I participated in an event recently called The Elephant Room. It was an incredible time of learning and stretching of my faith. The format is as follows…
The Elephant Room features blunt conversations between seven influential pastors who take differing approaches to ministry. No keynotes. No canned messages. These are “the conversations you never thought you’d hear.” All conversations are moderated by James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church ~ From theelephantroom.com
As a young pastor I get into lots of conversations with other younger pastors and youth pastors who talk about the idea of ‘tribes’ and what ‘tribe’ I belong to. I have to confess I read a lot of books, blogs, posts and articles from lots and lots of people and organizations. Not all are christian or of religious nature but things I read none the less. I watch a lot of podcasts and sermons from time to time. It is refreshing and an incredible tool to be able to go the web and hear the word of God from different pastors simply by clicking a button.
That said, for the last several years there has been this measuring stick for every single group where you are judged based on who you read and listen to.
“What you read Rob Bell‘s books and watch his Nooma stuff? You are one of those people…” “You actually can stand listening to Mark Driscoll? You must be filled with a lot of anger to do that.” “You actually listen to Steven Furtick? That guy is too young and arrogant.” “Joel Osteen, can’t be a believer and you mean to tell me you would actually watch his sermons?” “You work for a Lutheran church? Do they even believe in Jesus?” “What you grew up Southern Baptist? Have received the Holy Spirit and made a real commitment in your life?”
The ‘name dropping’ can go on and on with countless bigger pastors and ministries that far exceed my reach and my current calling to ministry. What I have come to see taking place in the ‘clergy’ is that we have created a ‘sound-byte-theology’ where we see a clip, read a quote, read a blog from someone who doesn’t like that particular tribe or way of thinking and doing ministry and we then label that pastor or person or denomination or church from hence forth. And then if you read or listen to that person you then become lumped into that same ‘sound-byte-theology’. I have been really convicted, especially after participating in The Elephant Room, that we have begun to judge others in such a harsh light and are willing to critique and throw others under the bus so quickly because of this careless kind of theology.
We are more than words and even more than actions. We are the divine total of both, multiplied by the Love of Christ poured out on the cross, divided by His overcoming of death and being resurrected. If my guaranteed admittance into heaven is a culmination of believing the right brand of Christian theology of God, the right books I read, right things I said and did, right people I associated my self with, then none of us are safe from eternal separation from God.
I know there are smarter and wiser theologians that I am out there, but at what point will we start living out the Prayer of Jesus in John 17.20-23? I’m praying we can quit attacking our brothers and sisters (and quit being attacked by them) long enough to live out the kingdom by sharing the Grace of God that is found in His Son Jesus Christ that calls us out of our Sin to repent and live new and constantly refreshed in His Holy Spirit! (How is that for a creedal statement)
If you are judging out of a ‘sound-byte-theology’ for others, what is the ‘sound-byte-theology’ you are living for others to see? I want to be known more for my life lived than my few quotable phrases and poor decisions I made in life.