Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What We’re Looking For (II) AUTHENTICITY

In the States I was part of a church that had a seeker sensitive (design the service for those who are asking questions about the Christian faith) approach to their services. Their heart was great; it was just the approach that ‘missed’ our generation. The quality of music and the idea of the involvement of media was brilliant but they aimed for a style and approach that totally missed the ‘postmodern’ inquirer.

Polished, Christian-sub-cultural productions become what we call ‘cheesy’. We want to see the heart behind things. We want to see what is genuine and above all authentic. In one sense it is not even about the quality of the finished product it is about the heart and genuine motive of the leadership involved being plain to sight.
For example, it is not a secular song being done in a quasi-Christian way (without swear words and innuendo) by some highly gifted band that makes us go, “Whoa that is cool.” It is just a dude jamming on a guitar telling his story and how Christ has invaded and redeemed that story in an authentic, passionate, real way that makes us go, “Man, I want to hear more about that!”

I don’t think I would be wrong in saying this may be one of the fundamentally essential aspects of church and church leadership for ‘our’ generation. I am afraid to say that a huge number of Christian leaders put across an unreal approach to life. U2’s Bono gives some insight into one area of this desire for the authentic when he says that Christian music is typically not real, it is always happy and victorious, whereas the Psalms (the Christian’s song book so to speak) are very different to that and far more ‘believable.’

We must be authentic, in fact more than all other people we should be!


What We’re Looking For (I) SIMPLICITY

Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger write brilliantly to expose the first of those things that this generation of ‘unchurched’ (or even a new generation ‘within the walls’) are looking for from the church. They write a book called Simple Church which is about, well what do you think, restoring simplicity to programme heavy churches. I think churches in the past generation have come to believe that if they offer myriads of different options for each age group and even for particular niches within each of those age groups they will most effectively reach out to people. I don’t feel this is the case.

This generation is flooded with options, most of which are at a level that can never be replicated by the church. We have to understand what the church has to offer that distinguishes us from anything that is secular. Once we discover that we need to excel at that one thing.
Rainer and Geiger say that one thing is making Christian disciples; in fact Christ said that a long time before them. The church alone is called to transform people in a supernatural/natural coalition (work of God and work of prayerful Christian leadership) into counter-cultural followers of Jesus Christ.
So, with that in mind, we need to engage people in a simple process of taking them from their unchurched state to being mature Christian disciples and not get distracted by every other thing that we may be able to do ‘sort-of-well’ as a church.

People are looking for simplicity.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What We’re Looking For

I am going to attempt my first little series of entries on a similar topic for the first time on my blog. Will have to see how well I actually pull it off.
The basis upon which I will embark on this series is a desire to articulate (in my words) what I think the generation we are a part of is looking for from the Western church. The church can often be criticised for being behind the times and without any anti-church motive I think I can see why.

In the realm of apologetics the author Francis Schaeffer noted that it was not that trained seminarians did not have the answers it was that they did not know the questions being asked. He was trying to say that because times have moved on people are burdened by different things affecting their souls (at their roots they are all the same but they are understood through different lenses of the current postmodern mileu that is our world) and so are asking different questions than they were a generation ago.

This is true of what people are expecting, wanting, or needing from the church. They have different but equally painful soul destroying issues at work than people did 30 years ago. Intensifying that is the rapid secularisation of Western culture that blinds them from the transcendent nature of their ‘issues’ and so the church needs to be a very different ‘anti-culture’ then it needed to be less than a generation ago. I will start in due course…


Apple Store

Sitting in a Starbucks, writing on the office Macbook and listening to Jose Gonzales on my ipod- Wow I must appear like an absolute yuppie but I am quite certain that I am not.
I am surprised how Apple has invaded my life really; honestly it has just snuck in and won a real place of affection in my heart. I know there is a grand war between Mac users and PC junkies but I am not that advanced or intelligent to understand why, I am just writing as one who loves simplicity and aesthetic purity thus, for me, Mac has won hands down.

I walked into one of their stores this morning (Bluewater shopping centre) and saw in a microcosm (the store) why Mac is so appealing. There is simplicity combined with beauty, or maybe it is the simplicity that leads to the beauty. There is less choice but great quality, which means minimal fuss just time to feel like the customer actually is King (I hope I am not seeming like too great a consumer). Apple captures something (this store captured something) that connects so powerfully with what it is this generation is looking, even hungry, for.
As is mentioned by the authors of Simple Church, maybe the church has something to learn from these Apple boys.
Just thinking out loud folks.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Message to Young Leaders

Hey there folks, back from a week away with five and a half thousand crazy kinds at the Newfrontiers Newday week. Brings back serious memories of my own youth camping days... mmm thank God I am a different guy.

I was young crazy, now I am older but still crazy about Jesus and leading His people. So when I stumbled upon Driscoll's reflections on a get together with J. I. Packer I found the words encouraging and inspiring. Enjoy if you get the link.

Click here!

Simon, a Passionate, aspiring servant leader.