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?

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.

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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.

Gospelr?

Well, as if in response to yesterday’s post, today we have the new website Gospelr. This is a Christian Twitter of sorts, although it is not being billed as such.    It is a microblogging gospel tool according to the creators of the service.

I don’t want to be negative on what the creators are trying to do here.  They have a great mission and idea-I even like some of the features they have made part of their service.  But I can’t help but wonder if this is a ” should we just because we can” type of situation.

Does it just add to the christian ghetto?  Are we really going to reach lots of non-christian friends and unchurches through this website better than we could through Twitter itself?

I think most of the people I know would meet idea with a sigh and a rolling of the eyes.  “Just another Christian culture copycat.”

I really do hope that this site in some way advances the kingdom, and I admire the obviously large effort that went into creating it.  I just can’t help but question it’s appropriateness or necessity.

Am I being unfair?

Here’s what some other folk are saying

Here’s what Gospelr is saying about themselves

Also, does Gospelr sound like a Dutch word to anyone else?

Stick Your Nose In It

As mentioned in this post, there are different ways to look at our diversity.  For me, I’m the kind of person who likes to enjoy diversity and our differences.  Rather than hope for some washed out world, I think it is great to have a varied culture. 

While I don’t think anyone would say they wish for a world where everyone is the same, it’s easy to act that way.  When we don’t undertand or get another group,  by stopping at “they have their culture and I have mine” we do a disservice.  Really it’s a passive way of discounting someone else’s way of life.  We should be willing to learn about another culture and way of life-it could teach us a lot about ourselves.

In a strictly Christian sense, we get in to trouble when we just try to ignore or blow by a non-Christian culture.  It’s easy to think that is better than attacking culture as some groups do, but it really is not.  It still separates Christians as a whole from every other culture and worldview.  This approach results in a couple of things.

For one, it makes it easy to compartmentalize and have a relative view.  This is the idea of “every belief is as valid as another.” While every diverse belief deserves respect, it is not inherently valid because of that.  Second, it results in the Christian subculture that has grown so huge in the past 10-15 years.  We have our own radio, tv, clothes, books, schools, social web, and breath mints.  This is not a good thing.  Mirroring culture and trying to stick a christian label on it does no good.

In the same way we must reach outside of racial and ethnic barriers, we Christians need to leave our christian “ghetto” and plug into the world around us.  Appreciate and respect the diversity of belief or non-belief and interact.

Honesty is the Best Policy

One final thought on this weeks atheism discussion:

Justified or not, many people still like to consider America as a “Chrisitian Nation.” Most americans identify themselves as Christians, say they believe in God, they pray, etc. But what this amounts to is a christian culture that is not the same as a christian lifestlye or worldview. Everyone likes to say they are christian, but ultimately what does that mean?

I’m not trying to be legalistic here, far from it. But giving yourself or your group/culture a name generally identifies you as something. What does being a christian mean?

Some might say that “evangelical” means something, but I’m pretty unhappy with that label as well. But that’s another blog.

Back to this christian culture. In my experience, many/most people are lifestyle atheists. That is by no means meant to be a cut against atheist or their morals. But just as atheists have no reason to give thought to what God may have to say about what they think or do, most people who claim to be christian are in no way different. And if I’m honest, a large amount of the time I can do the same thing. So what does it all mean?

It is not our decision what other people do, so I doubt we can actually “fix” the problem of the lifestyle atheist. We can be realistic, however. We are not a Christian nation, and we need to deal with that. Facing the facts leads us to a path of solution.

We who claim to be Christians need to be honest and forthright about our failures rather than brushing them under the rug. Along with that we must show grace and love to those who fail.

One additional final thought to the atheists who have read/may read the blog: I acknowledge that we Christians are broken and that we fail to live up to our own ideals. We often hold culture to standards that we ourselves do not keep. However as we try to extend grace to others we also want to be honest and stop pretending. We want to be real. We know that we can’t begin to discuss issues of science if we can’t even be honest about the issues of our heart.

So keep us real and keep us honest. Call us out when we don’t love God and love Others. We promise to keep you on your toes if you keep us on ours.

Save a Tree, Hug an Atheist

(Sorry about the title, I couldn’t help it)

I receieved some interesting thoughts this weekend after my post related to Atheism.  I posed a question at the time, how should Christians approach atheism & atheists . . .

For me I would say as a friend and as someone we can disagree with civilly.  Someone we can work with when we have similar goals, as we often do.  I talked before about how we should not act out of misguided fear.

Atheists are definitely not people to be fought.  Hopefully I’m not splitting hairs here, but there is a difference between disagreeing with a worldview and fighting against a person.

I will also say that I have plenty of Christian friends who do not disrespect or fear atheists.  Not every Christian fits the stereotype any more than atheist fit the stereotype of being a bunch of God-gating, orgy-having hippies.

I have learned over time that it seems like everyone, both  religious and secular, feel as if they are in some way discriminated against by society and each other.  So what does it mean to show respect to each other’s ideas?  What are we missing are doing backwards that large groups in both arenas feel they have been wronged?

More later . . .