some of my best thinking comes from mistakes i make in life. i get a butt load of ideas just because i can not spell, i have zero ability to frame a sentence and my english is limited to words most 6th graders can grasp. i have never been called a "intellectual" and i am not know from my scholarly work on any topic; i am the kind or writer who just says it like it is and moves on. i make a mistake, i ask a question and i just figure it out and get others thinking in the process. well, it happened again, God is good to those of us who have a hard time tying their shoes while holding a coffee cup and striving to hold a conversation, something will spill, someone will trip.

it happened a couple of days ago while i as i was writing the phase "emerging/evolving." in ny haste, i soon found myself writing "emerging/involving" - wow, how cool; evolving soon became "involving". but no sooner did i write it then i realized that it just how wrong the church has been over these many years. the idea of "church" in any form and "involving" just do not seem to mix well in my mind. something that has come to me over this past year is that many churches i see, visit and share with are not very inviting, involving or innovative, and it pains me so deeply.

not very inviting:
a community of faith that is "inviting" is a community that goes beyond the idea of being a "welcoming" or a "friendly" place - heck, any church can be friendly, but few are inviting. few actually take the time, in true love and grace, to know you for you. few, actually desire to go deeper then just the "hi, what is your name?" and move on line. to be inviting a community needs to truly be a place where people feel welcomed, and are not just welcomed. the community should be a place where a person can join in, and where they can see themselves as part of the fabric of the community. some of the churches i have visited over this year are not inviting at all - many are so closed and cold that even the thought of welcoming others with an honest heart seems crazy to them. one church i visited thought i was a person looking for a recovery group- and they actually told me to come back thursday night because that is when "they could help me." when i mentioned i was a visiting pastor, one of the pastors said, "it's a natural mistake, i mean given the way you look." what? i look no different them many of the people in the community, but i did notice i looked a lot different then the people in that church.

not very involving:
there are people being left out of the loop, and most churches do not care. people who have value, people who have a reality to share that can help change lives. the reality is, hearing the same voices all the time is getting boring - at best. over this year on ginkworld we have published voices no one had heard about, the ooze has done the same - we need to hear all voices, all peoples, all groupings - all voices. even those we disagree with. i disagree with some of the stuff that goes on ginkworld, but i will stand by every author and i will never put a "disclaimer" anyplace that says i, or any editor, disagree with something - our goal should be to encourage voices; to allow others to express who they are and what they are thinking. giving people the freedom to be involved means allowing people to express what they think is right, and helping them find the light of christ.

not very innovative:
much of what i am hearing coming from many in the church world is just a rehash of old ideas and expressions - nothing new. i call this the "three book deal rut." one author writes a book and the publisher wants the person to write two more, just like the first one - it has gotten to the point where i am not even interested in reading much of what is being offered - the church is playing it safe and has lost it's edge. it has lost the ability to truly question and go deeper into what might be seen as "hearsay" - it needs to get it back - we need to be innovative in our thinking, speaking and life.

how do we break this cycle?
i think the first thing we need to do is get out of the towers and admit that most of what we are offering in the way of church is "middleclass, white, suburban and male" and it's getting boring. we have to get past this idea of our conversation being a "homogenous" conversation because we "like talking to people like us" and get our collective asses out in the streets and see the church for what it is, a heterogeneous community, a cosmic collection of God's creation in all forms, in all it's colors and vast wonder - in all it has to offer, where people explore faith and move in life to the light of christ. we need to be ready, willing and able to look at others and say, "i do not understand you, but i truly desire to understand - teach me how." and then let it happen - be open, be real and simply be.

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friend said...

Good stuff. I like it. thanks for making this space open, inviting, involving.

urbanmonk said...

Thanks John, I'm looking forward to my future misspellings with great anticipation.

peter said...

I might offer one quick 'correction' from my own experience. You mention that churches are for 'white middle class men'. I have typically found that in fact it was the women who seemed to dominate the churches. Perhaps not as pastors, but certainly as layeity.

Just a thought. Maybe it depends on the denomination.

As far as 'involving', my wife and I spent three months at a church without ever being really welcomed or involved. And we looked like white young middle class people. They just didn't seem interested in anyone new. They had what they wanted, and that was that. It may not always (although often does) have to do with how you look. Some people just don't want to see growth or anything new. They see it as threatening to their hold on power in the church.

Excellent post.


Vynette said...


You said: "we need to hear all voices, all peoples, all groupings - all voices. even those we disagree with"

Here's my voice, anyway. Most, if not all Christian bloggers disagree with my fundamental propositions.

They are:
With ever-increasing access to information, it is becoming ever-increasingly obvious to many that the doctrines of the Christian Churches are insupportable.

The stampede from traditional Christianity, and indeed faith, can be laid squarely at the door of those whose responsibility it was to project the values of God into society using the example set by the man Jesus of Nazareth.

Doctrines such as the Trinity, Virgin Birth, and the various 'divinity' teachings, impose a barrier between Jesus of Nazareth and the rest of humanity;
they misrepresent the values he stood for; they falsify the issues that brought him into collision with the priests; and they conceal the motives of those who caused him to be crucified.

They also conceal the fact that these same issues are just as much alive today as they were in 30AD.

The simple message of the New Testament has been made utterly meaningless by doctrines that teach he was other than a normal man.

God's controversy with us began in the Garden of Eden and has continued through the ages right to this present moment.

It is a controversy that demands of us that we weigh all things in the balances and find true measure.

Jesus warned his followers to beware the teachings of the Priests. This warning was given at the end of the Abrahamic period. Now, after nearly two thousand years of the New Covenant, nothing has changed.

Both Old and New Covenants have been apostasised in the same manner for a similar length of time.

illgottengoods said...

you mention the "three book rut." curious -- which books are you reading these days and which ones do and do not fit into this rut? Thnx.