Dissatisfaction and Deconstruction

As I discussed in my post about Dissatisfaction, people who are satisfied in their current churches may be exactly where they are supposed to be.

This is my reply to Jim’s post The Baby and the Bathwater:

Overall, I would have to say that I agree with you that it would be a mistake to throw out everything that we have known as traditional church. As people “deconstruct,” it doesn’t have to be at the expense of devaluing and trashing everything that has come before.

I honestly believe that many of the people who have left traditional churches are following Christ. And their intent is not to abandon the church, but to allow the Lord to develop their expression of church in a way that is authentic for them.

I also hope and believe that many of the values being discussed will make their way into existing congregations. Existing churches can become more particpatory, can function at a higher level of one-anothering, and can shift their focus more externally.

I don’t have my heart set on any particular model of church. My dream is just to be involved in what God is doing and to follow Him.

Cindy Bryan hid these excellent thoughts in the comment section of her post about why the spiritually mature are leaving church. The post was a link to a post at Out of Ur called Exit Stage Left.

Offended or not, the institutional church has some decisions to make (not an exhaustive list, just on quickly thinking it through):

1-Either acknowledge the exodus or don’t.

2-If it is aknowledged, choose to care or not.

3-If the choice is made to care, then decide whether to vilify or love those who are leaving.

4-Finally, if the choice is made to love them, to reach out and do so tangibly–without malice.

The Institutional Church is under no mandate to care about those who are leaving. But they are leaving, and railing about their selfishness, shallowness, arrogance, etc. isn’t going to convince them to come back anymore than going into a crack house and screaming that everybody is going to hell is going to get them into church on Sunday.

The people I know who have left the church, and I talked on the phone with one such person at length last night, are much more concerned about their departure than their critics give them credit for. They aren’t whiners and takers. They are givers and servers and lovers of God who are heartbroken they can’t find a place.

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12 thoughts on “Dissatisfaction and Deconstruction

  1. I can’t believe you noticed that comma!!!

    You made such an important point, and I wanted it to be sure it was read. (no guarantees that it’ll be read here, but at least it’s out of the comment section)

    I hope you are OK with the context I put your quote in.

    Now I’m off to do the fun stuff… cleaning and laundry.

  2. I’m perfectly okay with the context. About the comma, Keith would roll his eyes (not smiling) and say, “Believe it.” To tell the truth, it was really bugging me, so I was glad you fixed it. I just didn’t want to copy/paste/publish/delete the whole thing a second time. Now I have to get to my stuff- worship prep for tomorrow, plus laundry of course.

  3. J. Lee Grady (editor of Charisma Magazine), in his book What Happened to the Fire, wrote that by 1990 there were 92 million people worldwide who described themselves as post-charismatic.

    I think the Pentecostal/charismatic church needs to also look at the Exit Stage Left questions (which are “spot on”, as Andrew Jones would say).

    These are the kind of issues that prompted me to write “Detoxing from Church” a few years ago. Both EC and IC need to dial down a bit and listen at least as much as they talk/rant/pontificate.

  4. Cindy,
    Yes, it’s too bad comments can’t be edited once they’re posted. Funny how I never notice the mistake until after I hit submit.

    Hi Robby,
    I think many post-charismatics are turning away from deeper teaching in order to get back to a more authentic expression of the basics.

    I’m working on the dialing down bit.

    Thanks Pam. :)

  5. Grace,

    I didn’t mean you had to dial down. You’ve always been a wonderful example of your blogging name: grace.

    I only meant the “dial down” comment as a general observation. Hope it didn’t come across as personal; that’s the last thing I’d think of you or your writing here (which is honest and insightful, as always).

  6. Robby,
    I didn’t take it personally, and I’m glad you think that I come across moderately.

    What I meant is that I often struggle against my own tendency to be black and white, and I have to continually remind myself that others often see things differently.

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  7. Great to see these thoughts here. I stumbled on your post sort of by accident. I was checking my logs and someone had found my blog by using Google’s blog search to search for the term “house church”. I followed the same search path and yours was another one on the first page of hits, pointing to this post.

    You might be interested in some of the discussion that has taken place on my blog in the past few days on the topic.

    Like you, I am concerned that we avoid “polarity” in the wake of Barna’s book. I am very concerned that I not come across as anti-IC, and yet it’s hard to criticize what is going on there without people assuming you’re anti.

    sigh….anyway, keep writing! I’ll have to add your blog to my bloglines!

    steve :)

  8. Hi steve. It’s nice to meet you.
    I popped in at your blog and it looks like we’re talking about a lot of the same stuff. I look forward to reading more there.

  9. Your reply to the “bathwater and the baby” post was outstanding.

    I am sick of that analogy. Can somebody come up with a more original and creative analogy than that? It has become so tired and predictable. Perhaps that is indicative of the massive brain drain that the traditional church has suffered.

    At this point, it has become impossible to tell where the dirty bathwater ends, and the baby’s body begins. The basin may very well be full of the dead baby’s decomposing body.

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