We need a revolution in the Church!
The Church is too (fill in blank) and/or not enough (fill in blank) and we need to be Radical for Christ. Christians are too (select one: Americanized, comfortable, cultural, non-missional, risk-averse) and we must Return to the Ideal Church of Yesteryear. We’re much too used to the way things are; it’s time to abandon that and finally go out and Change the World!
I’ve heard this often. Thought that way often, too. Sometimes I still do. And it’s easy to think so, because a) younger people think they have their ancestors’ sins all figured out, and b) very often we have figured them out, and can see the flaws in those who’ve come before.
This is not limited to “emergent” professing Christians either. I’ve seen this in some “young restless Reformed.” Again, they’re often right. Too few Christians really are “radical” enough.
Yet along with being encouraged to take risks for God and figure out what Christianity really means and finally sell out your life to Jesus and go wherever He takes you — I have begun to wonder, apparently along with many others, if we aren’t becoming a little imbalanced.
Let’s narrow this subject to be about those who truly are Christians, not those who hijack Jesus mostly to promote modern social movements (often with liberal, non-orthodox emphases). The fact is, we’re prone to many of the same errors, and just because we’re concerned about being Biblically correct and orthodox, and read Edwards and Spurgeon, doesn’t mean we’re immune to an imbalanced kind of Radicalism Idolatry.
Is it possible that in our haste to be all radical and world-changing, we’re not also prone to:
1) Being unloving to older Christians, even less doctrinally solid ones, even family members without whom we never would have gotten to this spiritually superior point?
I pause and shift in my seat, suddenly uncomfortable. Guilty.
2) Worshiping a more-direct Christian Ministry™, while minimizing the importance of, or even coming to despise, other lines of work — such as business or parenting — that in Christ are just as much “ministry” as a more-overt Radical calling to foreign missions or pastoring a church?
Also guilty, and for months and perhaps years I subconsciously buried my talents in the ground, wondering to myself whether God could really use me in powerful ways even if I was only writing feature stories five days a week for community newspapers, or blogging Christian topics.
3) Doing what author/pastor Kevin DeYoung describes below, and basing our lives on a sort-of Christian-conference high and mostly exhortations to be radical, and as a result despising the “day of small things” when God is working in radical ways, even if we cannot see them?
Guilty times three. At age 17, I was a latecomer to the Christian camp scene, and coming home I felt all so spiritual, a New Stage of Christian living. I haven’t been back to camp since, and the few conferences I have attended were good ones, such as New Attitude (now Next).
In 2006 one of the New Attitude speakers, Josh Harris, directly encouraged his listeners not to fall for the Christian-conference high thing. That often leads to discouragement, Harris said. Once the air of real life becomes thicker, and you fight with your parents or neglect to read the Bible — you forget how God works radically, as DeYoung said, even in “the day of small things.”
And it was just this year that DeYoung incidentally furthered this point, in his May 30 message about “The Church” (download the MP3) about how Christians ought to view local churches.
Today Sovereign Grace head C.J. Mahaney blogged about DeYoung’s closing points. I’ll reproduce his transcript here. This is so encouraging, and essential when the Next Big Thing/Leader/Cause comes along, from outside or inside true Christianity, and could make us feel unnecessarily guilty for being right where God does want us, being a “plodding visionary” for Him.
It is easy to blast the church for all her failures. It is harder to live in the church day after day, year after year, with all of the ho-hum, hum-drum, and slowly, consistently make a difference[. …]
What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. So we need to ask the right questions, we need to have the right expectations, and we need to establish the right vision. [… He asks listeners to turn to Zechariah chapter 8.]
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Here’s my burden for our generation […] along with all of the necessary pleas we have to be earnest and intense and radical and sold out — with all of that, I just also want to wave the banner from Zechariah 4:10: Do not despise the days of small things.
That’s what I mean by being plodding visionaries.
So if you’re a visionary, you don’t have your head in the sand. You’re going somewhere. You’re looking out, you’re moving in a direction! But you’re a plodder — one foot in front of the other.
Many of us are attracted to a Tasmanian Devil kind of Christianity! You remember, from Looney Tunes, spinning around? I attempted to do the impression, but you know what’s he’s like — rwlrghhkrghh — splattering, spinning around! You get fired up — and praise God for that — you get excited, and you spin out like the Tasmanian Devil, ready to conquer the world for Christ — and you blow up into a tree somewhere.
We need plodding visionaries.
When I wrote the book on the church, I read nine books that called for a revolution. Every other day it seems like I read of a new manifesto. And we may need to just simplify a little: get on the right road, and keep going. Get on the right road, keep going.
Our generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through.
We want to change the world and we’ve never changed a diaper.
You want to make a difference for Christ? Here’s where you can start: this Sunday, volunteer for the nursery. “Here I am, pastor. What can I do to serve?”