Monday, August 6, 2007

Why Gospel-Driven Church?

In January 2006, I closed the doors on my original solo blog, Mysterium Tremendum, ostensibly going on indefinite hiatus until I could return a bona fide published novelist. Despite contributing now and again to the group blog I co-founded in 2003, I still felt the itch to publicly journal my more personal perspectives and theological idiosyncracies, so I stepped up regular posting to Shizuka Blog, a site I started in May 2005 to record more devotional pieces and "pastoral" reflections. Eventually my efforts there were subsumed by BCC is Broken, a blog I began in the summer of 2006, initially as a place to provide analysis and refletions on my church's firing of our pastor.

BCC is Broken basically took over my blogging life. But for good reason. At the time I was coming out of the most difficult time of my life, a period of deep depression during which I found myself desperately clinging to the gospel of Jesus and learning through some of the same issues being raised in the aftermath of the train wreck at church. I found myself in the peculiar position of actually ministering to people through blogging. (All of us God-bloggers like to pay lip service to this idea, but more often than not it's just a way to justify a time-consuming hobby with some handy spiritualization.) I had only planned on, at first, relating news and information to the church body, but eventually of course, soapboxer that I am, I couldn't help but weigh in with opinions, encouragement for our elders and staff, biblical viewpoints, and coverage of larger relational and ecclesiological ideas related to the conflict.

The thing basically got away from me. But the effort blessed me, and it apparently blessed quite a few others, based on the overwhelming response I received. It also blessed my family, as it was based on the writing at BCC is Broken that BCC technical director Chris Thomas approached me about possibly teaching in a college/young adults ministry he was wanting to start. I met Chris for the first time last fall at a Panera in Brentwood, Tennessee, and the germination of Element began. I didn't know it at the time, but I was having dinner with a guy who would become my best friend in Nashville, despite my having gone 7 years without one real friend at all in town. (That's a long time.)

Out of this connection grew several more, and my wife and I, who have gone almost ten years without close friends in this town, now have a group of friends we consider our second family. Good things come out of brokenness.

Which is why, despite my criticism of and arguing against the state of American evangelicalism, I am hopeful about its future and optimistic about the efforts of some to pursue reformation. I believe the Church has lost its way. What started off as a good and godly movement (the seeker church thing) has gone way off the rails. Churches are run as businesses, malls, social clubs, performance halls, speaking venues, and even group conversations on spirituality and religion, but not often enough are they shepherded as churches. We have somehow forgotten that Christ commissioned us to make disciples.

And so all I've been thinking through, studying through, working through, and living through over the last decade (having worked on staff in a Willow Creek model seeker church start-up over a decade ago) leads to this. BCC is Broken, a year after the mess, has served its primary purpose, I believe, so I am boarding it up. I'll still contribute to the group blogs I continue to be responsible to, but my solo efforts will be concentrated here, at Gospel-Driven Church. I hope you will join me in the conversation and reflection, and I hope that over and through the criticism, you will see one who loves the Bride of Christ and just wants her to get healthy.
For the glory of God.

(A bit more intro here.)


Andrew said...

I look forward to reading more. You and a few others have single-handedly changed the way I look at the Gospel, and I can't wait to learn more.

Bird said...

Looking forward to your adventures here, brother.

Daniel said...

Thanks for the link in the blogs list. Can't wait for more podcasts as well. Until then, I'll read more here.

Darrel said...

Jared I think this will be a cool blog because I agree that the Gospel gives us what the church is all about. I do think an awful lot of churches have lost thier way and made it about things other then Jesus. Not that there ever has been or will be a perfect church because they are made up of people. I also loved that God has continued to use even the broken church to point people to Jesus. That being said it is very important to have the kind of discussion this blog will have to make the church better.

Bill Reichart said...

I am looking forward to the conversation! I added you to my RSS.

bill from ProvocativeChurch

salguod said...

Jared's got a blog again! Jared's got a blog again!


Seriously, I've missed your 'regular' blogging since you closed up Mysterium Trmendum (the sporadic Shizuka Blog and the focused BCC is Broken weren't quite the same). I'm thrilled to see you back here.

Now if you'd just ditch Blogger and it's maddening commenting system.

Bird said...

Yeah, why aren't you doing a bloo blog? Artistic differences with De? Crap. That's how all the great bands break up. Alright, man, if the band's breaking up then I'll hang out with you and play drums on your solo album.

David Wayne said...

Jared - I lost track of you after you cut down your posting on the Thinklings. I can't tell you how glad I am to have found you back here - I'm looking forward to keeping up with you - this is a great and important topic for your blog.

Milly said...

I’m looking forward to reading more.

I’ve lost so much faith in those who lead the church that I attend. I wonder if we can ever come back from what church has become.

Bill said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome!

I'm looking forward to what's going to develop here at this blog, Jared!

Jared said...

Thanks, all!

David: You're too kind.
Bill: You're too kind, as well. :-)

Milly: I know personally how it easy it is to despair of the predicament. I say we should not. Let's trust God that he is refining and building his church. He said his church would prevail.
One of my aims here is that we don't just look at the problems like rubberneckers at a car wreck, but consistently call ourselves back to the Gospel and to reformation.

Don't lose heart!

Milly said...

It's difficult when a friend/learder hurts you so much. I do know that I was failing the test of priorities rather miserably. Thank you for the encouraging words.

Jared said...

t's difficult when a friend/learder hurts you so much.

I know this from experience too. Spiritual/emotional abuse from trusted church leaders is painful and long-lasting.
Will pray for you.

salguod said...

BTW - There should have been a smiley at the end of my blogger rant above. It was not directed at you personally, but at Blogger. I find their commenting system maddening, especially the frequently indecipherable 'word verification' thing..

Sorry 'bout that.

Milly said...

Things are better because I'm back in the right frame of mind. It's about God so for me to let it be anything else at worship is wrong. I took a month off to rest and do some thinking. I’m also going to have a sit down with my minister.

I was able to download some of your Rodcasts into my iPod so you're going to Dallas with me.

Milly said...

I'm gonna post something that will make you have to comment just to make you do the indecipherable 'word verification' thing. Let's see women and feminism or Hillary Hmmm. ;-}