15 June 2008

How to Be Ignored

A week ago, hundreds of churches agreed to pray together that they would be "one." This week, they'll all pray to be "dead." Never mind that it would have been much more efficient to pray for God to make them "one, dead," or "dead ones," or "one dead," like unified zombie army.

I will mention only this once how the website, the logo, and the banner on the upper right are so respectively web 2.0, iPod advertisement, and ONE.org that any quasi-spiritual hipster worried about postmodernism and the emergent church and relevance couldn't avoid getting on board with the plan to allow pastors nationwide to avoid preaching (or, at least, avoid stealing someone else's sermons) for a few weeks.

That's not what bothers me. Well, technically, it's not what bothers me most. The whole premise bothers me in the same way it bothers me that I have to rinse the sand out of my ass crack after I've been to the beach, even though nobody, to my knowledge, put sand down my trunks. I'm not so sure i'd like to ask God to make the church one in the same way I'm not so sure I want to found out how that sand got where it got.

Seminary taught me that the only times in history in which the church presented a unified front, it was either being persecuted, or persecuting others. It's not a great example. How about, some internal disagreement but nobody gets killed? It's just a thought.

I'm not saying it's actually that easy to disagree with others. I'm bothered by the thought that, in worrying about the unity of the church at large— not merely by praying to make us one in purpose or mission, but by producing and using videotaped sermons in a nationwide effort to present a unified front to the vague collection of "others who are not us"— the local significance of an individual church gets ignored.

So, you might wind up unified. You might also wind up a head-in-the-clouds congregation who cares more about esoteric global ideas and who are too involved in thinking about whatever tenuous connection they have to some vague good being done elsewhere to care about the folks in their immediate neighborhood.

God, make us many.

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