Confessions of a Plastic Christian [and Pastor]

Chad Missildine is a Pastor with the Fort Worth campus of LifeChurch.tv and a blogger at TheWayItCouldBe.com (where he encourages cultural impact through personal transformation).

In one of his posts, he shares 10 ways churches can become “plastic.” That is, they look like a church on the outside (building, services, staff, etc… “who knows, there may even be a steeple”) but, on the inside, they barely resemble a real/genuine church/community of faith in the [spiritual] image of Christ. There’s “no real community of believers,” he writes, “no prayer, no real concern for people, no application of Scripture in real life, no transformation.”

It’s kind of like the “Rolex” watch my brother, Steve, gave me a few years ago.  Had all the looks of the real thing.  I was astounded when he gave it to me.  I didn’t know what to say! That is, until he told me that he got it and a handful of others in Singapore for about $10 each.  Sure enough, it did not work — inner parts betraying it’s real integrity.  (While I’ve used it in a sermon or two, I’ve never worn it around.  I’m afraid someone will take it for real and kill me for it!  Not worth dying for an imitation — though I’ve got to admit that it might be worth it to see the crook’s face when he found out.  But, then, I might not be around to see his face.  So, maybe it’s not worth it after all.)  Anyway, “plastic churches,” imitation rolexes: aren’t we kind of talking about the same thing?  You know: looking like the real thing on the surface but lacking the deeper integrity to go the distance?

Given my hopes in this blog (i.e., not just “dancing” with self and others, but also being about an “authentic dance”!), the question naturally follows from all this: how “plastic” am I in my walk and witness and being? Am I, like my brother’s “Rolex,” no more than an imitation Christian? Easy as it would be to point my finger at others – and rail against plastic believers all around, it’s most responsible and accurate to “look at the beam in my own eye” – or, should I say, the plasticity of my own being and living. With Missildine’s “10 Ways to Become a Plastic Church” before me, I have borrowed from and modified the Litany of Confession from the Wesleyan Service of Covenant Renewal and have come up with “A Litany of Confession for a Plastic Disciple”:

Most Holy and Real God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Forgive, I pray, the ways I have devalued authenticity in my life and living:
          the poverty, the shallowness of my worship,
          the formality and selfishness of my prayers, 
          my taking great blessings with little thanks,
          my fickleness and unbelief,
          my shallow “posings,”
          my slowness to learn of Jesus and my reluctance to follow him.

Have mercy on me and forgive me, O Lord.

Forgive me, I pray, that I have made no ventures in real, authentic community
      and that I have made it hard for others to live with me:
          Too many times I have excused my wrongdoings or diminished
               my responsibilities–while, at the same time, scrutinizing others
               and judging them for the ways they did not do it my way.
           Too many times I have kept in my heart a grievance against another
                and not sought reconciliation,
           Too often I have related to others purely on the basis of what they
                can do for me.
           I’ve been thoughtless in my judgments, hasty in my condemnation,
                grudging in my forgiveness.

Have mercy on me and forgive me, O Lord.

Forgive me, I pray, my hesitating witness for Christ:
          So little of your love has reached others through me, 
          Too often, You stretch out your hands to me through others and I pass by. 
          I have been eager for the punishment of wrongdoers,
              but slow to seek their redemption.
          I have been unwilling to overcome evil with good.
          I have drawn back from the cross.
          I have lost so little sleep over wrongs and sufferings that were not my own.

Have mercy upon me, O God, 
           blot out my transgressions. 
           cleanse me thoroughly of my self-centeredness, 
           Create in me a clean heart, O God; 
           and renew a right spirit within me.

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One Response to Confessions of a Plastic Christian [and Pastor]

  1. Reminds me of the prayer attributed to St. Francis. Love it.

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