The "it" we're trying to get done includes such things as:* We're all trying to bring Kingdom from Heaven to Earth.* All trying to reach out to the lost, the hurting, the poverty-stricken, the sick, the weak, the lonely, and those who cannot defend themselves or provide for themselves.* We are all, in our various ways, attempting to be the people of God in our current generation. And we are all attempting to figure out the best way to accomplish that objective.
The problem as I see it is that many of us, however, aren't really sure "how far" we are supposed to go to straddle the increasing gap between what appears to be our culture and the faith that we hold. And we think that if we just "add a new program, a new staff, a new look, or a new service", that such will keep us current with our culture, but not require us to really change any fundamental paradigms around which we operate. We say, with great conviction (and consolation to ourselves), that "we're willing to change the method, but not the Message", and we charge ahead with making minor changes here and there that we think will keep us "in the game" with the world around us.
But it's starting to look a lot to me like what I'm now calling "Pimping the Buggy". Let me preface this by saying that there is an enormous Amish population close to our area. What would you say if you were sitting at a stop-light, and you heard the clip-clop of horses' hooves beside you. You look over and see a tricked out Amish buggy sitting there, complete with brand-new fiberglass "butterfly" doors, curb-feelers, ground-effects, a huge "whale tail" spoiler on the back, deeply tinted windows, 36" alloy rims and racing slick tires. The horses are decked out with titanium yoke and bridle systems, and each has blinders and accoutrement's that match the fluorescent pink fuselage of the buggy itself. The guy driving the buggy bats the pair of green fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror once as he looks over at you, smiles, and then nods courteously to you. When the light turns green, he takes off like a shot from the lane, achieving a blistering 25 mph in a little over 8 seconds, leaving you to contemplate his vanity plate (it reads "HORSPWR") as you sit there awe-struck.
The Question is this, "When we say that we want to be "relevant" and "innovative" in our culture, what really do we mean?" Do we mean that really, we're willing to trick out what is fundamentally at its core an outdated, outmoded means of conveying Good News, or are we really willing to think and explore deeply about what it might mean to completely adopt a whole new model. I think we're all committed to the notion of "transportation" (i.e. Gospel, Jesus, personal transformation, etc), but it seems to me that as I engage people in our culture that much of what the Church attempts to do to gain audience to talk about things that are deeply spiritual looks little more to them than just an attempt to "pimp the buggy". We're scared to buy a car, but we're willing to try to look as much as we can like we have one. At what point are we better off either just acknowledging that we like buggies, and we have no intention of either pimping ours or buying a car, and if that means that we lose our relevance, so be it, or buy a car, with all of its frightening access to speed, freedom and the potential for much more lethal accidents? I think the way we answer that question will have a lot to do with "what the Church looks like" for the next generation in our culture.
Of course, this is a much bigger question than can be explored here, but I'm pleased that I at least feel like we're trying to aggressively pursue the answer.