<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d33824093\x26blogName\x3dDeep+as+a+Puddle\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://mrharvey.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_NZ\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://mrharvey.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d1638156281827378194', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

about


I spend my days doing stuff for Soul Survivor NZ and my church "Blueprint" in Wellington NZ. I am perplexed, amazed, in awe of, and spend a lot of time thinking about this revolutionary called Jesus and what it means to follow Him.

Facebook me!

Skype Me! On the link below

Skype Me™!

My Profile   Site Feed

search

recent posts

recent comments

archives

links

 

We act least like a Christian in Church (post two)

I want to be quite careful about how I say this, especially after reading this from Scott McKnight the living legend, and this from Scottie - a legend because his bowels are so nasty his odour can clear a room of hardened men. It burns the back of the throat and makes the eyes water.

Now, it is a bit frustrating because I would love to have a good story about how I grew up. But I have had a pretty good Christian up-bringing, and have done all the things a good Christian kid should do. The camps, leading worship at church, degree from Bible College, tours with bands etc etc etc. And yet I have had a major (underline freaken MAJOR) re-adjustment about how it looks to follow the person of Jesus, and what it looks like to be living a life for Him which cemented itself about four years ago.

Ask me when I was 17 about the poster (found in a Christian mag with a huge circulation here in NZ, in the Soul Survivor UK festival booklet etc) below and I would have said, "yep that looks right, I hope one day i can have a life of significance like that guy".
Now I think that it is absolute rubbish.... this is NOT significance, and in no way is the destination I believe Jesus had in mind for us as I see it in the Gospels.


And so the re-adjustment in my worldview hits as I start doing youth-work, and it looks nothing like the picture. Its hard work, often boring, demanding, it doesn't feel "significant" like that stupid poster. As I start seeing with fresh eyes the needs in the kids around me, and the poverty in the world and as I start sharing life with people who are incredibly broken and messed up, as I start becoming aware of how much junk I actually have in spite of my nice upbringing something starts happening. I somehow wind up more transformed than the people I'm doing it for...

Without getting overly critical at some groups, I think we need to encourage and foster way more honesty in the pursuit of Jesus. I didn't feel like I could be honest as a kid at camps when I didn't feel super spiritual but everyone around me looked like they were (so sadly i faked it!!). I struggled when my rock-star dreams came crashing around me because I thought that it was significance and that in certain bands I was actually "somebody". I have discovered the hard way that speaking in front of groups is pretty empty. That my identity is not wrapped up in this stuff, and that it doesn't make me a better christian.

But the problem is that I'm still seeing young people get drawn in to a whole lot of empty Christian fluff. Our principle outward energy seems to be big meetings and crusade-like events. I'm still seeing huge amounts of young people (when we have the honest chats) dreaming about being a worship leader, speaker or in a band... basically that they will be significant following Jesus when they get to the front, when they are on stage. I could tell you story after story of young people I have sat down with who feel like utter failures because they don't feel "significant" like the conferences model "significance" to look like.

I would argue that we are dreaming the wrong dreams, and actually modelling a whole lot of stuff that looks very different to what we see in the person of Jesus. My experience is that the buzz of serving and living for others day by day does not even come close to the buzz of the high at camp or at the meeting. The mystery of "dying to self" which is painful and does not happen without a fight, but mysteriously "coming alive in Christ" couldn't be more true in my experience. But it has required huge amounts of courage to own my doubts, to give God my questions (which have increased not decreased over the years), to own my junk, to feel the freedom to question models that appear to be accepted as the "norm" in the Christian world.

And so am starting to realise that where we put our energy, time, money, how we go about our "normal" week is actually way more important than how we behave in the meeting.

To be very honest I'm angry. Angry that so many young people are missing out on the honest conversations about following Jesus; the conversations around faithfulness, around serving others, especially the poor, about the hard times, and the many moments of failure. I'm angry because I'm having so many conversations with kids disillusioned and munted because they couldn't keep the "happy christian" facade going any longer.

I think this quote by G. K. Chesterton nails it "its not the Christianity has being tried and failed. Its that it has never really being tried" (doesn't the guy just look like the sort that would be fun to have a good beer and a chat with?)


I long for the yarns of grace, of freedom, of hope, of real "significance" living for others, and serving even when we are not acknowledged by the crowd. And I have a suspicion that a mini-reformation is taking place, but it is requiring courage to talk honestly about what it looks like to follow Jesus, to be honest about the models around us that we feel uneasy about, and to be able wrestle with big questions even though it feels uncomfortable and we cannot come to conclusions quickly.

