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.