Blog-Chic Circle Jerk

Over on Jeff’s blog he writes:

I read around the blogs & I sometimes wonder if we’re not just the blind leading the blind…

Then, to clarify in the comments, he adds:

…it just feels like we’ve identified the “circle jerk” that is US evangelicalism, and counteracted it with a blog-chic, post-modern “circle-jerk” of our own…

In some ways, we’re just like the church, only in reverse. What’s the point of that?

In response to Jeff I wrote the following comment. I think it could not have been more timely in fitting in with some of my thoughts lately. What do you think??

I respectfully disagree with you Jeff… and that’s what makes this SO much different than the circle jerking church.

How many times have you disagreed with me, expressed it, us carry it over to an email conversation or phone conversation AND still not agree. Neither of us felt as if we had to leave or change or become something different for the other to accept or approve or fit in. It wasn’t always fun, and at times this experience has been frustrating but I don’t feel I would have ever received as much rope or grace or whatever you want to call it in the church. With all that I have expressed online I would have been eventually kicked out of my church, not allowed to teach any longer, etc. Now that’s the bullshit in the church. The church doesn’t envelope free-thinkers – it usually squashes them.

At a youth pastors retreat years ago, the speaker said something that is SO true (and SO scary)… he said that as pastors we couldn’t afford to have a faith crisis b/c that could effect our jobs and incomes. The context was one of encouragement that this was one of the stresses of the job i.e. negotiation of our faith while leading others in negotiating their own.

This is such a trap… a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario. I felt I had to eventually leave the circle jerk church b/c all it was doing was propping up my weak faith. It wasn’t making me stronger, it was making me weaker. Living life without the training wheels of the church has made me more balanced, more spiritually focused, more “evangelical” (in genuinely caring for hurting people sense) and honestly more truthful in my life and dealings with others.

I don’t feel that the people I have met online are the church in reverse… they are the church “moving forward”…. to borrow a phrase. Trademark anyone??

25 thoughts on “Blog-Chic Circle Jerk”

  1. Well, lowend, I’m sending you virtual hugs, because I can’t send you real hugs. 🙂((((hugs)))) And you can bet that if the SCP community lived closer together, we’d be hanging out in real life, too. I’ve had phone conversations with people on this blog; some have even called me on my birthday just to wish me a happy one. I think it’s only a matter of time before some of us meet in person. The Pete and I have already hooked up with Spiritbear when he was in the area. And if we lived in CA or anywhere on the east coast, we’d take a road trip to go see Steve, and the Marshall brothers, (aka, the Dorsey Brothers™ ). If real fellowship is with those you embrace, I guess I don’t have real fellowship with my family, since they live too far away to embrace. I guess I don’t have real fellowship with my friends who’ve moved away, since I can’t hug (or even visit) them. I agree with you, Lowend, that e-community is not as good as actually being able to “reach out and touch someone,” but sometimes, that’s just not possible. I would love to have a real Taco Tuesday with the SCP community, but I just don’t know that it will ever be possible (and easy) the same way a local church potluck is. We take what we can, ’cause it’s all we’ve got.Oh, and an embrace can be just as shallow or empty as conversations on a blog. I think real fellowship has very little to do with those you embrace, or those you IM, but has to do with mutual love and support, shared experiences, and commitment to the relationships.Whether IRL or Virtually, the quality of our fellowship is measured by Process, not Proximity.Otherwise, I’m screwed most days. 🙁

  2. It’s good to see that the midwest is being held down by a spirit-filled bear…good times indeed!I guess I’m just dealing with my personal realization of how spoiled and isolated we’ve become. Jesus didn’t connect with people by remote, but by full on tactile interaction.I wholehaertedly agree that the SCP peeps and other virtual communities are wonderful place for people to “connect”. But how does that compare to the time spent with a “little brother/sister”, or and a forgotten elderly person? In some cases, people that we live with…balance.

