Thursday, August 18, 2011

Priestly Rants: On the Stupidity of Mission Statements

I had never really considered it until I read Smith’s book on moving from being Evangelical to Roman Catholic, but upon consideration I think he’s right. Have you ever noticed how many non-denominational “evangelical” churches post “statements of belief”?


I don’t know; maybe it’s cool to sit down with your pals at Starbucks, enjoy a whatever kind of $6.00 latte they’re serving and compose some hip-cool-funk-a-delic-post-modern statement of why it is you feel the need to work with the poor or whom/whatever, but it seems to me to be more ego masturbation than anything else. In essence what you’re saying is that Creeds are not enough; the Gospel needs something else; Jesus needs a PR man. Of course the irony is that at the end of the day the only mission statement that matters is already written: “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will” (Ps. 40). [emphasis added]
There's almost nothing I could add to this, well, rant. :) Almost.
This is a long-term risk in the "missional" camp, which is why I am not surprised that churches that a decade ago were described as "emerging" are slowly emerging into either standard liberal or conservative Protestant lines of thought. When I was in my early twenties and was quite a bit more naive and lacking in historical grounding I thought that an emerging/missional church might actually turn out to be something else.
Well, youthful naivete can sometimes be excused, I hope! Now that I'm closer to forty than thirty I realize that it was youthful naivete to imagine that things would turn out that differently after all. In fact a certain pastor said in a sermon earlier this year that in some cases plain old-fashioned naivete was married to arrogance on the subject of how differently things would turn out "this time". Everyone wants to imagine he or she will be that exceptional person who didn't go along with "authority" in the Milgram experiment. Everyone wants to imagine that "I" will not be like the others. There's a huge difference between hoping and praying that you do not sin the same way your fathers did, and another thing to say that you won't in full confidence that the way you plan to honor the legacy of your forebears is to be a better person than them. One of these paths does not consist of pride going before a fall, right?

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