Friday, June 29, 2007

The Church versus the church, Part VI -- Those Pesky "One Another's"

This is my church. No, that is not me in the pulpit.
It's the district superintendent.

Once again I'm returning to the question of why it would not perhaps be better to practice a solitary Christianity, a relationship with Jesus Christ that allows one to worship, pray, read the scriptures, and generally believe in, follow, and love Jesus in the safety of our own private world. It would certainly be simpler and often safer.

Jesus, however, never instructed anyone to go it alone. He sent his disciples out two by two. Not long before his crucifixion, according to the Gospel of John, he prayed that the believers might be "one," love one another, and so on.

One another. There it is.

I cannot be "another" -- I can only be "one." There are biblical commands to love one another, honor one another, prefer one another, welcome one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, wash one another's feet, pray for one another, and many more. When I searched for biblical references to "one another" I was both surprisd and encouraged. I haven't counted, but I'm told it is found 60 times in the New Testament.

How am we to be obedient to these instruction? I can't do it by myself! Neither can you. We need a gathering of like-minded believers. I can't "welcome one another" or "spur one another on to love and good works" if I am not somehow joined with others who make up a visible and local part of the great (but invisible to us) Church of Jesus Christ. The "Church" is glorious, and somewhat mystical, but the "church," on the other hand, is made up of very flawed, human, broken people. Like me. Like us. Here are a few glimpses of some of the others at my particular place to call "church."

Here you see us coming to worship together, singing, preaching, loving each other, having fun together, teaching children, studying the Bible, taking a break after a busy morning at an inner-city outreach, getting ready for a parade, dedicating a baby boy to the Lord, showing off trophies, and on it goes. Why all the pictures? Because all these things go better with more than just one. And don't we look like we are enjoying one another?

I hope this Sunday finds you in church. I'd be so happy to see you!

Rev Gals Friday Five: Gifts and Talents

Here is this week's Friday Five from Sally at Eternal Echoes. I haven't played in a while -- so here goes.

1. Personality tests; love them or hate them?

I love them! I know my Myers-Briggs designation (INFP)and that I am a "Golden Retriever/Owl" and that I am a high "I" on the DISC inventory...and so on.

2. Would you describe yourself as practical, creative, intellectual or a mixture?

I am a mixture. I love to ponder and learn new things and evaluate, but a time will come when I say, "Okay, enough. How in the world do we actually DO this stuff?" And creative...yes, sometimes. I love to cook, and I love to paint even though I am not good at that one. I try to be creative even in sermons. Sometimes I wish I were not so mixed up. I'd occasionally like to be REALLY STRONG in just one area.

3. It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame; have you had your yet? If so what was it, if not dream away what would you like it to be?

No. I am still waiting. Boy, it will be fun when it arrives, if it does. I would like it to be something to do with ministry--not so I could be "famous" but if I were it would mean that God had done something unusual and powerful. I'm always up for that!

4. If you were given a 2 year sabbatical (oh the dream of it) to create something would it be music, literature, art.....something completely different...share your dream with us...

I would write a book. Maybe two. I love to write and I have so many things bouncing around in my head. I'd love to have the outlet, and the time to sort it out and make it organized and meaningful.

5. Describe a talent you would like to develop, but that seems completely beyond you.

Ooooh, playing the piano/keyboard. I always loved music, and unlike all my friends whose parents were forcing them to take piano lessons they hated, I longed for a piano and lessons--but 'twas not to be. At this advanced middle-aged point in life---ack--it is not going to happen. I am actually still very sad about that. Maybe when I retire.

Bonus question: Back to the church- what does every member ministry mean to you? Is it truly possible to encourage/ implement?

Since I believe passionately that pastor-teacher folks are given the divine mandate to "equip the saints for the work of the ministry," I MUST believe it is not only possible but essential to encourage everyone to find and use their God-given talents and abilities and spiritual gifts. Does that mean that we will see the day when each and every person in a given church is functioning happily as God created and fashioned and equipped them to do? No. But it will always be a goal to reach for. Till Jesus returns, you will find me trying, one way or another, to help people discover their potential and put it to Kingdom use.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let It Rain

Holy Spirit Rain in Prison

What follows after the video is part of a recent attempt to describe the indescribable to someone. I'm talking about a recent Sunday visit to the prison where my husband serves as chaplain. I hesitated to share it, but perhaps it will encourage someone that God wants to refresh and restore and cleanse and heal you too.

