A few ways in which the church cultivates irrelevance

Here’s something that worries me:

Every weekend kids all over the country get out on fields and courts and chase up and down and do something that makes them feel incandescently alive, and the response of much of the church is to worry not about whether these kids are having a formative experience, but whether holding youth sports on Sundays is cutting into our market share.

We just had an election which aroused both passions and fears in the hearts of people of all political persuasions, and the response of much of the church was to keep its distance from this process, or, worse, to turn up its nose and offer a service on election night that was represented in some quarters as a way of washing away the sin of giving a damn about politics.

Now we are on the cusp of the Christmas season, and folks are hustling around buying and baking and generally trying to make a nice holiday for their loved ones and the response of much of the church is to tell these people that they are ruining Advent.

We spend a lot of time telling people that their passions, hopes and fears are inappropriate, and the most exhilarating experiences of their lives consume time that could be better spent. Then we wonder why they don’t come to us to celebrate and mourn, why they don’t think of their church as a place to seek community or solace.

There isn’t anything prophetic or countercultural—and there’s certainly nothing Christian—about looking discreetly down one’s nose at the people we are asked to love and serve. If you aren’t willing to meet folks where they are, you have no chance of getting them to where you want them to go.

(Hat tip to recent articles by and conversations with Keith Anderson, Rebecca Wilson, David L. Hansen and Laura Everett.)

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