continual teaching “don’t go out there”. In evangelical churches there is no integration with the general population – unless you are overtly trying to “win them to Christ” – church people are not out there just to “love and serve your neighbor” through your life and vocation.
Which leads some to say, even brag, “my job just supports my ministry habit.”
“Evangelicals make people dependent on the church (please note that I am using small “c”). Evangelical churches have become like bomb shelters with the continual teaching “don’t go out there”. In evangelical churches there is no integration with the general population – unless you are overtly trying to “win them to Christ” – church people are not out there just to “love and serve your neighbor” through your life and vocation.”
My experience has been 100% completely different from that. Just for the record. Too much false there to even refute.
Josh, it’s good to hear that you are not one of those evangelicals.
I don’t believe everything I read in the media. What I believe is the power of God through His Holy Spirit and His Word to bring whosoever wants it, to eternal life. These media reports are nothing.
My guess is every “evangelical” here would say the same thing I said.
Which begs the question, why would you make such a sweeping generalization, that clearly isn’t true about the majority of people you’ve accused?
No matter. I’m digging the whole Thabiti discussion.
I don’t even get Redmond.
If we try to love, hear and obey Jesus, how does that NOT affect our work.
It seems to fall on deaf ears here at the PP as I seem to recall SOMEBODY here incessantly talking about Jesus in the mundane matters of life…like cats and skateparks.
MLD, i have lived a long time now and the Lutherans that i have met have been to a man/woman/child well mannered, sneaky, smug, situation ethical and totally dependent upon church attendance/participation for their assurance – with an undercurrent of hostility and suspicion toward outsiders … now i don’t broad brush the whole of your community and declare here that “Lutherans are yada yada” …
since i know and have known a far greater number of the vast community of Believers who could wear the label Evangelical, i know by your comments here that your exposure to the Faith community outside of Lutheranism (whose founder we all owe a debt of gratitude) is, proportionally, as limited as my exposure has been to your folk.
otherwise … ? … i’d have to think that you are off your rocker 🙂
Josh, your words are wrong – I have not accused at all – I just describe.
And if you deny the evangelical sub culture, you are in denial.
me = 25 yrs as an evangelical – 7 as Lutheran. I know that of which I speak.
But look, I don’t strike out against any denominations or non denominations (as those do who poke back at me.) – I don’t make claims against Josh’s SBC or any others – just this evangelical subcultures that has manifest itself in and over other denominations.
Look, I don’t write the blogs that do the constant complaining – evangelicals are the ones who are dissatisfied with their own thing, they are the one’s with the burr in their saddle, the proverbial bee in their bonnet.
Perhaps that is another tick against evangelicalism – they bitch and moan too much. 😉
I said in my first comment, the church is doing just fine
I don’t have any problem with criticism of evangelicals, it’s just when the the criticism is patently false that I feel like something must be said. I mean, are you honestly gonna look a guys like Steven Furtick and claim that they are some sort of sectarian isolationists?
I didn’t say anything about “sectarian” – if nothing else it is an odd formation of “group think” isolationism. 🙂
Don’t even bring up Furtick – the guy is marginally Christian as evidenced in his book “Sun Stand Still”
Josh – it’s not criticism OF evangelicals – it is criticism BY evangelicals that is causing the ruckus.
I’m Matt Redmonds biggest fan and I think he nailed it…and what he is saying will be the Achilles heal of the TR.
“They walk away because we are answering the questions they are not asking.”
I wish so much that I had said that first…
MLD, you are losing your train of thought. I am talking about your statement that I quoted in #2. What on earth are you talking about?
“Don’t even bring up Furtick – the guy is marginally Christian as evidenced in his book “Sun Stand Still””
Furtick is the poster boy for modern evangelicalism. I think you are out of touch.
I believe the Bible has all the answers…period.
Any questions someone may have, if they come to know the teachings of the Bible, they will have answered.
And sometimes the ‘answer’ will be that there is no answer – but that isn’t something to hang on evangelicals, and I would shudder to think there is some alternate church out there with ‘answers’ to issues where the Bible can only leave us asking…
I think teaching the Bible expositionally is boring for many of the young and restless. And so they move on. Those who stay to drink deep from the Word change the world.
“Furtick is the poster boy for modern evangelicalism. I think you are out of touch.”
