Plodders, Sexy Revolutionaries, or Family?
Following up on last week's podcast about the church as a family, Brad and Wayne discuss an article written by Kevin DeYoung, who is the co-author of Why We Love the Church. The article is entitled The Glory of Plodding and seeks to encourage people not to give up on institutionalized churches in hopes of finding a more resilient faith or a more authentic community. The article begs the question whether or not there are or can be churchless Christians, and whether our obedience to tradition and our learning of doctrine is more important than learning to live loved by Jesus. Of course the important issue is not whether we gather with others in an institutional way or not, but whether we've ended up caught in the religious treadmill, or are learning to live inside a vibrant relationship.
The “institution of marriage” sounds as much a misinterpretation of the reality of a healthy relationship between a man and a woman as does when I hear someone refer to the “laws of nature” The fallen mind has left humans seriously malformed to where we always think in terms of laws and institutions, until something enters to set the mind back to right.
Trees aren’t following some law. They are just being what they are, trees. Healthy relationships have nothing to do with the laws or principles of some idea of institution…it’s about love in all it’s expansive beauty and freedom.
I am thrilled with this podcast’s discussion because it highlights many of the questions swirling around the body of Christ about what it means to gather together. I was not thrilled with the quote from the book mentioned, “…the invisible church is for invisible christians”. It has been my experience since I began leaving behind institutional religion that, as a person, I have become a more visible human being in contrast to being a robotic follower. It is all too easy to submerge yourself in the activities of a institution and lose your humanity in the process.
Kevin DeYoung is clearly out on an institutional limb with this book. But in his defense he had many valid points in an article he wrote regarding the Emergent Church. I know Wayne and Brad are not dissing the brother, but his defense of the institution. I hope all the listeners will see this difference.
What breaks my heart regarding Kevin’s thesis is that he is trying sell being a mindless drone as a good thing. Those who follow Kevin’s advice are unwitting drones for the New World Order, too. It is a grievous fact of history that institutional Christians backed Hitler’s regime. They may not have known what happened in the concentration camps, but those Christians knew the Jews were corralled into them.
Wayne and Brad are rightly making fun of the idea that God wants us to be faithful plodders. The idea is absurd. To quote a former pastor of mine, “Walking with Jesus [in truth] is high adventure.” That pastor was spot on. High adventure is a contradiction to plodding along.
I read Kevin DeYoung’s “Just Do Something” and shortly after, Wayne’s “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore”. This podcast confirms that there was some conflicting personalities in the two—not conflicting ideas mind you; personalities.
I’m no longer one of those young guys, I have held a steady job (probably longer than DeYoung has been alive), raised kids, etc. So I agree that painting everybody hungery for real Christian life as young and irresponsible is disingenious. I read the article and thought if that’s as good as it gets I’m an so out of here, how depressing! Then I sort of chided myself a bit thinking, I’m going wherever Father is regardless. So I got a good laugh when Wayne said pretty much the same thing about, if that’s all there is… But no way do I see God in the dead box DeYoung is touting. It is like quoting the poet who said “most men live lives of quiet desperation” and then saying there that’s the goal, embrace it! Doesn’t sound like the abundant life or a joy that people are going to ask for you to explain.
where to begin – I could feel the air being cut off and suffocation coming on as I listened to you read DeYoung’s descriptions, prescriptions and proscriptions of what church is and what a faithful/ obedient adherent *should* be. reminded me somewhat of the Borg of Star Trek history – maybe not as sexy tho
and btw – did you guys fall on the floor laughing?
GREAT podcast! Read that “plodding” article a couple of weeks ago. I disagreed with his premise totally. And yeah, my opinion is that he was “playing” to his financial base with that article. I’ve been “de-plodderified”, and I ain’t goin back! Keep slingin’ my bruthas! Peace!
You discussed “institutional” words, like the “institution of marriage”. That even sounds like fingernails clawing on the chalkboard, doesn’t it? But I have to admit, that for decades that thought never came to mind.
Another one that now makes my skin crawl is “the Eldership”. Yikes!
You guys are two wonderful challenges. Keep on tippin’, ’em kows and stirring us to think!
What hypocrysy – Kevin is not a plodder himself, but he highly recommends it? It’s so funny to hear another exhortation to sit through boring sermons by the one’s that are preaching them.
Romans 10:10 in the Nicolatian bible “For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with his ass he sits through long sermons unto salvation”
I can appreciate what the article says about not everyone being a St. Paul or Bono. There are many sweet and wonderful folks on the planet who just follow Jesus each day without a formal “ministry”.
Where I think it misses the boat is the idea that there are only rock stars and robots. Most of us hover in the middle, finding God somewhere between the two extremes.
BTW, I “did my time” in VBS, too. But I loved it. There’s no better lunch in the world than Kool-aid and coconut macaroons… 🙂
Interesting podcast. I know that many preachers/pastors feel threatened by those who are leaving the building to follow Christ—-hence articles and books that try to make the case for “plodding” or staying within the walls. I like living loved—very much. The Father knows what He is doing. I’m not worried.