  3. feelin the love ninja, thanx!!!All I’m saying is balance. I just see this scary trend of physical disconnect in general.And I’m actually not entirely sure if a REAL SCP get-together would be a bad or good thing…unless the Jesus Juice is flowing that is!great times.

  4. Yes, for some reason, the church has lost its history of being able to disagree constructively –probably out of a desire for a cheap sense of “unity” which, even when it existed in the church, did so in the face of heated disagreements, as evidenced in the New Testament.That said, it’s an automatic redundancy to label church people as stupid, because that’s one of the things which is exactly involved in our primary confession of sinfulness. The problem comes when some assume that they are in fact NOT stupid. The living relationship with our Lord we are cultivating literally demands that we remain open to points of view we’re inclined to write off, and listen for at least the grains of truth we can affirm in others.A lot of this “ostracizing” of controversy is only because we accept it. We’re too ready to believe that God is honored by an obedient heirarchy, when in fact His desire is for an interdependent organism.The “kingdom of priests” God has ordained is a work in progress, but it bodes well for us to remind the current crop of pastors and ministers that if they’re doing their job well, they will work themselves out of that job, because the work of the church is to equip others for the work of ministry.Either that will result in a pastor who willingly fades into the background as others mature, or who leaves to go on and found another congregation, or who must “endure” the increasing independence of conviction that accompanies people coming into spiritual “adulthood.”The one thing the Scriptures do NOT allow us to do is to thereby write off the church. Paul reminds us that we are to love the church, despite all its foibles, because God loves it. The image I have is of a proud parent watching their children in a nursery. All a “neutral” observer sees is spit-up, dirty diapers and whining; what God sees is the wonder of beings made in His image, whose potential and even current beauty are beyond proportion.Please, “emergents,” don’t forget that you are called to love the church, not just reinvent it from the outside, or give up and just complain. To that end, I’m glad for the efforts I see among the blogs to work these things out.Cheers!

  5. I wish I could meet all of you in person. Ninjanun and the Pete are even better in person. I would love to get together with them again sometime when I get back to Seattle. I am sure all of you are better in person. I have also met quite a few non-SCP bloggers in my area that are really cool. However, I think that virtual relationships, fellowships or whatever you want to call them have a good place. For one thing, being an introvert I am more willing to share online. Then if you meet someone IRL, you know them and its cool. I have met many people online including my wife (way back in the days of the BBS). I also have friends that I have known for over 10 years in various placesI wish we could all have some SCP conference, workshop, small group session (LOL. my terms are not serious).Maybe all the West Coast people could meet around here somewhere. I am about halfway between California and Washington. We got some awesome taco shops around here. Road trip to New Jersey sounds fun too. Think of all the country you could see.Maybe something to think about. We could have a dynamic, life changing, parachurch ministry organization. All you have to do is sow some seeds into this vision and believe G-d for miracle. ROTFLMAO.

  6. I disagree with none of the above.I guess to me it also goes beyond just “community”. How easy is it to type out a few sympathetic words and hit send, versus holding someone in your arms while they cry out their grief? I just see the inherent lackadaisical danger that comes with “caring virtually”. Again, I’m not slamming it. I too have recieved amazing words of wisdom, curage, and love via ones and zeros, and they do not rank any lower than those I might have received in person. However, there is a certain commitment that one must choose to embrace (no pun intended) when engaging someones life in person. On line, the old “I’ve been busy”, or “my connections been down” is just way to convienient an excuse to back out when things get uncomfortable.Hey, I’m not pointing the finger here at anyone but myself. Just sharing some self discovery people. So in a sence I’m taking full advantage of our virtual little group hug here, but at the same time I’m forcing myself to remeber those around me when I log off.Sorry for the geographical mix up Spirit, Man, Bear in one (hey, that’s a trinity). I lived in Kansas for a while, so I never miss an opportunity to give a shout out to those who are afflicted!good times.

