This series of posts entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” by one of my favorite internet teachers, Michael Spencer, a.k.a. The Internet Monk, has gotten a LOT of coverage from Christian media as well as being picked up by Drudge and the Christian Science Monitor. (If you haven’t read these posts yet, please grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit down and read through all three in the series.)
There isn’t anything new I can add to the conversation. Suffice it to say that I feel Spencer’s analysis is spot on, cogent and should be understood as an invitation from the Head of the church to take a long, hard look in the mirror and do some serious repentance.
What do I see when I look in that mirror?
I see a consumer. I’m not using that phrase in the way it is typically used in the evangelical/charismatic world, which is “She’s a church hopper, looking to meet her needs” or “She uses her mammon to buy the product the Christian subculture is selling” – but in a more basic manner. I am not giving my life away in ways that proclaim the gospel.
It is easy to criticize the unhealth of the institutional church. I have asked lots of questions about power, politics and structure – and don’t see those questions stopping any time soon. Not long ago, someone I respect told me that I have a tendency to champion the underdog and go to the fringe. Though I’m not certain that observation was meant to be a compliment, I took it as one.
I only wish it were more true. Michael Spencer’s posts are meant to challenge the once-radical, now-flabby institutions of evangelicalism, but they have had the effect of asking me to examine myself as a person in the same way. I would love to be characterized as someone with radical faith, but these days, I am not seeing it in action. To put it baldly, if I am not giving my life away, I am hoarding it like a consumer. There is no middle ground on this.
God, forgive me.
I am currently in a place of welcome transition in my life. I’m no longer employed at Trinity. I’m back in the hunt for freelance writing work and will also need to find a part-time job after Bill and I return from Israel trip number two next month. I am asking questions about what’s next in ways I believe are Spirit-breathed.
How can my vocation of writing give my life away? After all, writing is such an inward sort of life, and gets remarkably self-indulgent the moment it disconnects from worship of God.
How am I to serve in a part-time job? And how am I to step into the kind of one-on-one, caring ministry to which I feel led?
Are these questions enough? Or are they too small? Is He asking something more, something bigger from me?
Lord Jesus, give me hearing eyes and seeing ears to comprehend Your answer to those questions.
4 thoughts on “Transition questions”
True, many reactions to the Monk’s latests writing. My own sinful self is still convinced that I can do it myself. We want to save ourselves, whether by right action or by right thinking or by right believing. The only solution is a man hanging on a cross dying for the sins of the world [including my own] and the rising from the dead on the third day.
Amen, Dan. Well said.
I am at a transition in my own life, as I leave campus ministry, at least for a season.
In that light, I recently read Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove’s interview of Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier in Sojourners. Vanier, whose work with the disabled I have followed for some time (particularly through Henri Nouwen)gets to the core of our need for community and place of community in the church.
This is the link for the article referenced by the writer above: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0904&article=the-politics-of-gentleness
(You'll need to register at the Sojourners site in order to access it – well worth the read.
Perhaps transitions would be a little less painful if we went through them in community.