Then I rest my case against evangelicalism if Furtick is the poster boy. 🙂 I would think that upon this, your own confession, that you would throw in the evangelical towel. 🙂
MLD, for goodness sake, you are all over the place. RE-read my #2…the part where I quoted you, and see if your think Furtick fits that description.
I have many problems with evangelicalism. Just nothing like what you first said.
One last thing, before I hit the road to work. I think this is what Redmond is getting at.- Evangelicals cannot see work as doing ministry – unless you are in your co worker’s face about Jesus.
The typical conversation “after you get off work, let’s go out and do some ministry.” My reply is “I’m too tired, I have been at work all day doing ministry.” “Oh, did you witness to people, share Jesus, anyone come to the lord?”
No, just did my work for the sake of Jesus.Served my customers, provided for my family, paid in bunch of taxes for public services etc.
This is what Redmond is saying – that people are left unsatisfied with church, because church will not let them be satisfied living their life… away from church.
“The typical conversation “after you get off work, let’s go out and do some ministry.””
That’s a typical conversation? For who? I’ve certainly never heard anything like that.
I think you are fighting an invisible enemy, MLD. It’s hard to refute because it is so far from the truth.
“In evangelical churches there is no integration with the general population – unless you are overtly trying to “win them to Christ” ”
I will take this as what you are referring to in your #2-
Furtick is the one who told his people if they had been at church more than 2 times, that they must stop being fed and get out and evangelize them. This was a big deal 4 or 5 years ago. He said it wasn’t his job to baby them – but to kick them out to witness for Jesus.
Note that he did not kick them out to live their life or to serve in vocation – but solely to witness, evangelize (I am sure that the YouTubes are still out their.
So, they have compound mentality and only go out for that specific purpose.
Time to hop in the car.
Josh – you are a church professional – you need to get out and talk to the folks more. They are the ones writing these blogs of dissatisfaction.
I’m bivocational. I work at office full time.
If the people are taught at their church that the people they meet are nothing more than prospects for the evangelical sales pitch, then yeah, that church has a problem.
However, a lot of church-goers are unwilling to let others know they themselves are Christians, and that is a problem. And sometimes projection draws crazy conclusions about evangelism pressure – when the real issue is something that makes them ashamed to tell their neighbors and coworkers that they personally follow Christ.
Redmonds article is good.
And Wenatchee’s is pretty good as well.
As far as why people are leaving the church(small c), I would be even more simple minded in the reasoning: People leave when they think that they won’t be missed. They haven’t made a connection yet with anyone who gives a rip.
Its more than just getting “plugged in”, which usually translates to serving in some capacity. Yup, if you feel like no one cares about you, the church basically says, “start serving others, that will get you over your selfishness.”
Redmond is talking about things that don’t get discussed in church, and if they get discussed over coffee outside of church, it had better be with a good friend, or you are going to find yourself talking with no one listening.
many may have walked (or fled) from the church for the reason Redmond cited, but it is not the only one. Those who have left with their faith intact defy the logic of the dismissive excuse-makers/labelists who refuse to ask the right questions or listen to the reasons from those leaving. The status quo is what will strangle the evangelical expression of the Church, not the departure of attendees.
We’ve had visitors who become new members that when I meet them, it is clear they know the Lord well, and are mature in the faith. They usually are very hesitant to trash the church they just left (typically a church they attended for many years) and I don’t pry. It usually ends with “they began to do some things I just disagree with” and that ends it.
These folks know nobody. Yet, I notice that within a couple months, I see them laughing and talking with many people at the church, typically some of the longtimers. We have plenty of opportunity before and after church for such fellowship and friendships to develop over coffee, on the patio outside the doors etc.
Then on occasion someone phones the church to express their complaint that they had visited three weeks and nobody was friendly to them. Of course, I know at the least they were greeted by a smiling usher but that does not count. I urge them to please come introduce themselves to me the next Sunday, but they never show.
I attended our church for months and didn’t know anybody. I did not care because I was finishing my MDiv and was just there to worship on Sundays. Then there was a picnic in the park one Sunday that I took my young son to so he could play with some church kids on the swings and so forth. I just walked up to people with a smile and an outstretched hand and introduced myself. Ended up having multiple conversations with other people that I then could talk to later, and be introduced to others in future conversations.
He who would have friends mush show himself friendly. Sometimes people do just want to be left alone too – and love would respect that as well. There is little worse to me than just wanting to slip into a seat and be left alone and have to go through the 3rd degree with someone who feels it is their calling to make friends with complete strangers, just because they walked in the doors to worship God. Like church was the Rotary Club or something.