It is hard to preach the same sermon for three services in a row (much less four if I did the same one from Jubilee) and have ANY interest in it by the time it gets to the last service. So I wasn't sure what I was going to do for the second service--did not really know what I was preaching when I stood up! I had a couple of sermons in my Bible, but was unsure. The choir blew us away (wow they are good) and sat down. I sensed that the men out in the pews needed to still worship. The atmosphere was totally unlike the first service, which had been upbeat. This time it was quiet and the stillness was noticable. Outside, it began to rain.

My standby song there is the simple chorus "Alleluia." As we sang, the rain outside grew steadily heavier, heavier, heavier. The sound was unlike anything I've ever heard. I cannot describe it--but it grew and grew. So did a "heavy" presence of God inside! I wondered, "God, did you coordinate that on purpose?" It did seem like it. The rain sounded--almost holy.

I waited, unsure what to do. Silence from the pews--holy silence though. Total silence is rare in the prison chapel. Rain still poured outside, but it had the most wonderful sound. Not pounding or harsh, as can sometimes be, but strong, continuous, steady, cleansing--COMFORTING rain. I felt like I was hearing the voice of God in the rain, and I wished Darren was there to sing "Let it Rain" with his guitar. Then I started singing another verse of "Alleluiah," but words came about the Spirit Rain. I couldn't tell you what I sang, but I closed my eyes and lifted my hands, and just kept singing about holy, cleansing rain, and guys then began to sing too, and the place just filled with holy Presence. Then I spoke about someone there who was giving up on life, on God, on himself, and then came strong encouragment not to give up now, that He was about to move! More singing, and this time the melody as well as the words were new. I wish I could have recorded it. I cannot remember it.

As the singing died away, I took a quick look and the green-clad inmates in the pews just had eyes closed, some lifted hands, no sound except a few quiet words of worship. Time passed. I was almost afraid to move. Finally it seemed all right to go on, and I opened my eyes. Guys were leaning forward, some were bent over, some looked like they didn't quite know what had just happened. (I knew how they felt!) The guard in back was leaning forward and staring.

I went on to a very short sermon. As the men were leaving, one I had never seen approached, with his eyes still kinda dazed and an expression of awe on his face. He said, "What was happening? I have never experienced anything like that. I think GOD was here!" "I think so too" I replied. I did not know what else to say.

Of course, being me, my mind instanly thought, "What was happening, God? What were you doing? Did I miss anything? Was it about the guard, or the inmates, or both? And WHO was giving up?" I laughed at myself, and I stopped asking, since I know I likely won't get any answers.

Oh Lord God, in our churches, our homes, our cities and towns, our prisons, our hospitals, our homeless shelters....Oh, let it rain!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Church versus the church, Part V -- Glorious and Annoying?

Ephesians 5:1, 25
Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children...Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Remember the hymn, "'Tis a Glorious Church"? Does anyone sing that these days?

Do you hear them coming, brother,
Thronging up the steeps of light,
Clad in glorious shining garments,
Blood washed garments, pure and white?
'Tis a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle....

The Ephesians passage sounds so mystical, so idealistic, so....dare I say, "sappy?" to me when I stop to realize how far the Lord's Church (sometimes called the "Bride") actually is from being without spot or wrinkle. I agree with the late Mike Yaconelli (whom I quoted back in Part I of this little series) when he said, "I have criticized, challenged, avoided, rejected, rebelled from and ranted at the church." Ditto for me.
So why should we (indeed, I would say must we) do it to ourselves? Why must we put ourselves through the strain of dealing with others who may irritate, annoy, frustrate, even damage and hurt us--or maybe just make us a bit crazy? Why not stay home on Sunday morning and meet with God alone, singing and praying and reading the Bible, listening to a TV sermon from a minister who may be much more eloquent than my local pastor, or maybe going online for some connection with other believers? I love to worship and honor God alone in the silence of my room or the fresh morning air of my backyard, and as for TV or the Internet, I can always click the remote or the mouse and exit if it gets difficult or annoying.
I would venture to say that about half of the believers I know have done just that--opted out altogether. I know one woman who has communion once a month--all alone at her kitchen table. Others, and I have them in my parish too, show up occasionally but sit near the back and dash for the door almost as the final "Amen" is still being spoken. I can only assume this is so they can be in church for the parts they like but can avoid those annoying fellow-believers.
Brothers and sisters. Family. Loving and caring and creating a safe haven of encouragement and nurture. It is a nice idea. Norman Rockwell's paining of the Thanksgiving Day table comes to mind. The day-to-day life of family is sometimes not so idyllic. Is there anyone with a sibling who has not had a "fight" no matter how close they may sometimes be? The same is true with our "siblings" in the Family of God.

