Even a Broken Clock is Right Twice a Day.

As my wife and I settled in for movie night, the romantic comedy He’s Just Not That into You unfolded on the flat screen. We followed the somewhat interconnected relational missteps of nine people for 129 minutes. As the credits neared, the narrator, or narratress as the case may be, finally divulged the movie’s thesis.

Finding true love is the exception to the rule, the unexpected twist in life’s third act” It seemed that this romantic tragedy which have been theatrically reproduced is the norm, or so we were told. “Maybe we are so focused on finding a happy ending, we can’t learn how to read the signs. How to tell those who want us from those who don’t, the ones who will stay from the ones who will leave. Maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a wonderful guy. Maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over . . . maybe it’s just moving on.

Or maybe the happy ending is this. . . knowing that through all the unreturned phone calls, broken hearts, blunders and misread signals, pain and embarrassment, you never gave up hope” With the narratress’ final thought ringing in my ears, the music score surfaced and ended poignantly.

Save me”

How does this statement on 21st century love and life fit on a ministry blog? Glad you asked. This picture of dysfunctional love and life is on daily display, front and center in the main gallery of our culture’s lifeflow. To a great extent, what Christian’s would call broken life has become normal life of the dominant, post-Christian, post-modern social order we call contemporary. This new normal is the culture we, as Christ followers, are called to engage.

As Christ follows we are called to disciple the nations, not to separate ourselves from this emotionally damaged generation. For when we do, we thereby communicate that we are somehow better, and by comparison the hurting person is somehow less. This isn’t the way Christ interacted with his world . . . the woman at the well in Samaria, Mary Magdalene, Simon the outcast tax collector.

Yet even in the movie’s sadly narcissistic and slightly damaged conclusion, the writer sowed a small seed of truth. Life isn’t about the happy ending, or about what you get out of a relationship. Life is about finding wholeness. After that pearl of great price is unearthed and understood, a person is ready to share that life, and his or her own, with another. Thereby we become a blessing, instead of demanding to be somehow fulfilled and completed by another. Before we can give we have to receive.

As Christ followers, we know, and have the source of that blessing in our midst. We know personally the One who will genuinely love and never leave. We meet in closed circles to discuss Him, learn about Him, and make sure we are really part of His group.

Yet the world is still wondering, wandering, lost and needing to be saved.

Will we break out of our comfort zones? When will those outside the walls of our churches hear that real love is not the exception th the rule. When will they see? When will we go and tell them . . . with our lives, our actions and our words?

Advertisements

How this Small Congregation is Both Transformational and Emergent.

Engedi Church is a younger congregation with appx. 330 regular attendees / partners aged 50 and under. Pastor Brian keeps the messages real and funny, and the music is contemporary. His church is made up of “flaming liberals, political right wingers, and others who are apolitical – and they are all friends”

What attracts newcomers to Engedi? He replied “It’s the people. We are warm and friendly, not glitzy”

Brian and I further discussed what he sees as the attraction for those who come to a semi-abandoned strip mall for Sunday services when there is a church on every corner in the small community of Holland, Mi. For believers, a significant attraction is the time and emphasis dedicated to outreach. As is prevalent in many emergent churches, Engedi spends much of its energy making connections with those who are on the edges of their well woven community. Yet Engedi’s message is not typically emergent.

The message presented in some emergent churches is that truth is grayed around the edges. While black and white, right and wrong existed strongly in the past, today we need to wrestle with these issues and come to a mediated, fresh experience of truth.

Pastor Brian disagrees. While they make connections with those investigating Christ, by acknowledging the faith journey, God’s word is still presented as unchanging and all-encompassing truth. People in relationship with their God don’t have to defend his word, or confront others. We are on a journey, and accepting others like Christ did doesn’t mean the message changes. The message is one of hope and transformation, and the reason Engedi meets.

The attraction to those who are still seeking, or investigating the claims of Christ is, foremost that they are accepted. Secondly, those investigating Christ are often attracted to Engedi because of their emphasis on social justice and social outreach. In practice this means that a large number of Engedi partners are committed to and involved in compassion based outreach. Twenty five percent of Engedi’s budget is directed toward local and international outreach. While Engedi partners shy away from political causes, they have worked to expand public transportation in their home town and raise support for African relief projects.

In short, the appeal for those partnering with, and investigating Christ at Engedi is outreach. Pastor Brian believes that this the central issue which makes Engedi a transformational and prevailing church. “We present the clear teaching of scriptures. We don’t dumb down the message. The gospel is radical and demanding, calling people back to Christ. The demands of the gospel call us to create a new community, and God expects us to take action. The purpose of Engedi is to create meaningful change in people lives in that direction.”