I’m still waiting for the author who has the fortitude to tell us what they appear to assume to be true: Jesus is in but the church is out. This pointed remark is not a vicious slam on the need to be missional and incarnational, but it does express the disillusionment I feel when reading some of these author’s scripts that suggest the church of today doesn’t really love Jesus. I guess if I wanted to sell books I could entitle my first release I Despise Jesus but I Love the Church. That’s the ludicrous and visceral reaction that emerges when I read the tomes spewing out of Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Jossey-Bass and a host of other sources.
Everything Must Change, They Like Jesus but not the Church, The New Christians, Lord, Save us from Your Followers. The thoughts beneath the surface of these titles often lack any subtlety – the church of America’s recent past really doesn’t get Jesus. Dan Kimball, Sarah Cunningham, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Dan Merchant and a plethora of other self-titled postmoderns all have released books built around the same theme: God save us from your followers because the generation of today isn’t into the contemporary expression of the church. No doubt some of the ideas offered are needed missives and a call to mission. That’s fair game and a necessary dialogue. Often though what happens is what they claim to hate: generalize, build a straw man, and then burn it up. Southern Baptists, in particular, are an irresistible target. I’ll resist quote mining or proof-texting, but let me offer some observations that might be a tad different than much of the offerings that publishers so rapidly push to the press.