Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Flash Image Rotator Module by Joomlashack.
this man JESUS
Missional Leadership Apprenticeship
MetroSoul Media
Events & Gatherings

Login Form

Lost Password?

Get Email Updates

Pioneering Expectations
Written by soulster   
Friday, 07 September 2007

Where's the LoveAmerican Christianity is criticized so broadly and often that the phraseology is already cliché. This reinforces the sentiment that I have expressed here and elsewhere that our culture believes that at least Christendom — the culture of Christianity — and maybe Christianity itself has failed. We believe it so much so that even within the religion there is now a feverish attempt to wake a church that is assumed to be sleeping, or worse, apostate (or else, why are we declining?). Much of the objections of our culture have to do with church more than Jesus (see comments in “500 Pound Gorilla“) and so 22 million Americans claim some kind of belief in Jesus but no church attendance or loyalty to “organized religion” (see Barna’s Revolution).

There are now many large-scale attempts to correct the problem, some of which are organized by top-level Christian leaders in denominations, associations, and think-tanks. Often grouped under the label “church growth” these solutions most often focus on tweaking church to make in more marketable or “seeker-sensitive”. Other solutions are “emerging” from the “grassroots” as Christians make adjustments to their spirituality in conversation with their culture. Everything at this point is still very experimental with no real indication of which, if any, of these solutions will be effective in the future.

I would describe myself as being part of the grassroots experiment. My calling and vocation is helping people in the grassroots sort out innovation from accommodation (the first we want, the second we don’t). I’m also very interested in building awareness among the “22 million” and people skeptical of Christianity but open to Jesus that alternatives exist (that’s why I’ve launched the news aggregating website

This is not any easy path, by any means. The people who are facilitating this type of grassroots movement are sometimes caught between the church and the crowd. The church often feels like they are going too far and abandoning rather than helping the Faith. On the other hand, the crowd remains skeptical of Christianity in any form because they apply the reputation (especially abuses) of late Christendom even to simpler forms of Jesus-following. They are also somewhat happy with the consumer benefits of pluralistic and nominal belief.

Also, anything truly grassroots is messy. After all, aren’t grass roots in the dirt of the human experience? While dirt is a great substance for nurturing new life, it is, well…dirty. The same factors that give what we are doing authenticity and viral potential can lead to pain and difficulties since there is no “institutional buffer” to protect facilitators from the real humanity we are engaging.

I visited a couple of friends, Ron and Don, who are doing a similar thing in Philadelphia (see Lately, they’ve been a little beat-up by people-problems and discouraging set-backs. Like many of my friends who are working in the grassroots, they were asking some serious questions about whether continuing is worth it.

Lewis and Clark

Ron heard God’s affirmation in the words of his friend Byron, whom I don’t know. He compared what we are doing to the pioneering work of American frontier explorers Lewis and Clark [wiki]. Lewis and Clark were hired to lead the “Corps of Discovery” on a quest for an all-water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. During their travels, they explored large portions of the West, effectively opening it for settlement, established a market economy with the Indians, and did quite a bit more. In retrospect, there are few people in American history who have played a more influential roll in who we have become as a nation and people.

But Lewis and Clark didn’t have the benefit of this knowledge. According to some, they struggled with the idea that their perilous journey was a failure or inconsequential. Many of the natural specimens they sent back to Washington rotted or were lost. It really wasn’t until after both their deaths that the Westward Expansion was in full-swing. In reality, it took years for the results of their legacy to be felt. Some speculate this is why Meriwether Lewis descended into alcoholism and shot himself in a Tennessee tavern only a few years after the expedition.

Clark on the other hand went on to marry twice, write a book about his trip, and live a full life. Perhaps the difference between the two men is that Clark had the right expectations of what it meant to be a pioneer. Pioneers are always the ones with their lives on the line. They do the arduous work of blazing the way ahead, complete with painful toil, pervasive uncertainty, and being shot at. They may never see the fruits of their labor, nor can they know who will follow behind. They must simply live with the uncomfortable trust that somebody will. All that simply comes with the territory.

Applied to pioneers in grassroots spirituality, there is only one way to survive our calling: focus on the road ahead. If we continually think back to who will follow and what the results will be, Lewis’ fate awaits us. On the other hand, if we develop an addiction for the horizon, always hungry for what God will reveal in the next valley or mountaintop, we will survive on the rich glory of God found growing in whatever wild places he takes us. We will live in the wonder of new lands and new peoples and know rich life that does not need validation from anyone at home.

Thanks for the word, Byron.

P.S. Check out Ron and Don talking about pioneering “simple church” [wiki] in this video:

Original at:
Last Updated ( Friday, 07 September 2007 )
Next >

Give Thru PayPal

Search USA for Group

Zip code:
Powered by

Who's Online

We have 1 guest online
Copyright © 2007 MetroSoul. All rights reserved. Syndicated content retains the rights of the original publisher. Direct site problems to the webmaster.