Friday, November 11, 2011
The question was on the tip of my tongue last weekend when Rev. Mark Hanson, the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, spoke at a town hall forum in Moorhead, Minn. But I didn’t ask it. I feared my question wouldn’t be taken seriously. And, looking at the five hundred or so Lutherans gathered, it was probably the right call. I mean, let’s be honest, there’s a certain type of crown that comes out to a standing-room-only event on a Friday night to hear a church bureaucrat speak. Folks had burning questions about church social statements, denominational strategy, and why it took their rural congregations 18 months to find a new pastor. I get that. But, even so, I so wanted to ask the question. Maybe I should have.Why did I think that? Simple - I might have had the same questions when I was younger, but I have learned something with age. Some things are not either/or questions. We can, effectively, be both places at once.
You see, Fargo-Moorhead last weekend hosted two VERY different events. Both synods on the Fargo and Moorhead sides of the Red River hosted their annual assemblies, so Lutheran pastors and lay leaders gathered to worship, conduct business meetings, approve budgets, and learn from speakers and workshops. On Saturday, though, downtown Fargo hosted something rather different than the Lutheran assemblies -- the Downtown Zombie Pub Crawl. (The fourth annual Downtown Zombie Pub Crawl no less!) More than 1,000 people responded “Yes” to the Facebook invitation. They dressed-up like zombie -- lots of blood and guts and scary makeup -- and visited various downtown pubs. I have no way of knowing what percentage of synod assembly participants joined the ranks of the undead, but I have a good guess it was closer to zero than two.
Which leads me to my unasked question. Of course, it’s ridiculous because we can’t know. But, let’s consider it briefly. Ok, so here it goes: where would Jesus have been -- the synod meetings or the Zombie Pub Crawl?
Now, I have my questions about how effective evangelism can be at a pup crawl, but lets assume for the moment that if there were evangelists around, they'd be able to get meaningful commitment from people after drink #2. That being the case, this http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif"dilemma" tells us why we are a church. See there needs to be people doing the governing stuff and there needs to be people doing evangelism and they are not necessarily the same people. Even posing the question indicates that we tend to think everyone should be a Christian "just like me."
I have some sympathy for that thought when it is born of a desire for fellowship - for someone to share our burdens and viewpoint. But more often than not, such thought are born of thinking that we have it all figured out, and they are just...well...wrong. I have to tell you, that later motivation makes it about the least humble question it is possible to ask. Even if you "don't know the answer," becasue asking it to begin with assume we can figure it out to the nth degree. We can't and that is why we are a church.
I am reading a book right now about American involvement in the Middle East since our founding. Did you know the first missionaries to the Middle East went to minister to the Eastern Orthodox?! Yep - that's right - areas is full of people that deny Jesus altogether, so we go after the "different" Jesus types. That's just sad - not to mention full of amazing loads of hubris.
Which brings me to my real question. What can the people at the pub crawl learn for the government types and vice versa?