So yeah, I will listen to reasons why people don’t like the church. But the whole “there is no love and friendship there” after a whopping 2-3 weeks is not going to get far with me – because I know otherwise and see it worked out every week.
“I’m bivocational. I work at office full time.”
I was yanking your chain. 😉
Chain thoroughly yanked. Thanks!
My Pastor is more intelligent than your Pastor;
My Church is bigger than your church;
My denomination is on God’s side, your denomination is a hoax;
My God is Love, your god wears combat boots;
How about more:
Praise the Eternal, Worthy, Holy, Righteous, Creater God;
With Him there is no evil, without Him there is no good;
He is everything, we are nothing.
Matt Redmond has got me thinking.
One of the things that I noticed in my time in the church is that the culture is very project oriented. It is an attribute that works well if the goals are accomplished, but like a shepherd who moves his sheep into fresh pasture, so the pastor must interpret what going on for the flock to keep going. There is a subtle line between leadership (if there really should be such a thing in the kingdom with exception to the King), and manupulation.
In my youth, I remember how I felt the day after coming home from mission trips. There was always such a let down, such an emotional low, that I couldn’t wait til the next summer and go out and do it all over again. While on mission trips, I felt like heaven had truly come down to earth, only to watch it rapture into the heavenlies on that Sunday night service as we officially ended our mission trip in our home church.
And then, even worse, to return to that pagan work enviroment where no one rally cared about the kingdom and even less about all the ministry I had experiences while I was away. There was never any really, strong, down to earth, equipping for my day to day life, but it was all centered around those two or three weeks in August when I felt so godly that I would attack the gates of hell with a water canon.
me = 25 yrs as an evangelical – 7 as Lutheran. I know that of which I speak”
thing is MLD, you use the wrong term (as do some others) when describing your target … you promote what you have found to be the institution with the purest doctrine, but you’re doing so by using poor examples of Christian expression and mis-labeling that evangelicalism … it makes no more sense than for me to use what i have experienced of Lutheranism to define what the Lutheran church is … you’ve got quite a group of people over several centuries under your umbrella of aberrant Christianity – going back nearly to Luther, himself, i understand
IMO you, and many others, need to find a new word to describe what you’re against … how about “the result of the 4th Great Awakening?” too many words? or not precise enough? your own coming to the faith is a product of that manifestation of evangelicalism, i believe …
as long as critics toss about the word evangelical as synonymous with corrupt Christianity i will take umbrage … and pray … just sayin … cuz i can …
First, I haven’t said anything about corrupt Christianity. Second, my criticisms of evangelicalism is that it seems to be an overlay to the church, and I have no dispute with doctrine, except to the point that doctrine dictates practice and there I do have some issues.
I don’t really know what the 4th Great Awakening is, but I am sure that only evangelicals buy into it – even if it is not all evangelicals or even most – I will still bet that it is only populated by evangelicals.
One last note, the biggest critics of bad Lutheranism are Lutherans themselves – don’t get me started on the ELCA. 😉
I am a little surprised that no one has commented on my very first sentence of my #1 post,
” (although I don’t understand the weekly wringing of hands posted here weekly – the church is doing fine)”
I am the one making the positive comment… and I think AV alluded to same in one of his posts.
But, evangelical (there’s that word again) bloggers seem to be an unhappy bunch when it comes to church.
MLD, everything that you say alludes to corrupted Christianity and that’s not bad, it’s just that you’re not always correct 🙂 IMO, of course
Strife draws readers.
That was my point last week about political conspiracy nonsense. Things are never going well, no matter what actually is happening, because that does not feed the regular readers of their stuff.
Em, some of my best friends are evangelicals. 🙂
Actually they are.
On further reflection I would say my thought about Redmond’s observations is that I agree with having seen a lot of that. I would add, however, that individual believers have to work out a lot of that stuff themselves. More than twenty years ago there was this Pentecostal youth pastor who said something that has stuck with me, he said “My job as a pastor is not to `do ministry’ it’s to prepare YOU to share Jesus and love and reach people where ever you are.” He identified the majority of the ministry of the church with ordinary people not in formal ministry, and that a minister’s job was to train people enough to find out what their own opportunities would be. I believe there must be plenty of evangelical churches that have been, are, and will keep doing this but they’re not necessarily going to make headlines for doing that. Maybe most of the controversies in evangelicalism come in part due to sample biases of anecdotal cases?
