Further Thoughts of Christian Plodding and the Dangers of Consumeristic Church

It seems in the past few years I have been confronted by a growing dichotomy which seems to be taking shape within our Christian Church. Set up between two frontlines the Missional and Emergent tribes seem to call for radical reformation while the more streamline and orthodox seem to take this as a personal attack claiming these thoughts as being a loss of accountability at best and at worst, borderline heresy. So which is it and where do we find God at work within it all? Most importantly… where does politics give way to Kingdom love?

Not that long ago a friend of mine quoted Kevin Deyoung from a blog post called ‘The Glory of Plodding’. He said, “What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risk taking plodders.” What an inspiring deliberation and yet I wonder; can you be a faithful, risk taking plodder without running the risk of cultural revolutionary reactions?

The Apostle Peter was a plodder too and while he stood before thousands of people he spoke from his heart, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17) Much like Peter perhaps the plodders of our time have a dream in uncharted waters; and our visionaries are leading us towards a revolution – one which is counter cultural not counter Christological!

The dangers of consumeristic church are most definitely rooted in a lack of commitment and the spiritual cannibalistic practices of “what’s in it for me?” My fear is that this reality has become not just individualistic in practice but also corporately expressed through the ideological expectations of set ecclesiological mandates. Let’s face it, Christian accountability is something which is centered not on maintaining an existing ecclesiology but upon the commitment to the missionary plodding of sending all of Christ’s followers into the world united with an impassioned vision for God’s Kingdom drawing near to every fabric of life.

So what of love for God’s Kingdom? Richard Neuhaus once said, “It is easy to think that we love an abstract, spiritualized, de-historicized Church just as it is easy to love abstract, spiritualized, de-historicized people. In truth to love abstractions is not to love at all; it is but a sentimental attachment to our own whimsies.

In truth I can say I love God’s Kingdom but in so doing I am in love with God’s people; in all places, forms, traditions, and diversities. To not recognize the riches of this virtue brings heed to Jesus’ warning that, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” (Matt. 11:17)

Does the dichotomy between Missional/Emergent and Main Stream Church demand revolutionary mentality? I do not know but, in the words of Martin Luther King I’ve been hearing a lot lately… “I have a dream today!” Maybe the church itself should spend some time dreaming too.


4 thoughts on “Further Thoughts of Christian Plodding and the Dangers of Consumeristic Church

  1. Wow Erik you’re definitely letting your education shine through here. With words like “Christological” and “ecclesiological mandates”, it’s hard to miss.

    I do agree that there are some dangers in the individualism of church. if “what’s in it for me” is the only question we are asking, then Jesus words to us about going and sharing the good news that was preached to us is compromised. Also, taken to the extreme, the individual aspect of church brings into question the whole community aspect to living the life of faith that is demonstrated throughout the gospels.

    With that said though, I recently went through a time of seeking a new place of worship. with that fresh on my mind, the individualistic nature you speak of, that is asking the question “what’s in it for me?” has its place.

    Part of the reason I began looking for a new place to worship was that after college it became quite clear that all I could do in that particular congregation is be a bench warmer. That’s something that’s not a part of my nature. So I became active about finding a new place of worship. In seeking that new place I laid out some specific things I would like to see in a church body I call my home.

    I would say that was a side of individualism finding its way into my search of a “new place to belong.” I don’t this that was a wrong question to ask, but was necessary in my “church shopping” if you will.

    A few months into my new setting, I began to ask the question of how I can contribute to the life of the body found in my local place of worship. Fortunately for me God was able to open doors and use my talents gifts and abilities to put me to work.

    Was that sense of individualism wrong? I don’t think so… what about you?

    1. Good thoughts Tim and it reminds me of a conversation we had in the van about this a little bit ago.

      You are truly an inspiration Tim with your heart to serve and I have seen the many gifts and talents God has blessed you with. Which is why I so enjoy seeing the way God develops your leadership abilities through your dedication in calling and mission – Encouraging people with disabilities.

      Your willingness to follow this vision and be who your are is not consumeristic at all! More so it shows how you want to be in the community and be a part of it’s development and growth!

      That said, I am confussed by your thoughts towards “finding a new worship home”. Are you meaning that Expressions or that Lantern is your new home? Please know, there is no right or wrong answer here. It helps me know though how to approuch further thoughts.

      You are a good friend Tim and I thank you so much for encouraging me with your faith! I’m sure we’ll talk more soon!

  2. Thanks for your thoughts and kind words Erik!

    After thinking about your question of “where exactly is home”… when I spoke of God opening doors, God has opened doors and created opportunities for ministry through both expressions and the lantern. When I first began talking about my decision to attend the lantern as well as expressions, It was at a time when expressions didn’t have a worship service. Now, theres been talk of me getting involved in the lanterns youth. So both places are home? There was also a time I’ve prayed about picking one; the lantern or expressions and I told God I can’t decide myself. I want to do both, and I can’t remember exactly how, but I do know through prayer at least, that I can do both. I hope that makes sense. As for the gifts and leadership abilities, I’m curious just exactly what you see and find so encouraging… maybe we can discuss that over coffee in the next few weeks? Blessings buddy love you guys!

    1. You got it Tim Bit’s! Bonnie and I were just reading over your comments to the (I)Living questions I sent out last week and there’s some really good stuff here! I can’t wait to meet up for coffee in the next few weeks!

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