I am very amped about the future, because the revolution has begun, and many people are moving beyond the discouragement and frustration, and putting that energy into new ways of expressing "significance".



Got to run...

Labels: , , , , ,

“We act least like a Christian in Church (post two)”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Sam

    This is so beautiful and encouraging to read.
    I feel your frustration watching so many get caught up in "Christian fluff". I've deffinately felt a failure time after time because I didn't feel I met the right criteria to be a "significant" Christian. Now I am discovering more and more what it is like to be a follower of Jesus, I have begun to feel such freedom. I realise now how significant I am in His eyes.
    So I just want to encourage you to keep posting, talking, sharing this with people because it's so freakin' valid and so important that people her it.

    Rock on, you're awesome.

  2. Blogger Still Looking Says:

    Thanks Sam
    This is very moving.
    I guess it is that resourceing yougn people for the real hard life of faith that i was trying to talk about. But this is way better than anything I have trie dot say.

    Keep up your good ministry.

    peace
    John Heb

  3. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Hey Sam, this is really where I am at in my attempt to follow Christ. I have spent years doing the fluffy things that put me up the front of churches, and yet now at the tiny age of 25, it's becoming very apparent that Jesus was not fluffy at all. He wasn't a soft toy with a sewn in smile. He was a man who sweat blood doing his fathers work, trying to bring hope to the lost, and comfort to the people swept aside by others.

    In response to your thought that there is some sort of mini reformation happening, I can say that yes, there is. I urge you to read Brian McLaren's 'A New Kind of Christian'. A friend passed it to me when I mentioned my dissallusionment at the current accepted 'auto-pilot' model of NZ Christianity. Brian is someone like you. Someone gutsy and faithful enough to stand up in the sea of comfortable conformists and speak openly about the questions he has been sharing with God. One review of this book says "McLaren's courageous and honest reassessment of our cherished customs and cliches stimulates creative thinking on these vital issues. A New Kind of Christian is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in preparing the church to be vital force in the next generation." (Chuck Smith, Jr., senior pastor, Capo Beach Valvary Chapel and author, The End of the World As We Know It).

    The reformation is at hand Sam, and many people following Christ will fight it. All I can say is, God thinks outside the square... why shouldn't we?

    Keep dreaming, keep questioning (especially keep asking the frightening questions to God), keep believing that everything is improvable. It is.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Chris L.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Hi Sam,

    I don't usually respond to blogs but this particular post is something I could not pass without a noted appreciation. I've just been going through this for the past 3-4 months and it is soo frustrating. Like yourself I've grown up in the Christian home and have hit a brick wall in regards to my faith. Alot of the christian practises and doctrines I used to belive doesn't make sense anymore. I am starting to find myself almost at a resentment towards the conventional church/christian system.

    This journey is scary and definitely not a quick fix. But I am glad I am not afraid anymore to ask questions and even to question the answers given. Truth used to mean what was told to me and now its what I must find out for myself (if I ever get there).

    Ps: I enjoyed Bruce McLarens book A New Kind of Christian, very liberating.

  5. Anonymous Naomi Says:

    Found you through my mate Rich Johnson's site. Really great post and it wrapped words around what I've been thinking about how we are encouraging our youth. Keep thinking and posting!

  6. Blogger Dave Wells Says:

    Yes, but does being a Christian look like posting your frustrations on a blog? Does it look like talking about poverty and justice and grace and freedom and using all the right words so as we fit neatly into a new cluster of christians who are really just creating a new type of Christian ghetto for themselves? Does being a Christian look like critiquing the adds that we don't agree with or carefully concealing identities just enough so as we can't be accused of slagging another group? Is being a Christian reading and responding to the right people's blogs and having our own blog read and responded to?

    All these things we love to do and spend much of our time doing but I have my doubts.

    We have a huge focus on what we have to do to be a Christian, or, what we should not do as the significant worship leader may be revealing to us.

  7. Blogger Scottie Reeve Says:

    Ouch...

