Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Progressive Church

So here’s a brand new look to my old blog site. My hope is that we can engage the radical claims of Jesus as they impinge on life in the Christian community under the shadow of the empire.

To kick off my newest start, I’ve provided a video. Check out the link below.

Actually, before you check it out, be prepared. It’s a spoof of progressive churches using the cute/annoying Progressive Insurance schtick.

Here’s the link:

What do you think? Fair? Unfair? Cheap shot? High five?

Can a church be progressive without surrendering everything to culture? What does it mean to be progressive?


  1. Actually I think you can be progressive without giving in to culture. I don't think Christianity is so much counter-cultural, in the sense of against culture, as it is an alternative to culture, particularly the culture of empire

  2. john, thanks for sharing the link to this video. actually, it seems to me you could probably insert almost anything into this situation. might be the best place to start. progressive....i'm not sure....maybe a bit more "aware" of who the church is, who we are, who we are called to be, etc.

  3. like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder...

  4. It is partly a cheap shot and partly getting at some serious challenges for progessives. One could easily have made a similar video about the prosperity gospel megachurches with all their targeted programs. They are not asked to give up their racial prejudices or lust for wealth. Just the opposite. All one has to do is strictly follow a narrow set up rules and accede to a narrow set of beliefs to have all of ones desires validated. The challenge to be the Church while living in our culture is the same from both sides. One of my favorite blogs frequently comes back to the difference between the Church of Sacrifice for Meaning and Belonging and the Church of Meaning through Belonging. Many of these issues are the same ones the many branches of the universal Church have struggled with since there was a Church. The complaints about being all things to all people sound a lot like ones leveled at Paul. > NGH

  5. It depends on what you think the word progressive actually means. Does it mean permissive? Or does it mean to change? I think that the roads to God (finding God, living the way He asks us to) are varied. And your path to God is really just that: your path. Who are we to say that one path is "more right" than another? I don't care for the churches that are parodied in the spot. For me, its not my path. But for others...maybe they are the first baby steps to being a Christian. Maybe they've been so scarred by other forms of belief that someone saying that they're "Ok" is kind of like manna from heaven. I have found that it is the smallest changes that you can make that end up being the largest. I try to remember that God loves us all and like any good parent wants only the best for us--in all that phrase entails.

  6. Exactly. Who ARE we to say that one path is the right path? In the end, it all comes to this: it is not ours to judge.

    Thank you, John, for the provocative questions. I look forward to more, more questions, more discussion...and, ok, more progress.

  7. NGH: say more about the difference between the two ideas you mention. I'm intrigued.
    Kara: love what you say. I think that for many progressive does mean permissive at least in part because progressive churches tend to be less dogmatic and rule based. And so there is that sense of freedom especially if one has been hurt in a legalistic church.

    The problem for me is, if all paths are equal and no path is better than another, how do we invite others to join us? That's a huge question and it will be one of the topics that I hope to spin out a bit in a later blog. My initial thoughts are that our invitation will have to be quite different than any way we've done it in the past. And a follow up to my own question (can you do that?): how do you even self-identify as a Christian when there is so much prejudice toward the Christian church right now? Christians are judgmental, narrow-minded, homophobic and so on. "I'm a Christian, but, wait, I don't believe any of that stuff ..." I really feel for younger folks who are having to navigate this climate.