Tag Archives: criticism

Give up on REform and FORM

millennials and church

One of the best things about the present era of the church in the United States is that 20somethings keep writing scathing critiques of it like this one: Twelve reasons millennials are OVER the church. My dear comrade, Joshua Grace, sent this article out to the pastors the other day and here I am stirred up and writing about it in the middle of the night on Kauai (where I am doing my best to act like I am a 20something).

I felt super-defensive when I first read Sam Eaton’s critique, which struck me as someone reiterating everyone else’s critique five years after the criticisms became popular. Can we stop criticizing people as if it were righteous? Anyone dealing with an overly-critical parent or a merely critical teenager, knows just how far criticism goes toward the healing of humanity. For one thing, it makes people defensive!

So I did not feel like being critical about this super-critical summary of criticism of the church of yesteryear. But I do want to say a few things about it, since drinking poison needs an antidote. So here are a few things that I think are antidotes to Eaton’s well-meaning, passionate but unwittingly poisonous critique of the church.

So what if the church is a mess?

Like any 20something worth their salt, I shared his criticisms of the American church — but that was 40 years ago! OK already, the church is a big fat mess. The two branches most bent on creating domination systems: the Evangelicals and Catholics, are especially culpable for giving the whole enterprise a bad name, by and large. SO WHAT? Criticizing someone is easy; that’s why it is often called a “cheap shot.” It costs little to criticize someone else for what they are doing. It costs a  lot to be something better in the face of what is worse.

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Power struggles and how to get beyond them

When a marriage relationship or a church community seems to be stuck or even falling apart, it is probably because we are not listening. We must be having trouble hearing one another.

There are often many reasons  for our lack of hearing. But the biggest reason of all must be not listening to Jesus. He is calling us into a transformation that allows us to listen, hear, and love like He does.

It is a strange problem. Jesus wants to nurture us into our true selves, which sounds great, but we resist going there. We have trouble letting Him get through a sentence without feeling threatened and either butting in with an objection or turning away. We have a power struggle with God and everyone else.

Friend or servant?

I was pondering a few power struggles I had identified last week when Julie reminded me of John 15. I have been thinking about our conversation ever since. In that account, Jesus calls his disciples into an intimate relationship with him, like branches in a vine. He warns that a disconnected branch will wither and die. But He assures the disciples that withering is not the destiny for his friends. He tells them he is no longer going to call them his “servants,” as if they were people who merely fulfilled a master’s bidding. They have matured into His “friends,” someone who knows His business and can bear the fruit of love that comes from a renewed life. Most of us have a hard time hearing what Jesus is saying, just like we have a hard time with our other intimates — there are reasons for this.

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