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February 18, 2006

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ash

Well now... There are several interesting points there...

The second quotation is revealling of the Western mindset as a whole, I fear. I've probably mentioned already that I recently read Karen Armstrong's A Short History of Myth, 2005 (which, by the way, I'm going to loan you when I come home).

Essentially, the quotation is symptomatic of the view we all have of the separation of the sacred and the profane. We Westrn Moderns view the world through post-enlightenment (those pesky 'post-s') eyes... We do not see a world where the boundaries between the holy and the worldy are non existent... we see what we see.

There is no transcendance, and so we come to church to find the sacred, to meet with God. We have completely, perhaps, lost the notion that it is us who are the temples: the dwelling places of the almighty; and not the brick-and-mortar houses where we gather.

The fact is, we see church as outside and other than the world: a refuge at best, an inner sanctum, but an escape nonetheless. And the reverse is also, sadly, true: once we live the building or the gathering, we no longer want the sacred to inflitrate our lives. This is back to 'real life.'
**

The Quotations about evangelism are also interesting. I personally loathe every form of evangelism I've ever been taught how to do. everything: servant evangelism, soap-box-megaphone, door knocking, course-based, bring-a-friend socials and so on. To my mind, things like servant evangelism are a distortion of what we should be doing. It is trying to add quantifiable results and gain to what we should really be doing without such considerations; namely: social action.

Friendship evangelism, too, I find a distortion, in that so often the implication is that we should'befriend' someone with the sole purpose of 'leading them to Christ'. I think if we are only engaging in friendships primarily to convert, we are both highly dishonest and plain sad.

I think that if there is any evangelism to be done, we first have to dispense with the word! Let our primary concern be bothing to do with conversions, let it be simply to love others and to serve.
***

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I refer to the last quotation there. It is true, I think, that modern (i use the term 'modern' deliberately, as I think the majority of churches are still stuck in this age) churches see their whole faith as a product. A package to be sold on to the maximum number of others.

Evangelism is little more than sales techniques. Church services are little more than product-demonstrations or advertisements. At the end of the day, we are running our churches as buisnesses. We will only 'invest' into projects that return the highest results in the quickest time with the smallest overheads. It's why we like Alpha so much, and why we wouldn't dream of helping the community in secret. ('give to the needy in secret' we are instructed by Christ).

We need to shift our views away from this approach entirely. Yes, it is to be a 'home-made-gift'. It is free. (isn't it just so telling that our world has invented the term 'free-gift'? as if gifts were ever meant to be anything other?)

We live in a world of capitalism, globalisation, multi-national corporations and advertisements. Our churches are acting the same way; and, in so doing, paradoxically, we are severely damaging our wittness and otherness.

(sorry, that was quite long).

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