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Becoming Unchurched #1: Coming Out of the Dark April 15, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

If you are a Christian, the title of this series should be at least uncomfortable, but is more likely, alarming. It should be a problem for you in at least three ways.

1. If you apply this title to “the world” or “America,” then Becoming Unchurched is an expression of your despair as the culture erodes further and further into darkness.

2. If you apply this title to your own church or denomination, the it becomes an expression of how “the world” or “culture” has infiltrated your congregation or denomination and stained it in some way. Your family of faith will have been contaminated.

3. If you apply this title to yourself, then it feels like and expression that you might be losing your faith.

Well, if any of the above three ideas causes you some trepidation about the title, “Becoming Unchurched,” then it will come as a relief to you that this article is not taking that direction. So, take a sigh of relief and wipe your brow.

OK, now the bad news. what I am going to addressin this post is something that I think is an ever greater risk to the work of God on Earth than the above three. Ready for this? If so, keep reading.

The problem with so many of our most dedicated, motivated, and energized Christians is that they are overchurched. Church culture has gotten hold of them and shaped them into its image. I wish I could say that means that these Christians shaped like the church are also shaped liek Christ, but I can’t.

Wait a minute there buster, the church is the body of Christ, so going to church is being Christ. Yes, I see your point, but you do not see mine. The church is supposed to be the body of Christ, but that does not mean what or who calls itself church is the body of Christ. It just means it calls itself the church and does religious things. The body of Christ is a mystery. Who can know for sure who is the body and who is not?

The problem is that many of us are overchurched. Overchurched? How can someone be overchurched? I thought that the whole point was to get people churched. Well, actually, it isn’t. The problem comes when people just equate churchness and Christ-likeness. Christlikeness requires humility, compassion, hope, peace, justice, sacrifice, and whole lot of other ideals. Chruchness requires memerbship, attendacne and adeherence to a moral code. In short, churchness is a shortcut to the benefits of Christlikeness. And sadly, a really bad, misdirected, and gonna-get-lost-in-the-woods short cut.

Here are just a few more of the differences between Jesus and churchiness:

1. Jesus promotes love first while churchiness promotes brand names (Cathloic, Baptist, Church of Christ etc) first.

2. Jesus makes social justice prominent while churchiness makes select moral correctness prominent.

3. Jesus makes love the mark of the true believer, while churchiness makes knowledge the mark of the true believer.

4. Jesus seeks to befriend non-believers while churchness seeks to convert non-believers.

5. Jesus seeks to convert the overly churched while churchiness seeks to become overly churched.

6. Jesus says, “I became one of you.” Churchiness says, “you could be one of us.”

7. Jesus releases authority while churchiness accumulates authority.

8. Jesus is impressed that Bono has compassion for AIDS orphans while churchiness is offended that he used the F word.

There are many more differences, but I think you are beginning to perhaps see the difference. When people become Christians or are raised Christian, one of the greatest temptation is to progress as fast as possible in the faith. Great. However, church provides so many apparent short cuts, rewards these short cuts and affirms them that actual growth in faith is hampered. They get churched, but do they love more?

Coming out of the dark means becoming aware of all of the faith shortcuts provided to us and utilized by us, letting them go and getting back to a Jesus like way of life – or getting to that life for the very first time.



1. Phil - April 15, 2005

But… but… if what you say is true, what happens to my ability to judge others based on what I think is right?

What you’re talking about is the difference between mentally assenting to certain faith ideas and becoming a disciple of Jesus.

2. Fajita - April 15, 2005

Aha, everyone gets naked if they are clothed in churchness and really want to become a disciple.

3. David U - April 15, 2005

This post may get you on the bad list with some “Teachers of the Law”……..but just think about the company that puts you in! 🙂

Keep being a searcher, Chris! And keep speaking the truth in love.

4. Craig - April 18, 2005

Man…whew!…That’s heavy stuff. I know I agree with you. But will my heart allow me to leave my comfortable churchiness? And where will that lead me?

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