We all hear voices. No, not the sort that will get you committed to a psych ward, but the sort that influence our world view and self image. Last night the IASYM conference streamed their keynote talk and curled up in bed with apple and cinnamon tea I listened in (must say, good way to listen to any talk. Pyjamas and tea. Conference idea, anyone?). Reggie Blout, a professor at a seminary in Chicago, spoke about a whole lot of things, but what stuck out to me was this idea that we are influenced by the different voices around us. We will listen to media, we will listen to family, we will listen to friends. They each have a voice in our lives. Reggie proposed that the church should offer an alternative dialogue to that which the world offers. In a nutshell, he says that voice should be saying, “Jesus loves you.”
Now, I’m not an expert. If you want expert thoughts, read the paper not my blog, but here is what’s going through my head as I process this information and work out what to do with it when it comes to ministry.
First of all I think about the voice that the church is known for having. There’s a book called UnChristian and it documents research done by the Barna Group about the way people perceive Christians. We seem to be known for what we are against. We are known to be anti-homosexual, anti-women, anti-choice… anti-fun, some would say. Our message seems to be one of moral self righteousness. Is that what we want our voice to say?
Secondly I want to think about the important of our voice. If we think of the churches voice as just another voice among the many, we’ve got it wrong. We’re underestimating the power of God and His Word. All the prophets of Ba’al were expecting fire to fall because they yelled the loudest and danced the hardest and cut the deepest. But the fire fell when Elijah put water on the alter and trusted that God had it under control. Now, that’s a weird example, but the point of it is that if we strain to be the loudest voice, we’re in a losing battle. Perhaps we should strive to be faithful. Perhaps we should strive to have the voice of the church be the voice of God’s Word.
Combining those two thoughts leaves me with an interesting challenge. What should our voice say? Reggie Blout says it should say “Jesus loves you,” but maybe it should be something more like “glory to God”. Today we are obsessed enough with ourselves, we don’t need to be told that we are God’s princes and princess and have our overinflated egos bloat a little bit more, we need to be told that God is God and we are invited to be part of his story. I’d propose that the voice of the church should be one that gives God all the glory, because that’s something worth listening to. That’s a soul shaking, life changing message and it seems to me that the whole canon of Scripture points to that message.
That’s my thoughts. What do you think?