Two Books Affirm my Faith

I finished a book today: Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel by Tony Campolo and Brian D. McLaren. I've read both authors before and both have beefs with the church* just like me. So, maybe I'm not challenging my thinking by choosing to read their diagnosis of the church, but it sure is refreshing to be affirmed in my thinking when nearly everything I come into contact churchwise doesn't feel right. I also lately read a book by Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, that speaks on similar issues and was very encouraging.

In my years growing up in, studying in, working for, receiving counsel from, teaching for, and being a missionary for the church I've gotten to the point where I've nearly had enough of the church. Virtually all church programming is loathsome to me because it just doesn't seem real or honest anymore (or ever). I'm not saying I'm leaving the church. Those are just my thoughts and feelings at the moment.

What I desire in a church, both in giving and receiving, does not seem to exist in the current church. Strong questions aren't being asked. The mystery isn't embraced. Issues like poverty, justice, human rights, materialism, the family, homosexuality, and other faiths don't see the light of day. Though I've been able to voice my feelings on a few occasions with some close friends and some adventurous short-term missionaries, I don't sense that the existing institutions are going to make a relevant impact on the world.

As I ponder my future service in the world, I've got some questions that need answering by the church which will then define how I will continue to work within or without it.

Everything that I read from Donald Miller, Philip Yancey, Tony Campolo, Brian D McLaren, William M. Easum and Rob Bell suggests that the true church will emerge from para-church, casual, micro, cell, groups of believers. When people think of these people they will think of what I think of when I think of Jesus. And then the Kingdom will grow.

*By church, I mean all protestant western Christian churches as the body of Christ - I'm not discounting churches outside of this definition, I just don't have any strong feelings towards them as I haven't had much to do with them.


Petra said...

I agree. This is a common topic of discussion for my husband, friends and family. It's to bad that it has to be that way. But I guess we just have to make it better in our own circles. Which is probably why I haven't been to church in six years or more. Don't seem to miss it either. Although I do miss the idea of community.
I hope that you and Amber have that down there. And I'm glad that you are makinga difference church or no.

Debby said...

That's one of the things I love about you , Zaak. Your search for God and truth is real, you dont follow blindly.The reason you are in Guatemala is because you care about the people...the way Jesus cared. You are studying, questioning. It's really inspiring and I respect and love that. I dont go to church anymore but I love people that are real...and care and are spiritual...I see that in my 3 children(and their spouses) and I'm happy.

Anonymous said...

So many people I know are struggling with these same questions. Faith is difficult at best without all the other stuff that seems to build as residual. I enjoy reading your thoughts, Zaak.

Lori M

dawn said...

To be honest, I left the place I was 10 years ago, due to politics. I sought a place to gather with fellow believers, where I would be virtually unnoticed, where I would be a number of many, where it wouldn't matter what I wore, or if I said "hi" or if I said it with the right intonations. I wanted a place where people didn't really care about anything in my life, but cared about me (that probably doesn't make sense). I think I found that place about 10 years ago. Sometimes I long for more community, but I know that is my responsibility. I know having been a leader in another group, often people say "I don't feel connected", but they aren't willing to put themselves in a place to get connected.

Truthfully, the church is made of the people, and it is the people that need to change the situation. That can be very difficult in a dogmatic organization, but sometimes there are groups of people, sometimes quite small that are willing to openly look at things. I think it is wise to be a mover and shaker in this world if you have the calling.

You are doing great work where you are, and I for one think of you and Amber and what you are doing and pray for the Lord's blessings on you. Keep up the good work.