“Framing Christianity within a dualistic ‘us versus them’ paradigm can be a successful way of achieving numerical growth. The nefarious ‘them’ serve as a foil to assert our own rightness. Sunday after Sunday we are made to feel good about belonging to those who are on the right side of all things religious and political. This is the problem we have when churches are led by religious entrepreneurs instead of contemplative pastors. . . . [when] the institution is fully committed to a reactive kind of Christianity. If we are stuck in a reactive form of Christianity, any move toward a contemplative form of Christianity is viewed as a kind of betrayal. It’s often condemned as ‘falling away from the faith.’ But that’s not what it is. It’s leaving behind childish things and growing up into the fullness of Christ. . . . . As long as our churches are led by those who view being a Christian primarily as a kind of conferred status instead of a lifelong journey, and view faith as a form of static certitude instead of an ongoing orientation of the soul toward God, I see little hope that we can build the kind of churches that can produce mature believers in any significant numbers. The American entrepreneurial model of church growth has created a situation where the pastoral vocation has been rendered nearly impossible. On one hand the pastor must satisfy the demands of a consumer-oriented constituency (which is more properly the work of a politician or businessman), while on the other hand seeking to produce real spiritual formation in the lives of the congregation. These two objectives—satisfying a contingency and spiritual formation—work against one another most of the time. It seems impossible.” Brian Zhand
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones
God can raise up children for Abraham.”
Moving From Head to Heart
*For you does being a Christian mean you have arrived, or that you have embarked on some kind of lifetime journey? Why does it matter?
*If a journey, is it one of constant repentance–where you’re always becoming someone new–new thinking, beliefs, perspectives; motivations, and practices?
*Does your church experience cause you to judge other faiths, castes, races, sexual orientations, ethnicities, etc., or does it give you interest in the welfare of these “others?” Which seems more “Biblical” to you and why?
O God, I thirst, not for comfortable certitude, or feelings of superiority towards others, but a life of constant repentance where my soul is oriented toward you.
For More: Water To Wine by Brian Zhand
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