Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Men's Fellowship

My new vehicle had a gasket that had to be replaced, but in order to do it, the engine had to be removed (American engineering!). I don't know much about such things, but apparently they also had to disconnect the battery, because when I turned my radio on and started hitting buttons, all my saved stations were gone.

Which explains why I ended up listening to a channel I don't usually listen to. The last time I listened to it, they were having an on-air drinking contest, to see how many beers it took the DJs to hit the legal limit. It was pretty loathsome, even considering what passes for "morning show humor" these days.

So imagine my surprise last Wednesday when I heard this same DJ talking about going to a Men's Fellowship group that morning at one of our local churches. "Surprise" seems woefully inadequate to describe my reaction.

But it's what he said next that I found both instructive and more than a bit heartbreaking. I'm putting it in quotes, but it isn't transcribed–-merely the best that I can remember.

"If you're not a religious type...If you're not into singing hymns, and praying prayers, and holding hands with other guys, that isn't what this is about. I don't think there was a single hymn sung, or a prayer prayed. But we watched clips from Gladiator [and several other movies] was very motivating.."

Of course, it is always possible for those who are blind to the truth to miss it even when it's right in front of them, but the sponsoring church's website states that the meeting is presented "as a community service not as a church service," which seems consistent with what was reported.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?

I'm not trying to say that everything that happens at the church has to involve some kind of heavy-duty Bible study. But when someone who's life screams "I need the gospel" is overheard recommending your fellowship meeting because of its complete lack of religious content, perhaps it is time to reconsider your priorities. Motivation is fine, as far as it goes, but to send someone away highly motivated but totally lost with not even a clue of their spiritual condition is a sad situation indeed.


Carla Rolfe said...

"Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?"

Its not just you. More and more this is the kind of surface level fluff being offered as fellowship in Christian churches.

Ray said...

While these places think they are doing a 'service' by getting people into their churches, the reality is that they are enticing people to come and watch videos, be he-men etc., but they are not sharing the Gospel, the one item so desperately needed by these people.

Romans 1 -- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek..."

When a church loses that, they are no longer a church!

Anonymous said...

Boy, I could write a book about this subject, but I don't have time. Suffice to say that the churches offering clips of blood-sport movies and passing it off as authentic, male Christianity are missing truly Biblical opportunities to show what real Christian men are all about.

Today's evangelical has been taught little to nothing about what a robust, masculine faith in Christ is all about. In truth, I believe if Biblical manhood were actually being displayed instead of this dog and pony show then these men would perhaps see how God wants them to live for the first time in their lives.

Teach them about Joseph, he was a real man if there ever was one. His faith in God kept fuel in his tank when everything looked abysmal. Teach them about John the Baptist: real men are willing to be single and live off of locusts and wild honey for Jesus...and have you ever thought about how hard it would have been to get the wild honey without getting stung back then?

And I don't even need to get into how Christ is the best example of manhood we've ever had, and His sufferings were immense, His heart was passionate and His anger was righteous. Even non-believers would be lying to say Jesus wasn't the epitome of a real man.

Sadly, these churches have bought into and are perpetuating the lie that masculinity is a celebration of violence and destruction. Our culture has done much since the 1980's to demonize honest masculinity and our sons have to live with a society that says boys are bad for not being like girls.

Showing clips from Gladiator and belching while talking about the Hogs and calling it authentic male Christianity is doing nothing to stem the tide. I wish America's evangelicals would begin to see this on a larger scale and remember that healthy Christianity is always counter-cultural.

Robust Christian men can go deep into a culture and yet stay different. Anybody can assimilate, but it takes a man to be different.

Ok, I guess that's all I've got for now. Good topic by the way.

It sounds like you might agree with me if I said, "If I ever reach a point where I do not need a car, I will choose to no longer have one."

And Heroes won't make much sense to you if you missed season 1. It gets better when you know the back-story.


Gummby said...

I think what bothers me the most is exactly what you guys have alluded to...that there is something inherently non-masculine about being a Christian. Instead of catering to the culture, we should be showing them what real manliness is. It isn't about having a Bud with your homies--it's about providing for your family, loving your wife and kids, changing diapers, and yes, even loving and serving God.

Tom--thanks for the reminder of all the men in the Bible who were manly. I know your list wasn't intended to be inclusive, but I'll just add David, who was a true warrior, and Paul, who took beating after beating for the sake of the gospel. I think these men would be equally repulsed by our pagan American culture and the way our churches handle men.

P.S. to Tom: If I was in a place where they had adequate public transportation, I would have willingly given up the vehicle years ago. Gotta have it for the job now, though. Let us know if we can help with your deal.

I figured that was the deal on Heroes. I guess that approach is fine if you're not trying to add new viewers, but you run the risk of turning off folks like me who've heard the hype and then the show doesn't live up to it.

At the end of the day, though, do I really need to be watching more TV?

Randy said...

Good time for me to show up and read your thoughts again, as I am working through these same issues right now in a search for a new church. (I'll save the sad back-story on why the church we loved had to close its doors for another time.) Sadly, the churches we have visited since have no substance. A couple of churches have gone so far as to recommend that we no longer bring our bibles, as we don't want to "offend" the non-believers that would happen to show up. The mens groups are as you descibed in your post... getting together to show each other how much of the gospel they can leave out in order to bring more people in. Many have turned iron sharpening iron into whipped cream sharpening whipped cream.

Matt - Good thoughts on your post. By the way, we live in KC now. I sure miss the Bible-belt.