  7. Just as I was about to launch into a tirade about the disconnectivity of the e-community “a sheep” comes grazing along and takes all the wind out of my sails. More specifically the immediate outpouring of SCP love. It’s real, and it works. “Advantage Steve.”Nonetheless, there is a very dangerous cultural shift that has been created by the web. In some respects one might argue that it has brought people closer, and yet when I read about what God had in mind when he invented fellowship, I don’t remember seeing any whitty screen names or word varifications. Again, I’m not on an anti-technology rant, but we should NEVER underestimate the real power and purpose of phsycial biblical fellowship.Have far to many churches blown it? Yes. But I a can name a handfull that are doing everything they can think of to fight for the true meaning of fellowship.Anytime a conversation begins with us vs. them, love is not the topic of conversation.Our cultural need for indipendence, space, rights, and Me-firstness (it’s in the constitution, look it up) is counter to what God had/has in store for us.I say keep on loving virtually, it obviously works. But never forget the REAL fellowship is with those you embrace.

  8. Steve, I respectfully disagree!The problem with your argument is that you have no idea how many people have “walked out” of your blog disgusted/offended/de-camped etc because it’s all pretty anonymous.It’s also low maintainence (you’re actually the archetypal one-man-band pastor), low expectations, low commitment, low everything in fact!The sort of agreeing-to-disagree conversation you say you have with Jeff DOES take place all the time in churches, but they go unnoticed coz it’s the not-agreeing to disagree ones that get noticed!It’s more to do with the nature of of the different communities than it is to do with any sense of you discovering a way of “moving forward”. eCommunities are self-selecting & self-serving. A physical community of believers has lots more constraints on it.I bet most pastors would love just to be able to type up some thoughts whenever they felt like it and chip into other peoples conversations now and again.

  9. “I believe it is important to occasionally self-evaluate, to ensure we have not become the very thing we despise…” (Jefe)What is it that we despise? And what is it we formally despised – as members of the church? I think that’s where a lot of us start drawing lines about tolerance and fairness with our experiences. I have very little reason to think a lot of people on this site are not far ahead of their counterparts in churches nation-wide in levels of tolerance, mercy, fairness, and depth of study. I have yet to hear anyone in a Conservative camp refute that yet with any fair objection. I am not sure we are becoming like the past – in leading the blind – first off, name the leader who speaks in God’s prime ambassador on this site? Secondly, show me the exclusive elements of faith that exist here? But I can take you to any old congregation and find both of those aspects. I think Steve speaks loudly but why not – some things deserve our attention. I remember a site that judged my faith based on what they thought was a prophet and keeping doctrine over humanity – it was truly sad. It reminded of being church all over again – everyone protecting their piece of God’s pie. But we withstood that and made our points very clearly – and there was clear distinctions between how one side acted vs. the other. I seem to recall Steve and I getting booted – whist the self righteous basked in their glory..to some point condemning us. We used our minds and questioned their ideas – that was wrong for some odd reason (ie: doubt)? But it showed the sharp tension between the varying sides and how they act. There is a danger in how they act and how we act – growing past their exclusive ideas. They were always welcome over here (and at my site) but that hand was withdrawn from us. I apoligized for going over the line – they still condemned me. I never questioned their faith – they made Steve and I their personal examples. This list can go on and on – but we never went back at them with real spite for their ‘short-comings’.There are differences and even growth – we see this clearly in people’s responses and when ‘buttons’ get pushed. My Jewish friend always tells me something worth noting – and maybe this is the true dividing line – ‘love the stranger, you neighbor then God’ – but God is last on the list – why? God ain’t struggling.

