The loss of spiritual adventure produces a (somewhat distorted sense of what it means to be in the Way of Jesus–we become bored Christians acquiescing to the lame dictates of a mediocre life, sensing that we are missing out on something important but not willing to pay the price to do anything about it. This is an inauthentic place for any follower of Jesus to be, and nothing could be further from the type of community that Jesus envisioned his church to become. – Frost & Hirsch (The Faith Leap, 2011)
There are those who colourfully dream of making the world around them better, people mired in status quo despite inspiration to reach out for more than what they see around them.
Ever catch yourself daydreaming to right the wrongs for an issue bigger than yourself?
Daydreams lead to action if you exist in the right culture.
Now a harder question: do adventure and dreaming sound like attributes of your church?
I’ve heard from people trying to work out what it means to embrace a life immersed in God’s redemptive plan in their community. There are more questions than answers and the angst to get it ‘right’ can be a burden.
I’ve also started to encounter a number of people who are eager to live out a vibrant faith that’s compatible with their life but seems incompatible with their church. They want to do cool things for their community but wind up getting bogged down in rules, regulations, and a culture that’s impervious to change.
It’s a little scary.
The church should be eager to innovate and lead culture shifts and take neighborhoods along for the ride.
But few are.
There’s an old saying, “where you settle, there you die.” This common activity of the local church has been dormant for so long that the people within, the same ones trying to figure out the next step in their faith journey, have trouble getting our of the ‘settle’ paradigm in favour of the ‘adventure’ one.
Most of these people, God bless their souls, when they do work up courage try to start the futile process of ushering in change in churches set in their ways.
In my mind it’s just that–futile.
For better or for worse Christianity in North America is geared for internal survival which means merely adapting to the world around only when absolutely necessary to keep the existing majority content. This internal focus has literally stymied the church.
For those part of a church community like this, yet are deeply concerned with how the church acts and where it goes in the community, what should you do?
The answer isn’t to find another church–at least not right away.
It’s true organizations are notoriously difficult to change from the inside out. Instead of banging your head against the wall of policy try previewing adventure in your own life and see how many people are attracted to your activity. What might happen is you’ll become the spark that catalyzes something new. If you do manage to make it that far then don’t be surprised if new becomes separate from the existing community.
Most businesses do this. They start a brand new division with new ideas for a new product, service, or customer. The reason is they know the culture of the parent company would inevitably curtail the growth of the new endeavor.
Same thing with new and adventurous church communities.
Now, ultimately I would argue that the fundamental, not just function, but existence of the church is mission: to actively participate in God’s plan to rescue, redeem, and renew creation. To ignore mission is to ignore what it means to be the church.
Yet personally I won’t spend too much time trying to change the minds of people who’re in their comfort place.
I would much rather spend my energy in a community with people who actually want to be there. (I also know you don’t get a cheque in the mail for killing yourself trying to change paradigms within and established institution.)
Before you read on think about this question:
do you get excited to be a part of your church community?
Back to the question of adventure.
If a church is really a front for active participation in God’s mission to redeem creation, then we would have to conclude churches are comprised of adventurous people.
A theology of adventure needs to go hand in hand with this question: are you extraordinary?
The church is made up of the extraordinary many not the extraordinary few.
Extraordinary doesn’t mean complex, grand, or busy.
Extraordinary is one choice to say YES when it matters most.
- Yes, you’ll act on your dreams to right wrongs, no matter how small or simple.
- Yes, you’ll reach out to the meek.
- Yes, you’ll do less.
- Yes, you’ll take care of your kids.
- Yes, you’ll pray.
- Yes, you’ll go to that BBQ.
Our adventure is already laid out before us. We’re not going to get a phone call from God affirming every fork in the road. The resurrection was call enough.
Just say yes.