After Mars Hill, Step 2

Church & Culture

I’ve found myself in an ongoing podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, centered on pastor Mark Driscoll and the Seattle based, now defunct megachurch called Mars Hill.  This is the second post, but I recommend reading the first before you go on.

Should followers of Jesus be influenced by culture? What about the church as a whole?

What even is culture? There are a dozen definitions but as a lifelong church kid, the one I’m reflecting on today is one that was never spoken, but always implied: “Anything outside the church.” We were warned against culture and the insidious influence it could have on our morality and beliefs. We were to protect ourselves from cultural influences and stick to the Bible. We didn’t need to understand the intermediate 2000 years of church history or the world around us because we were (as non-denominational independents), uninfluenced by it.

Oh, and one more thing we didn’t speak about: the notion that we ourselves were a culture.

More on that from Mars Hill:

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After Mars Hill, Step 1

I’ve been captivated by an ongoing podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, centered on pastor Mark Driscoll and the Seattle based, now defunct megachurch called Mars Hill.  The creator and host, Mike Cosper said that there would be 12 episodes in total; I’m writing this after the 6th.

I found myself in this story in unexpected ways – not as much in the wild ride that is Mark Driscoll – but more in the surrounding context that allow churches like Mars Hill to thrive and quietly ignore warning signs. If you haven’t heard the podcast, skip these posts because I won’t make much effort to summarize. Rather than simply “review” the podcast I decided to incorporate some of my personal church journey as well – and ask a few questions along the way.

What was your experience listening to this podcast series?

What parts of your story connected to this one?

Continue reading “After Mars Hill, Step 1”

The Connecting River

As she drives from Atlanta, away from a city church in the city lights, the darkness frames a distant memory: stars.  Not just the dippers, but “stars between stars, a virtual curtain of stardust upon which the larger constellations were hung.” She’s following these stars to a one-room white clapboard church where she will become its first female rector.  She’s also driving away from a certain striving – which it turns out, will follow her anywhere.

LeavingChurchThis beautiful book by Barbara Brown Taylor (BBT) offers a rare transparency from a person inside the clerical robes.  The countryside speaks to her faith. Its pages are full of spiritual honesty and earthy appreciation, as if Henri Nouwen were on a nature walk with Mary Oliver. Continue reading “The Connecting River”

Unbundling My Bias

“Let me first say that I am biased now and always will be,” Rob said, after I finally found the guts to call him.  It seemed safe to confide in him since he lived so far away.

I called hoping Rob would know how I felt – since he had also spent time in a close-knit Christian community that didn’t – on paper – approve of his daughter’s sexual orientation.  I was still in the early stages then, not yet talking locally about it but needing to know I wasn’t alone.

He did know how I felt, and talked me through it.  Continue reading “Unbundling My Bias”

10,000

I’ve been feeling out of control lately.  Increasingly aware that loving someone means part of my heart is strapped into the passenger seat of their car.  Though seat-belted, there is nothing safe about it.  They are at the wheel, and their impulses affect my outcomes.

There is much in life I can control.  I like those things.  Even if they involve hard work. I can study to learn a skill that takes my career in a new direction.   I can, with help from a good counselor, learn to speak up for myself and break the cycle of people pleasing.  I can save some money, buy a map, and go on a trip to Ecuador.

Lately though, I’ve felt so out of control that I’ve done something desperate:  Continue reading “10,000”