For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. I John 4:20b

Therein lies part of the answer. If we say we love God, we must love people too. We cannot really love fellow believers until we interact. Not all are loveable, are they? But God's love is perfected in us as we struggle to find God's grace, forgiveness -- and sometimes just practical ways to get along together. If we absent ourselves from the rest of "the family" life might hold less challenges. It would also hold less growth, less love and less opportunity to see God at work among us.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quick Update

My nephew, and grand niece (back row) Sister, Mom and me (front row)
My sister with Alzheimer's fell and broke her hip. After surgery and some rehab she is back at the group home. She does not know anyone, only weighs 73 pounds (!) but is mostly cheerful.
As for my mother, she has been in the nursing home since she left the hospital. She is talking somewhat, and she is walking somewhat, but cognitively she seems to be continuing to deteriorate. Some days doesn't seem to be thinking of much at all. Other days she is very distraught, or sometimes relatively cheerful. Her memory is very bad. I do not expect she will be returning home. I had a conversation with the third sister last night. A sad conversation, in which she said, "It is like a race to see who goes first, our mother or our sister."

I've been taking a break from Blogger to do some fasting and praying and pondering (not about family issues--other things), but I'll be back soon. I'm okay!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Charismatic Dangers

My cyber friend Dr. Platypus, recently linked to this post from "Per Christum," and asked for comments from Pentecostal/Charismatics among others. I decided to cut and paste from Per Christum since my response might be too long for D.P.'s comment box. The post is from a Catholic charismatic perspective, so I did not paste each point completely.

First off, the original post says these dangers (listed below in italics) are "inherent in the charismatic movement." That made me uneasy, because Webster defines inherent as: "involved in the constitution or essential character of something." These errors are very real, and I've seen all of them, but I do not believe that they are part and parcel of our theology, nor that they are unavoidable, nor part of the essential character of Pentecostal church practice. Any branch of Christianity has potential pitfalls to avoid. And sometimes in the past education and sound scholarship was downplayed in the Pentecostal denominations. I rejoice that this is becomming less and less the case.

That said, Dr. P. asked if these are seen as dangers, and I answer with a resounding "yes." Perhaps I will open a can of worms I don't want to deal with when I say that IMO these problems are more pronounced in "independent charismatic" congregations where accountability is sometimes greatly lacking and the pastor has the final word on everything.
There are some wonderful independent congregations and pastors out there, so I don't want to paint them all with the same brush, but accountability and structure are things that should be discussed if one is considering attending one of these churches. I could tell some horror stories of what can happen when the pastor thinks he (not usually a "she") speaks for God and no one better say differently. And (sigh) I must be honest and say that I do not rush to a Benny Hinn crusade, do not watch TBN, and yes, I cringe at what I sometimes see in Charismatic Land.
For brevity, I'll use PC for "Pentecostal/Charismatic." On to the list of dangers.

I admit it--this guy scares me.

1. Illuminism - i.e. folks believe God is telling them something unique that nobody else knows. There is a need to feel "special" and if God isn't telling you something unique or even mildly provocative, your credibility as a leader/follower is called into question...

The antidote to this is to teach truth. In my opinion, if it is "unique" it is highly questionable. There is "nothing new under the sun" as Solomon tells us. Accountability is a key. And maturity. A wise pastor or leader will not allow this attitude of charismatic one-upmanship to grow. Sometimes an excited but immature Christian needs to be taught, so it might be time for a loving but serious talk. If it is the pastor....well, that is why independent pastors sometimes scare me. Who takes that guy aside? Who is honest with the pastor? I don't see this attitude much in my fellow AG pastors, at least in this area. As for "pew folks" well, yes. We've had some of these would be "special messengers." In one case we had to remove the person from membership. That was hard, but he refused to listen to any correction. Yep, accountability is a key. But that is true of any church member in any church, though the issues might not be quite the same.

2. . Paraclericalism - a downplaying of the role of clergy, or even suggesting there is no need for the Church hierarchy. I have seen this attitude even among charismatic clergy! There is such an emphasis on the experience of the individual, that any kind of formality or hierarchy is looked down upon.

