You don't have to go far in the blogging world to find people blogging about what is wrong with the church. Some say it is bad theology, others a lack of prayer, I tend to bang on about the need to be missional, while others comment that we need to take a marketing approach, some point to hypocrisy, the failure to deal with issues of justice, a lack of love for the poor, failure of community - too much community etc.
I think they are all right, they all point to failures, and as we might expect dealing with these issues may well help reverse the trends, while at the same time highlighting others. One thing is for certain in organisational dynamics whenever something begins to fall over - the knives often turn inward, we look at someone or something to blame.
Another institution which I have a great deal of interest in is my home Football Club, Middlesbrough FC, now when I was a kid living in the north east I was a Liverpool supporter, however when I came to NZ, MFC became a way of me connecting with the bigger picture of who I am, the team gave me sense of connectedness, roots. The Tees is my river, the riverside stadium is my mountain – this is how I know what home is. Middlesbrough like the Church in general has issues they are struggling, the fan base is faltering, they lose when they should win and make stupid mistakes constantly – I said they were like the average Church. They have some real issues, and the knives have turned inwards – it's the manager, it's the goal keeper, it's the lack of strikers, it's the weak midfield, and the heave handed defence, it's the lack of money at the club. While all these reasons for failure are right and dealing with them (like the Church) may reverses the trend I think they also highlight other inadequacies.
The solution the club has come up with I think is brilliant – rather then turning the knives inward they are calling for people to renew their passion for the club, to scream, yell and roar their support so that when teams come they are playing 11 men plus 30000 on the bench. They are encouraging people to be passionate – to do this they have put out a video with a young guy who embodies the club, he's a local lad made good and in that represents 1000 and 1000 of teenagers in and around Middlesbrough. He isn't the most eloquent speaker, nor is he a 'pretty picture' but he embodies passion. I watched it and got shivers down my spine, while it won't make me go out and buy a season ticket, it does make me proud to be part of something bigger.
Passion for the gospel – as good news for all seems to be one thing I see missing in the Church, I myself often find myself feeling ho-hum after attending Church, and I know that many feel that way – things aren't going that well and the passion seems to have gone. I still love Jesus more than ever but sometimes hanging around with his bride can be a little dull. I wonder whether we could reinstall some passion in each other through a similar approach to MFC and put the knives away…
Video link is here: David Wheater - Passion