Monday, November 10, 2008

Bill Reichart highlights this quote from Tim Keller's new book. The question that the last sentence raises is an excellent one... one that most "attractional" style churches ignore.
Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think.
Tim Keller, The Prodigal God
via bill Reichart


Walking Church said...

We are just different sheep in different pastures!

I know very well my Shepherd's voice and He knows mine.

Might other believers make the same claim?

thebruce said...

Interestingly, at first I fully agreed... and while the sentiment I think is spot on, churches (like ours) didn't exist back then. It's a different purpose, really, and target... the Church should be where people end up, but I don't think the Church, primarily, is about attracting the people we outreach to... the Church is intended (though not exclusively of course, but mainly) for strengthening and building up of believers in like-minded communities, so that they can reach out in various ministry fashions to those in the world just as Jesus did.

I don't think this means that our contemporary churches have got it all wrong - if they are indeed supporting and executing ministries that do as Jesus did, even ultimately bringing those people to our churches.

That said, our churches shouldn't repel new believers, so in that sense, I agree. But we certainly shouldn't measure a church's success by how well it attracts or relates to non-believers.

What I do agree with though, is that we should, as indidivuals, be primarily focused on reaching out and ministering to those who don't know Christ, who are in need, and are the outcast or oppressed (in whatever manner). That's certainly what Jesus favoured over ministering to the religious. He came not to heal the healthy, but the sick - that doesn't mean we don't need doctors to help maintain the health of the healthy (churches and pastors that minister to believers and Christ-followers) :)

dr said...

We need to be careful not to just take a quote out of context. In another part of his book Keller describes sheep. It is not a cute as a little lamb bouncing along behind the shepherd but rather sheep are rather stubborn critters that need to be wrestled to the ground tied up and carried home by the Shepherd, I think we must all remember that more often than not we are the stubborn lost lamb, not the one listening to his gentle voice. We are many times the older brother sitting in the pew thinking we are better than the prodigal in the pig pen. As ministers care must be taken to know where we sit so ministry can happen in the church.

Walking Church said...

I think many are missing the point...we can be in separate pens..provided we are taking up the same juice in the vine...apart from Him we can do is all about being plugged in..whether in tradsville or outside the fortress walls.

mike said...

The gospel is good news to those who need to know grace... that covers all of us. Jesus put it this way... it's the sick who need a doctor. How come the church [the people of God... not the building] in her teaching / proclamation / ministry / interactions of the gospel tends to not minister to those whom Jesus himself interacted with?

Walking Church said...

I cannot speak for others: I interact in the marketplace - where i work; where i shop; where i play.

I don't need to go looking for 'people'...He brings them to me!

If there is a sense of lack, or want...maybe ya gotta stop hiding inside the fortress walls and quit picking the lint out of each others navels.

Yet - I think there is a sales problem here: You cannot sell something that you do not believe in. (ouch)

Walking Church said...

I forgot to add:

the secret...the real you need more flannel graph!!!