the evolution returns

over this past year i have been truly diving into this idea that the church needs to evolve -not just in style, but in theology and heart. i have come to some major conclusions that i think are primary for my sanity and the sanity of those i love.

conclusion one: the church, while in a desperate need for an extreme makeover, is unwilling to look deep into its own heart to see the pain it causes others. you see, for the dysfunction of the church to truly have a deep meaning it needs to feed its dysfunction. in that, the church has closed its eyes to the reality around it.

now, is it possible for the church to pull itself out of this spin? i would say "not at all." for some this would seem negative, and it may be - but for those of us who have been abused by the dysfunction called "the christian church" we see it as a bold, in your face reality.

conclusion two: whenever a person calls the church, or christians, on the table for all the garbage they do and all the hurt they give, the church or the christian calls them negative. while this may have worked in the past, i find it simply another tool of the dysfunction. you see, telling me i am being negative because i point out how hurtful the church is does not change the reality that the church is hurtful. all it does is try to place the conversation on what is and is not negative and off the facts at hand.

now, can the church or christians change this tactic? i think not. it serves their purpose of my first conclusion - so, in that the church, or christians, will never stop crying that others are being negative.

conclusion three: the church in the usa has it good and is in no way shape or form a martyr. i am so tired of american christians talking about how the church is being persecuted. what? because we can't place a plastic jesus in the town square during christmas we claim persecution; because we can't sing "jesus loves me this i know" at a "spring festival."

now, can the church get over this self imposed idea that it is being run down and hurt by others? i doubt it. the fabric of the church is too woven with the idea that we must claim to be a martyr to truly have a voice - so stories are made-up to make the persecution seem real.

i think three conclusions are good for now. i think the church needs to remove its collective head out of its collective ass for it to be able to see the sun and know where the sidewalks are. but i am not sure it can happen. because no institution is ever truly changed from the inside, i am not sure the institution of the church can seek change. the insiders are in control, and they refuse to listen to the voices from the outside - so, the church will die - the church will close it's door and the idea of a "christian" will slowly go to the recycle bin. what comes out of the recycle? hard to tell, but i hope it is nothing like the church today -


Mike L. said...

Thanks for your honesty!

Dan said...

I think it was Socrates who said we must define our terms in order to have a meaningful discussion (or something like that). Or maybe it was George Carlin .

In either case, I'm curious what you mean by "the church." I tend to use the term to refer to all the people around the world who are trying to know, love and serve Christ - however imperfectly. As an entity, is is perpetually in need of reform, it is always imperfect, etc, etc...

But, when you say "the church" is unwilling to look deep, or unable to pull out of the spin, or fatally dysfunctional, I must conclude you're using the word differently than I do... because my definition puts you and me and many others in it, and we are indeed trying to own up to our shortcomings (however imperfectly), give up our sense of martyrdom, etc.

And I don't think the church, as I've defined it, will ever close its door... 'cause ultimately the church is the Body of Christ, and He knows what He's doing... and He is good at it (however invisible that goodness and action might be to us).

So... I'm curious. What do you mean by "the church?"

john o'keefe said...

i believe it was gandhi who said, "i like your jesus, it is his followers i do not care for."

i think it does not matter how i define "church" - in my world, my words stand. unlike you, i do not see "imperfect people striving to move ahead in faith" i have seen people lie, hurt, insult, belittle and cause damage to others under the idea that "we are imperfect people." but scripture calls us to be "changed people" "new people" and if we are no different then those outside the church, we are of no value to them.

in my reality i have found many, very many [if those words can be used together] use the "we are imperfect people" as a crutch to hurt others and never change - i speak loudly for the many who left the church because they have been victims of "church/christian abuse" - as i and my family have been abused

i was not raised in "the church" and to be honest, i have no "deep love" for the church - i follow christ - christ has never let me down, but his followers have kicked sand in my face many times - so we can debate definations, and while that is happening "the church" is losing people left and right - because in my heart i have to say "most church people do not love others, can not forgive and see things in a very negative way" - disagree, and that is cool - but i have lived it first hand - i have felt the sting of sand in my eyes.

ph0rman said...

As someone who was raised in "the church", I place a personal _strong_ distinction between the Church (as spoken of in scripture) and the buildings that house little groups of people who tend to congregate on Sunday mornings.

I've been beaten, broken and abused more by those who consider themselves Christian, and within the context of "church", way more than I've ever been hurt in "secular" contexts.

From my own experience, I agree that the structure and traditions of the US evangelical /pentacostal / charismatic organizations is pretty screwed up. There is a predominance of business-oriented values, totalitarian rule, and completely unrealistic expectations.

Thankfully God has been working on me to focus on loving like He loved, and to be able to try and deal with the wackiness I see on Sundays. I don't like a lot of what I see -- but I'm committed to living like Christ. At times it seems that those in the "church" need Christ even more than those outside.

john o'keefe said...

lol - i would agree to some degree - but i think there needs to be a radical "evolution" of the church - i believe the church is nothing like what christ asked us to be - and i agree that we all need to be more like christ - but i do not need to be in a church to do to be christ like :)

Joy said...


You are missed.

This posted resonated with me so loudly. Instead of nitpicking semantics, I think we need to understand the thought and meaning behind the words.

I know just what you mean, brother. Your words encourage me and give me courage.

I hope you are being revitalized. I am so thankful for the technology of the internet that causes the miles to disappear.

Dan said...

Yikes - I hope I didn't give the impression that I was nitpicking about semantics. I was just curious to understand what John meant. I think I agree with a lot of what he's saying, but I'm not sure I really understood it...

Definitions don't matter if you're talking to yourself. But if we're trying to talking with each other, and there's some confusion about what is meant by a word (particularly a flexible, overused, misused, loaded word like "church"), isn't it reasonable to ask for a little clarity?

john o'keefe said...

not a problem dan - i think defining words is very important - clarity is key to conversation :D

rdnakx250 said...

The church is messed up because there is so often something to be had. Career paths, big salaries, alphabet soup after your name. Take away the prizes and the church will be on the path to right living.