Well, we aren't much on hierarchy, being a congregation-based fellowship (much like many others in the "free church" tradition such as Baptists or E. Free or Christian and Missionary Alliance, etc. ). Again, teaching is a key. We all have a function in the body. Pastors and leaders equip the saints, but "at the foot of the cross the ground is level." I'm not so sure that downplaying the role of clergy is all bad, but I do dislike the lack of respect for clergy that I see growing evidence for--but not just with Pentecostals.

3. Charismania - attributing excessive significance to the charisms while downplaying other spiritual acts. Speaking in tongues or prophecy become the litmus tests for true spirituality, while feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc, are downplayed or even ignored.

Have I mentioned teaching yet? ;-) This is immature belief, practice and behavior. I repeat often at my church that the more "vocal" gifts have NOTHING to do with spirituality. Can we say, MORE PEOPLE WITH THE GIFT OF "HELPS" PLEASE, LORD? And I rejoice to say that I see PC churches becoming more and more aware of the need for loving acts of charity. The Assemblies of God based Convoy of Hope is an excellent example, and one of my favorite organizations.

4. Neglect of Traditional Spirituality - i.e. past spiritual experiences are downplayed or not even studied because it is all about what "I" am experiencing "now."

Yes, this is a significant problem. However, I think it is likely a problem with many churches other than just being unique to PC ones. This lack of awareness of tradition and history seems pretty widespread in the evangelical tradition. There is an excellent video series about church history that I plan on showing....maybe once a month on Sunday night. They aren't dry, not "textbooky" but they do give a wonderful perspective. I'll try to find a link.

5. Tyranny of the Prophetic - This means that the prophetic, in this case referring to the illuminism mentioned above, can trump anything. In other words, if there is an objection to what the pastor is doing, the pastor just reminds the objectors that he talked to Jesus and "God told him..." and that settles it.

I won't be so bold as to say this could not happen, but I do not know of any AG pastor or church where this is the case. Remember, the church people can "vote out" the pastor, unlike some other denominations. You won't find many if any TBN devotees in our clergy ranks either. We are more likely to be chagrined by much of what passes for "Pentecostal." And we spend time correcting the misconceptions that sometimes happen because of high profile (but often self-absorbed or shallow) teachers and preachers. Note: I do not say everyone on TBN is wrong, absorbed nor shallow. But rest assured, TBN personalities do not speak for me nor the pastors I know.

6. Cult of Personality - A cult of personality can develop around the pastor or leader. Despite a general suspicion of traditional hierarchy and church order among some charismatics, the pastor, who has been given special prophetic knowledge, is often viewed idealistically. The result is that he can do whatever he wants without discipline or question, including taking huge sums of money from the congregation.
Wow! Taking money from the congregation? Well, yes, I know of this kind of thing. But (sorry to seem to be whacking on these folks) I see it in independent churches where the board is the family of the pastor, or there is no accountability to anyone, or the pastor owns the building and everything in it. This kind of out-of-control behavior is not as likely to be the case in a church that is part of a larger body. We, speaking of the Assemblies of God, are accountable to our district officials and to the national office. Assemblies of God (and I believe this is true for most other Pentecostal denominations as well) pastors may not own the church. It is the property of the district. If I acted like this example I'd lose my ordination credentials. Yikes! Sometimes I get frustrated with the larger church structure or attitudes, and I don't agree with everything that comes out of Springfield, MO (AG headquarters) by a long shot, but this is one reason I would never try to strike out on my own--though I might be tempted to do so!

The poster at Per Christum concludes, "And while renewal movements often spiritually enliven the Church at times when she needs renewal, all renewal must be subject to the Teachings of Christ in His Church. The Holy Spirit operating in the individual will not contradict the Holy Spirit operating in Christ's Church." I know he is speaking from a Roman Catholic perspective, and I am not, but to me the point is well taken.