  10. “Instead, they lecture us each week and are rarely if ever challenged on their opinions of Scripture and the Christian life.” (Steve)This is actually kind of key for the ideas Steve is proporting – namely the lack of disdain for people of differing opinions. I also think it is the cornerstone of the discussion. Shieldsy, what if I think the church I attend has theology and practice that are proclaimed as 100% biblical but seem to be chop-work scripture techniques to sew together a coherent doctrine? Now disagreements are one thing – but disagreeing on the articles of faith are quite another – and many of us here do that. But I think rightfully so – we have experiences with church teachings that don’t make sense – so we study them and find – scripture is quite different on a subject than was stated by our leadership…do we just be quiet and hope they catch the error? Maybe blogging is a wonderful thing – never mind just being a fun expression of our thoughts. I think wrestling with our faith is a very good thing – and if we do this in public church circles – we will be silenced one way or another. Certain things are not for debate – like the salvation calculation or the trinity – touch those (and 100’s of more minor issues) and find yourself ostracized. Power does not like questions – seems like doubt to them. Then we find our church experiences going downhill from there. The internet lets us blog and question on sacred ideas. For us, few things are as sacred as discussion.

  11. It’s not a question of either/or.But think about it, it’s not like God is sitting here face to face with anyone having a full on conversation, yet Christians feel completely devoted and in love with him. In fact, Lowend, Jesus has disconnected from us (I know, I know he said left the HS) but I am trying to make a point.God apparently fully enabled us to experience and feel things without being “tactile”. Face to face is nice, but it certainly isn’t imperative for commitment, trust, faith, love, etc to develop. Again, don’t misread me… face-to-face is important for sharing life and gaining the full experience. I just think everything we do here is an enhancement, not necessarily a replacement.

  12. Hello a sheep, and welcome!Your story is similar to many people’s here, including, to some extent, me and my husbands. We found a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold on Steve’s, and others’ blogs here. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through the sacrifice and struggle you did, only to be swept by the wayside when you didn’t follow lock-step with what the pastor thought you should. 🙁 I know a little bit about what that’s like. It’s taken me years to not feel the sting of that kind of shunning, and on these blogs I’ve been able to hash out with other people what church means, what it should be, and what to do now. Please stick around, and know that there are people here who understand you and can offer you acceptance and a caring spirit. 🙂

  13. Sheildsy… always appreciate your dissenting voice. You wrote: <>eCommunities are self-selecting & self-serving.<> Are you suggesting that churches are not??Also, what is a Sunday sermon but typed up thoughts by the pastor to interject into our lives… and if they wanted (but most choose not to), pastors could allow their weekly “thoughts” to be discussed in an open forum. Instead, they lecture us each week and are rarely if ever challenged on their opinions of Scripture and the Christian life.

  14. Does anyone have any help or know of anything that one can read to help me through my anger with being hurt by the senior pastor and wife?? We “gave it all up” for God to come and start a church plant and we truly felt we were obedient on our end…they didn’t “grow” the church fast enough…(I know, I read the shopkeeper blog)but that left the senior pastor with the excuse to not really need us on staff. (he also always put my husband in the position of working the “servant jobs” as to teach him to serve so he could be in ministry! My husband got called to the ministry at age of 33. So, he quit his work in the world, we took our savings and got a degree at a Bible school and we moved with the promise of them teaching us everything we need to know, etc, etc. …we served faithfully and did a lot of positions at the church…while my husband worked a full time job…this went on for 2 years. As soon as we said we couldn’t do as much…for serious family crisis,they dropped us as friends socially/ and never confided in us again or had another meeting about the church and what was in the future. We were basically told that in order to really follow God’s plan, my husband should deliver pizza and follow the call and do whatever it took…oh yeah and keep working at the church for free.I know this may not be the forum for this posting, but if anyone knows of any help out there…I have such anger and grief over this…we left 6 months ago and I still am upset. I think we were just “used” and they really never loved us as friends…this is the head pastor and wife. They started this church. They quickly found other people to fill our unpaid positions and have moved on. (BTW -their new slogan is ” We count people, because people count. After reading shopkeeper blog – this just makes me sick.) We were abandoned and left for dead…I am not sorry about obeying God or giving it all up. I am just truly hurt at the way in which the pastors loved us while we served and when we couldn’t as much…nothing. We had known them and counted them as friends for 7 years.

