There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

spiritual exfoliant?

Here’s a comment from Tim Challies (of challies.com) in a review of one of George Barna’s oft-quoted books, Revolution.  Having only skimmed Barna’s book, I can’t say if Challies’ appraisal has merit, but considering Tim’s not in the business of selling books (at least not yet, his first is coming out in a few months), he has, prima facie, a little more credibility than one who’s all about marketing strategies in the church like Barna. (Forgive me if even that assessment of the pollster isn’t generous enough.)  Anyway, this comment from Challies’ review struck me because too easily does the church unwittingly profliferate the consumer-orientation to church-membership–that is, turning the choice of submitting to a Body of believers purely on the basis of how comfortable it makes you.  So here’s his comment:

 . . .one of the most fundamental elements of being in a church family is that you don’t get to pick your relatives (echoing Tim Keller). In my experience, it is brushing up against these people whom I wouldn’t normally pursue as friends that sharpens and sanctifies me most. Many walls of pride had to fall before I realized God’s kindness in placing me in a body with diverse individuals of all temperaments and levels of spiritual growth. As such, a congregation is a place of positive discomfort, and that’s the way God intended it to be.

I think there’s this giant disconnect in most churchgoing people that the choice to become a member of a church is bound up entirely with how comfortable all the people there make you–that to truly engage a community of people, they all better be like you, or the deal’s off.  And this “place of positive discomfort” isn’t something you can “sell” to people (unless you tout it as some sort of spiritual exfoliant that, through its inherent abrasive action, scours the embedded self-interest from your soul.)

Even if there’s merit to Barna’s revolution, I think Challies’ has some valid concerns for the future structuring of ministry.  Agree or disagree?

Oh, and thanks to all for keeping me and my family in your prayers during the recent unexpectedness; the mercies ARE new every morning

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