John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Churches and Calling

I'm finally getting around to reading The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch. I know many people who have already read it and recommend it highly. In fact, I've recommended it to folks without even reading it -- based upon what I've heard from others. I know there's going to be stuff in here that I disagree with, and I know there's going to be stuff in here that really frustrates me. But I'm reading it anyway.

See...I have this thing for churches.

I have a love/hate relationship with churches. They provoke disappointment and anger -- sometimes bordering on rage -- in me. I sometimes wish I could just stop going to church altogether, stop the whole corrupt enterprise. But I can't seem to help myself.

Bill Hybels says it often: The local church is the hope of the world.

Perhaps that's a little overstatement. Jesus himself is the hope of the world, but the church is supposed to be the physical manifestation of Jesus in this day and age. It rarely works out that way, but that's the theory at least.

I grieve over churches that fail and church leaders who allow fear and anxiety to rule the roost. I cannot abide churches that play games and engage in politics. I have a low threshold for manipulation and triangulation. I can spot an ego problem a mile away (probably because that's something I personally struggle with -- it always seems easier to point out flaws in someone else that you recognize in yourself).

The biggest problem I have with churches is that so many of them lack integrity. They say they're committed to one thing but their actions betray them.

And yet....

I can't quit it. I can't help myself. I cannot stop thinking about and working with local churches. I love these churches that drive me absolutely crazy. I root for these churches and constantly look for things in them to celebrate.

Clearly, I have much to say about this, and I'm sure the book I'm reading will provoke even more thoughts on this blog in the days to come. For now, all this was prompted by reading a quote on the page before the table of contents in the book! It's a quote from Hans Kung, and I leave you with it today:

A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling.... [We must] play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, live by improvisation and experiment.