  15. A Sheep, No offence meant. And I couldn’t agree with you more! Only caps for emphasis,nothing more. And that is church as in His body of believers-NOT a building with people or a denominational entity- but a community(yes,even on a blog) of caring,open,broken people who can reach out to “grab a hand” when you feel yourself slipping or lend an ear when you need to unload (as Steve most graciously did). As you point out aptly-it’s love. Believe me, I can understand some of things you went through.I,too,was in ministry for a time was “thrown under the bus” when things didn’t quite pan out for the “church” as planned(actually- abandoned).Your churchs’ slogan reminded me of ours- “God doesn’t count numbers-God makes numbers count!”(It’s a well used old one).Years later,I hear it,and it hurts. I’d also like to extend an invitation to you and your husband to correspond privately,if you’d like.(see profile).

  16. As for the capital “C” – that is man’s way and possibly English pronoun usage.Even in Matthew 17: 18 Jesus himself is talking and it is recorded that “on this rock I will build my church,… and it is not capitalized. So Jesus would have been misquoted or misunderstood but we see that the church is little c. It doesn’t matter how we write or type it…there is not a greater respect because of a Capital C. There is however, many hurting people due to people in the church – CHURCH – chURch…whichever looks right. What matters is not the usage but the application. I for one, have experienced the religious rules of man and I am sick and tired of people following the rules, like my head pastor and wife but not leading in a proper relationship as Christ would. Because when it comes down to it, I love God and my Lord Savior Christ Jesus (who should denote a capital at the beginning) but I am hurt and offended by people who proclaim to love me and they are in the “ministry” when really they have a messiah complex and once I don’t agree with them or follow them or submit to their authority -then I am rebellious and not included in the inner circle of sanctimony anymore.Sorry, but that capital C thing bugs me…how ’bout capital L – for Love??? anyone???

  17. A Sheep….Either you or your husband can feel free to email me at steve@stupidchurchpeople.com and I would love to listen and encourage you both in any way I could.In the meantime, what you describe is very familiar to me. I am very sorry for your pain. You should know that you are not alone and that there are others who have felt exactly as you do… I know that’s not an answer, but I certainly hope it helps you to know.If you want to continue in this public forum I will certainly offer more insights or feedback, otherwise I will look forward to your email. Either way, I am glad you stopped in and shared your story.

  18. Actually I am not in the midwest. I am in Oregon. Though I am from the midwest (Minnesota) so perhaps that was a prophetic word of knowledge. LOL

  19. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Some of the concerns here about “virtual communities” were expressed, to one degree or another,about other forms of communication/media when they came on the scene!(My neighbors would agree with Lowend-the Amish:D ). Sure, nothing like breaking bread with brothers-but for some,due to physical disabilities or shut-ins, this is at times all they’ve got and for them a godsend.I look at it as another cog-in-the-wheel,as Steve said-an enhancement. (P.S. – The Amish use the internet!)

  20. Now that’s what i call ‘moving forward’ – good to see that even sheep can find a place to display the angst of a situation that kind of messed with her and her family – and I think that’s what life is about – that exact discussion. It’s hard to gage someone’s hurt when they are used for the supposed purpose of God – and a lot of us have felt this ‘sting’. I applaude everyone that stretches their hand out to the hurting – that’s Christian.

  21. <>Please, “emergents,”…<>Ummmm… I’m not an emergent. Steve is not an emergent (he’s been critical of the “emergent movement” himself; if you read the archives, you’ll find this out for yourself). Virtually none of the regular commenters here are emergents. (If you are, “speak now or forever hold your peace”. :))Now with that out of the way…While the internet may be “self-selecting” and “self-serving”, it still involves real people communicating with each other about various and sundry things. (Whether or not they’re being themselves is a different matter, but I digress.) There are still going to be disagreements and misunderstandings, there are still going to be fights. But there will also be resolution (at least 99% of the time, IMO).

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