My blogging buddy Bill Kinnon has a gift for expressing deeply felt things about the church in ways that resonate with many people. In his posting, To the People formally known as the Congregation, he offers insight that should be read in its entirety. Go read it and come back. I have a couple things to say.
Thanks for returning.
Here's the essential issue that I see in what Bill writes and what I tried to say in a previous posting called Christianity as Abstraction. It is also what I tried to get at in my comment to Bill on his polemic.
There are plenty of reasons to be critical, even cynical. That's okay as long as it leads to something positive and constructive.
The problem isn't the church, or worship, or music, or sermons or even egotistical pastors. Those are all symptoms of some other thing. In this sense, the church is a distraction from what is really at issue.
At the heart of what Bill is saying, and many others are affirming, is really the loss of our humanity.
To regain our humanity is to live truthfully as a person whose interior and exterior lives are connected in some meaningful way. We live in a culture that celebrates the surface of life and denies the issues of human identity, purpose and relationships. Yet, it will be here that we find a way to be the church that fulfills the hope that lingers in the shadows of Bill's polemic.
The question then is how do I live a whole human life and what place does God and the church have in that quest?
UPDATE: Since I wrote the above, I've read the additional links that Bill has provided. One additional thought. The church is the way it is because of the people who are there. If you don't like, take a moment or more to reflect on your own contributions to the dysfunction that is the church. There are no perfect churches. No perfect people.
It may well be that the problem with serial church shoppers isn't the church but their own inability to commit to the work and sacrifice to make the church what it is supposed to be. I say something about that at another time.