Here is part 2 of the conversation. Please feel free to leave feedback or comments. Agree/Disagree?
Rollins and Tickle discuss Emergent Christianity. Rollins makes an interesting point of the need for a push back from leaders in the church so as to create a priesthood among all believers. This is Part 1/3. I will try to put other parts over the next couple of weeks. Enjoy-and I invite feedback and comments.
Upon entering seminary I noticed something very interesting. I noticed there was much more of a tension between the academy (seminary) and the Church. In the course of my studies I have met people who, for very justified reasons, have left the church and probably will not go back. I wonder why it is there is such a noticeable tension? Has the Church failed in some way? Has the academy failed in its teaching of church leadership? I wonder if it’s not a good dose of both?
Let’s begin with the church. I am a life long church attendee. My mother made sure church was a priority in my life from a very young age-often against my better wishes. I have learned and grown within the confines of the church. I was introduced to the Bible and God at church. Church is where my leadership skills were first given roots to bloom. I can, with all honesty, say church was my first real experience of an extended family.
But I also know there are many who have not been as fortunate. There are many who have been hurt by the church. There are many for whom the doors of the church were not opened. Even worse, there are many for whom those doors were not merely left closed but were slammed shut in their faces. This is inexcusable. This is a travesty. No church can call itself a church if it makes a practice of keeping people out or not letting people into the church. I don’t care if they have the word church in their name on their sign and a big fat steeple on their roof-they are not a church. Call yourself a social club. Call yourself a Country Club. Call yourself an organization-but you are not a church.
Now on to the academy. Here is where the more subtle failing begin to crop up. They are quiet but present. They are often the 900 lb. pink elephant in the room for whom no one wants to make acknowledgment. It is in the academy, if one is not careful, that one can learn with “empowerment” and “authority” as the academy boasts it is the giver of (often as though it is the ONLY giver) can come a sense of superiority. We learn, if we are not careful, that we should indeed retreat from the church if we don’t like it. After all, real church happens there among friends and colleagues of the academy. Forget the fact that the academy is much more monolithic than the church could ever be. We are smarter than the folks in the pews after all. They should all clamor to us and, if they don’t, we will take our toys and go home. Or at least that is what one can walk away from seminary believing if they are not careful.
For whatever reason, we are told in Acts that God has chosen the Church to carry out the work of the Kingdom. But we are also told that some within that community are called to be leaders. We are given a mighty gift in seminary. Often we are enlightened and our spirits are lifted through our studies and insights-the likes of which the church needs now more than ever. But do not be deceived. More times than not the people in the pews are much smarter than we give them credit for. They are often smarter than any pastor would hope to be. They know life because they live it. They don’t retreat for 3 years to the ivory tower of the academy in order to come back with knowledge from on high. They walk daily with a God who, for better or worse, would often rather spend time with them than their pastors. Remember who Jesus had the most disagreements with? It was not the people but rather the clergy. They are a people who know how harsh life is and in spite of it come Sunday in and Sunday out to hear a new word.
So why the Church we ask? I bet if we listen real close we can hear God laughing at our asking and responding: Why Not???
I decided at this late hour to share a bit of poetry. This poem is courtesy the great Walter Brueggemann. Enjoy!
At the dawn
By Walter Brueggemann
Our first glimpse of reality this day -- everyday -- is your fidelity. We are dazzled by the ways you remain constant among us, in season, out of season, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. You are there in watchfulness as we fall asleep; You are there in alertness when we awaken ... and we are glad. Before the day ends, we will have occasion to flag your absence in indifference... but not now, not at the dawn. Before the day ends, we will think more than once that we need a better deal from you... but not now, not at the dawn. Before the day ends, we will look away from you and relish our own fidelity and our virtue in mercy... but not now, not at the dawn. Now, at the dawn, our eyes are fixed on you in gladness. We ask only that your faithfulness permeate every troubled place we are able to name, that your mercy move against the hurts to make new, that your steadfastness hold firmly what is too fragile on its own. And we begin the day in joy, in hope, and in deep gladness. Amen.
I’ve decided for the next couple of weeks to make Fridays “Fred Craddock Fridays.” Dr. Craddock is the former Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology and one of the 20th Century’s greatest preachers and teachers of preaching. This video is Dr. Craddock’s explanation of the fundamental message of the sermon. Very wise words from an expert on the craft of preaching.