Monday, August 27, 2007

Mom & Pop vs. Walmart

Hello readers, I'm back. Does that mean lightning does strike the same place twice? My family snuck in a vacation before school begins and such things become well nigh impossible. It was an interesting trip-- if one finds rain interesting. It rained everyday, some days, so much that we were stuck inside all day. We did a lot of puzzles! I wonder what Noah's family did while they were in the ark? Probably involved a lot of shoveling! All told, I think our trip was better than theirs.

Our vacation did serve, however, to reinforce for me the wonderful blessing that is family. The word says that God sets the lonely in families. Families are a mark of his compassion and grace. Of all his inventions for the benefit of humanity, none beats the family. In America, however, we suffer a debilitating disease, which infects the broader West as well: family has lost it's cachet and is not valued anymore. We have actually become anti-family in so many ways: families that should be formed are not, and families that are, are discarded without much consideration and not much legal difficulty either. Our disease is wasting our society, but as if diagnosed with some terminal malady, we seem to have accepted our lot and are in hospice rather than treatment.

There is some panic (it seems to me) among religious prognosticators in the West concerning the future of Church. They read the tea leaves (statistically based of course) and blare their trumpets, "if something isn't done soon, we'll lose the next generation!" Much discussion has ensued about the proper paradigm for the church in our age. What can be done to make the church relevant, resilient, and resurgent? If God never said anything about the subject, our brainstorming might be appropriate, but he has spoken and we should have a clue. In any age, in any culture, no model is more scriptural than that of family. Church is the family of God, we are brothers and sisters in the Lord, and we have one heavenly Father.

The paradigm that works to produce the body God desires is the Church as Family. Enough with fan clubs for religious superstars; enough with social service agencies that treat symptoms of our societal ills but don't transform the individual; enough with social clubs that isolate after they initiate their members; enough with playgrounds and spas that serve the flesh but don't succor the spirit; enough with religious conglomerates opening branches everywhere possible in an effort to dominate the market. In the realm of the church, in the heart of God, the mom and pop shop beats Walmart every time!

Addendum 8/29/07: A very interesting post at Cerulean Sanctum takes things a step further.