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“Maybe we talk too much.”


That was one of the responses I got from the high school class yesterday morning when I asked them what one thing they would change about the church if they got the opportunity. Of course, there were the usual concerns about the style of worship music, the necessity of vestments, etc. Those are always good fodder for conversation with the young people.

But this comment struck a nerve. Maybe, indeed, we do talk too much…too much among ourselves and (ultimately) too much about ourselves. Take, for example, the Sunday liturgy. Are our people being formed to understand that God is the primary audience to whom we are directed? Or are we so focused on the comfort level of the crowd that God doesn’t stand a chance of getting noticed? Do we come ready to debate with each other over the latest silliness perpetrated by our denominational leaders? Or are we able to find ways to be faithful and obedient within our own contexts for ministry despite what we might disagree with?

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good argument. But I’m also observing that most arguments are conducted for the sake of proving no larger point than the fact that I’m right and you’re not. Neener, neener, neener.

I think that this is what my young friend was getting at (whether she knew it or not): It’s easy for our debates to keep us so firmly planted in our seats with our mouths flapping that our hands and feet don’t get the kingdom workout God intends for us. We talk, talk, talk…when what the world needs most is a Christianity that is hard at work, making sure that whatever doctrine it professes is evident primarily by the life that it leads. Which is why that same group of high-school kids wants to work on a Habitat house, and serve dinner at a local homeless shelter, and spend some time with an inner-city congregation with very different concerns and challenges than what we face here in the country.

Rudy Featherstone used to talk about making sure we got our hips and our lips moving in the same direction. He was right about that, of course. And it may well be time to heed that advice again.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Craig Fourman permalink
    26September2011 09:26

    Perhaps we do at times ‘talk too much’. But I think it is equallly true that we talk mostly about the wrong things. It seems to me people are not so much put off by our talk as our topics. The sense that we all have an equal voice in every subject may be a particularly American point of view, but it is not a particularly Christian one. As a Lutheran I am a parser of sentences and words, it comes with the territory, but I fear the world (especially the young) is tuning out the Church not so much because it says too much about things that matter, but because it says too little that matters period.

    • 26September2011 15:24

      Thanks, Craig…and a good point. All the more reason to make sure that we’re living a vibrant and engaged faith instead of just talking about it.

  2. PTC permalink
    26September2011 11:19

    I think of what Fredrick Buechner has said about vocation: It is where your deepest gladness meets a need in the world.
    There is no limit to the ways our hips (I would all the limbs and all the faculties) and lips can move together. Sometimes, though, I think we (literally) impose our own limits because we can’t “see” beforehand where this or that step will take us.
    When we stand on the threshold of deciding whether or not to do something in ministry, it is our responsibility to bring all that we have been given (our gifts, of time, talent and treasure) to the brink. Then, as we stand there we ask for God to give us the courage to free fall into the possibilities before us.
    Once we believe that we have been equipped in ways that reflect God’s passionate love for the whole world, the floodgates will open.
    I look forward to your thoughts about this!

  3. PTC permalink
    26September2011 11:21

    Sorry… I mean (I would INCLUDE all the limbs….)

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