In our tradition, the Bible, not the denomination, is the final authority. Look at scripture. Paul severely takes the Corinthian church to task for their self-centered, prideful, undisciplined, immature, charis-maniac behavior! But he still says (my paraphrase), "I think God I speak in tongues more than all of you, but pull it together and use your heads! Love each other and stop acting like arrogant whackos! You can talk in tongues and be the most gifted guy around, and you can even be a martyr and if you don't love each other it is just annoying." He did not tell them to stop being led by the Holy Spirit, or exercising spiritual gifts. He told them to let love and the good of all be their highest aim.
Pride is not only found in PC groups, though it might look a bit different than the same sin in another denomination. Pride and self-centered or immature behavior is the real problem, no matter what the name on the church sign.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The church versus the Church, Part IV

I guess I was meant to be a pastor because I loved church from the beginning. I learned the words to the hymns before I entered school, learned the order of Bible books, memorized John 3:16, heard about missionaries and dropped my Sunday School offering into the top of a steeple on a little plastic church. I loved the Wurlitzer organ, the altar table with it's mysterious words, "This Do in Remembrance of Me," the flower arrangements, the choir robes, the piano, usually the sermons, the sense of familiarity. I knew exactly when to sing,

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end,
Amen, Amen.

I was baptized and I shared the elements of communion, I was taught and I was loved--and sometimes I got hurt.

Gary DeZotell punched me in the stomach several times, hard, outside of our church classroom. I listened to conversations I should not have heard. I saw my deacon father's frustration with politics and pastors and pew people. Later, I grieved as my once-vibrant church dwindled because it refused to change. Even as a teenager, I knew it was change or die. It was hard to see people I loved and respected make some foolish decisions.

I moved on to a very large church and I loved that one too, and I participated in the yearly Living Christmas Tree, evangelism trips to Palm Springs, and a missions trip to Mexico, and--
sometimes I got hurt. I was mostly ignored in the youth group and sometimes I was the object of unkind teasing.

When I first attended an Assemblies of God church I loved the praise band, the sax and the trombone, the drums, the gospel organ. The pastor's wife played the tambourine. Oh, I loved the pastor and the people of that wonderful church near a military base, attended by a motley collection of USMC families. But hurt happened there too. The pastor misunderstood me once and rebuked me rather too publicly. It was hard to grow close because your best friend could be transferred at any time.

Last week I preached at the prison chapel. I love the gospel choir, the clapping and enthusiasm of the inmates, the sense of love and community, even in a dark place--but I know the frustrations my chaplain husband endures trying to "do church" there. Later I went to a more formal mainline church where my husband had been invited to preach, and I found myself loving the tall ceiling, the pipe organ, the sense of reverence, the relatively "sedate" but warm older people. Sadly, we heard that recent troubles had caused about half their members, mostly young families to leave.
I agree with Mike Y. (see first post in my little series) that I have often been angry, distressed or frustrated with church, but I have never left for more than a month or two. I just can't, but that does not mean I did not want to. Many of my greatest joys--and some of my greatest moments of pain happened in, around or because of--a church. I thought about this recently when someone asked me, "Why do we have to be in a church anyway? It just causes problems and pain and misunderstanding. Relationships should not be so hard. I don't need the church to have a relationship with Jesus."
Lots of people seem to feel that way these days. I know a large number of once-upon-a-time churchgoers who have opted out. Some have found connection online. This is valuable in many ways (I love the RevGals for example) and It certainly would be safer and easier and less frustrating to "do church online." I know several wonderful people who are trying to do just that. Part of me sympathizes and relates. It would avoid the bumps and bruises.

Here is a quote from Doug Groothius ("The Constructive Curmudgeon") about why "cyber church" cannot be church at all. It speaks volumes about why a local church remins important.

There are no churches in cyberspace. There are Christians interacting in various ways--wisely or stupidly, thoughtfully or compulsively--on line. There are churches with web pages, which (if done well) is fine. But the church is a group of Christ-following, Bible-believing people who meet together face to face for teaching, worship, prayer, the public reading of Scripture, and fellowship. One cannot celebrate communion on line. "Now click the bread icon. Next click the wine icon." It is deeply absurd. One cannot sing unto the Lord together on line. One cannot be baptized or witness it in person on line: "Click and drag the little man over to the pool." It cannot be done.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The church Versus the Church, Part III: Why All These Churches?

I have discovered that many church people today, especially those commonly called "evangelicals" don't undersantd much, if anything about denominations formed and about church history. So for those who do, you can skip this. For those who don't, the following is from the website of "The Christian Reformed Church" and is a good summary, though (as expected) leaning a bit toward their direction and point of view. Some of us would say we existed prior to the Reformation (Anabaptists and some of those stemming from that tradition) and others came after (Methodists, Pentecostals, and many others). But this is a reasonably good summary. No offense intended to Roman Catholics reading here. I think the last paragraph is particularly well-put and significant.

