Hi, I'm Jeffrey, and I'm "Unchurched"

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:49 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

I like News 2's Jamey Tucker's blog: Faith and Ethics. Yesterday he did a post about Unchurched Americans based on a Barna study and an interview with Mike Glenn, pastor of Brentwood Baptist church here in Nashville.

In his post he did mention, "I know, many will say you don't have to go to church to be a Christian. But even those who responded that they never go to church agree that church is where you build a foundation for the Christian life."

[Pause to choose my words carefully.] I feel that the very use of the word "unchurched" (in this context anyway) is a misnomer. If you have spent any amount of time interacting here, you know that I feel it is important to understand that we who follow Christ are the church. To say that we go to it on a regular basis is to more easily allow ourselves to disconnect and further compartmentalize our lives. I know, I know, many will say, "Come on Jeffrey, you know what I mean." Yes, I know what the term ["go to church"] is supposed to mean, but I feel it too has morphed into an unhealthy ideology.

That said, is it important to gather together in worship with other believers? Yes, I believe wholeheartedly that it is. However, what form that gathering takes may vary greatly. Does one form, oh let's say like hiking Radnor Lake on Sunday morning with some friends (like my wife and I will do this Sunday), aspire to a lower standard of Godliness or worship than another maybe more traditional form? I truly do not think so. I personally connect with, hear from, and worship God through His beautiful creation in the most intimate of ways--as do my wife and the other couple we'll be joining with on Sunday morning.

What's important? Worship. Connection with God in personal, communal, and intimate ways. If that happens on a trail or in a pew, either way, worship is what matters. Consequently, it is not only on that trail or in that pew that worship could happen. It is in the every day. Its at work. Its at the gym. Its with our neighbors. Its at the store. Its a life. Worship is a life--not something we do once, twice, thrice a week, or however often you gather in a church building.

Unchurched, in my opinion, should not be a term attributed to Christians who merely choose not to worship on a weekly basis in a building designated to the gathering of the Church. IF it is to describe anything at all, it should be to describe those who haven't a relationship with Christ that saturates their daily lives--whether they're "in church" or not. How many, I wonder, who leave their butt prints in the pews Sunday after Sunday would fall into that category? I, for sure, have been there.

I like what the News 2 story this morning had to say about this topic in one of their stories. They said, "Most people discount Christianity because they have a neighbor or co-worker who claim to be one yet doesn't live like it. Changing that is a lot more difficult than putting on an Easter program."

So by the current terminology I guess you'd call me "unchurched". Yet how can that be when Christ teaches that I, as are all who are called by His name, am a vital part of it?


Blogger Kat Coble said...

Keep in mind that the people I've heard most often advancing the necessity of attending a church for an organised service are the same people who make their living from offerings collected at those services.

March 27, 2006 1:24 AM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

I understand your point Katherine, and in my opinion, its a good one. However, not necessarily the one I was trying to make in this post ;-). I feel that many of us (myself included, in not so distant days past) have a great sense of dependency on our regular and various gatherings at the church building(s), specifically, on the weekly worship service.

Its all fine and good to look forward to those gatherings, but to depend upon them is quite another thing. Those various times of communal worship should be an overflow of our indidual worship throughout the week. But how many people warm the pews week after week, bored out of their minds, hating their brothers and sisters, slandering their pastor, and not only "getting nothing" out of the service, but giving nothing as well (and I'm not talking about finances). What brings them back on a regular basis? Perhaps, and very likely, the subconcious feeling that as long as they're "in church" on Sunday, their life and walk with Christ is ok. Proverbially, they have satisfied the requirements of the Law they have created and bind themselves to, not realizing they are free from that Law and it is the life of Christ in us, the indwelling of the Spirit of God, that we should and need to depend on.

March 27, 2006 9:03 AM

Blogger easyrhino said...

Good thoughts, Jeffrey. Semantics are important.

You mentioned Barna near the beginning of your post. I think a lot of backlash against him and his book Revolution is semantically based. I have written an article dealing with it that you might find interesting.

Keep the good thoughts rolling.

March 27, 2006 9:10 AM

Blogger Dan the Baptist said...

Do you think God calls Preachers?

Just asking

March 28, 2006 12:42 AM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

Justin! Dude I didn't even know you knew these feeble musings of mine existed! Thanks for the comment. Good thoughts. I'm gonna check out that article as soon as I have time to read it--I can't wait


Hey Dan, good to hear from ya. I've been keeping up with your blog, but have pretty much been "lurking" (reading without commenting) there. Lol, sorry.

