Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Gospel and Parking Places

One blog that I read fairly regularly is a blog I read for several different reasons, one of which is to see what they will come up with next. It proclaims itself to be a discernment blog, trying to save the church from seeker-sensitive philosophies, emergent philosophies, and often I wonder if it is not about anything that does not cross their “T”s and dot their “I”s just as they do.

This morning I came across a statement that reminded me again that even “discernment bloggers” need discernment. Here is the statement:
One church growth guru suggested that churches pipe in "non-threatening" music in the "lobby". This way regular joes who hang out at sports bars won't feel like they're going to church. Another suggestion in that same book had to do with parking space angles. Apparently, angled parking is more seeker-friendly than non-angled parking. Then there was the bathroom thing. Reportedly, extremely nice restrooms are very important. Sizzling youth programs and facilities were big as was the childcare area which should, if at all possible, resemble Disneyland. Granger Community Church with its endless offerings of bread and circuses is a worst case scenario in man-centered church philosophy. Once you bow to man in the running of your church, you enter a ministry world where it takes ever greater money and entertainment savvy to create a "WOW!" It is a never ending treadmill that is powered by human ingenuity and cultural know-how that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Gospel of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives.
Sounds great, right? What a courageous stand for truth in an age of compromise!!

Except when did angled parking and nice restrooms become a compromise of the “Gospel of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit?”

If your church has indoor plumbing and potable water, it is a “nice restroom,” compared to the world’s standards. And parking places are not a big deal to people who walk to church, or who ride their mules or horses. And why should we not have angled parking? Why should we not have nice restrooms?

Which brings me to my point. When people complain about stupid irrelevancies, they undermine legitimate concerns that they may voice. When we include a scraped knee from a boy learning to ride a bike with a brain tumor, we have proven ourselves to be unthinking, or at least uncritical. They are simply not the same.

Do not misunderstand me. There are legitimate concerns with the emergent movement and the seeker-sensitive movement. But angled parking places and nice bathrooms are not among them.

The problem is that a blogger such as this appears not to know the difference. They seemingly do not realize that angled parking places and nice bathrooms do not belong in the same conversation with a compromised gospel or a “do anything to get them in” philosophy. They apparently do not even recognize that they do not think properly about issues like this. It is the opposite of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps we could say that in trying to save the baby, they also save the bathwater.

They have been confronted on this in the past, sometimes by arrogant and profane speech, but often by people who simply pointed out that they were mistaken, or misleading on some issues. They have made these kinds of statements before, and no doubt will make them again. And in so doing, they will show that they do not grasp what the gospel is actually about.

And perhaps what is the most glaring show of insular unthinking, they have closed their blog to comments. Now, they can pontificate all they want with no accountability, no openness to correction (not that it was ever there to begin with).

One of the greatest tragedies is people who do not think. But an even greater tragedy is Christians who do not think Christianly. It happens from both sides. The conservative traditionalists are as much guilty of non-critical thinking as the emergent/seeker/liberal/whatever.

When you argue against something, argue against the real issues. Do not compromise the gospel of Christ by including angled parking places in the equation.


Wendy said...

Great post. You sum up the problem well.

Derek Makri said...

I agree with you. Some go too far in the opposite direction. They get to the point where they think those on the other side of the spectrum can't possibly have anything good to share, so therefore anything they say is wrong and compromising. It is ironic where the quote you posted came from because the word discernment means to be able to choose between what is good and not good. We ought to be able to take the good and leave the bad when reading anything.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that most people don't have what it takes to know the good from the bad, the scriptual from the non-scriptual because they refuse to take what the Bible says seriously. The preaching of the truth of the Word of God is the important thing. In my 50 years I have been in all sorts of circumstanses from a back room in Russia to the finest churches in America. The preaching of the Word was the connecting factor.