a recent question:

i was recently asked by a friend, on the postmodern theology egroup, why i seem to "lump" all evagelical churches into one grouping, and to be honest that grouping is not very positive. here is my response:

"i just do not have the respect you seem to have for the evangelcial church, becuase all my past experiences with them have been negative. now, i may not have had negative experiences with individuals 100% of the time, but i can assure you that every pastor i have ever met on a personal basis and sat down with and had coffee [with the exception of one - todd [a freind over at saddleback]] has found a reason to place a divide between the emerging and the evangelical church - it never seems to fail. i don't need to do anything but sit and listen, and they do all the wall building. for a long time i thought it was me, but i have spoken with thousands of other pastors who have felt the exact same judgement on them - sure, most of the evangelcial churches speak a good game, but many do not set-up to the plate. finding one church that may, or may not ["peace" [rick's new program over at saddleback] is too new to determine if it is working - besides, more people are kicking in money to fund it then are going to help - and that is a sign, in my heart, of a modern program [added for the blog, the idea of a "program" for me is that it is a church sponsered, church supported, ministry driven instutitionalized gathering - and is not organic from the people - if "peace" was not a program it would be something built into the fabric of every lesson, and people would beable to do something of "peace" in their area, their community - not overseas, and not "give money and let's help send others over."] be doing something does not prove your point - for every "one" you find, i bet i can find "10,000" that do nothing, for what ever reason they have.

one of my biggest compliants about evagelcial theology [and grouping churches with the same theology is not as "bad" as you seem to want to make it - they all have the same basic theology] and the evagelical church is that they speak well, the dress well, they talk of caring and concern, they speak of opening our homes, our hearts, our lives to those in need; they shout of God's love for all - but they do very little, if anything, because of the mindset of the people based on the theology they have -

-- for them, writing a check is equal to them "doing" a ministry
-- they think that "praying for a ministry" is the same as working on a feeding line
- they think that having a church program for a certian group is the same as them acting out their faith, because their gifts and tithes pay for the program.

they use the scripture that says "some are...." [added to the blog: ephesians 4:7-13, but all that is is a "semi-list" of positions, and not something that removes us from living the faith. also when we speak of "gifts" they also are not a "one thing for one person" gift - we are still required to care for others - people with a "gift of giving" still need to serve others and embrace the poor, with their arms and not their chrckbook.] and they never go past that point and realize that that is not the only thing they are to do. as a christian i must say we are called to action, called to be outside the church helping people [other then family], called to be doing something in our community - think about this, if all the "christians" of this area [your area, or my area] got off their collective ass and did something to help others we would have almost no problems with the poor and the hurting - i think jesus said "and the poor with be with you always" because he knew christians would never get off their collective ass to do anything - he knew that they would be all talk and no action."

i think as emerging people in christ we are changing a great deal of what the evagelical church holds as "truth" and we are questioning many of the assumptions they have - in that, we are the bad guys, and that's cool. as we move along in our redefinging what it means to be a follower of a glorious master, we need to remember that to act on our faith and not just talk about it - and we need to stop finding excuses as to why we can not help, and find reasons why we should.


Rich said...


I have to ask, what is the answer then? Do you wish to bridge the divide or go it without them? Are they your bad guys?

As one who grew up in these churches, I more than understand the harm they can do. I've live it and am now undoing much, but I still have a kinship with them. Jesus Christ is the single, greatest unifying force in the universe. I have to believe there can be reconciliation and more than that, I want it. If we continue down the path that your line of thinking leads, will we ever be reconciled?

Honest question from a brother...

john o'keefe said...


yes, i think we need to do it without them - i think we need to develop a theology, a"style" and all that of our own, and not look to build off them - we need to ask some very important questions:

can we develop a theology that may differ from the evangelicals while we are "in them?"

can we truly find a place that is our own, if we keep living with mom?

as long as we spend mom and dads money, they have a right to know what we are doing with it - we need to develop our own funding.

i liken it to living with mom and dad, because at some level the evangelcial church is a parent to us - they desire a very disfunctional relationship.

some time back people were asking for "bridge building" and i agreed and stayed semi-quite for that time - i kept seeing us build the bridges, and the evangelical church blow up the connections - so, i am no longer interested in building bridges - i desire to build community and in that, if it means i leave my mom's house i move on :)