I was raised as a Southern Baptist. For those of you who also grew up in the south, there are some common experiences we both likely shared growing up in the Bible belt: hellfire and brimstone preaching, potlucks galore, youth trips where sex and alcohol were the norm (not for me though), and the occasional guest preacher or youth conference designed to really stir things up and get the congregation on fire for Jesus.
I wasn't a fan.
This isn't to say that every church was like this, but it was common enough to be a serious problem.
Radical for Jesus?
When I would attend youth meetings, the 20-something speaker would always end the speech by asking the crowd "are you on fire for Jesus?", to which the crowd would unanimously respond in a wild cheer. And I would just kind of clap my hands and look around and think, "what's wrong with you people?"
We live in a society that seems to be driven by passion rather than principles. I don't think this is new, but it does appear to be touted as the proper way to live. Passion has a number of downfalls:
- Passion is relative to passion - It's too easy to compare today's passion with last years and realize it's not the same.
- Passion requires constant stoking of the fire - The billows of excitement must keep fanning the coals, lest passion grow cold.
- Passion can be turned towards evil - Those who seek passion as their main driver can more easily be swayed towards something that is not in keeping with their principles.
See the previous episode on Cravings vs. Convictions for more thoughts on this.
Rational for Jesus?
I don't know if a "Rational for Jesus" movement would get much traction. It's not really in keeping with how society asks us to live. Although, you might say the apologetics movement is a Rational for Jesus alternative to the Radical movement of the past.
The church of the past, largely driven by societal pressure to conform and passionate revivals, is struggling today. 59% of millennials who grew up in a church no longer attend. Many of them feel that church does more harm than good. Is this a response to the churchianity many of us grew up in?
What if we had a more rational and reasonable response to Christ, rather than trying to constantly stoke the flames and then judging one another based upon their outward expression of passion for Jesus? I think it might change things.
Relational for Jesus?
As humans, created in the image of the triune Godhead, we crave relationship. We need it, and we are starving for it. I believe that if the church wants to continue moving forward, it will need to focus on the relational aspects of Christianity and how that is most often experienced through our relationships with fellow believers.
Christianity is unique in it having a relationship with Christ, our Elder brother, and God our father, through the Holy Spirit. If we can learn to experience this and express this to each other, I believe we will have something that draws people in and gets to the heart of what Christianity is supposed to be.