WHEN: NOVEMBER 7 @ 7:00PM
WHERE: ORANGE SPOT COFFEEHOUSE, PARK CIRCLE
WHAT: ‘THE CONVERSATION’
One thing I hear again and again from many people is they like Jesus, but struggle (to put it mildly) with the church.
At first, I was offended by this notion, as it can tend to dismiss all the hard work people of faith put in to follow God. However, at second glance it also (fairly and rightly) highlights the abuse, shortcomings, and often times lack of love (our chief characteristic as the Church) we find in professional Christianity. I suppose for some it is something akin to the disconnect many feel between the purity of college sports in contrast to the money and mismanagement that can sometimes be seen at the professional level. Note: I love professional sports.
Now, I think when someone is saying ‘I like Jesus, but I don’t like the church,’ what they are really saying is that they somehow see a disconnect between what they know and think about Jesus and what they feel and see the church doing. It is a legitimate critique as many inside and outside the church feel the same way. We, the Church, have this noble ambition to look and love like Jesus. However, far too often we come off as posers with historical blind spots and fanatic tribalism often getting caught up in ‘Pork Barrel Christianity.’* We treat the faith like some ‘House Bill’ where we stuff Jesus inside our traditions, denominational tribalism, American assumptions, and overall Western cultural bias. Unfortunately, it is often these sort of ‘politics’ that help create the disconnect turning Christ into a blond haired, blue eyed card carrying politician and not the Jewish Carpenter – Messiah from 1st century Israel.*Pork Barrel – The act of using government funds on local projects that are primarily used to bring more money to a specific representative’s district. (Read More)
Pork Barrel Christianity – A way in which we interpret Jesus and Scripture for our benefit. Interpreting it from our own interest: (Western) worldview, our political stances, and other ways that benefit the reader.
‘The Conversation’ is a bold approach to stop the disconnect and the rhetoric of ‘us against them.’ It is an attempt to step into the gap fielding questions and exploring the ‘why people like (enjoy) Jesus, but not the church?’ The Conversation is a way to stop the ever growing disconnect. After all, the best way for things to change is not with great debates or with grand persuasive lectures, but with conversations that bridge the disconnect.
‘The Conversation’ is about losing our pretenses and trying our best to inform, apologize where we have gotten it wrong – not sweeping it under the rug, and challenge and be challenged because we are still growing too! We deeply want to understand what the Scripture has to say about Jesus the 1st century Jewish Messiah in historical context, in the world He lived in, and what that means for us today. This sometimes comes into contrast to the American Jesus or the other inventions that we have created and sometimes follow. We want to start answering the hard questions, for one why was Jesus so much more comfortable around sinners and prostitutes than the religious elite? Why is the church today often times the opposite?
What the time will look like:
Our hope is to ignite a conversation that challenges those inside and outside the walls of the church. That anyone from any side would learn to love and respect others from all sides more. This is not a bully pulpit, nor a conversion event, nor is it a theological debate night, and definitely not a place to air your [weird] Facebook rants. This is a conversation about people trying to understand other people. Especially for those who like Jesus, but struggle with the church, for those who enjoy history, have honest questions, and don’t mind the tension, but need a safe place to ask those questions.
‘The Conversation’ is a shorter ‘talk,’ (this one focusing on Jesus profound response to paying taxes to Caesar and if we have time ‘the Good Samaritan’). Afterwards we will take a little time to discuss why Jesus’s reaction was so historically profound and what it means for us today and of course how teachings like these were part of Jesus’s attempt to bridge the gap.