(Picture by Ryan Kelly, printed in the City Pages.)
Boy, people who think God matters and are willing to cast aside the mindsets that are so deeply set, like the twin ruts a tractor leaves on a muddy road, sure have a big job ahead of them. But before I get into that I say welcome back to any readers… it has been a LONG time since I’ve posted here… My only excuse, and my least favorite, is being too busy. Everyday brings great stuff to me that I want to blog on… and the month passes by.
Back to the tire ruts.
The Twin Cities free distribution newspaper City Pages has a cover story in their most recent issue (March 5, 2008) called “Jesus Weekend: When teens encounter Christ, all hell breaks loose,” by Matt Snyders. It is no surprise that an edgy, urban newspaper geared towards the young professionals would be willing to be looking for a potshot or two about religion. What this article represents is the antagonism towards organized religion that most of the younger generations (can I say most people under 60?!?) That is the one tire rut.
The other is what they are reacting to. The conservative, save your soul attitude that is so prevalent in Christian circles. The article is about a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) weekend retreat.
As a new church that is trying to re-invent church to be authentic to what Jesus said and did, and to who people truly are today, I don’t want to fall into either of these well worn ruts. In fact I would hope to help people out of each. Can we represent a reason for people to climb out of their cynicism of what it means to be a community that seeks to follow Jesus? Can we help people escape easy answers, formulaic ways of being recognizably ‘Christian’ or ‘saved’ in order to live the messy and lifelong pursuit of knowing and reflecting God? I think so. But the ruts are so deep, that it is hard to let people know we aren’t in one or the other, or to keep people from insisting that if we aren’t in their rut, then we are automatically in the other one.
I don’t want to just be in between the ruts, I want to leave them behind. UnLearn them. Rise beyond them.
Let me give credit to those I’m reacting to… Matt Snyder did a good job in his article. He was willing to experience it all and didn’t take sniper shots from the safety of his office. He also was willing to acknowledge the good that came from the weekend. His last paragraph, if nothing else, concedes this. And his skepticism is well-founded.
TEC is also the means of good people intending to do good things. They are taking time, energy and money to deal with a generation of young people who, in so many ways, have lost their rudders. They do some good work and are not the only ones who aren’t perfect. Until we have replaced their efforts it is hardly fair for us to say they shouldn’t be doing what they feel is right. No one is forced to go (except perhaps someone sent by a consenting parent.)
That said, let us find ways to live out this calling where God matters with relevance and honesty.