Why Mark Driscoll Matters

You may or may not have heard of Mark Driscoll. Some of you probably saw him last night on Nightline.

He’s known for being a hipster pastor who drinks, cusses, talks about sex, and oh yeah, he’s a Calvinist.

What?

Yeah, as you can guess even if you’re not familiar, Mark tends to stir up a bit of controversy from time to time.  He’s has his lovers and haters like anyone. (Hate the game, don’t hate the pastor . . . sorry)

But either way, he does matter.

Mark Driscoll represents an combo of two things in my generation that in many ways defines our beliefs.  You see, my generation tends to have no patience for things that feel like a waste of time-tradition, politics, rules for rules sake. Because of this we are oft maligned as a no beliefs generation.

But we also yearn for seriousness, truth, belief, faith, story; we want a faith that isn’t easily tossed aside or just connected to cultural values.  We want beliefs that mean what they say.

This is what many churches have missed and why Mark Driscoll is important. You see, the simply “seeker sensitive” style churches miss something for my generation in the same way that over-traditional churches do.  They seem too simple, not serious enough.

My generation wants to live a big life, rock out, and have big beliefs. We want a church that isn’t afraid to take us all in, be real, and let it all hang out; we also want a church that treats us like adults, says what it means, and gives weighty issues a chance.

Whether you like Mark or not, there is a reason he reaches thousands in Seattle-one of the least Christian cities in America.

My generation is looking for something more.

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No one likes us . . . now what?

I talked yesterday about something that really eats at me. Christians are increasingly seen as UnChristian.

There are at least two discussions to be had here.  One is does it really matter.  The other is what do we do about it?  I’m trying to be positive this year so I’m starting with the second one.

The first thing that comes to mind to me is something I’ve talked about before.  We need to stop fighting–stop fighting the “sinners,” stop fighting the culture war.  Here’s the deal: the culture war is over and we lost.  Culture doesn’t happen in a win or lose fight, it happens through communication, community, influence, and change.

At some point Christians stopped influencing culture and decided to fight it.  We failed.  It was a stupid fight to get into in the first place.

So stop fighting.

That doesn’t mean give up.  It means find a way to be a part of culture, to influence it.

For me that means being friends will people from all walks.  And that means friendship for friendships sake, not as an “in” to invite them to church.  Of course we want them to come to Christ, but I’ve seen too many people stop being friends with someone because they decided “they will never change their sinful ways.”  That isn’t our decision,  and people see through our fake friend veneer when we do this.

Christ called us to love all others through everything.  It’s time to get over ourselves.

(And by the way, it does work.  In all surveys the vast majority of people came to Christ through a relationship, usually a long term one.  Some of the favorite “hit and run” methods, tracts and media, combined account for about 1/2 a percent of conversions.)

Do you think we can handle real community?

What Makes My Heart Beat

What drives me and my thoughts on this blog?

This Christmas I finally got around to buying the book unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.  I’ve been following this work for a while and even got to hear Gabe speak last year.

UnChristian discusses what my generation (ages 16-29) believes about Christians.  These are my friends, the people I hang out with and talk to.

I’ll run down the research really quickly.  (By the way, you can access this at www.unchristian.com/downloads/)

anti-homosexual……………………………………………..91%

judgmental……………………………………………………87%

hypocritical………………………………………………….85%

teaches same basic idea as other religions…………..82%

old-fashioned…………………………………………………78%

has good values and principles………………………….76%

too involved in politics…………………………………….75%

out of touch with reality…………………………………..72%

Those are the top eight.  As you can see it takes six steps to get to something positive (has good values).  After this other perceptions are insensitive to others, boring, not accepting of other faiths, and confusing.

The most common beliefs about Christians have to do with what they’re against or our attitudes.  What does this teach us about what needs to change?

It’s easy to brush it off.  After all doesn’t the Bible tell us we will be scorned and the way is narrow?  Isn’t the world just going to hell these days?  Plus we might want to assume that most of these are just stereotypes from a world influenced by media, other philosophies, and culture.

That’s the most damning thing in the research.  Of those surveyed the ” vast majority  . . . have been to churches before; most have attended at least one church for several months; and nearly nine out of every ten say they know Christians personally, having about five friends who are believers.” (emphasis mine)

These beliefs did not occur in a vacuum;  they come from experience.  That puts a lump in my throat and makes my heart beat out of my chest.

This matters.  This needs to change.  Why can’t the first things to come to people’s mind be love and grace?

Do you think this needs to change?

Does this matter?

Civility

I love the response from Rick Warren to the current deluge from the mediaheader about his speaking at the inaugauration of President-elect Barack Obama.   (Watch Rick here) In case you’ve been living under  a rock, it seems pretty much everyone is angry about it.

