Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Attractional Church and the Lack of Self-Reflection

Via Twitter, Brian Daugherty is wondering when some "attractional" folks might be responding or interacting with that whole "coming collapse of evangelicalism" thing. I hope they do, but I'm not holding my breath.* (They're busy, for one thing. There's a conference this week! ;-)

But if Sally Morgenthaler's bombshell that wasn't or the REVEAL repentance that wasn't didn't make anybody flinch, why would some editorial from a known curmudgeon?

This will be the last thing I say about the following subject, but here's the comment I left at this update on the Andy Stanley "verse-by-verse is cheating" brouhaha at Dr. Stetzer's place:
I'm pretty sure I'm the guy who first brought up the "Lukan account of Jesus explaining the Scriptures," and I appreciate the wrist slap. It's a good post.

But at the risk of redundancy, I think it's ironic that the original post was about effective communication, because I never said Jesus was doing verse-by-verse there, but that didn't stop several commenters writing their rebuttals as if I did.

What I said was if it wasn't verse-by-verse, it at least appears to be section by section, which I don't believe to be a grasp at straws, but just a valid understanding of what the text says: "Beginning with the Law and the Prophets, he showed them everything in the Scriptures concerning himself."

But that's neither here nor there, and I -- along with plenty of others pushing back -- said that Andy Stanley is a great man, that I profit from his preaching, and that I not only affirm the validity of topical preaching, I do it myself!

But, again, that didn't appear to be enough (for some).

I know sometimes critics can miss the forest for the trees.
But there are at least two sides to this discussion and I think both demonstrated the inability to receive criticism well.

I spent 15 years in the attractional church, both as a lay teacher and as a professional minister, only leaving it two years ago. I know from experience that one of the glaring weaknesses of the tribe is lack of self-reflection.

It is neither prudent nor Christian to reflexively write off all criticism as being from lame, ax-grinding fundies.

For all the evaluation our brothers and sisters willingly self-inflict -- from test marketing felt needs to hiring secret shoppers, from studying the demographic of their target mission field to critiquing the sound and lighting and the clothing style of those on stage -- I don't recall in all my years behind the scenes anyone ever asking, "What if what we're doing isn't really what we're supposed to be doing?"

But we should all ask that. All of us.

* UPDATE: Pardon me. Good on the MMI bunch for asking the question and soliciting responses. What I hope for is meaningful interaction in the comments, not offhand dismissals.

1 comment:

Brian said...


Very kind of you to respond to me via tweet and here on your blog.

I believe that iMonk's article generally is right, and that it would be most helpful to the entire body of Christ if the "attractional" church thoughtfully engaged with the article. There's enough knee-jerk reactions on the web as is, and they don't do any good.

Todd Rhoades' Monday Morning Insight blog is the first and, thus far, only response. The initial responses look promising, and I hope it stays that way.

I fear that they'll be as silent on this as with the two examples you mentioned, which would speak volumes in and of itself.