Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Brethren, Hang Loose

This is an excerpt from Bob Girard's Brethren Hang Loose, which was a book that I found by "accident" when I was 21 years old, and which first put into language the things that I was seeing around me in the church at large. Although this book was written 35 years ago, it could have been penned just recently (aside from the very 70's title artwork). It was comforting to know, in the summer of '83 (just a year before I first met George Mercado), that I wasn't the only one thinking these kind of thoughts.
"'New Testament life can't happen within the organized church,' I concluded. 'There is too much against it!'
"Too many "barnacles" from the past still cling to the old institutional church concept.
"Too much emphasis on building and budgets. Too much money needed just to keep the machine running. Too much pastoral and lay effort spent on oiling the gears of the organization. Too much energy expended keeping touchy members happy because you can't afford to lose them.
"Too much dependence on the pastor -- and no way to change that.
"Too many comfortable pews all facing the front so no-one has to relate to anyone else. Too easy for Christians to sit-listen-leave-and-forget without anything really happening in their lives.
"Too much holding one another at arm's length. Too little real fellowship -- gut-level fellowship -- inner circle fellowship. Nothing provided in the church to make it happen at that level.
"Too many rules. Too much government. Too many man-made standards. Too many reports to fill out.
"Too little time to enjoy life. Too little time with the family. Too little time to get to know God. Too little time to pray.
"There seems to be no way for peple to get free from the notion that Christianity is activity in an organization that owns a building someplace. There is no thought of finding one's own ministry under the personal leadership of the Holy Spirit. Christians can never get that free from 'the Church'."

- Bob Girard 1970 -