Thursday, March 02, 2006

Strong medicine: Three things the NA church needs

Bloggers are offering strong antidotes for rampant individualism in the North American church. Kirk Wellum, for example, writes that the condition of the church points to a very basic need:
I wonder about the frequency and depth of our prayer lives because of the condition of the church and the lives of individual Christians. Is it possible for us to be praying as we should and things remain as they are? Where is the advance of the gospel? Where are people being converted in significant numbers? Why are so many Christian marriages falling apart? Why are so many teens raised in the church no where to be found as soon as they have the freedom not to attend? Why can't Christians get along with each other? Why are so many Christian pastors and leadership teams so easily sidetracked with worldly agendas that keep them from focusing on what is most important?

My suspicion is that there is little serious prayer.
Along similar lines, Brian Comery considers the effects of letting the American dream into our churches:
You can see it: Christianity is about us. We use it to achieve our dreams of being the complete person . . . The consumer mindset found in most pews can in many ways be traced back to our [society's] subconscious notion that reliance on or subjection to anything is tantamount to letting the machine win. . . .

The greatest sin of the American church is not a lack of depth theologically (though we are woefully shallow), nor is it a euro-centric worldview (though we do have severely tinted glasses on), nor is it a lack of relevance or acknowledgement of today’s culture. Cultural irrelevance or lack of depth are symptoms of a greater disease.

We need more obedience.
Finally, Bill Gnade makes a strong case that North American Christians also need informed formality:
We do not need fewer ritualistic and customary formalities, we need more; and we need to know why we need more. It is not that Christianity needs to be stripped of black tie and tails; it needs to be adorned in black tie and tails precisely because no one knows why formality is needed, or what it even is. Christians today speak of Jesus Christ as King and Lord, royal images all; and yet they pray and sing to that King as if He was as unkingly as the nearest buddy at the bar. We have dressed ourselves and our worship in street clothes, not because we are poor, and thus these are all we have or can do; but because we want to be perceived a certain way by others. It is not about God. It is about us.
Strong medicine, all.

Update: Swap Blog cautions us not to take the rejection of individualism too far.


Blogger Brian Colmery said...

Thanks for the link, Milton. You're a great encouragement.

1:04 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

You're welcome, Brian. Thanks for the essay.

1:18 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Kim said...

Thanks for the other two links, Milton. I had aleady read Bill's excellent post. The other two just fit right in with that theme.

4:13 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

You're welcome, Kim. Glad you found them helpful. Peace.

4:52 PM, March 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, great ideas, of course I stole it and then went of on a diatribe in another direction. I hope I communicated well enough that I did not / do not find your stuff or the links to be wrong, but I am / concerned that some are unable to see / allow for variance.

8:42 AM, March 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment, and link back/ updated post. It is always a honor to hear from you and to get a link on your site.

Stay strong, be couragous, and serve God in all things.


9:30 PM, March 06, 2006  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Frank!

2:49 PM, March 07, 2006  

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