Welcome back! So did you give yourself brain cramps on that little homework assignment I left you? I’m a little disappointed no one mentioned wanting to know more about me and my embarrassing habit of talking to myself. No interesting thoughts to share? No potentially inflammatory and embarrassing topics to suggest? You must all be sleeping off that holiday hangover, huh?
At any rate, Susan Meissner wins the prize for my first topic in the New Year. Here’s the winning suggestion:
“…to explore ways we Christian worldview writers can become responders instead of reactors, how to take a less defensive role and a more deliberate, active role in proclaiming truth. I want to know how to write to people (and for people) outside the pews in ways that still encourage and edify the body but draws the seeker, the doubter, the unconvinced. I want to find ways to not step outside the box so much as to make the box such a wondrous thing, the ABA readers on the outside want to step in.”
Well here you go Susan. Some validation. As you’ll know, one of the many perks of my job as general irritant at WaterBrook is visiting with authors. For example, Len Sweet (a guy who’s ideas I think explain his surname) dropped in this afternoon to chat and upload some recent thinks on us. I’m afraid I had to duck a few times: this guy swings high. Unfortunately, I also had to duck out early (sorry, Len), though not before catching the fire of a particularly crackling thought: something along the lines of Susan’s suggestion here: We bring them to us.
Some have criticized the emergent church for being too “relevant” and throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Some accuse the postmoderns of placing too high a premium on engaging the culture at the expense of the historical faith, missing the deeper meaning behind the baubles and glittery knock-offs to appropriate the trappings of our consumer culture. Frankly, at times I wish emergents had a more defensible argument.
My supposition for tonight is that if we’d only get out of the way, experience God as we long to, and share of our experience to draw others in, all attempts at “cultural-relevance” might become obsolete. I believe this has become a very relevant discussion for us as writers attempting to attract a broad audience, not to mention its implications for evangelism and the church. Maybe the question comes down to how do we experience what God is doing as human beings, rather than as “Christians” or as “writers” or whatever other label precedes our experience?
I love the relevants. The emergents. The post-everything, tech-savvy, uber-lovely Christians with their shabby chic deconstruction and messiness and discontent. Like, I mean, how could I not? Gosh! But there’s something so yesterday about it all that belies a similar problem as the one they’re supposedly discarding. Adopting the culture’s look and sensibilities to be relevant will not attract anyone to the real, uncontrollable God.
So let’s hear from some more of you on this one. Should we be pursuing anything less than authentic encounters with God to win the attention of our culture?