  8. Blogger P-Style Says:

    David,

    I’ve numbered the questions so responding is a little easier:

    1. does being a Christian look like posting your frustrations on a blog?
    2. 2Does it look like talking about poverty and justice and grace and freedom and using all the right words so as we fit neatly into a new cluster of christians who are really just creating a new type of Christian ghetto for themselves?
    3. Does being a Christian look like critiquing the adds that we don't agree with or carefully concealing identities just enough so as we can't be accused of slagging another group?
    4. Is being a Christian reading and responding to the right people's blogs and having our own blog read and responded to?

    1. Not necessarily, but we don’t really have many venues for airing frustrations with ourselves. I notice that the majority of Sam’s introduction is an explanation of how he felt himself as a teenage Christian. So in some respects Sam is expressing penitence for his attitude. I see no great Sin in this kind of public expression, but I do realise that Blogs can be a place for wanton criticism of anything we dislike . . . which is a bit sad.
    2. What’s wrong with using a common vocabulary that we all understand? That’s just the role that linguistics plays in human interaction . . . And besides, Jesus’ teaching on speaking v actions is pretty clear. In fact I think Blogs present a place where people can be held accountable for what they write, whereas the spoken word is easily argued away. I’m not sure what the Christian Ghetto means, are you suggesting that blog writers live only in virtual world? I would contend that the internet is a very valid medium for Christian expression.
    3. I applaud Sam and other for not concealing their true identity, and I agree that the blog is often a place to hide behind a false identity. However it seems to me that most of the people who comment here know Sam and converse with him on a regular basis. At least Blogs give the reader the right of reply.
    4. No. . . LO

  9. Blogger Sam Says:

    Me and dave are having awesome emails yarns talking through this post... here is part of my email reply to dave... the conversation is healthy and rockin :)

    does being a Christian look like posting your frustrations on a blog?
    I see absolutely no problem having conversation on a blog like we both are, it sharpens our understanding, and shapes our practice. I would argue its a very healthy medium to spar and to share the process of "working out our faith" as well as to interact in a (normally) constructive way with people that dont share our particular bent.

    Does it look like talking about poverty and justice and grace and freedom and using all the right words so as we fit neatly into a new cluster of christians who are really just creating a new type of Christian ghetto for themselves?
    Firstly, it is an insult to say that these are just "right words"; poverty and justice are something that is so intensely personal to me, the years living in South America, and consequent trips to places in the third world have ruined me forever, and so are not the latest catch phrases by a long stretch. And grace and freedom, bro, this is even more personal. This statement has so profoundly changed my understanding of what it looks like for me to follow Jesus that to simply use it as the latest "cool thing" to say really freaks me out.
    And because of the fruit in my own life, im desperate for people to also be "ruined" by justice and confronted with poverty, and to really have a revelation of the guilt and fear that so often is the catalyst for so much of our Christian activity, and to discover grace and freedom as a heart reality.
    Yes, some people may use these words because it is the thing to be talking about, however I feel personally there is integrity behind what I say and what I live. We are all going to have to stand before God one day and give account of the way we used out words - and whether it actually reflected out lives or not.

    Does being a Christian look like critiquing the adds that we don't agree with or carefully concealing identities just enough so as we can't be accused of slagging another group?
    This really surprised me, especially coming from a bcnz lecturer. Isn't this part of what you are training our future youth workers and Christian leaders to do? To critique the culture, and in particular the church culture around us so that we can most accurately follow Jesus and model what it looks like to follow him? I regret trying to conceal the identity of the hillsong logo... the reason for doing this was to keep the conversation on the topic of "significance" rather than the machine behind that ad.
    But the point still stands, we see this throughout scriptures, the prophets, Jesus, himself, every epistle, the yarns between Paul and Barnabas, the surprise with Cornelius being filled with the Holy Spirit etc etc. This ongoing wrestle to work out what it looks to walk obediently.
    Now i would agree that there is a lot of criticism that seems to be going no where, but if we dont put out our concerns, certainly when we have being pretty burnt in the past (which was where my post was coming from) then aren't we colluding by our silence? And secondly I would argue that if we are putting our life and energy into positive alternatives to that frustration, hurt, criticism then we should be given freedom to critique as it has clearly moved beyond words. My criticism of other models is coming from a place of deep frustration because I suspect that many young people are missing out on so much authentic Jesus following action that gets us so fired up. Its because I love the church so much that this stuff is written about.

    Is being a Christian reading and responding to the right people's blogs and having our own blog read and responded to?
    ?? Not to sure what your point is here. Obviously that doesn't make you are Christian like eating a donut doesn't make you a police man, but it does help to read widely and to engage with peoples thinking.

