"I told him that I was not of any particular religion. So tired of churches I could roar, is what I wanted to say." -
Rick Bass, Winter
So I’m driving back from lunch and the urge for a little AM hits me. I love AM radio. Especially the easy listening stations. The one here in town plays everything from Peter, Paul and Mary to Glen Campbell. But at this particular moment, they were playing the old Abbot and Costello “Who’s On First” routine. You’ve heard that one, right? Classic comedy. I found myself laughing right along with the crowd.
The more I listened, the more the broadcast began to resonate with a conversation I had over lunch. A true friend and I were discussing church, preaching, community; you know, all that stuff. He had mentioned a congregation that had taken intentional steps to become a missional church. However, full-on into the shift, the lead pastor scrapped the whole thing. “Forget this missional thing. It’s as much of a program as the one were trying to escape from.” Smart guy.
Missional. Purpose-driven. Authentic. Organic. Multi-site. Ancient-future.
Who’s the real church? Missional. But what’s the real church? Organic. I thought organic referred to cereal. Nope, it’s the church. So where’s the real church? Oh, multi-site, definitely. Is it missional? Maybe. Well, when’s the real church? Ancient-future. Organically? No, that’s what the church is. And why’s the real church? Authentic, man. Authentic. In a multi-site kind of way? Heavens no, that’s where the church is. Well then, how’s the real church? Purpose-driven. Are you sure? Authentically. (Cue the laughter from the new monastics)
I may be alone in this, but I don’t give a flying fig newton anymore about those designations. I’m so tired of them. We keep grasping after the straws of the next thing, which we frame as the “real thing” in order to not be labeled as consumers or something, and we end up sounding like the Abbot and Costello routine. We just keep going round and round and round. We’re biblically convinced we know who’s on first, but we don’t. And the audience out there (if they’re even still listening) is bent over laughing. At us, not with us.
We’ve got folks hell-bent on justice and mercy endeavors, quilting the globe with relief projects and mission trips. We’ve got people filling the Joel-dome every Sunday to find out about their best life. Now. Some meet in houses and try and live out the Acts 5 model. And many discover, to their chagrin, that the Acts 6 model always soon follows. Are the red letters of Jesus the real stuff? Or, as Rich Mullins said, will we be surprised to one day find that the red and the black should have been underlined?
I'm pretty sure my friend and I had CHURCH the other day over the lunch hour. The two of us, sitting in a booth at a wonderful mexican place, sharing our lives over incredible chips and salsa. We started the meal with a prayer. Affirmed a few things. Questioned a few more things. Confessed a little. And capped it off by extending the peace of the Lord to one another.
Was the salsa organic? Nope. Was it authentic? Yes, yes it was.