I attended my first Q Commons meeting on Friday 4th of March. I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I wasn't clear myself what Q Commons was actually about. All I knew was this, it had something to with Christianity in the public sphere. I have a better understanding now, but rather than me explain it, or if you want to learn more, follow this link here.
In a nutshell. Q Commons is a sort of Ted Talk for Christian leaders and influencers in all spheres of life. Arts, Media, Education etc. In the past they have engaged speakers such as; Malcolm Gladwell, Erwin McManus and actor/director Mark Ruffalo.
Before I attended, I tried to boil it down to something that was easy to explain, at least to myself anyway. So I came up with this thought.
The Fundamentalist, Evangelical Church, has squandered our place at the discussion table by waving its Big Black KJV Bible proclaiming, "The Bible Says" and worse, trumpeting "If the Bible says it, and I agree with it, then that settles it." They sought to instruct, control and shout down the conversation, rather than engage and enter it.
Now, we need to work very hard to get invited back to the discussion.
One of the topics of the night was "The Irrelevance of Faith". Presented by David Kinnaman. David showed us some alarming statistics. One of which was that 42% of Americans believe that people of faith are part of the problem. 46% Believe that faith needs to be removed from public life.
Increasingly, youth are becoming more and more cynical about faith. 1 in 4 youth believe that one day they will be famous, and their chief objective is for fame and popularity.
So, having squandered our place in the discussion, being viewed as irrelevant and unwanted, how do we counter-act this growing wall of scepticism?
Well I believe that such scepticism can only be countered with authenticity.
But what is missing from the Church in regards to our authenticity? I think there are three areas we need to address on the pathway to regaining relevance for the Christian view.
Firstly. Our WORDS. Biblical based statements are affirming. But unless backed with the appropriate actions they ring hollow.
"Because the Bible says" Is not seen as, nor is it welcomed as a valid argument. It is instead seen as a bunch of archaic rules and restrictions that are unwelcome in a free thinking selfie addicted society.
I am not advocating a watering down of the Word of God. I do not advocate that we step away from our closely held beliefs. I simply think we need to be able to carry the message better. To engage the conversation, applying Biblical truth, but in such a way that is open for discussion and promotes thoughtful consideration. This is simply good apologetics.
When Jesus encountered the woman at the well, John 4:19-24, she was already beaten down by religion and dogma. Jesus spoke to her in her human situation and gave her real spiritual hope.
Secondly. Our ACTIONS. Our actions cannot be seen as, or interpreted as, a means to an end, i.e. to get a convert.
The main end of our Christian works, can only be for the betterment of the individuals human situation, without thought for our own personal reward or recognition.
Our actions must bring glory to Christ. This however is not a valid end if we do this only for our own self worth or gain. We bring glory to Christ when our actions give primary value to another human being.
"Love your neighbour as yourself" Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:4.
"preferring others before yourself" Romans 12:10, 1Timothy 5:21.
Thirdly. We must remain TRANSPARENT. All that we say and do must be in such a way, that our motive, method and money remain unquestioned.
Accusations will come, but our integrity must remain, unsullied, even under the most rigorous examination.
We have seen enough lately of Christian leaders being accused and even convicted of fraud. While many of these accusations in the past have simply been vexatious, some cases have been proven.
Pastors and leaders need to shepherd and lead, that's it. They should never use their churches to underwrite their own personal success story.
I don't know if these steps are the total solution, this may not do it all. Cynicism and scepticism will remain. But if we can chip away at the ground the cynics and critics stand on, denying them a position from which to accuse.
Then bit by bit, we regain our ground.
We can stand up again.