Let's "Converse"

If you've read my blog very long, or know me very well, you know that I completely detest being put in a box. I have a hard time identifying whole-heartedly with a particular system, fad, movement, or trend - mostly because I feel like when I jump in one of those boxes I'm going to have to identify with all the baggage that goes with it. Then, when it comes time for a discussion, I find myself having to spend all my time cleaning up all the messes someone else has created rather than explaining what I believe to be true. That's no fun.

But I still read a lot about the various ideas out there. I just finished a biography of Jonathan Edwards that had some real ministry gems in it. I followed it up with a book by Len Sweet, a newer writer who has almost nothing in common with Edwards, but had a few really great insights. I'm intrigued by a lot of the newer movements within Christianity, although I've noticed something in recent years that bothers me about some of the newer "boxes" within Christianity and the terminology they use: they all want to be called "conversations." The last four or five books I've read about newer movements in the church all refer to the ongoing "conversation" in that particular circle.

The emphasis on "conversation" is born out of necessity. The Christian culture has shifted along with the American culture in the past couple of decades. We used to be a Mars Hill type culture, where ideas were taught and received. Now, we're a discussion-oriented culture, where ideas are thrown out and hopefully discussed on their merits. You see the shift in educational philosophies, in the political arena, and even in the boom of the blogosphere. Culture has become oriented around conversation.

The problem with Christianity, is that we tend to adopt lingo before we adopt practice, and sometimes before we even know what the lingo means. The trendy "conversations" today aren't conversations at all; they're lectures with friendly titles attached to them. "If you don't buy in to our new philosophy of Christianity wholesale, you're wrong and behind the times." That's the sentiment of the "conversation" right now, which is no conversation at all.

If we really want to have a conversation about the future of the Church in America, I think that's a really good thing. But that's not what is happening. Right now we're having an old-fashioned argument with a new title, and that's goofy.


Johnathan Makovicka said...

Wow, I absolutely love this blog...thanks for putting this to paper, or, uh, should I say uploading?