Another Jewel from Jared Wilson

31 Mar

A couple of weeks ago I posted an excellent article from Jared Wilson. His blog can be found at the Gospel Coalition website and is a real keeper. Today I stumbled across this extended passage from another article and found that it captures a truth often faced by many in the Bible Belt.

We are in a weird — but frequently exhilarating — position where the gospel is scandalous even to Christians.

So many of our brothers and sisters want the compartmentalized spirituality (putting in their religious time on Sunday mornings), the six steps to such-and-such messages, and the superficiality of apathy towards real community, that missional thinking and living, gospel-saturated and Jesus-centered messages, and the demands of relational intimacy freak them out. This stuff is a foreign language to them, and I see it constantly in the so-called “Christian South,” where “everyone” is a Christian, “everyone” goes to church.

Once upon a time, reading on a Nashville church shopper’s blog, I noticed a commenter urging her to look for a church that focused on Jesus. Her reply was, “I’ve already found Jesus.”

This is the default mode of Bible Belt Christianity. I’ve got my ticket punched, just give me the show now. I need a dynamic speaker on Sunday mornings, a rockin’ band on the stage, a full service childcare facility, a big youth group, a coffee bar near the sanctuary, etc. I’ve got Jesus already; give me something that matters to me now, something “relevant,” something applicable.

And there is a never-ending appetite for this stuff because this stuff doesn’t fix or fulfill anything. Seven steps to conquering conflict in your marriage won’t eradicate conflict. So there’s always demand for seven more steps next time around.

What I find especially ironic about the churches catering to gospel-unawakened Christians is that they claim they exist for the unchurched. They are the ones actually reaching lost people, they say. The data does not support this, of course. The number of megachurches has increased; the number of Christians has decreased. This does not compute. And when folks like Sally Morgenthaler start looking at the research, what they find is that the attractional machine, which purports to be for the lost and unchurched, basically just ends up attracting Christians from smaller or less “exciting” churches.

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