Being either an early or late adapter (never adapting when most people do it), I'm either usually really early or late to trends and pop culture, and even popular church culture. For example, I was early on Rob Bell (thanks to my wife finding "Velvet Elvis" in a Barnes & Noble), and late to Shane Claiborne. So late on Shane, in fact, that I'm just now reading "The Irresistible Revolution". I didn't even buy the book. I found it laying around the church.
A couple of blog posts are of interest, including this one at Church Marketing Sucks. It's all about North Point Community Church building a $5 million bridge for improved parking and traffic flow at their facility that holds thousands of folks every Sunday. For me, being smack in the middle of Shane's book, but always having a nagging feeling about how churches spend their money, I've got to ask: Really? You're really going to do that?
Sarah Silverman (comedian) has proposed that the Vatican do what Jesus told us to do and feed the poor. How? Sell the Vatican. It's a silly three minute clip that I won't link here because of language content, but it's very tongue in cheek, and parts of it are funny. And, in its weird little way, it begs the question: why do churches have (or are asking for) all kinds of money while people are starving? Claiborne's book echoes that sentiment.
I think I could argue the other side, too: people need to know Jesus. Unchurched people have all kinds of reasons why they don't go to church, and, in the case of North Point, one reason could be that it's a pain to drive in and out of their parking lot. I get it. But contrast this with Jesus telling people that if we are to follow Him, we must take up our cross and deny ourselves. It begs the question, what are we "churching" people into? Jesus was up front about the cost of following Him, and the expecations therein. Spending millions of dollars so that people won't be inconveinenced seems to send the wrong message to the unchurched. That message seems to be that we want to serve you, so when you decide to keep attending, you can expect being served again and again. Contrast that with people leaving Jesus because His teaching hard to understand or hard to live out, and you'll see the problem.
For those of you who are saying, "Yeah, sure, but YOU take a full-time church salary, and YOU work at a church with a nice facility." Yep, I sure do. But, in the words of Darius Rucker, don't think I don't think about it. I wonder how far is too far.
Rob Bell has been talking about things that churches don't like to talk about. His talking about those things is talked about here. What's interesting are the comments, which misconstrue what the article is saying so that an attack on Bell can be made. I won't explain it, but if you read it, you'll see it, and mourn another nail in the coffin of reasonable discourse.
So, that's the well known pastor round-up. Fascinating, huh?
And now, for no reason, here's a video of Bob Dylan playing "Saved":