Archives For David Kinnaman

HeWhoMustNotBeNamed speaks again. Apparently, I misread the gmail account.

And, apparently, was already taken because the address is: <>

My bad..

Here’s the latest anonymous message.

Nice try in outing me on your website.

However, no one will find my true identity due to the wrong contact information you have provided.  You should pay as much attention to details, as I do to destroying all your plans.
In the Peace of Christ,

As some of you may know, HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED is the moniker I sometimes use in sermons to protect the anonymity of a certain short-red-faced-bushy-eyebrowed-falls- asleep- before -the- doxology-generous- with- his- money- and- his- criticisms- parishioner (bless his heart).

Hilariously, now, one of YOU has taken this mantle and taken to emailing me cryptic, quasi-threatening emails from- yup-

Here is an example:

Rev. Micheli,

In the most recent posting on your “website” I have found issue with your claim regarding church signs.  First of all, if you truly do no like these signs STOP going past them so frequently.  Second, these signs are EXACTLY what the church needs.  We need to show the godless generation (those young adults you want us to reach out to) that the church has a sense of humor.  
We cannot rely on our pastors to provide the comic relief needed during a boring service to attract this crowd that YOU say we need to attract.  These signs serve a purpose.  Maybe Aldersgate needs to reexamine our sign humor.  Do we really need to advertise for the youth group on them or our children’s activities.  
If they want to come to those programs people will figure out when it is, and if they can’t do it without a sign then its not MY problem.
Be careful young man, you never know, we might just put one of these signs in our pastors front yards!
In the Peace of Christ,

Every day, two freaking times a day, I have to drive by one of those church signs with the individual letters you can move around like magnet poetry to create- supposedly- witty, catchy, thought-provoking, chicken-soup-for-the-vanilla-soul kind of messages. And on swim practice days, its 4x/day.

You’ve seen the ones.

‘Christianity: Some Assembly Required’  

‘Life is fragile, handle with prayer.’ 

‘1 Cross + 3 Nails = 4Given’ 

 ‘America bless God’

 ‘One in the hand is worth two in the…just kidding. 

Call me cynical (if you haven’t already) but I hate these signs. I’m sure some of you love them and think I’m cold and callous, but I think they’re lame.

My problem isn’t that these don’t communicate.

My problem is that I fear they communicate very well.

They say to anyone who’s never wanted to go to church before: ‘Stay away. We’re exactly what you thought we were.’

They say:

We’re not going to challenge you.

Our religion is the sentimental kind that will have about zero application to your life.

You don’t need to be here because the paradoxical message of Christ can be summarized in this lame Christian koan.

And this isn’t just me being cranky. In the book, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church, David Kinnaman notes that one of the most frequent reasons cited by young people is their impression that the Church is shallow.

So you see churches with lame signs only appeal to people inside churches not to the people who’ll be driving past your church come Sunday morning off to some other way to spend their time. Meanwhile, your sign conforms to all the impressions out there that Church isn’t a place of depth, unexpectedness or adventure.

Thus my plea…take down your lame sign.

And then there’s this sign, which has even more depressing suggestions of lameness (I mean…how did NO ONE in that church think that might be a double entendre).

My post yesterday on David Kinnaman’s book, You Lost Me: Why Young People Are Leaving the Church, generated several emails, one of which was a passionate note from a mother whose 20-something daughter simply has no interest in the church. The issue is real and, for those who care about the Church, urgent.

David Kinnaman’s research found six basic reasons young people cited for writing off the Church. Kinnaman labels the first of these ‘Overprotective.’ That is, just as our culture is rife with the phenomenon of ‘helicopter parenting’ so too do our churches vigilantly- excessively- manage their members (of all ages).

In the same way that helicopter parents intervene to insure that their children do not make mistakes, do not make messes, do not fail or fall on their face and do not miss an opportunity; helicopter churches minimize Christians’ creativity, self-expression and risk-taking in the fear that an innovation fail. ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it‘ in other words isn’t simply arbitrary stifling of anything new it’s the genuine desire to protect the church- and its members- from harm. Helicopter churches, as much as helicopter parents, are motivated by love. We love the church and so we don’t want someone’s new idea mess it up. We love our youth and so we don’t want their new idea to fail and hurt them.

Kinnaman wonders if this comes at a cost:

“Is it possible that our cultural fixation on safety and protectiveness has also had a profound effect on the church’s ability to disciple the next generation of Christians? Are we preparing them for a life of risk, adventure, and service to God- a God who asks that they lay down their lives for his kingdom? Or are we churning out safe, compliant Christian kids who are either chomping at the bit to get free or huddling in the basement playing World of Warcraft for hours on end, terrified to step outside?‘ 

Whatever good intentions might motivate such overprotectiveness, Kinnaman argues the research shows that it comes with risks.

By protecting our youth from the world (and isn’t this often what we want church and youth group to do-provide a safe alternative to the realities of teen life?) we inadvertently, yet quite logically, do a bad job of preparing them to live in it as Christians. We spend so much time shielding them from the world they have no idea how to practice their faith in the world once we can no longer, because of age, keep them from participating in the world. Is it any wonder, then, that young people drift away from the faith once they’re in the 20’s and 30’s. Our love of them and the church has produced a sort of Faith-Failure to Launch.

This plays itself out in a few ways, Kinnaman says.

  1. By presenting youth a risk-free form of Christianity, it’s only natural that youth would seek out risks from other, less healthy, outlets. We’re not giving them a Christianity that’s sufficiently interesting to compel them away from ‘bad’ risks.
  2. By shying away from asking youth to ‘make a decision’ (to give their life to Christ) we fail to equip them to make any other decisions of consequence.
  3. By protecting the church and youth from ‘mistakes’ we stifle creativity which has led to a loss, a near absence really, of Christian art. And, as any historian of Christianity can tell you, it was the Church’s ability to shape culture- not mimic it in pop form- that led to Christianity’s rapid rise in the ancient world.

The last two weeks I’ve preached sermons on Isaiah’s 3-year stint preaching nude and David’s 100 foreskin dowry. Some have suggested I’ve done this for juvenile and/or prurient interests. While I don’t deny my juvenile tendencies, I’ve actually chosen these scriptures for the very reasons Kinnaman highlights in his book. By blatantly choosing bible passages that might otherwise be off-limits and honestly wrestling with them, having fun with them and asking questions of them, I want to indirectly communicate to my listeners that we’re the kind of church where anything, if done in good faith, goes. I don’t, in other words, feel the need to protect people from anything, even scripture.