Nearly a year ago I began to follow the moving and shaking that has been happening in the northern part of my state in a booming Christian congregation called Granger Community Church. A typical megachurch, Granger prides itself in being fully relevant to popular culture even to the extent of using Coldplay songs to headline services and basing sermons on popular movies, drawing out “spiritual themes” and applying them to the lives of Christians.
As a testimony to the belief in the method above the message, executive pastor Tim Stevens wrote a book called Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? to defend the church’s philosophy of taking pop culture as the driving force behind its weekly services rather than the good news of Jesus Christ.
Lacking theological basis, services at Granger lack the biblical substance, giving popular culture the center stage. Granger wrongly bases its success on the number of people in attendance, not on the strength of their belief. For the remainder of this post I will take chapter 8, titled “I’m Not a Theologian, But…” and address each of the ten points he tries to make to justify a position that the church should not only address popular culture, but completely embrace it.
Last night was my first experience of the blockbuster movie Avatar. The epic was a feast for the eyes, the ears, and the nerves as I watched on the edge of my seat. Even with the obvious comparisons with Pocahontas and Fern Gully, it was a definite delight.
But Avatar is NOT Christian.
Rev. Roy Shaff apparently agrees, but thinks that it is a prime opportunity for “discussion” about “spiritual truths.” Rather than relying on the Bible (which is supposedly authoritative) to bring its own truth, Rev. Shaff advocates for taking this film as a primary source for discussion. In a post on his blog, he tries to pull out what he says are excellent discussion points that connect with the message in Scripture.
The world is changed…
The opening line of the epic films of The Lord of the Rings sounds in my mind. The world that surrounds us has changed and encapsulated in time is the Church. While it is easy to be critical of the Church-at-large, there remains an embedded truth in the tradition as it has been transmitted across time.
Within these changes sits the Church as it struggles to speak to people who are changing within our rapidly dynamic culture. Yet within the heart of these changes and movements, one fact remains: truth of ancient times is still truth of our time. When that truth is betrayed, what is left is fallacy.
Given recent events in my life and the shift in readership of this blog, I have found the need to lay a different sort of foundation for my thoughts and this forum. It has occurred to me that I have kept many of my thoughts buried for many reasons, not the least of which was fear of being alone in my position and fear of being rejected by those in my faith community.
However, circumstances be as they may, I have come to a place where I must either make the leap or pack up and head home. And I have not been one to pack it in. What follows is largely a private journey that I have been on for more than the last decade. It began as my faith and worldview began to be deconstructed in the course of college classes, oddly enough at a private Christian university. My journey had led me to places where I have had the honor of rubbing shoulders with schizophrenics, prostitutes, and criminals as well as “Christians,” atheists, and the spiritually apathetic. In the course of the last several years I have come to the firm belief that we all have much more that unites us than separates us.
In the course of seeing life for myself, I have come to a very controversial and potentially alienating conclusion: the church is dying. For a time I did not want anything to do with it, but never have recanted my faith. What follows are some of my candid thoughts about the state of the church, its (our) sins and my hope for its redemption.
Here are the most clicked posts for July 2009:
- Father Knows Best
- Godwitter is Dead
- The Evangelist and the Megaphone
- Jesus Actually Meant It!
- ‘Post’ Because of ‘Un’
And the award for most challenging comments goes to:
As always, thanks for visiting, your challenges, and your encouragement!