In the dance, there are some things which just don’t belong — things that need to go. (See previous post, for a start here.)
If there’s pain and chaos in acknowledging and addressing some of these things that need to go, there’s also pain and disorientation as we acknowledge and engage some of the things that need to be on the “dance floor.”
If I’m going to dance with my neighbor… and with a 21st Century world, for example, then I need to be open to how many of my neighbors and a 21st Century world view me and Christianity and the Church. (Can’t help but believe that Jesus, himself, needs me to hear some of this stuff — to inform my dance with Him!) I appreciate, then, a growing movement within Christianity that calls us to open our ears and hearts and minds to what outsiders are saying about Christians and the Church. It’s not easy, but I do believe it demands and deserves to be heard. (Again, if we’re going to dance with many of our neighbors in the 21st Century, we’ve got to be open to and dance with some pretty uncomfortable stuff.)
Two youtube samples speak of Christian-produced materials designed to wake us up (as Christian believers and as Christian communities) to the ways we’re perceived by the surrounding unchurched/non-churched world — perceptions that have become the basis for too many discounting and trivializing many individuals and communities seeking to follow Jesus with sincerity and integrity. (Sadly, I believe, a case of throwing the baby Jesus out with the bath water!)
The first video promotes Study Group materials (available for Church groups from Zondervan Press) related to Dan Kimball’s book, entitled They Like Jesus But Not The Church:
In much the the same spirit, there’s a video promoting David Kinnaman’s and Gabe Lyons’ unchristian — a report of findings from groundbreaking research focused on the perceptions of sixteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds (re: Christians and the Church), commissioned by the “Fermi Project” and conducted by The Barna Group:
Can’t help but suspect that there are some out there wondering if I’ve become or am becoming one of those “raving liberals.” Not sure I need to address that here, now — especially given the real point of this post: namely, declaring my conviction that, if I, at least, am going to dance in the 21st Century (with my neighbor, with myself, and with Jesus), then I am going to have to be open to hearing and engaging these perceptions — no matter how uncomfortable they might make me!
Yes, in the dance and dancing of life and living, like it or not, there’s the pain of excusing and dismissing some things that don’t belong… and then there’s the pain of admitting/allowing still other things that must belong!