Saturday, July 14, 2012

Expectations, Agenda, and Just Being A Christian

Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk digs through the archives to find what he's been wanting to say.  His post is about agenda identification, and how he comes to the conclusion that it's OK to just be a Christian.

In my circles, very rarely did I hear the full-blown “God told me to do this” account that was more prevalent in charismatic or pentecostal churches. Still, that was the impression, even in our more theologically conservative groups. Whether it was defining a preaching series, implementing an element of worship that the pastor thought the church should practice, organizing an outreach program, expanding staff, building new facilities, using a certain method of teaching or training in the educational program or youth group, or designing the way the church should be overseen by its leaders, these ministers had a way of making it sound like these were directives from God himself. And the corollary to that, of course, was – if you are a truly dedicated, committed Christian, you will participate. 

Over and over again, I watched as the pastor’s agenda became the church’s agenda, because the pastor was able to persuade people that it was God’s agenda.
As some of the readers of this blog know, I am a fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  Their colors are orange and black.  A promotion the team has put forth over the last several years in known as "Orange Friday."  Each Friday home game, the Giants wear orange jerseys and the fans are encouraged to wear orange articles of clothing or accessories.  Bright orange Afros, painted faces, you name it. 

While a good number of fans take part in this, many, like me, are content to dress just the way I would at any other game.  And even though I'm not much of a fan of these type of fads, I am content with thousands of other fans wearing orange.  Even though it is an official promotion, my lack of participation doesn't provoke others to wonder why I'm not participating in the way they are.  I've never been asked why, nor have I felt the expectation to wear orange.

Can the same be said of how our churches view our participation?  What if I use some other book on child rearing?  Or maybe none at all?  What if I never listen to sermons of the pastor's favorite preacher?  What if I want to have my kids with me in the service as opposed to in Sunday school?  What if I prefer to invite other people over to my house for lunch instead of signing up for the church program that places people on a list to come over to my house for lunch?  Is it OK to just be a Christian?  I hope so.


  1. Replies
    1. Arthur,

      I'm OK with you being OK. But even if you aren't, you probably won't be going to hell just becuase of that. And I'm OK with that, too. ;)

  2. Often the pastor's preferences have become essential practices in a church. One pastor loved the Narnia Chronicles and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He regarded these books as allogories of how Christians should be warriors, so all his parishioners read these books. Another pastor considered the Narnia Chronicles as a bad example for children because the protagonists supposedly disobeyed their parents, so his parishioners did not read these books. This pastor also considered colonial reenactment as an essential part of Christianity. Every year his entire Congregation dresses in colonial costumes and reenactments Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. I attended when it was free, but now he rents a large facility, invites Vision Forum speeches and charges families to attend.

    1. Anonymous,

      Thanks for the comment. You have just pointed out the folly of such a notion. Your examples are mutually exclusive. The same was true of the huge flap over the Harry Potter books some years back. I once attended a church where they were spending several years in Sunday School reading through Pilgrim's Progress.

      Maybe next time I see such an agenda I will have more wisdom and more determination to point it out.

  3. If you went to my former church, you'd be labeled as divisive and might be shunned and on the Mark and Avoid list by now.

    I think you're just fine. We were not meant to be clones of our pastor/church, but individuals, amazingly and individually created by the Master.

  4. "Is it OK to just be a Christian? I hope so."

    Yes it is.

    Good stuff. Thank you.