If I were to think about just opportunities I have had or didn’t have once I wasn’t in a megachurch and in a smaller church I’ve been given opportunities to help in ways that weren’t even on the table at the megachurch and it wasn’t so much because I wasn’t trying to serve in ministry at the mega (and I know people who have been able to do neat things with megas so I’m not really even against megas, either). If the eye or ear of the local body of Christ remembered that the toenails of the body play a role things seem like they can work out. What if the problem we’re dancing around is a propensity in the leadership culture to wish that different parts of the body had different roles rather than attempting to accept that their role in a local body may make itself providentially apparent?
This is, paradoxically, why I still think Redmond’s points are worth reading. I’ve known enough people who aren’t in a big church any longer to have heard what cumulatively sound like the following story, “I feel interested and able to do X but the church isn’t interested in me unless I’m willing to do Y on their terms and that’s how they define being willing to serve.” Let’s say single guys are urged to join security and women are urged to work in childrens programs. Or maybe the guy will be told to work in kids ministry with a wink that he’ll find a wife there. That person’s day job being an electrician or shipper/receiver would be where the majority of life is. It may be the fault of both churches and individuals that we don’t grant that a lot of this stuff has to get thought through by individual Christians.
I read Matt Redmond’;s post and I really like what he’s said. This is old hat for me — not to sound arrogant or anything.
In fairness, it’s not just Lutherans who understand the value of the value of all of life under Christ’s Lordship. Reformed thinkers have done a good job with it, too. We Lutherans share a fair amount of this theological real estate with them.
I really like what 1 responder to Redmond’s article said (copied below). This is pretty much the same as I have been posting, about common grace. Common grace means we acknowledge that our God has given all persons things like reasoning, work, conscience, marriage and family, etc.
I also have to wonder how the nonchurched see “spiritually gated” churches where there’s often a strong demand made on parishoners to get involved with as many church activities as they can handle..Don’t know why they’d want to get involved in such a church. I’m for almost anything that breaks down the “us vs. them” fortress mentality.
“We separate ourselves from real life, from being human, from mixing it up with the stuff of earth, from building actual lives in the life of the community around us. That includes our work (vocation), but it also includes all the other common stuff of life.
We have spent so much time focusing on “growing the church” into an all-sufficient, safe and fully programmed family-friendly institution for believers, separated from the world and forming a world of our own, that we’ve become a team that doesn’t know how to play the game on the other team’s field.”
It’s great when people say “I want to serve. What is needed?”
It’s also great when people say “I can do this, is it needed?”
The problem arrives when someone says “I want to do this, now create a ministry here for me to do it!”
Our latest dilemma is, we work in children’s mininstry, but keep getting sick from the kids, so are considering quitting that area of service, but don’t see other places where we think we can serve, so are struggling with guilt over considering quitting children’s ministry….Heavens, we can’t ‘just go to church’ can we?
Paige, yes, you can “just” go to church.
That’s what I do these days. Sure, I bring a casserole or a cake for the potluck after Liturgy and I take my turn at washing dishes and I participate with the rest of the women when it’s cleaning day but that’s enough for me. No titles, no special ministry, just macaroni and cheese or pineapple upside down cake.
Paige, sure you can. Maybe just quit for a while and come back or maybe having to be in a ministry that’s officially recognized by the church isn’t necessary. It would seem like churches should be able to get that a break from doing anything in an officially recognize ministry may be necessary for people at some times.
Depending on the church and personal history “just go to church” or “just be a consumer” is exactly what some Christians need to do. Sometimes creating a ministry opportunity is admitting you have a burden you can’t carry and seeing the ways in which others may or may not be able to assist.
Sometimes “just going to church” is being a consumer, but for others, it isn’t. It’s communing with God. The public assembly isn’t an option for Christians, although at times I wish it was.
