In naming Brian McLaren and Tony Jones as Stupid Church People of the Year, it seems to have created varied reactions. I figured it would. I mean, who would have really cared if I would have named one of these fine folks the SCPOTY:
Paul and Jan Crouch
Nobody would have cared. I don’t think most of the Emergent Church people would have defended these folks. In many respects they might have laughed and probably agreed. The problem wasn’t that I named anyone a “SCPOTY” it was that I named “their guys”. Sometimes it is just hard to see ourselves as we really appear.
You see, in my opinion, the point of being Stupid Church People is this:
1). You know when you are one. All SCP don’t mind being called one, especially when what they have done is SCP worthy. I’ve done tons of SCP things and will in the future do more. Many of the things I have done are chronicled on this site. Things like visiting “door-to-door” to save people, creating events that inflate my ego and make me feel good but don’t really build the kingdom, making people feel “guilty” and “shaming” people to follow God with their lives… man have I done some things I wish I could change.
2). You are honest about your shortcomings. As a result, when I am honest, I open myself up to all sorts of judgments. Trust me, this has happened on this site more than once. There is a difference between being judged for what I have done and judged for who I am. I know sometimes the lines get blurred.
3). We don’t take ourselves too seriously (at least not to the extreme). And that’s the big point here. In naming Jones and McLaren as SCPOTY it is obvious that they are not on par with the SCPness of the Hinn’s, Robertson’s and Crouch’s of the world. What they need to recognize is that I already considered them Stupid Church People (as I consider all of us who are or have been part of the church). They might find that offensive too, but they are in good (if not great company).
I consider Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, James Dobson, Erwin McManus, Eugene Peterson… I consider them all SCP. There are possibly degrees of SCPness, but in all seriousness… all SCP’s are created equal. The difference is acknowledging it… admitting you have a problem is the first step of recovery.
And here is the rub. If you are a Christian and have been a part of a church, or a pastor, or a Christian ministry leader of any sort (paid or unpaid)… YOU ARE A STUPID CHURCH PERSON! And if you don’t think you are one, this means you are even more of one than you appear. It no doubt confirms you are a SCP if you deny it. Denial is the first sign.
To be Stupid Church People is not negative. Yes, on this site we may tend towards cynicism and skepticism. We may be a bit harsh in our criticisms. Occasionally we may step out of line and say something that we wish we hadn’t of said… but we will never hesitate to admit our shortcomings and seek to make things right to the best of our ability. Part of what happens here is raw, honest and unfettered dialogue. I have heard that’s what the “emergent-types” want. We don’t desire anarchy in our discussions and while some may be thrown by the name (the word stupid just really throws people off doesn’t it?), the people that have regularly visited the SCP site have become an extended family to one another…even in the midst of our own unique dysfunctions.
I am so glad Tony Jones has commented on this site and is seeking to enter into the conversation over here (even if I kinda dragged him here). For him, I am sure it equates to slumming and I appreciate him venturing over to our “stupid” little site. I know he is busy (and I mean this) and so for him to take a few minutes to either explain himself or even defend himself… makes me extremely glad. He should be here. As he has written to me (and I don’t think he would mind me sharing this)… we are on the same team! And we are probably more on the same page than either one of us cares to admit. I look forward to turning those stupid pages together.