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review: jesus wants to save christians

book-savechristiansi just finished re-reading rob bell’s book – jesus wants to save christians.  i started rereading it late last week and finished it while flying across the country last night.

my second read of it was probably enlightening than the first.  i found myself re-examining my own perceptions and desires of what i thought (or wanted) church to be.  i’ve been reminded frequently as of late how the church often gets caught up in the “consumer” mentality of our culture.  i had lunch recently with someone where i heard as clear as day, that our primary means for doing church is about what makes us comfortable.  i wish i could say that i was exaggerating this, but the same sentence was repeated over and over.  many of churches are ignoring jesus’ plea to clothe the naked and feed the hungry – because it makes us uncomfortable.

i’m not sure that jesus ever wanted us to be “comfortable.”

maybe that’s what he means when he says, “do this in remembrance of me.”  the “do this” part is our lives.  opening ourselves up to the mystery of resurrection, open for the liberation of others, allowing our bodies to be broken and our blood to be poured, discovering our eucharist.  listening.  and going.

because when we do this in remembrance of him,

the world will never be the same;

we will never be the same.

now that is a manifesto.

‘jesus wants to save christians’, pg 181

‘question’ afterthoughts

i was thinking this afternoon about my question last night –

has the church gone too far in trying to reach out to the culture around it?


there seems to be an abundance of conferences and events on making the church more relevant to the culture and many experts giving lectures on how we can impact our community better.  i’ve yet to see leaders in the muslim, hindu and buddhist faiths spending money and time on being more relevant – and yet those are the three growing religions in the world.

of those people i know who follow one of those faiths, they say that they continue to follow the rules and traditions since their beginnings.  i had a long conversation with someone who had converted to buddhism later in life and he said how much he appreciated the ancient traditions of praying throughout the day and actually felt like he was more connect with God than when he followed the christian traditions that he was raised in.

is there something that is appealing about the traditional ancient ways of expressing our faith in Jesus?  in some places across north america, there is a emergence of a “new monasticism” – a form of living in community and following some of the ancient forms of worship.

it seems that in our current christian climate, our focus is on meeting our needs – “what time of church will serve me?”, “what can this place offer me?”.  additionally, a growing number of people are part of church communities simply because they have a connection with the pastor or those in leadership, almost creating a christian celebrity mentality.  i heard once from a friend who was organizing an event, that because of one of the local pastors would be participating, they’d be guaranteed to have a large response to this event.

its interesting how it seems that it is only within the christian faith, that our leaders are celebrities and we pay large amount of money to read something that they’ve written or watch a tv show because they’ve mentioned it in a sunday message.

have we gone too far?

article: a view of alternative churches

pasted below is a short article printed by the sarnia observer.

Joe Manafo spent 18 months travelling the country to learn how people who don’t fit into the mould of traditional Christian worship celebrate their faith.

He spent $6,000 and, with video camera, visited every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, talking with people trying to find alternatives.

“These are churches and groups that, while the message is the same, the way it’s played out is completely different than an everyday church,” he said.

The result is a 45-minute documentary called, “One size fits all?” Manafo is planning a Sarnia showing in early 2009, but the specifics haven’t been determined.

One place Manafo encountered in Kitchener put on punk, metal, country or ska concerts four nights a week to pay the bills. And there are numerous other approaches to connect with people disenchanted with traditional church models, he said.

“That’s not to say that I’m making a movie about churches that are doing things right. There’s just a different flavour, a different style. They’re doing their thing, reaching their crowd, while these other, more established, mainline churches are serving their crowds.”

The alternate churches also tend to cut through what Manafo calls “pop Christianity,” worship that is plastic, all shine and only on the surface.

“Whereas more normal, more established churches are pretty much straight up, stoic perhaps, very much locked into a pattern, these churches are very experimental in nature,” he said.

“These communities very much connect with a crowd of people that wouldn’t necessarily fit in ‘normal churches,’” he said. “And they’re learning to, I guess, express their faith . . . with God in ways that are unconventional.”

Manafo is no stranger to the short film and documentary genre. In fact, he helped organize the popular Sarnia Short Film Festival this past fall.

He is also a “church planter” and is responsible for The Story, an alternative start-up church in Sarnia on Christina Street.

a wake up call?

this is a powerful video on the states of homelessness in saint john.


can you see this and not be compelled to action?  a response?