Not only do we live in a 'Christian Bubble', I believe Christians have become 'intoxicated' by living inside of the "bottle".
We so enjoy the taste of 'our religious juice' that is the liquid of our church lives, we fail to see through the bottle's glass wall (gates?) to the outside community and how we relate (lack of) to them. Talk about the sinfulness of being intoxicated; I believe we are 'drunk' on myopic self-performance programs, placing our faith in political campaigns and the 'extreme lack' of a cultural relationship with anyone who 'likes Jesus', but does not like Christians or the church they call home.
I just finished reading Dan Kimball's new book entitled "They Like Jesus, But Not The Church". It is a book that relates the essence and insights from the five-year-old movement called the "Emergent Church". There is no better book on the market that can help you 'read the contents label on the Christian bottle' that we cannot see from the inside, as we in the 'religious juice'. Kimball tell us how the culture reads our contents label, the ingredients of this 'Religious Pale Ale'. As Bono (U2 Band) once stated, "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it."
Dan Kimball has traveled the world and America's communities, stepping inside of post-modern marketplaces that churched Christians run from - or worse yet, bark at with posters, tracts and impersonal, self guilt resolving events. In his travels with today's generation, the tattooed Tom's, pierced Polla's and eastern religion Rebekka's take a 'great' liking to Jesus, yet offer a repulsive view of Jesus' grace covered 'gang of followers'. Here is what the "Post-Christian Culture" of America is saying;
1. The church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
2. The church is judgmental and negative.
3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
4. The church is homophobic.
5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
Now, these six points are not entirely accurate. Dan Kimball doesn't agree with all of these beliefs and false assumptions about the church. But remember, a 'feeling statement is a feeling' - it is not a lie. So to for beliefs. If today's post-Christian culture has arrived at a conclusion, formed upon beliefs, opinions and experiences that are 'reality' to the Post-Christian marketplace. Can we be slightly honest, we do come across mean, judgmental and very self-righteous.
Dan agrees with my graceland cry, if you're hungry for the 'real missional field' in today's marketplace, start here; 'eat the meat, and leave the bones'. Know that when you are finished, you'll be full, there is a great amount of meat for the Christian who is looking to relate to the community at large in this ever growing Post-Christian culture we call America.
Some of you may be saying, "Isn't this the same type of 'thing' as Chuck Smith's and Calvary's 1960-70's and the 'Jesus People' movement all over again?" I believe the differences are far more weighty issues than the cozy similarities.
In the "60-70's Jesus People" movement there was a great need for emotional connectivity to Jesus and His church. The traditions and stoic styles of the 50's were no longer welcoming the village people of the 'if it feels good do it' fringe. Praise and Worship incorporated music that you could sing 'to Jesus', not just about Him historically. The services were welcoming in attire, in sermon context and atmosphere. Gifts were focused, and emotional instruction dealt with hurt, scars and deep emotional disarray. The gospel was preached and people flocked to start a relationship with Jesus, and hopefully grow in real relationship.
For the "2000-plus Community", emotions are far from the core of the conversation. Due to today's heavy major media influences, technology's on-demand information, self-seeding educational indoctrination and the crumbling respect for religious (legalistic/hypocritical) leadership, the church placing her faith in politicians and politics, the evolution of the traditional family structure - this generation has turned from emotions to intellect. There arguments are well formed, their logic is dumbfounding and their desire to respect Jesus without His judgmental, mean spirited church is the ultimate goal. What was emotional love without much debate in the 1960-70's, is now relationship building with intelligent love and steady conversation today.
My encouragement is for you to buy the book and read it with an open mind, a ready spirit and a heart full of love. These people think Jesus was a "powerful" prophet, wise and the prototype for all of there 'other religious' beliefs and teachings. If we can offer more 'Graceland' intelligence to the Post-Christian Culture that is America, then we can win back...not the country...but these intelligent, faithful individuals who want to be drunk in Jesus' truth, love, grace and companionship in the marketplace.
Please don't simply judge, focus on the amazing grace that Abba Father has offered you, your debt that has been paid continually. Give legalistic, judgmental American religion a day off. See if you might find yourself in a coffee shop soon, eager to strike up a conversation - just for conversations sake.