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Friday, June 17, 2011

Wild Church

I'm thinking back a couple posts to the wolf that escaped at the Minnesota Zoo, and the question I ended that post with: does Jesus intend his church to be domesticated, or should the church be a little wild?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking you've been to wild churches, and NO THANK YOU. All that shouting and hands in the air and people speaking in gibberish all the time, why would anyone want a wild church?

That's just Pentecostalism and it is not the kind of wild I'm talking about. That's just a worship style, like singing traditional hymns to the accompaniment of a pipe organ is a worship style.

The kind of wild I'm talking about is the kind where the church gets beyond the boundaries of social nicety. We get out into the world and make a difference in real people's lives. People discover meaning, marriages get healed, lives get transformed, families get reunited, addicts get sober, because the church is doing what it's supposed to do.

How might this happen?

First of all, it happens when the church takes Jesus seriously. Too many churches, and too many Christians, don't take Jesus seriously. We think he's a Really Nice Guy and we pat him on the head and say, "Sure appreciate that business about the cross and all you did for us. Thanks. We're having a potluck in your honor after church next Sunday."

Churches that take Jesus seriously go do the things Jesus did. They hang out with criminals and hookers and tax collectors. They feed the hungry and clothe the naked. They pray for sick people, and sometimes those sick people are even healed. They visit people in prison. They bang on the gates of hell, demanding that Satan give up the people he's holding in bondage.

That's the kind of wild the church needs to be.

One of the crazy things that happens when churches start doing these things is that teenagers and young adults get excited about doing Jesus stuff with their lives. They want to go live in the inner city for a year volunteering at a soup kitchen, or they want to go to foreign countries and plug into churches there. Their middle-aged, middle-class parents are more often than not appalled and get really freaked out by all this radical behavior. They have had plans for a decade and a half that he'll be a doctor or she'll get an MBA. It's tough for parents to give up those dreams just because the kid got a taste of something radical.

Let the church start behaving this way, and suddenly much of the New Testament starts to make sense. Lots of things Jesus said that we've forgotten about begin to leap off the pages because they sound like our lives.

I think more churches should get a little untamed. Every now and then, I see stuff happening at Central that gets my adrenaline going, and I'm thankful to be part of a church that is -- at least a little bit -- wild.

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