I have been labelled as a pessimist. Some have called me a heretic. Some have said that my thoughts and teachings are dangerous. Still some have labelled me a church basher … which all sucks, because I am very much in love with “church” and am very much a fan of Jesus.
It’s just that I’m not very in love with the status quo church.
Before I get into this, let me define a status quo church. A status quo church is a place filled with the same people as last week. A place where the most pressing question is how to ensure that the weekly budget is met. A gathering with stale worship; worship that is predictable, cold, and seems more a performance than a gut-driven outpouring. They offer lots of programs and ministries within their confines. They organize committees relentlessly. They yell a lot. They focus on things that aren’t even on most people’s radars and hold seminars about them. And it’s all because they want to be the destination that people choose. And, they end up getting their wish.
Because a status quo church is nothing more than a destination.
But there are some churches which are bigger than their buildings, budgets, and attendance numbers because they aren’t really a “church”. No, to call them a church would be to simply attach a label to their complexity. They are a movement. A movement which refuses to be bound by small definitions and timid leadership; for they are a people of collective vision and passion. They overflow empty spaces with grace extended freely and without hesitation or requirement. They are not content with abstaining from “the culture.” Rather, they giddily run to her, embracing her depravity and her beauty, seeking to reconcile her to her source. They don’t do things in the name of “outreach” or “evangelism”, or even because it’s the “missional” thing to do. They simply love. And from that love, social epidemics are affected. Hopeless situations are disrupted. Extraordinary situations are created. From that love, they make Jesus famous.
These movements are alive. They are breathing. They are the church, really.
And they are worth talking about. Worth acknowledging the broken in order to see what is possible. It’s worth the fallout to chase after. And it’s worth the risk to be a part of these movements because they are telling a better story about a kingdom, rising.