Call it a softer, gentler Stupid Church People…
HA…no, not really. But maybe you have noticed a change in my attitude and approach over the past few weeks. Josh and I have talked at lengths about it and I am not sure what has led me to some of my more recent opinions, except to say that most likely it is a culmination of many different things… or it could be I am just getting old.
I started SCP with the thought in mind of creating my own spin on Mike Yaconelli’s “Wittenburg Door” magazine. I call it Mike’s because with him as their editor, that is truly when the magazine was at its finest. Their motto was “Nailing it to the Church”, and boy did they ever! They called people out, they pointed out the idiocy of much of the church in a sardonic and witty fashion. Big churches, small churches, churches of all denominations…. famous people, infamous people, no-name people… if you were a part of the church you were potentially a target for their pen. (The Door still exists and it’s still a fine magazine, I just miss the old one and haven’t really given the new one a chance… how “stupid” of me).
And so Josh and I embarked on this endeavor called Stupid Church People. He has his blog and I have mine and occasionally we do a podcast. I often wonder as I continue down the path of my journey whether or not we are doing the right thing. You don’t know the amount of positive feedback we get from people. It is very encouraging to hear that something we’ve written or said has caused someone to see things a bit differently than before.
Yet we also get emails that ask us why we don’t act more like “real” Christians (or wonder if we even are.) There are also my own doubts and questions lingering in the back of my mind. When you have a website with a name like ours it could be construed that we don’t care about “church” or “people”. That’s just not true. Often I ask myself questions like: Are we too mean to people? Should we be more positive and encouraging? Is what we are doing right? Is this site really adding to the Kingdom of God or is it just tearing it down?
To help me answer that question, I went to my inspiration and here’s what I read in a 2005 issue of “The Door” magazine as they pondered these same questions:
So, when it comes to making a change in the Status Quo, about all that’s left to us is satire and humor. It’s a cheap but dangerous weapon… So, satire it is. This is the hand that’s been dealt us, so we’re going to continue to play it. You’ve heard us say it before: Satire is lining up 100 sacred cows and shooting them all with a machine gun. Whichever one yelps the loudest, you shoot 10 more times.
Still… Are we doing the right thing?
“Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign.” (Barbara Brown Taylor, from A Deadly Mix)
Wow. If we’re true to our calling, then we have to be the thorn in the side of those in power, regardless of the cost.
Hey, that gives me an idea for our own SCP tagline: “Being Pricks to the Church since 2005”. Could be something worth developing don’t you think?
Josh and I are really nobodies. We don’t have a budget, we don’t ask for money and we don’t want to be famous. We are small potatoes in this economy of change-seekers for the church and for believers disillusioned by her. We are the underdogs against the superheroes of the Evangelical machine. But we believe that the “status quo” of the current Evangelical Church in most of its forms (emergent included) is irrelevant, ineffective and impotent. There needs to be more voices who speak out and draw attention to this and there are many avenues to do so. SCP, with it’s attempts at humor, brutal honesty and through the sharing of our personal stories and opinions is just our weapon of choice.
Regardless of what some may think, I am sincere in my quest for change – change within me, within the church system, within the lives of those trapped in a religious system of conformity and not freedom. I do care what others think and feel and have found myself feeling bad and recently trying to build bridges to those that have been the targets of our past shenanigans. It is truly not my nature to be disruptive or to intentionally hurt people.
More importantly, what I wanted this site to become (and in fact, what it has become) is a place where others who are disappointed, disillusioned or disenfranchised with the church can be heard and recognized. SCP is a place where people can know that they aren’t alone and can find encouragement on this leg of their journey.
There isn’t much I know for certain except for one thing: I am uniquely qualified and positioned at this time in my life to do what I am doing here and to call churches and church people out when I think they are being… well…. you know… stupid. I am willing and able to be a source of encouragement for anyone struggling with their feelings or frustrations regarding the church. I desire to be both: A thorn and a refuge.
So even though I may have softened and I feel the need to be a bit more balanced from our initial approach at times, please know that here and now, I resolve to seek to line up as many cows as possible to shoot. In the process, if I shoot one of your cows (or even you in a case of “friendly fire”) and you yelp, I want to thank you in advance for identifying yourself for what you truly are… a Stupid Church Person!
Welcome to the family.