Orthodox unorthodoxy

Reading Mark Batterson’s blog today, I came across his post called “Flannel Graph Jesus.” I loved his including this quote by Dorothy Sayers.

In the words of Dorothy Sayers:

To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have declawed the lion of Judah and made him a housecat for pale priests and pious old ladies.

How true!

Batterson’s post is in line with something I’ve wrestled with in describing the VCW church plant: how do you communicate casual behavorial values without making it sound like your theologically wishy-washy?

Looking at the people that followed Jesus. They were all across the ideological spectrum. For some, the only thing they had in common was the One they were following.

I want that for us. God help us build a place like that. Help us be a people that welcome even those seeking You even when their beliefs scare us.

And help us communicate that.

“A casual place to worship ha-hd” doesn’t cover it, even with the Downeast accent. (Or speak to people that don’t know what “worship” is.)

“Casual dress; intense belief” could sound ok, except it may sound too right-wingish.

I guess “Loving God, Loving Others” will continue to suffice. When people experience how we’re “loving God, loving others,” we get three reactions.

  1. Some just find our tribe isn’t for them. That’s totally fine. Different is just different, not better. We certianly aren’t for everyone.  
  2. Some people are offended because we’re not _______ enough. [fill in the blank]
    • Some want more hell fire and damnation. We talk about sin most every Sunday but not in order to shame people into obedience. Shame is just more bondage. We want to be free.
    • Some want more black & white. We see lots of shades of gray.
    • Some want to know what to believe, how to vote, what to think. We prefer to teach people how to think and relate with Jesus.
  3. The other reaction is amazement that they “keep bumping into Jesus” here at VCW. (That’s an actual phrase I’ve heard used of us by more than one person.) They say, “I’ve finally found the group of friends I’ve been looking for for years.”

As I look at the second group, they seem to have at least one thing in common: all of them have allowed themselves to receive ministry from the rest of us, to be prayed for, to be carried for a period of time. Not common age, not common political leanings, certainly not common coffee preferences! But all have the ability to receive from the Body of Christ.

The people that don’t stick around seem to be the people that “have it all together” and are always. They pray, host, serve, lots of great things but never seem to drop their guard long enough to receive.

Maybe the ability to receive from Jesus and His followers is related to the ability to be unswervingly orthodox in our beliefs and dynamically creative in our practice. (Not that we at VCW have yet hit “dynamically creative”! It’s more of a journey than a goal. *grin*)

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Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman helps leaders lead their teams with more effectiveness and less stress. The author of "Ask Without Fear!®," he is the founder of The Concord Leadership Group and FundraisingCoach.com. He's also the executive director of TheNonprofitAcademy.com and an Advisory Panel member of Rogare, a prestigious international fundraising think tank. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook. To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to http://thenonprofitacademy.com/21waysebook

2 thoughts on “Orthodox unorthodoxy”

  1. Wow, some great thoughts there Charbuk boy.

    I think also sometimes about how there’s such an entrenched way of thinking what a church is/looks like/behaves/follows.
    And I also think that it oftimes, begins to resemble NOT a bunch of followers of Jesus, but rather a bunch of folks carrying on some tradition that people assume they have to somehow measure up to.

    Man, you’re hitting on some good stuff doode.
    Amazing how God can bring folks from differing coffee strams together…

    🙂

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