Check out this conversation

03Mar04

Matt (a friend from Fuller and fellow blogger) and Carla (a self-professed atheist) are having a conversation. Matt shared part of it here. Very interesting stuff. I’ve been doing some thinking – especially since I’ve been working at P&G – about the commodification of the church and culture. It has been interesting to listen to my Anthropology class with Dr. Kraft while scanning in articles about branding, marketing, packaging, consumer trends, and the like. I do not doubt that God meets people in all kinds of settings – mega-churches, traditional churches, Catholic churches, liberal churches, charismatic churches, shopping malls, movie theaters, online, etc… But I’m concerned to see the church so blindly adopting/coopting consumer tactics, marketing, and brand identification. Maybe its not the church coopting, but the church that has been coopted.

Dr. Kraft talks about how Christianity can exist in any culture. That culture is not a bad thing and that there is NO SUCH THING as a “Christian Culture”. And while every culture has redeemable parts and sinful parts, there are “supra-cultural” realities that God wants to inhabit in any culture. All that to say – As much as God has, can, and will work in the ecclesiastical structures that we set-up; I have to wonder if he is rather put off by the whole-sale embrace of the American culture that so many churches fall into.

I guess what I’m saying is something like this – I don’t like traditional churches, I don’t like mega/seeker-sensitive churches, I don’t like the “Christian Right” or the “Moral Majority” (whatever that is!), I don’t like Liberalism or “whatever-feels-good-it-must-be-OK-cause-we-don’t-want-to-offend-anyone” – but yet I consistently see God working in these very structures. And as much as I don’t like it, I respect (even if I don’t sound like it – I really do) my sisters and brothers in these churches. And yet, if I am to be faithful to a Kingdom Reality in my life and ministry I must believe that there is a better way. There must be a way to be a Subversive Community living on the fringe of the culture, living by Kingdom principles, making foreys (sp?) into the fray to offer a cup of cold water to the thirsty, a home-cooked meal to the stranger, and a bed to the wanderer. There must be a way to follow a Relational God RELATIONALLY – both as a person and as a community. There must be a way to FORCE, DEMAND, and INSIST that structure and form flow out of the ryhthm of the People of God gathered together. To not allow structure or form to dominate, but to submit to the Holy Spirit alive and active in our midst. There must be a way to PURSUE JESUS TOGETHER!

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