I find it interesting how we seem to have added so much crap to stuff we think are biblical. The king james only people because it is the authorized version, who authorized it, it wasn’t God
Who set up religious tradition denominations it wasn’t God. The methodists would not promote the same things as the Westly brothers anymore, The pentecostal group I’m involved with would not adheir to the same ideas as the origianal Ezuza street people would, Hymns or chouris’ traditon or no church. Seriously why do we have to add. I am still in the organization because it works for me but over my years of pastoring I have noticed people don’t get thrilled by what we do anymore (honestly I’m becoming one) We can fight with each other on all the stuff but unless God builds the church, who cares about church or no church we are so far gone from community and oil running downs Aaron’s beard fellowship in most churches because some man said hey this is the way we should go. I still have hope for my community not my denomination, not ready to bail yet but feeling the pain. not sure at all what my point was. I nothing else I agree if you want to plod maybe reread your bible and look all the people God calls apples of His eye, and righteous.
Enjoyed the discussion. Just a couple of thoughts about the idea of “a long obedience in the same direction”. For that, two things are absolutely critical: (1) Who or what is the “obedience” given to? (2) Is it really the right direction? A “long obedience” to the wrong object, or in the wrong direction, is a waste no matter how faithful one is.
This article is basically the Reformed Church’s response to the Emerging Church. When he says “revolutionaries”, he’s referring to Barna. The Reformed Church practically worships their monolithic tradition/structure/history as a god, much like Roman Catholics. Of course there are many good things that came through the reformers,like access to the scriptures. Maintaining the traditional church structure is of utmost priority to the Reformed. Trying to change the world is a waste–it’s “Totally Depraved”. Sharing a message of grace and God’s love is only right if it’s in the contexct of “Election” and “Limited Atonement”. Remember, you don’t know if God really loves the person you’re talking to.
So the alternative is to plod, as the author suggests. If it gets boring, if it seems lifeless, just bear with it. By enduring what seems unpleasant to you, you’re dying to self.
I just think he didn’t have to paint such a bleak picture of faithfulness and hold that up as a goal to shoot for.
Found this verse from “The Message” very appropriate:
“One final word, friends. We ask you–urge is more like it–that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:1 MSG)
Ah! Dancing in His room of Grace sounds a lot better than plodding . . .
~ Selah ~
Whether you agree or disagree with the article entitled The Glory of Plodding, it comes across as being unfortunate to me that Brad and Wayne’s response (discussion about it) can’t be made without making jokes and laughing throughout the podcast, comes across as disingenuous.
Who can’t help but laugh knowing that Eugene Peterson translated the Message with such phrases as “not in dogged religious plod” also wrote the book Rev. DeYoung referenced: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction?
I was such a dogged relgious plodder, that I had a REFORMED five pointed head, that’s no joke. I found out the hard way that the prescriptions so many of the Reformed Reverend Doctors are writing can do you a lot of harm.
This nearly 50 revolutionary may not be so young and sexy, but now I’m no longer plodding like a blind guy in the ditch. Jesus opened my eyes, now I’m seeing some beautiful sights on the God journey.
I found this site a couple of weeks ago after reading your book “so you dont want to go to church…”The Jake story. It really helped me to take one more step towards freedom, like you say , it is a Jouney. Thank you for this book.
I had been a missionary for 20 years when I left my church knowing that something was real wrong, looking for a better one. (which I havent found by the way) But I did find Jesus as my personal friend, fulfilling my heart s desires a lot more than the group I was with, setting me free, more and more.
I also believe deeply that it is all LOVE and by love and only what s done in love, out of the right motive, is what counts for Him. So that was one thing I didnt feel so good about while listening to this podcast. I myself need to watch out how I talk about people, (gossip or positive criticism, there is a fine live).
So hearing this podcast, gave me a bit of a bad feeling. If I was the person or if it was my letter, you talked about I would feel bad. Would Jesus talk that way , would he at all talk or show the way only and love? I just felt it was nice and we all need to watch out how we get across and check our hearts.
lots of love
Monika from Germany
lots of love
This is later than the other responses, not sure if anyone will see it or not. I’ve only recently found this site, after reading “So You Don’t Want to Go…” and “He Loves Me”. I’m working through some back podcasts.
I just wanted to give a slightly different perspective on “plodding”. I’ve often felt like a plodder. I’ve been living an exciting (at least) life, in various countries, with not much support, trying to bring a difference in people’s lives. I don’t have a “church”, have gone more for the one-on-one approach, trying to share a little of the Lord’s love, and bring whom I can to Jesus, not necessarily to “church”. The personal touch is rewarding, and I imagine I have been used to touch a fair number of people’s lives.
The plodding part is in that I can’t SEE the results so much. Some of the church folks come and build churches, they call it “church planting”, and it looks more dramatic and visible. Some folks are well known evangelists, and have people going long distances to hang on every word. Some people are well known missionaries and have great community respect. Sometimes I look at my work and I don’t see as much visible results. I try to get close to neighbors, I get some time of personally counselling couples about to get married, I have regular international intercultural activities in an attempt to get folks thinking outside of their boxes, but I have to trust the Lord that it is bringing forth fruit. That’s kind of like plodding. It’s different from a boring life, as my life is always changing and I have very little routine and not even a home country anymore. But to me, plodding is like the farmer who has to tend those crops, pull those weeds every day, without seeing the fruit, sometimes for years, as in the case of bushes or trees. He has to plod along, trusting that he’s doing the right thing, and trusting the Lord to bring the fruit.