iBlog: More on Churchtianity and a Note About Management Speak in the Modern Church


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Sunday, August 13, 2006

More on Churchtianity and a Note About Management Speak in the Modern Church

Text from Shaun Pharicies Humphries:

`A Christian doesn't walk in rules but by obedience to the holy spirit. Paul says `i am a slave of righteousness` and `i am bound by the Holy Spirit`. It's not rules it's a choice either to obey or not to obey. It's always a mater of obedience. But Jesus says `He who doesn't obey my words doesn't love me`. It's a choice of desire to be holy onto the Lord and keep yourself unspotted from the world. But `whoever doesn't bear fruit will be cut off and thrown [next text] into the fire` The Bible isn't liberal. It's a narrow path. I am constrained not by rules but for my love for the holy spirit. And I know Him intimately and when I grieve Him. So I always seek to do what He tells me and He speaks out of my mouth. That is why I have a narrow walk and that is how all disciples of Jesus are called to be. I wont contact you again because it's not the will of Jesus. Please pray and read the whole word about these things. God bless`

Now much as I take infinite pleasure in annoying conservative Christians, I feel I should add some context to said text.

It followed a text I received from him out of the blue which read `Leave her, remove yourself from her, go home to your parents and seek God` and my response which read `You seem to take a Professor Trelawney approach to Christianity insofar as you see the gloom in everything, I think you need to liberalise your view of how God perceives us and stop seeing life as a Christian walking in the boundaries of rules`.

But behind that top trumping of each other's 60 second sermon lies an over-zelous, isolated, chap in his fresher years of Christianity. With this in mind, I think back to my early days of Christian and my steadfast view of how great I was in the shadow of all these sinners, and how loving I was that I could appease God's plan by running a CU. However, it serves no less to my chagrin that two hands can't count the number of neophytes I've seen of the same mold who don't realise they can't save the world on Cup-A-Soup and student loan. But I've known not one who doesn't eventually find themselves plateau at a place of common sense, and more often than not this is achieved by the mere virtue of common sense that it can't be taught by a paster or by quoting St. Paul to convict.

Why is that?

Three words,
1) Profitabilityness,
2) jumping higher than the bar and
3) successfulition

I think one of the many drawbacks of Churchtianity-nouvelle is the over exposure of cliches, idioms and that kind of Christian management speak that leads people to:

walk the narrow path,
keep yourself unspotted from the world and
WWJD etc

Thing is, just as these management speak innovations of linguistic pragmatics work well for the management who find themselves removed from the shop floor, sometimes, these Christian all-is-well sentiments find themselves smiling down on us from a platform of unattainable illusion of a world free of challenge.

While writing this, I'm listening to this on radio 4 which talks of doubt, realism and Christianity. This again is further evidence for me, that the `religious` crimes of the modern church are being challenged by a minority of Christians with an `Authentic Faith` or an inspired view of love and walking in the Spirit. Some might brand it Emergent, others call it cynicism, Aidrian Plas referred to it as a mini-revival of honesty.

Personally, I just think the spiritually superfluous worship vehicles that worked for the Kendrick, Bilburgh and the Delirious epochs now find themselves lacking in a very real sense. The modern church finds itself at it's first crossroad: the Awesome/Hillsong/Mega-church Churchtianity and the reflective/meditative/emergent Christianity bubbling under the rented theatres, P.A systems and teen-idol type figures of the Rawlsome generation. Now much as there is both no emnity between these two fractions and all the philosophical gulf you can shake a serpent at, I don't think it's fair to think of the two as Hare and Tortoise. this sells more than this, but there's no competition between the numbers in the church and the ones who employ different emphasis on their moral spreadsheet.

Not to say that the uncouth strobe churches have the wrong emphasis, but maybe, they could learn (perhaps in the same fashion that slowed my pace of unrestrained imposition,) that enthusiasm without common sense bears little fruit other than the inevitable Jone's effect (of people following what's cosmopolitain, established and apparently superiour to themselves) if the passion manifests into rock music and visually elitist guitarists.

Much as I try to avoid unfair generalisations, I think a lot of the time that's an apt summary of the ethos of certain churches, and because of it's boistrus personality this church philosophy seems to figurehead the 21st century church per ce. There are, like i said however, a growing breed of conscious Christians who seek God behind the tired cliches of Christian management speak and who don't need church to try and be appealing to appeal*, and who seek to appease their inner Christian quotas not by sending convicting texts saying the Bible is not liberal, but who choose to creep in behind all the hype that your faith can buy to love their Lord their God, and to love their neighbours as they would themselves.

I happily find myself siding with the latter.

* this is what church looks like with all the strobe lighting, young musicians, shouting preachers and motivating buzz words... failing to find itself attractive because, to use the vernacular, it tries too hard. however, this is what a beautiful church looks like... loved because of it's worts 'n' all


  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger monty said…

    Who is Shaun Humphries?
    What gives him the reasons to say "Leave her, remove yourself from her, go home to your parents and seek God`".
    Why would someone say that ( I assume they are referencing you and your partner)?

    Not that I think you actually respect anything I say but I don't think church is at a cross roads. I think the church (whatever that is) needs fresh revelation and relevance through (per your saying) authentic faith / love.

  • At 11:52 AM, Blogger tarkmiddy said…

    The Shaun Cult...coming soon to a church near you!

    I don't think anyone has the right to make that kinda statement, I'd guess Shaun took it as a word from God or is at least using God as the excuse behind it, however I think that kinda message would be something God would make obvious to you. Shaun's Christianity makes me cringe so much!

  • At 10:53 PM, Blogger Timothy V Reeves said…

    In any case Ben, are you going to answer the nice Mr Monty's polite question, or has the situation now become too polarised? I lived in hopes that this wasn't like the NYFC forum!


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