As I venture further down this path of questioning, rethinking, and discovering what it means to be Church, this, specifically, is an area where my understanding is still in darkness, or fogginess at best, to be perfectly honest. This question came up in a thread from about a month ago as well.

I'm not so sure I've ever felt that God calls "preachers". All the words, in both Hebrew and Greek, that we translate "preach" simply mean, "to proclaim, bear news, pronounce, hearld, etc..." and hence do not denote a "church office". All who follow Christ are, in a sense, "preachers", the capacity in which that occurs is what varies.

As far as the other specified offices, specifically the ones Paul mentions at the end of 1 Corinthians 12 and also to include elders and deacons (or do elders and deacons actually fit into one of the main offices listed in 1 Cor.?), these I would come closer to feeling that God calls out specifically. Again, I'm not saying He does or doesn't, I'm saying that I'm meditating on and wrestling with those things as God leads me to truth regarding them.

One, merely one, of my questions regarding the "church offices" are how, really, can/should they be played out? Organization is not an issue for me. Everything has and requires organization. To get together with friends to have coffee requires organization. I guess I'm more concerned with centralization. I'm not so sure that the current hierarchical arrangement of those offices in many "churches" is the only OR the best way for them to be manifested.

Anyway, that was the waaaaay long answer to that simple question. But I felt like I needed to explain but a snippit of my though process to accurately respond. lol. Hey Dan, I'd love to hook up for coffee or something sometime--its so hard to discuss things like this in a blog thread.

March 28, 2006 7:45 AM

Blogger Kat Coble said...

However, not necessarily the one I was trying to make in this post ;-).

I know. ;-p

I was just adding my two cents. Which is ironic because I think that overall I'm more in favour of corporate edifice centered worship than are you.

March 28, 2006 11:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curious thoughts on this blog. You seem to be more obsessed with "buildings" and "church" than the "churchgoers" you talk down to.

Not trying to jab you, but you seem to have a chip on your shoulder. Have you somehow been wronged by a "church", so now your message is 'we don't need church'?

Since money was mentioned in this thread, I was curious, will you be leaving a tithe with the Radnor Lake Park Association?

March 28, 2006 12:07 PM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

Kat, you know I always welcome your two cents!

Ah yes! Now there is unity! Two people who may have somewhat different feelings on the details of how the Church functions and manifests itself, yet realize that those differences need not have any reprocusions (sp?) on their bond in Christ.


Anonymous, I seem to have offended you in some way. I assure you, that is not, in any way, my intent. No one here is being talked down to. In regards to your statement about my lack of care for "churchgoers", nothing could be further from the truth. I have a profound love for churchgoers, who are people, who are the Church. I must confess, its quite unclear to me as to how you have arrived at the conclusions of what I am and am not obsessed with.

Allow me to inform you also that there is no chip on my shoulder, I have not been wronged by the institution of the Church, and have NEVER said we do not need the church. As a matter of fact, I have spent many years (relative to the life of a 23 year old) serving in a local congregation. The Church cannot be destroyed. It is forever. It is the people of God. What I am realizing is that many of us have created misplaced dependencies on the buildings, the programs, the structures, etc, to the point that we accept that as Christianity. We live from Sunday to Sunday, bored out of our minds, yet satisfied that we have done our duty. I am realizing that a life in relationship with Christ should look MUCH different then that.

I have never, not once, said that gathering together in worship is a bad thing. If you doubt that, refer to the title of this entire blog. What I do feel is unhealthy and what falls short of the reality that could be lived are the things we, "churchgoers", many times depend on instead of Christ.

Blessings to you, whoever you are. I do hope you contine to interact here.

March 28, 2006 12:35 PM

Blogger Dan the Baptist said...

I would love to meet with you over a good cup of joe. However I disagree on the office thing. Read the first two verses of Philippians. There are two offices in the local church. Bishops and Deacons. Also what about what Paul says in the end of Chapter 10 of Romans? How can they hear without a preacher? BTW you are not offending me in anyway I enjoy the convo

March 28, 2006 12:44 PM

Blogger Jeffrey said...

Dan, email me and let me know when a good time for you to hook up would be. I look forward to it. And thanks for your kind words. I enjoy the convo too.

The word translated "preacher" is the Greek word "kerusso". The word translates
"1)to be a herald, to officiate as a hearld;
a)to proclaim after the manner of a herald
b)always with suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed;
2)to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done; 3)used of the public proclomation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers."

So I don't know that the literal translation of the word would actually imply that God calls "preachers". But maybe it does. I've been wrong before, I'll be wrong again--plenty of times.

March 28, 2006 1:18 PM


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