There’s a proliferation of authors, bloggers, speakers, e-magazines, online courses and websites telling us how to “be the church” – or promoting this or that aspect of healthy church form and function.
At first, years ago, I was very much enticed by all they had to say.
Then I started noticing a glaring lack of actual stories by them, involving real people and real churches.
Their stuff was inspirational, but consistently provided only vague generalities – rather than concrete accounts – of their concepts actually working in the real world, with real people and real churches.
Instead, they were always promoting their ideals and concepts in terms of “should”, “could” and “ought” – and trying to inspire others to do what they said – without the evidence of actual success in their own lives, and in their own church, through specific stories.
At first, this really confused me. After all, wouldn’t they want to tell specific stories from their own lives, and tell specific stories of how their concepts actually changed the lives of others and were working in real churches?
I then started realizing that many of them had fallen into the trap of thinking that aspirations alone – without first being proven in real life – should be a model for everyone else!
I suspect they started out in good faith, but eventually were reduced to making misleading biographical claims (or hiding their true history) and forming mutual promotion networks with other writers and speakers who also had no real, sustained history of actual successful application.
Since then, I’ve learned to be much more discerning about those those who promote books, blogs and other resources on how to be the church:
• Do they have an ongoing, successful history of being part of – and are they currently rooted in and accountable to – a functioning local church that is actually applying what they are now promoting?
• If so, have their concepts, as applied to their own local church, exhibited actual sustained health – with tangible outward evidence?
• Do they provide that evidence, in the form of specific stories involving real people and real churches, in their books, blogs, conference engagements, DVDs and e-magazines?
If they don’t routinely provide concrete accounts of their ideas and concepts actually working in their own life, and in their own church, then move on.
~ Jim Wright