RHE just got kicked by “Desiring God”
“I take my turn at washing dishes and I participate with the rest of the women when it’s cleaning day but that’s enough for me. No titles, no special ministry, just macaroni and cheese or pineapple upside down cake.”
from my advanced years and hazy, rose colored memories those are the women i remember – full of love and grace and service … i … BTW, my grandmother made the best upside down cakes in a heavy old black cast iron skillet 🙂
FWIW – our Lord seemed to think that Martha’s sister, who was just sitting and learning was doing a good thing – but may God bless anyone in any church who is affirming and loving the children in any way …
Em, I used to use a big greasy cast iron skillet but then we got a glass-topped stove and I was afraid I’d break the glass. Now I use a rectangular baking pan and it’s OK but not nearly as tasty as the frying pan version.
Well let me just say as a man, I have eaten some of the best upside down cakes in the world. And in the spirit of the Rachel Held Evans’ debates – “ladies, keep them coming!” 🙂
Xenia, the best ones are made with butter, light brown sugar, a big old iron skillet and started over a gas flame … General Electric got hold of our kitchens and we’ve gone downhill ever since – electricity is inherently evil … but … washing machines are good 🙄
Butter, brown sugar, yep! I always put maraschino cherries in the pineapple holes, too. I never had a gas stove but I always wanted one.
I always bring traditional American food to our weekly potlucks. The Russians love it! And I love their food, too.
Xenia, do any of those Russians bring stuffed cabbage? the kind where you take a big head of cabbage, hollow it out and fill it with a ground meat mix of beef, veal and pork and then steam the whole thing? i lost my recipe … if i remember, it used chopped onion, bread crumbs and mace and was served with horseradish
now i won’t use this blog for secular domestic stuff again, i promise …
Em, I haven’t seen that yet but it sounds good!
Xenia, it is/was levitatingly good – even my children loved it
I’ve been in houses living with roommates where nobody had a cast iron skillet. I’ve also concluded that learning to cook is something everyone in the US should at least consider. Cooking your own food has the value of thrift, hospitality, and learning to be grateful that other people can cook much, much better than you can. 🙂
feel free to post a steamed cabbage recipe somewhere and let us know. That sounds like it might be fun to try making.
i second the motion, Wenatchee, i need the recipe for the filling – if anyone wants to try to create one, it has to be a big cabbage, slice off the top 1/5th and scrape out the “insides” with a sturdy spoon (save that for slaw), fill it with a good, sloppy is okay, meat mixture, put the top back on, tie it all up with string and steam it – don’t boil it – (about an hour) stem side down in a big kettle, preferably on a rack to keep it off of the bottom, until the meat mixture is cooked – slice it in wedges with some horseradish on the side
it is amazing how it cuts the grocery budget to go from scratch, but it takes time and planning that most don’t have … i don’t think a one of my childrens’ families have sit-down supper anymore – my son, of necessity, is an outstanding cook however
and i broke my promise … sigh
I think at my parish the ladies would just season the browned hamburger with onions, salt and pepper and maybe some mushrooms. Afterwards I think my group would be inclined to serve it with sour cream with fresh dill. I am going to make this!!!
love my caste iron skillet, im just an old fashioned gal.
“The public assembly isn’t an option for Christians, …..”
There was a time I would have vehemently denied this, not so much anymore.
Having been back to services after a long absence, I appreciate and understand the assembly in a greater depth.
I have yet to connect to others, though that is my choice, and not a lack of them not trying, but they are not pushy either. I appreciate the offers and will accept when ready, which will be soon I think.
My new church and its people sound a bit like AV’s, I really appreciated your take on it by the way.
I read the desiring God article. I have blabbered on here many times but I dont get something I really dont get something. Trillia Newbell makes this statement “She believes in the physical resurrection of Christ, and she believes in evolution.” As some type of kudagra. I dont “believe” in evolution any more then I “believe” in the Theory of Gravity, Germ theory etc. The rest of the article was the “traditional” boogieman rhetoric. I found the posts and video’s of Mrs. Evens really compelling but I find the objections to them even less compelling. It is a clash of worldviews, but it is not a either or dichotomy.
should read not very compelling sorry about that.
I love you, brian.
Just now getting back to this thread. Thanks for the feedback on ‘just going to church’ for a season…… and thanks for the recipe ideas too! hahahahha FYI, I ‘gave notice’ this week to the children’s ministry over seer….. She was gracious….. as was the main office over seer…. We’re going to take a break….. maybe visit other churches. Maybe stay home and do Blackabies’ “Experiencing God’ workbook, watch some online services, pray about what to ‘do’ next….. We both sense that it’s a season of change, time to take a break. It’s also possible that we are just plain burnt out from ‘serving’ too much…..God knows.