The thing I love the most about Rick and that I love about what he has to say here is the emphasis on civility.  It’s another way of showing Christ’s love.

We are are guilty of hiding behind our words, our blogs, the talkbacks in the newspaper, etc.

It’s beyond “agreeing to disagree.”  It’s about showing respect for others and not defining who they are by what they do or say.  It’s about remembering they people are defined by the image they bear-the image of God.

Watch the video and tell me what you think.

Christians Do the Darndest Things!

darndestMy wife and I are shopping this weekend and we see this:

Someone had plastered the alcohol case and displays with these pamphlets, apparently to save folk from their alcoholic sins.  And I mean plastered–they were stuck on cases, inside cases, and taped to all of the stacked displays.

I have to ask: what exactly were they hoping to accomplish?  They ticked off the store employees (we kindly drew their attention to the problem) by taking up their time and damaging the boxes with the tape.  How can they expect to do any good with a method like this?

If someone picked up a case and found their goodie inside at home, do you think they are going to show up at church next Sunday?  Or will they chalk it up to angry Christians who don’t know how to talk to other human beings?  Do you think it will be even harder to talk to that person about Christ?  What about the store employees; how has it affected them and their beliefs about Christians?

The sad part is someone probably thinks that they “planted a seed” with their hit and run evangelism.

I pray that one day these Christians will get to experience the humbling joy of being used by God in someone’s life.

I pray that our culture will not see a God that is distant and removed, but a God that loves them and wants to know them.

What do you think?

Why believe in a god?

whybelieveDuring my recent DC trip I came across an interesting ad campaign.  There were posters on the Metro train that asked the question, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.”  I couldn’t wait to find out more about what was going on here.  I’ve blogged a bit before about the idea of atheists starting to “evangelize,” for lack of a better term.

After I got home I looked up their website (whybelieveinagod.org).  Turns out this is an ad campaign put out by Free Thought Action and the DC Area Secular Humanists.

ftabillboard6j

Both of these  organizations cast themselves more as humanists than atheists or agnostics.  Not that they shy from those terms, they just seem to avoid those labels, which is probably a good idea and more accurate.  Regardless of their level of disbelief, it’s fair to say they put human logic and knowledge above faith in their “belief system.”

What I found most interesting is the focus on logic as a defining characteristic.  Free Thought Action chose their name with reason when they say, “We hope you’ll join us to promote eyes-wide-open facts, not blind faith, as the foundation of our society.”

The implication here is that humanism uses reason, facts, and science to come to its conclusions, while religion is more naive and close-minded.

On the one hand this characterization bugs me.  I can’t speak for the other religions they speak of , but I think Christianity is miscast too much as a foolish, non-thinking system of belief.  Faith is not the absence of all doubt; it’s not just “believing in what you can’t see.” It’s belief based on what we do know, and being willing to take the next step into we can not be sure of.  In that way I think it is actually more intellectually honest than humanism in many ways.

But I can’t help but wonder if we (christians) have painted ourselves into this corner.  By fighting against culture and society and refusing to engage, we come off bull-headed, foolish, and weak.  When we are too quick to lash out and defend, it makes us look afraid.

I think we may have asked for people to assume we don’t know what we’re talking about.

If  God is so defenseless, if culture is so scary, if our religion is on the verge of disaster at every turn . . . why believe in a god?

I know I don’t want to believe in that God.

Let’s put the “mass” back in Christmas

I’ve been bombarded lately with updates, bulletins, etc asking me to help put the “Christ” back in Christmas.  I’ve got some mixed feelings about all the hulabaloo.

For one it seems to be just one more thing lumped into the Christian “culture wars.”

On the other hand I am genuinely annoyed at times by Happy Hoidays, Holiday Cards, Holiday Trees, et al.  The thing I think it’s silly at best, and on some levels actually insulting to the other cultural holidays it is meant to appease.  Who every heard of a Jewish “Holiday Tree?”  It smacks of condescention.

I can’t help but wonder if we’re worried about the wrong thing though.  We’re all worried who teaches what holiday at school, what store has happy holiday banners.  We want to write letters, sign petitions, and join groups but don’t we just let ourselves get sucked into the same junk?

Christmas is about God stepping in and setting things right-all of the injustice, evil, oppression, and sin was put into it’s place by God’s entering into a relationship with humanity.  Are we representing that reality at Christmas?  Or are we just another follower of the culture, traditions, and consumerism?

It’s easy to get mad at a “Happy Holiday” banner.  It’s hard to look at your fellow man in a new light.  It’s not easy to be the hands of Christ in a fallen world.  We may feel like we’re recognizing the holiday by reading a Christmas story, going to a special Christmas service, listening to Mary Did You Know and getting choked up . . . but how are we living it all out?

I’m just as guilty of course.  How can we break free from the pattern?  What do you think would set us in a different direction?