For all the questions and all of the struggle (which is not a bad word by the way) raised by Viola in Pagan Christianity, I wish he had began the book with this heart of reasoning.
Excerpt from P.C. (Question 9 at the end of Ch 3): ”
…we are raising three key questions: (1) After exploring where the modern Protestant order of worship came from, is it really successful at transforming people and expressing Jesus Christ? (2) Is it possible that open-participatory church meetings are more in line with what God had in mind for His church than the Protestant order of worship? (3) Would it be worth our time to begin exploring new ways to gather and express Chrsit in our church life together?
For me, the idea was never to intentionally attack the Western Culture’s style (and I use this word intentionally), but that, as an active member of it, I needed to ask myself some questions:
1. If I believe in the Priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 1), am I deactivating (or at least endorsing the deactivation) of the congregation’s participation and engagement with the gospel by being a “pastor” with the “laity” under me? Are we somehow communicating that we are the “paid professionals – don’t try this at home (Voddie Baucham).”
2. Is the modern order of worship (the use of monologue sermons and sing along time) effective? Keep in mind these factors:
- The quality of Christian it produces (we are easily compared to the “lukewarm church” in Loadicea in Revelation – Check Francis Chans Sermon).
- The numbers. As Craig Groeschel stated at Exponential ’08, even the largest mega church has no platform to stand in comparison to the overwhelmingly vast number of lost people in the world.
- When all the churches look the same, are we reaching different types of people or only the giving the “church folk” more options for their Sunday morning entertainment (Alan Hirsch).
3. If the roots of what we do on Sunday mornings are culturally created, and possibly from Pagan origin, why are we defending it as if it was biblical.
After asking myself these questions, it has become very hard to legitimize the Western Christianity (and it’s sub-sulture) that I was comfortable with (although I would honestly have to say I was discontent with), paid my salary, and that my “professional” life and ministry peers adhered to strongly.
Now, I know that asking these questions are difficult, and I am not saying that I have this figured out, but asking them is not evil, blasphemous, or wrong. I may be wrong and American/ Western may actually have it all right…but what if I’m not.
What if the questions are from God? What if I take the chance to look crazy, risk my salary and security, and follow Him.