Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Trendy Thing To Do

My wife and I are taking adoption classes and discovered this week, in the class with us, a pastor of a local church we've visited and his wife. Both are passionate for the Lord and for his justice on behalf of the victimized. Naturally I was immediately hopeful for a new kindred friendship.

As we shared each others' stories, they asked us where we went to church. When I explained that we regularly engage in corporate worship, prayer, and fellowship but have chosen not to identify with any particular church institution, the wife replied curtly, "Yeah... That's the trendy thing to do."

Ouch.

Without needing any explanation from us at all, she had already decided that we were merely drifters floating in the currents of modern day western trends. I could feel the defensiveness swell inside me.

In my gut, a stormy argument whipped up saying how identifying church with formalized church services is actually more of a worldly trend than an authentic, biblical mode of kingdom community. I wanted to explain that our decision is more than an expression of some short-lived, postmodern cultural upheaval. I wanted to explain our reasons for rejecting institution identification... it's reinforced worldly paradigms of power, hierarchy, performance, consumerism, stage-and-audience, passive posture, self-serving atittudes, and Christendom.

I know... pretty reactionary thoughts.  Fortunately, by God's grace, I didn't say any of that. I don't think our new friends were very interested in our reasons anyway. It seems they had already categorized and labeled us. Anything we might've said would've just been white noise.

To be honest, it hurt. And it still stings a little.
.

13 comments:

Bob Carder said...

We are also in your camp but not because of trendy, we are with you. God has called us out into a new wine work requiring a new wine skin.

I'm leaving the Missionary Church this week. It's too hard to keep doing what we are doing in Holy Spirit birthed disciple making within the restricting structures.

John Lynch said...

Thanks Bob. I understand your frustration and passion and sense of imminence for God's disciple-making work through his people. I'm praying for you today and am EAGER to watch how our Lord sustains you and your wife as he grows you into this great calling of radical surrender and freedom. Much love, brother. Eager to meet.

Anonymous said...

Hey Johnny

I hate to see you guys get that kind of verbal treatment - not very sensitive. I guess the Lord is helping you grow a thicker skin as you pursue your mission. I am sure this will only work to energize your focus all the more. We will be praying to that purpose.

Love you bro. Bob H.

Anonymous said...

I know we are all sensitive, and I don't want to add salt to a legit wound. With that said, here's my take on your recent post.

..."That's the trendy thing to do."
Doesn't mean:
..."Oh, so you are merely shallow drifters floating in the currents of modern day western trends"...

She's stating a fact- you're doing something trendy. Maybe it's a trend that lasts a lifetime? But it is the trend. In fact, you are probably friends now with a number of people who are doing something very similar and reading books that promote your decision.

Also, I wonder if she felt judged b/c she is a part of the very thing you seem to be against- an "institutional" church. Personally, I've felt judged before by a couple who are doing exactly what you are doing. I felt like my desire to go to church and wanting to be a part of that community was something much less "godly" than what they felt like God wanted them to do.

Lastly, I know a blog is often times a place to process events and thoughts and feelings...
I say give her some grace and show her some love that you want in return. If that's the worst opposition you're facing, I've heard stories plenty worse than this.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just re-read your post after I commented. I doubt that in her desire to worship God in a church service she would have felt judged by you, since you didn't say any of the following:

"...how attending a church service is actually more of a worldly trend than an authentic, biblical mode of kingdom community. I wanted to explain that our decision is more than mere participation in a short-lived, postmodern cultural upheaval. I wanted to explain our reasons for rejecting institution identification... it's reinforced worldly paradigms of power, hierarchy, performance, consumerism, stage-and-audience, passive posture, self-serving atittudes, and Christendom values..."

Good thing you bit your tongue.

John Lynch said...

Yep, by God's grace I'm grateful my fleshly reaction didn't reach my lips.

Such is my experience in life... a tension between selfish, independent, fleshly desires and loving, Christ-centered, spiritually energized desires. And increased vulnerability to relationships reveals that tension and struggle in all its unveiled ugliness and redemptive glory.

By God's grace, I am learning to love better and not wall off my heart.

In reality, I want to be hurt by comments like our friend's. Not in a low-self-esteem kind of way but in a manner that reflects my earnest desire and hope for God's kingdom community to bring us all together in the kind of loving family we were created to live in.

John Lynch said...

Thx for the encouragement Bob H! Love and miss you guys.

This stuff is small and doesn't slow us down... but I want to be ever sensitive and increasingly grieved by the ill state of our innumerable kingdom citizens who have not yet really understood what it is to be one in Christ, utterly dependent on him and free from the bonds of this world's systems.

Love ya dude.

John Lynch said...

Also, to Anonymous, I think it's important to be graciously loving of all people (especially the saints) while simultaneously critical of the worldly systems we participate in. Don't you?

Brandon said...

Hi John,

I thought about this awhile ago but am only now just commenting. I'm sorry that it comes so late.

Do you really think that everything you might have said would have been white noise? I think that sharing the positives of what we are doing and seeking can help restore unity in the church. People may be brought to an appreciation of home cooking without first being shown that their favorite fast food restaurant serves junk.

You may have been right that your response would have been white noise, but why not, in the Spirit, try?

Much love to you, my brother.

John Lynch said...

Hey homey! Thanks for commenting!

To those who are interested in listening, I am SO eager to describe what we imagine and see in Scripture as the embodiment of God's kingdom desire among us. To those who seek to judge, I am uninterested in engaging them in anything that sounds or feels like argument... Too draining for me and it takes me out of a posture of love.

That's all I can say about that for now... I guess. What do you think? How do we creatively and compellingly cast this vision for our brothers and sisters? I'm open to your thoughts!

Brandon said...

This is a tough one since people who are not interested in listening aren't necessarily people seeking to judge. It's extremely common to carry prejudgments. What I find is that I start to prejudge the people I identify as prejudging. I think we need to use whatever is practical here. If a discussion or argument has one or more parties willing to listen, it may yet be fruitful. But one way I think we may gain some unity is to invite local churches into God's work that He is doing through us, serving together regardless of our differences. (I hesitate to use the word "partnership" here because it quickly feels like just another program.)

Ivy said...

Johnny,

I can't sleep tonight. I'm caught dwelling on several of your posts tonight. It's funny, I came to them to read up on Obama just minutes before he accepted presidency. I didn't vote for him and i knew you supported him, so for encouragement i came here to find something to soothe the soul. And then of course, I kept reading on and came to this one. Then i proceeded to bed but couldn't shut even one eye...now I'm back. My problem is...I'm not sure what it is i want to say. Except that with the utmost love & respect for you...i find myself disagreeing with you more than agreeing with you and I wish i knew why. i think it's my stubborn side that just can't accept that you and i weren't just naturally on the same page. but i'm also blessed that we differ so much b/c it reminds me that God is so much bigger as i know you and i both love and trust Him with our lives! oooh! one thing we do agree on - The Shack! That touched my soul! To feel the spirit in that way has been my joy this year. anyway...maybe God told me to call you the other day b/c we need to learn from each other?? i'll go with that for now. and God willing i can rest now knowing that you know a tiny piece of my heart in its most real state. good night old friend...let's hang and chat and pray together soon!

John Lynch said...

One of the many things that I am learning these days (since the older I grow, the more I realize I have to learn) is how vastly deep and beyond our predictability God truly is. Thanks for being sleepless with me Ivers. It is what the nature of infinity does to us while we remain trapped on this finite side of glory. Love ya.