Saturday, July 18, 2009


It's Saturday night. Actually, it's Sunday morning. 12:30 a.m. to be exact. I'm sitting on a couch in my in-laws house, watching some Mel Gibson movie. I think it's "The Patriot." The revolutionary era garb should be a giveaway, but I don't know, maybe Mel Gibson was also in a movie called "White Wigs for Redheads" or "Can I Try This War Over Again: The Patrick Henry Story."

In any event, it's definitely one of those movies that came out during the black hole of my movie-viewing existence known as high school. There was a period of about three years in there when the only current movies I saw were "You've Got Mail" and the remake of "Godzilla." There may have been another one or two in there, but I can't remember what they were.

Anyway, I'm here in their house as my giving and loving wife lends her assistance to her mother and sister as they go about preparing for an upcoming road trip. I don't mind being here at all. My in-laws are gracious and generous people. Their house is one of the rare places where I feel I can truly relax, be myself and not feel like anyone is expecting some big show out of me. They are loving people like that.

Okay, here's the part where I quit rambling and get around to the point. I am wrestling with something in my life right now. I guess it's nothing new. It's probably manifested itself in various ways for the past 15 years or so. I'm just now figuring out how to express it.

I am wrestling with grief at the state of the evangelical Church in North America. I'm so tired of the hardness that seems to arise out of the grief. I so desperately want a heart of flesh for the body of Christ. There are many reasons why I feel this way.

I grieve because the Church lives and functions as if Christ died in 1963. Our Church has a rich history spanning 2000 years. Billy Graham is not a Church father.

I grieve because generations of evangelical Christians have never recited the Apostles' Creed.

I grieve because the Church has shunned its responsibility to educate believers in theology and Church history.

I grieve because the Church has done a better job of making customers than disciples.

I grieve because ministry to entire people groups have been forfeited because their sins are just too gross to talk about in polite company.

I grieve because the singing part of church services is called "worship" when it is more of a prelude to worship.

I grieve because moralism and legalism have replaced grace.

I grieve because patriotism has been made into a false, substitute gospel.

I grieve because an inch of Scripture spawns a mile of sermon.

I grieve because I believe Epiphany and Pentecost should outrank Veteran's Day.

I grieve because I desperately want my grief to be an impetus for real change, but just don't know how to take on the corporation.

I grieve because my grief often descends into anger.

God, please give me a heart of flesh for the bride of Christ. Help me to be the Church.


Andrew Winter said...

I love the Patriot.

Really good article, its awesome to see that there are those who aren't satisfied with 21st century Christianity.

And I would say that singing is worship. Its focus is to bring attention to God, to glorify him. Worship isn't just what I do at church. Its what I do at home and at work. When I love my family like Jesus and when I work hard like Jesus, that is worship.

jaigner said...

Thank you Andrew.

I...hmmm...I am still working on this one. I think that corporate worship should be a snapshot of the rest of our lives; a corporate expression of an inward reality. It is a response to God's self-revelation. So, expressing our faith through corporate singing can be a worshipful act. So can prayer, reciting creeds, giving an offering, etc.

It's just that so often corporate services are divided into two portions: worship (singing) and preaching. Thus, we have a generation of Christians who have little idea what worship actually is.

Thanks for reading.


Dan Martin said...

I grieve because patriotism has been made into a false, substitute gospel...

I grieve because I believe Epiphany and Pentecost should outrank Veteran's Day.

I share your grief, and the anger that easily comes from it!

Re: worship, I honestly can't remember the last time I truly worshipped in church. I'm afraid the crap that goes under that banner has pretty well hardened me. Closest I come lately is occasionally apologizing to God for the stuff we're shoveling his way.

But most of all, to add to your grieving list, I grieve that following Jesus has been replaced with believing a religion.

jaigner said...

Thanks for the comment. I sometimes feel angry because I grew up without any connection to history and tradition. It's like pragmatic evangelicals decided they could do things better than thousands of years of Christians. I'm angry because I didn't know that I was a participant in God's story. Nobody told me until I was in college and, even then, the idea was so foreign that it took me years to accept it.

Blessings to you, friend, and I pray for you as I pray for myself and others.