Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Middle Ground with Jesus?

Recently I read a thoughtful blog by Billy Kangas called The Problem with a Pop-Culture Christ: Rescuing the Church from creating a saviour in our own image. He began by commenting on an ad which portrayed prayer as a series of text message exchanges with Jesus on an iPhone. He goes on to muse that evangelical attempts to use pop-culture to convey the message of Christ are often "groan-worthy." He writes as an evangelical, so I appreciate his honesty.

As an aging minister in a mainline/old-line church it made me ponder what we choose to keep of our traditions and what accommodations we make to culture. Attending worship in a lot of mainline churches has the feel of the sixties or seventies, except that the participants are mostly much older than in that era. I have made my own attempts to bring us into the twenty-first century as we encounter Jesus, with the use of visual display in worship and incorporating contemporary hymns and music. I no longer stand in the pulpit when I preach. At the same time I don’t want to be goofy about change for the sake of change and I want to be Christ-focused.

I am aware that, more and more, evangelicals are asking whether they have thrown out the baby Jesus with the bathwater when it comes to the traditions of the church. I am pleasantly surprised to see how many evangelical congregations have connected with the seasons of the Christian year and even the ecumenical lectionary, the three-year cycle of scripture passages.

 In his blog Kangas offers four areas which can ground us in a meaningful spiritual life and I strongly agree with all of them. There is nothing shallow or pop-cultural about any of these.
Pray with Scripture, Liturgy and Hymns
Recognize the Sacred in the Everyday
Create Space for Silence
Read Fiction and Poetry

Who knows, the expression of Christ’s church in our culture may find a middle ground in the days ahead. Mainline congregations will either disappear or open themselves to the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals will realize that there must be a depth that is rooted in tradition, even as they continue to share the Good News with modern means.

What are your thoughts folks? Can there be a middle ground?

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