The pastors at FBCN are engaged in a discussion right now about the vision for the future of the church. It's a healthy discussion, and comes at a great time - the church just transitioned in a new senior pastor after Gene Getz, the former senior pastor retired to devote his time in other pursuits. In addition, the church is in the process of beginning a new building that will mean moving the entire campus of the church north about two miles. The momentum in the church is strong, and the pastors are committed to keeping the church focused through the move, so the discussion has been fun to be a part of.

Yesterday, during the discussions, the topic of authenticity came up. It has become the code word for today's Christianity, and is used to describe everything that is both right and wrong with Christianity today. Everyone agrees that authenticity is good, but it seems nobody can define it.

We talked a lot about what things could be described as "authentic" behaviors by the church. Some people brought up the idea of helping transients, feeding the hungry, and loving the hurting. The majority of the examples pointed to authenticity as the importance of Christians not portraying the "holier than thou" attitude, to the point of disclosing their own weaknesses, struggles, and shortcomings so that those on the outside don't see Christians as acting as though they "have it all together."

The idea of authenticity as disclosure seems to be the most popular way to understand the word. Basically, I'm authentic if I share my shortcomings and struggles with someone else so they know I'm not perfect.

While I think there's probably something to disclosure as a part of authenticity, I think that's a misdefinition of what the church truly needs as far as authenticity goes. Frankly, I don't need to disclose my shortcomings to other people - the majority of the time they're as plain as day. I have never met an unbeliever who stumbled because he thought I had it all together, but I meet unbelievers all the time who struggle because they know Christians don't have it all together, but are put off by the attitude of Christians who like to pretend otherwise.

Authenticity is more about attitude than disclosure. Although there's a healthy intimacy level with various people in which we are able to disclose our struggles at different levels, there are times at which such disclosure would be horribly inappropriate. But an attitude of humility in recognition of what God has done in my life completely apart from my own acting is never inappropriate.

As an authentic church, and as authentic believers, we should seek to refine our attitude to be an attitude of authenticity rather than the false masks we like to wear. But we don't have to be a culture that magnifies our weaknesses to win others - they know our weaknesses; our responsibility is to magnify our gracious God.


Jason T. said...

hey man its great to hear from you things are going great hope things are wonderful down in texas

Frank Martens said...

Sounds familiar :)

So somehow I've gotten myself working with the youth at a new "emerging" church, and last night we watched a DVD by rob bell (of whom I think has a few loose bolts). The DVD had to do something with how stupid the guy on the street corner with the bullhorn sounds and is.

SO, After a bunch of students kept saying that all they hear is people saying how "hypocritical" christians are. I stated that it's true, we are hypocrites, we are not perfect. But that doesn't mean we don't say anything about what saves us from our hypocricy.

Of course, even the other leaders didn't like that one. Everyone would rather not say anything and just live. I think, actually, I think I'm confused as to what they really want. In fact I think they are confused and don't know either.