Friday, September 30, 2005

The false gospel of convenience and self-promotion...

'Martin Luther King Jr. said that 11:00 on Sunday morning is "the most segregated hour in America." Not much has changed since King made that statement. But is this a bad thing?...' starts a good article in the Leadership Journal. "An Army of Ones - Does diversity in the church work?" - here - explores the pro's and con's of diversity within church and it reminded me of some thoughts that have been bouncing around my head and URBANarmy recently.

The highlight of the article is from Mark Driscoll - pastor of Mars Hill Church.

Driscoll contrasts a church of Babel - the first human attempt at cultural uniformity - characterised by the concept of 'hanging out with people like me because I find myself so wonderful' - and a church of Pentecost - God's attempt at kingdom unity through diversity - characterised by the concept of 'hanging out with people unlike me because God has been gracious to us all.' (Driscoll)

The Babel church Driscoll suggests asks:-
"How can we glorify ourselves by growing our ministry?" This desire leads to a false gospel that does not call me to love my neighbor and show hospitality toward those who are different from me. This gospel expects that I love only those who are like me and who share my same values and interests"
In contrast the Pentecost church asks:-
"How can we glorify Jesus by expanding his kingdom?" This desire leads to the true gospel that calls me to love my neighbors who are unlike me, and welcome them into Christ's church."
Here's the ouch quote...
"Therefore, the real issue is not will we pursue diversity, but will we follow the gospel of Jesus Christ? If we are following the gospel, diversity will occur as a result of the reconciliation accomplished in Jesus Christ. If we are not experiencing diversity, this may indicate we are lost in the woods following the directions of a false gospel of convenience and self-promotion". (Mark Driscoll 2005)
My thouhts are - how this embrace of diversity is handled obviously is dependent on where you live, being in the second most ethnically diverse borough in London (!!) obviously will look different to the Cambridgeshire Fens. But even there difference is there to be sought out and embraced. I think there is a case for homogeneity being the first step to diversity - ie distinct groups for distinct people but only as being part of something bigger and diverse. However I still worry about 'specific church' for 'specific people' - it seems all too consumer for me.

That said I think I about to start a ministry at our church for "tall football loving men who are most definately balding" anyone up for it?


Gordon said...

I'm having problems making the link for the article - a blip in blogger I think.

it is here

Steve said...

Hi Gordon. This ties in with several other challenges I have recently encountered. In another Leadership article, a pastor announced at the baptism of 83 people that his church was not working, because people were not being changed. Again, the challenge is to look beyond the church we are comfortable with, to the gospel that encompasses all.

Mind you, I'm probably as uncomfortable with change as most other people!

nick said...

look at you with your flashy background!

Gordon said...

Good to hear from you steve - 'beyond comfortable church' sounds like a good book! I'd buy it.

Gordon said...

Nick - [said with poor Rolf Harris accent]"Can you see what it is yet?"
I nicked teh code from Joel Ivany and made an image - I'll said you the code!!