Ek-lay-SEE-YA !

I recently picked up a copy of Rodney Clapp’s book, A Peculiar People: the Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society. I have come to think of it as something of a contemporary semi-classic and have long wanted to get it.
In the second chapter, Clapp writes,

Pastors and other church leaders face enormous pressures to concentrate on ministry as marketing and psychotherapy–both tendencies that concentrate the practice of faith on the individual. Seminarians all too seriously suggest that the study of theology is “impractical,” while demanding more counseling courses. People routinely depart churches with the complaint that their “needs weren’t being met” or they “weren’t being fed.” Recently I asked an acquaintance about his church, and he expressed dissatisfaction, then sighed, “Oh well, you know the average church only has a shelf life of three years.”

Now, A Peculiar People was published in 1996. Here’s what I’m wondering: Has anything changed in the last fifteen years?
I know my own church has seen quite a few comings and goings of people in the past decade, and I know that some of the goings would be explained in terms not very different from those Clapp has pointed to here.
I would like to hear from anyone interested. In your experience–at your church or other churches near you–have things stabilized at all since the mid-nineties? Or is this just as germane now as then? Are American Christians still putting the “See-ya!” in ecclesia?


10 thoughts on “Ek-lay-SEE-YA !

  1. status quo, dude, status quo…darn thing…

    You know, the disciples didn’t care what Jesus was doing in the boat before the storm…

    • Good point!
      I suppose some people stay in a church year after year (maybe even decade after decade) simply because they are too lazy or too bound to some sense of status quo. And then along comes a storm, and they find it necessary to go find Jesus somewhere else. Hmmmmm…

  2. I have a theory or two on the subject. I will wait till I get out there to discuss them so your poor readers aren’t subject to my crazieness.

  3. This is one of my favorite books!! Hard to believe it was written over ten years ago…. it does seem just as relevant. I think one of the factors I’ve seen is pastor celebrities. People go to worship at a church not because of the people next to them (as you mentioned in another post, they are told to ignore them) but either for the worship leaders who are particularly talented, or the pastor, who is particularly talented at preaching. Good preachers are a blessing, for sure, but if that pastor moves to a different church (almost in a CEO-like fashion), people often follow them or find someone similar somewhere else instead of staying at the same church through the hard times of transition. I would like to see pastors stay places longer, if they can; and then maybe congregations will follow suit. I also think the PB way of having a whole preaching team is really helpful in this situation.

  4. The problem is systemic, and Jasmine as a big part of it, I think. The Church teachse people to be relient on it, we rely on church for worship, for teaching, for felowship, etc. But, the church cannot continue to go deeper with these things, becasue they have to be developed by discipleship, which by its nature is not a large church “event” but the very nature of the church on a smaller level. So when people no longer feel “fed” by the teaching, or “inspired” by the worship, they move on looking for something new, when in reality they need to move on to discipleship and deeper experiences that happen in smaller groups of Chrisitians also looking for deeper experiences of God.

    Just my 2 cents anyway.

  5. `Well now Mr. Stewart, I have lent an ear to your beckoning alas and I find myself on this peculiar web site once again which I still find intriguing. I think it is the founder of this site that is both intriguing and peculiar, It’s been such a long time . . . yet I would like to find the granting of an audience with you, at least of an audible nature. My internet is touch and go at best on the top of my mountain hide-away, hence it is difficult to communicate via this media. So don’t be a stranger otherwise, I believe whole heartedly there is much to gain. Due to my visit here, I am more motivated to catch up on what is going on in your life, and how I will be able to encourage you.
    `With that said, and hopefully imbibed, I will switch gears and ask you your thoughts on the coming economic armageddon, along with some scripture references and basis such as Jeremiah 22:13, Genesis 47, and Acts 17:26,27. As a side note for best response in non-verbal communication feel free to use phone texting. Well, I was here and now I’m gone, I left my “Z” to turn you on . . . I think I should be going . . .

    Mr. Stewart

  6. Zorro here and hello to Mr. Talmid,
    Mostly I left my comment here because of the play on words in the title with the See-ya!
    I also find it intriguing that so called “christians” run from church to church to hear what they want to hear instead of desiring the challenge of learning more about our intimate God. If one was a sincere saved by faith believer would they not have a heart for greater knowledge, intimacy, passion and theology with and of their loving creator? Is the answer not a resounding yes?! Without storms are we not yet to be proven? There is much more to be said yet.
    I read your pacifist plea, enjoyed it for various reasons, although you might be pleasantly surprised at how I differ from some of your philosophical opponents. By the way I could compromise to type and visit here more often if you would meet me on middle ground in our ratio of communication. Blast this infernal excessive typing!

  7. Also if you would be a little more responsive in detail to the subject matter, and nuances of my posts so that it might be a little more interesting. Thanks fair cuz.

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