Thursday, March 08, 2007


I was tricked . . . bamboozled . . . hoodwinked!

Recently, in a reputable journal with the name
'Christian' on it, I read an article about a new
sort of church - the 'submergent church' - where
no one knew where the folks met, you could
attend by-invitation only, and the pastor was
paid (full-time) to watch TV, go to movies,
read, be immersed in the culture. (After all,
what pastor wouldn't like that job description?)
And for the laity, the service lasted only
15 minutes. It was such a great story that I
told other ministers, and some layfolks, about it.

Maybe it was because it sounded so enticing.
Maybe it was because I am at the point of
total confusion with all the 'labels' about
new and different ways of being the church.
Maybe it was because I read it on a day when
ministry seemed pretty dry and discouraging.
Maybe it was because it was in a magazine
I have come to respect and look forward to
reading. Maybe it was simply because it was
in print and therefore must be true. But I
fell for it - hook, line and sinker - and 'they'
reeled me into their (later admitted to) hoax!

Of course, it probably had a lot to do because
I can give in so easily to the notion that there
are 'new and improved' ways of being the church,
when it still continues to be the struggle and
chore it has been since Day One. I can buy into
the idea that there are well-paved and well-lighted
roads to the kingdom, when there are still all those
potholes caused by my pride, and those shadowed
stretches due to my stubbornness. I can want
to keep Jesus in a nice, safe, locked box where
he can only get out and mess with my life when
I let him.

But when I do that, I am only hoodwinking myself,
because Jesus won't be tricked into becoming a
hoax for my life, or anyone else's.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman