...are the ones that make the biggest difference

12.14.2004

The lure of the effective

A few days ago I was poking around online at an Orthodox music store and found some samples, in various languages, of Orthodox hymns. I listened to several of them and found myself on the verge of tears, remembering our experience at St. George's in Arizona and traversing the depth and beauty of Orthodox worship. On a discussion board some months ago, a lay person described Orthodox worship as a feast, and listening to those hymns, I could not help but agree with him. I have been fasting for months and those online hymns were the rich aromas of my mom's kitchen on Thanksgiving day. How sparse our worship and theology are! What paucity pervades our devotion and praxis. Until I heard those hymns, I was only vaguely aware of the hunger pangs, but now, they have been brought to the fore and I can see that the meager gruel served here is not enough to sustain me.

I know there is goodness & godliness here, and that the senior leadership is driven by a deep desire to reach the lost with the Gospel. But in our desire to be "effective" in reaching the unchurched, are we sacrificing something? I cannot help but feel that we are, especially with what I talked about in my last post. Why can't we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into the right things without relying on outside materials? Why are we so fixed on this model, even when it is clear that it will function only for a season and not endure beyond that? It feels like we are putting God into a very carefully tended and thoroughly locked cage based on "market data." The temptation to be relevant, to be effective, is a lure that is hard to resist, but if it comes at a cost, resist it we must.

2 comments:

basil said...

Nathan, you may be interested in a Come, Receive the Light broadcast that discusses some of the issues of ministry and demographics. One of the men interviewed, Chuck Powell, is a dear friend of mine who is a former evangelical Protestant. He formerly worked at InTouch Ministries, the Reverend Charles Stanley's media ministry.

Nathan said...

Kevin -

Thanks for the link. I listened to it this morning and found it very interesting. I'll have to listen to it again when the office isn't so busy, but it definitely adressed exactly what I'm talking about and am seeing in both my current church and the church I came from.