Normal churches, normal people

A reader pointed out this blog post by Kirk Wellum, the head of Toronto Baptist Seminary. He talks about a most unusual church-planting initiative:

I am talking about the need to establish normal churches where normal people can come and worship and be challenged in their Christian faith and encouraged to make a difference in the real world in which they live. I am talking about places where the sermons are intellectually cogent and do not just reflect the views of a strange Christian subculture that is clearly misinformed or out of touch with the surrounding culture — so out of touch in fact, that normal Christian people are uncomfortable bringing their friends and neighbors because of the strangeness going on around them. We need churches inhabited by people who live and work in the real world and who know what they are talking about when it comes to the Christian faith. We do not need caricatures of the Christian faith but a theologically and practically balanced Christianity that has something to say to everyone. [Emphasis added]

A caricature is not false to its subject, it merely exaggerates certain features, usually with a comic effect—perhaps affectionate, perhaps mocking. Caricatures are out of balance, and this is apparent to the onlooker. Caricatures are not attractive.

One would think that the well-lived Christian life would be in perfect balance, and obviously so. And that lack of balance would be something gradually, actively eliminated rather than treasured and nurtured.

Put bluntly, the normal Christian life should look like the ideal normal human life, easily recognizable as the kind of life a human would clearly want to live if only they were able. I agree that most of the lukewarm churches in our era fall short of this, with the lives of their parishioners looking little different from those of the rest of the world. But I think that the more energetic churches also fall short, in a different way, allowing their zeal for righteousness to throw their lives out of balance, even using their zeal to justify and champion the caricature they become.

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One thought on “Normal churches, normal people

  1. The ideal normal life does not look ideal to a great number of people, I’m afraid. I think an agrarian lifestyle is pretty ideal, yet most people distain the work that it takes. Or the pleasure of having one’s children home all day looks like a burden to some, even though I would consider that pretty ideal. It seems to me that balance is not as obvious to the watching world as we would like it to be.

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