I have been a leader in the church for almost eighteen years. When I was growing up in the church, the environment in most churches was one of considerable, and fairly extreme, legalism. It is so refreshing to see that beginning to change. I believe one of the main reasons it is changing is because people who grew up in the church in the 60’s-80’s sensed that something was wrong and decided that as soon as it was up to us, we were going to make some changes. That is exactly what we have done. The emerging church movement has come largely, I believe, from frustrated X-gen leaders (with a few baby boomers around the fringes helping to light the fire!), and now bridger-generation leaders, who are for the most part reacting to anti-intellectualism, unnecessary restrictions, judgmentalism, self-absorption, and huddle mentalities with which we grew up.
All this is great. As a middle schooler I was always attracted to the kind of speakers who were so passionate that when you listened to them you felt like your face was melted off. The passion and conviction were so motivating, and I could hear in those voices the prophesying power of John the Baptist, of Jesus, of early disciples in the faith. These were the Tony Campolo‘s, the Mike Yaconelli‘s on the national stage and, more locally for me, Ron Kopicko and Jon Kulaga. These were people of insight, honesty, power, and conviction, people who weren’t afraid to tell it like it was. Of course today Tony is as fiery as ever, Mike is too-long gone, but there are so many more! In fact it seems the vast majority of Christian teachers on the national stage today are calling the church to service, to openness and authenticity, and to what it means to walk in humility and quietness with God.
The Problem — The Frustrated Leader
I am so grateful that things are changing. It was way too long in coming. But I am also concerned. I am concerned because as I read blogs, books and articles, and listen to sermons, frequently what comes across to me is a sense of frustration. I identify it because I know I have too often come across to my congregation that way. Leaders, if we are not careful, we can easily come across like our primary message, underlying all the good things we say, is, “What’s the matter with you people? Why are you so selfish? Why aren’t you more committed? Why aren’t you more on board with your church? Why don’t you give more, serve more, follow better, think harder, and pray more often for your pastor?”
There is an answer to that question.
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