    And dave has replied to this email... will leave it up to him if he wants to put it on the thread. I love dave to bits... and these yarns are so good :) They make me happy inside because of the honesty and the friendship lurking behind the intensity of the words.

  10. Blogger Angry and Shallow Says:

    Good on yoa Sam......keep it up. Needs to be said. Needs to be discussed and needs to be understood!

  11. Blogger Debs Says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Blogger Debs Says:

    How's this for honest christianity. I 'wrote' this song a few mins ago. I call it honest singing to the lord.

    (sung to the tune of "oh lord you're beautiful)

    "Oh God, my life is dull,
    I feel, like a looser.
    What makes, it worse
    Is holy christians
    who seem, to poo, out love"

    "Oh God, what does this mean?
    Do, you love, me less?
    If being saved, is such a big deal,
    then why is my life a mess?"

    "Sometimes, i want to get stoned
    And sleep with spunky guys
    but no, apparently, that is bad
    so i just think, about it, instead"

    Now I would love more transparent honesty like that in the church, instead of beautiful holy slick and intelligent christians.

    In fact id like the guys from the gay massage palour, my homeless friend Peter, a woman on the verge of suicide because she can see no way out of her violent relationship , the desperately lonely govermental worker who gets wasted at home every night because he misses his kids so much it burns - id like to see those people fill our church.

  13. Anonymous anonymous Says:

    I attended a bunch of Summer Wine camps & Redline conferences back in the late 90s. Night after night they'd hit us with big emotional talks and then call us forward. As we were prayed for, people around me would shake, fall to the ground, cry, laugh, etc. I felt nothing. I never felt anything.

    At one of the first Summer Wines I attended, in Taupo, there was a young guy (probably about my age) with dreads. The leaders teased him for bringing a surf board to Taupo. I remember seeing him lying on the floor one night, making weird noises. The next day he talked about lying on the floor and making weird noises. He looked cool. Significant.

    I never achieved significance in that respect. Part of the reason was my suspicion of most things Christian/church-related (and part of it was due to my innate shyness). I still attend church & play the "happy Christian" game, to an extent. But I regard most of it as irrelevant. I can't ignore Jesus' call for us to sacrifice ourselves for the poor, the broken, the forgotten, etc.

    So this blog post is a huge encouragement to me because it expresses almost exactly what I feel about "Christian significance". It's great to see that the guy from that Taupo Summer Wine all those years ago is writing about the same things that I'm thinking about...

    p.s. the guy in the Hillsong ad has a mullet. So he has achieved some level of significance :P

  14. Blogger Samwise Gamgee Says:

    Wow mr anonymous; im very curious as to who you are.. flick me an email sam at soulsurvivor dot co dot nz

    That was a very interesting experience, like you I had had zero amazing "manifestations" of the holy spirit until that point, but had faked it a number of times (which fills me with shame, and its only in recent years that I have had the honesty to say that). But the particular experience that you are talking about, well it has fallen outside of every theological box I could put around it and i have had nothing like that since. But it was genuine, there is no doubt in my mind. What is tragic is that is that we felt that we had to fake it and the amount of pressure to have an "experience" back in the day. It certainly wasn’t a holistic message about following Jesus coming across. The danger of course is cynicism to things of the Holy Spirit, and I have had to work through things to come to place of openness again to this sort of stuff. But the justice guys are right, we need more work with the poor its a non-negotiable, and the evangelicals are right, we need to have the centrality of scripture its a non-negotiable, and the greenies are right, we need to be the first people looking after the environment its a non-negotiable, and the charismatics are right, we need to be operating in things of prophecy and healing, that we would have a form of godliness and also believe in the power of God (2 Tim 3:5), and the evangelists are right, we need to be more bold in sharing our faith, its a non-negotiable. And on we go.

    That is why one of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 2:12, that we need to work out our faith with fear and trembling... it needs work (a lot of it!!), and we need humility as we do that in the presence of a Holy God. Thank God for grace...

    Thanks for sharing that bro, I hope that you continue to find authenticity and freedom in the pursuit of Jesus and what it means for you to follow Him.

    And rock on with the mullets (ive got a nice one coming along at the moment)

    Thanks Debs for your honest song (am cracking up about the thought of that one cranked out at the print!)

  15. Anonymous Naomi Says:

    I know this is totally tangental but when I read "same day david" on your profile I laughed and laughed.

