A couple or 3 weeks ago, Ken Walker wrote an article that was a great Biblical articulation of something which I had noticed and written about in Allowing Voice. I was bemoaning the tendency of Churches to want to "be the whole content"; to have the people depend upon it (and its leaders) for the whole shootin' match. That tends to make Churches a whole lot like marketers. They want to "define" the needs, and then provide the "right perspective" on them, and sends us home all warm and fuzzy, all the while most of us go home feeling like no more of ourselves has been known.
This is why this refusal of the Church to recognize the potential for the online tools in the "furtherance" of distributing our stories and our experiences to each other is SO infuriating to me. It keeps me, and people like me in this experience, from being known, and results in our "missing out" on each other, and in the process, on the opportunity to discover what we have to learn from one another. The temptation to be "the authorities" has , like it has the martketers, kept the Church from being able to see how its very life depends on the community. Pentecost depends upon it.
But instead, the Church takes on the "push" model of evangelism, and seeks to plan a program and "run us through it", a nd send us home, all "filled up". Like Ken points out in his reflection on Galatains 4:8-20, the Church is all ga-ga on getting things clicking, and utilizes business processes and "organizational skills" and somehow misses that there are numerous "callings" going on out there, as God works to call a people to various ministries. Marketers are concerned with identifying a need (or inventing one, based on mapnipulation of real needs) and then providing the solution in some product or service.
The Church , of course, can use all the resources it can get, but the most precious resource is the discernment of call, a nd hleping its members find that, or listen for it, and encourage one another as we all seek to understand how that is happening in our own lives; what gifts God has given us and how that enables us to address a particular problem by providing some way to call others into collaborative effort to rectify it (the identified problem). Ken writes: Paul doesnít mince words when he describes the previous experience of the Galatians being "slavery" to this whole matter of observing particular holidays, going through ritual, and attempting to define themselves on the basis of their own religiosity. Note that this isnít as if itís an accident on the part of the Galatians: Paul doesnít use the words "slip" or "stumble," as if there were some unpredictable outside force at work here. Instead, he uses the phrase "turn back." This was an active cultural movement on the part of the Galatian community.
I often wonder if it is possible (and I think it is, especially in light of Ken's insight on this) for some of the "pagan" practices to be going on in the Churches? That the very community that took us in and showed us a better way and a healing way to once again "turn back" and sell out to some of the world's "proven methods" or "Best practices"? And these "best practcies", they fear the "messy" journey of seeking truth amongst the chaos of community.
A lot of people don't catch on to this because "Church" for them has been about "answers" , but those who realize that we are on a journey together and must "be a new story" just as the community at Pentecost, and at Galatia. I feel the pagan practices (and they feel very much like "show business" and "theological shows") because many of us feel there's way too little "being known" and "getting to know" in all of that. Celebrations are really celebrations when we observe the very personal discoveries we have made in this people God has placed us with. But how would we know this, if we make it so difficult to "get at"?