Why the Church Needed Reforming

Two thousand years ago, on Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Spirit, Jesus’ followers began to spread the good news about him worldwide. Where their preaching was heard, churches sprang up. These churches lived the gospel and, in turn, spread it to others as well. As these churches matured, they joined together into an organizational structure that helped them support each other, held them accountable, and kept them on the right track in their teaching. For a thousand years churches were more or less organized under one overarching structure.During that time the organizational structure of the church hardened and its leaders became corrupt. By the dawn of the second millennium power struggles and doctrinal differences between church leaders split the church into two parts: the Eastern Orthodox Church, headed by the patriarch of the Church of Constantinople, and the Latin Western Church, led by the pope, the bishop of Rome. This church came to be known as the Roman Catholic Church.By the time the sixteenth century rolled around, many Reformers had tried to correct the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, calling it back to obedience to God’s Word. But the powerful church leadership had managed to suppress these attempts, often by torturing and killing the Reformers.So what needed reforming? Here’s just a partial list:

Corruption was widespread among the clergy, especially at the top. The church tortured people suspected of holding non-orthodox beliefs until they confessed or died.

The church encouraged believers to pray to Mary and the saints. (This of course, is still true and remains one of the differences between Catholics and non Catholics.)

Salesmen for the church went around selling “indulgences”—letters written by the pope supposedly forgiving people their sins. One of these, Tetzel, was heard to proclaim loudly, “The minute your money drops in the box, the soul of your relative jumps out of purgatory into heaven.”

During the sixteenth century, though, reform could no longer be stemmed. Many people began to follow and support the Reformers. The Roman Catholic Church could no longer silence or turf out these “Protestants.” A number of events came together to place the Bible into the hands of the people in the pew. By having personal access to the Bible, they were able to judge for themselves whether what the church leaders were teaching them was actually true. As a result, many believers followed the Reformers out of the Roman Catholic Church in order to return to the teachings of Scripture.

A number of strands of Protestant churches began as a result of the Reformation: Lutheran and Anabaptist churches in Germany, Anglican (Episcopalian) churches in England, Reformed churches in Switzerland and France, and Presbyterian churches in Scotland—among others.

The good thing about all these churches springing up is that they could all re-form themselves into fellowships that could live out their beliefs free from the oppression and coercion of the Church of Rome. In fact, that was also good for the Roman Church, because in response to the Reformation it did a great deal to clean up its own act.

What’s sad, though, is the way in which this fragmentation—necessary as it may have been at the time—split up the visible body of Christ on earth. All these churches have continued to divide again and again, often over fairly minor differences. This has resulted in a vast array of churches, making well-meaning seekers and new Christians scratch their heads in bewilderment. Which is the real church? Which one should I join? Which one really teaches and lives what the Bible says? In fact, most of them do. But each church brings its own unique emphasis.

The Church versus the church, Part II: Mike Yaconelli and My Generation

Just a little follow-up to my last post. Mike Yaconelli supplied the introduction to the book I wrote about, but the chapters don't necessarily take his thoughts deeper. Thanks, Iris, for letting me know he had died. I am surprised I did not know, or else I forgot, that.

Mike described himself as a "Bob Jones escapee" (if you don't understand that, never mind), was a "Jesus Movement" guy from my generation, and my first acquaintance with him was not Youth Specialities but was years ago in "The Wittenburg Door." He was the founder of that magazine, and in those young-adult days I found the idea of Christian satire a bit shocking, and also refreshing. I was just beginning to think for myself, to question some of what I'd been taught and to disagree somewhat with the faith of my father who (not surprisingly) hated "The Door."

Like Mike, I was there for the Jesus Movement, the Calvary Chapel movement and those following. Being around a while does change your perspective and tends to make you a bit less willing to jump on the latest "movement" because you know it will change eventually.

He was a baby boomer, and in some ways reflects much of what we boomers are like in that he seemed to remain young-at-heart and flexible in his desire to explore new ways of thinking and to be suspicious (and I mean in good ways) of "The Establishment." We need people like Mike to challenge us and to keep us thinking and questioning what we are doing (or not doing). Was he always a bit of a rebel, a seeker, as John commented to the first post? Yes. That is why I both agree and disagree with him. Sometimes the questioning can become an end in itself. Was that so with Mike? I do not know, but I know it seems to be for many of the people I meet today who are unhappy with church.

More later.