  16. Blogger Dave Wells Says:

    Okay, here it is. Unedited and not grammatically correct as I don't have time. sorry I didn't post it for a while but I haven't kept up with things in the last wee while, had a surf comp at the beach to run and some srious issues to work through in other areas. Sweet as thou... so How Sam and my conversation workeds out... yes, I posted a provocative reply to Sammy's post... hey why not... tell ya why not, cause it hurt him (sorry Sam) but tell ya why, because it allowed Sam and I to turn our own critique back on to this little insula world we all blog in... I don't have anything against it BUT it does have some serious issues. So Sam emailed me a reply to my comments outlining some of his issues with it etc and I emailed back to him explaining some context and where I was coming from and he sent me what you read above as his post to which I responded the following (If you understanda ll that and are still reading congrats!)...

    I make no secret of the fact that I love these yarns! And when we have good abnd proper chewed the fat on this one I can't wait to tell my class about it!

    I agree with absolutely everything you say in the latest email... except that I actually think you were right to hide the identity of hillsong. I just wanted to pokle some sticks at some things! I want people to know that I am so happy to turn the critque back onto myself. Here is what posting that blog and our subsequent emails has done for me at the moment....

    1/ I read your initial blog and started to think, so, do I have a better understanding of what it is to be church? Does the emerging church have a better understanding of what it is to be church? Does the blogging community have a better understanding of what it is to be church? And if this is church then what would a similar critique against this actually look like?

    2/ I had a real go at writing the critique using the kinds of things we say about others... gotta be unafraid to have that critique turned back on ourselves.

    3/ I decided that perhaps we are not that much better than those we are critiquing in many ways (I absolutely know that much of this is not just words for you, you know grace and freedom has changed my life, you know I hate poverty, I know that about you. You can be assured of my knowledge of these things about you, I wasn't for a second questioning that, I was asking what does this look like to others outside who don't know you... just like we don't know where Hillsong's hearts are at as individuals!

    4/ I came to a realisation. There are many valid ways of doing church. For the hillsong leaders and for some of their parishoners that may truly be the way they want to express their faith in Chrsit, no big revelation there. When I think this becomes wrong is when they try to convince others that this is the only or even the best way to work out your faith in Christ. Either explicitly (this is the one true church, come to us we will give you the best worship experience) or covertly (Significance, you must be involved in this and that, small groups matter etc).

    5/ So for us... what does it mean for our expression of the faith to be revealed to others and to allow them to choose to participate for a time and if it is their thing cool, if not then we genuinely facilitate their search for an expression of the Christian faith that fits with who they are.

    6/ As a balance to this I think there is the question of wisdom and accountability.

    I hope some of that makes sense, but basically what I am saying is... we must turn the critique onto ourselves, and even though we may not like it something else might be a valid expression of faith for others.

    Is that stated clearly?

    I love you! Don't ever forget or doubt that again. I know where your heart is at and I know that it is true to Christ and grace and freedom and justice... but to many others these are just words in a mieliu of churchy words! And that pisses me off!

    Hope that helps full out the conversation more. Yes Scotty 'ouch' but maybe we have to have some ouch from time to time?

  17. Blogger P-Style Says:

    David,

    A great post. I agree with you entirely that all critics must be prepared to turn that criticism on themselves. "Judge not, lest you be judged" is a fearful thing for those that have not already been subject to their own measuring stick.

    I can see that the material of this discussion has been approached in love and I am encouraged. Too often the internet becoems the home for anonymous insults. It's nice to be part of a place where that is not promoted.

    bqrcg - Be Quiet or the Cat will get you

  18. Blogger Jay Miklovic Says:

    The bloggers on the 'forfront' of the whole emerging whatever are nowhere near the front of this 'movement'. The problem with the blogging movement is that the people involved 'myself included' still have this need to be heard, and have an impact that is noticable and measurable.

    Christ was alone, He died alone, He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We esteemed Him not. Those who are on the true front line identify with Christ in this, and you have never heard of them, neither have I. Those who have truely 'arrived' are entirely annoymous and their deeds will be manafest in eternity for they received no reward here in this life, but trekked this road with Christ alone. Who is the greatest preacher on earth? Likely some poor African preaching in the congo somewhere to 10 people. Not some emergent speaker on the front line of deconstruction.

    Just a thought, I appreciate your post, and agree with it, but in reality it amounts to nothing, as does this comment.