I love to read, two of my top five books in life are The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus and the other is The Gutter by our founder Craig Gross. They both deal with a subject so close to my heart; who was Christ and how did he intend for me to live my life.
In the previous post a pastor by the name of PT wrote of his work on the streets in a large city. Now there is a tough church. The homeless outreach in our church is a tough place to get people to work. One of our pastors wants to take the church van down and load up the homeless and bring them to church. I wonder…what would happen in our church if all of a sudden 30 people, dressed in rags, dirty from the streets, came in and sat down? I doubt many of them would even want to come.
In The Gutter Craig talks about the very first outing with the porn mobile. He and his wife attended a church service of a friend and proudly parked the new porn mobile in the parking lot. After the service Craig stayed to talk and wife went to the car to feed their young son.
When she arrived at the car it was surrounded by people and a note on the windshield which said “You are more than welcome to come back to this church, but please do not park the car here or bring the car here at all.” Once she got in and locked the car, the people started pounding on the windows and yelling. Then they called the cops…
Search “Church attendance drops” in Google and you will find article after article about the drop in church attendance here in the US. Why? I believe people find they are not perfect and so they don’t come back. I love to greet people in church with “How are you?” because I marvel at the response “Great, fantastic!”, really or are you just to afraid to tell the truth in the bubble of perfection we have created in our churches.
When I was in The Meadows I had to wear a name tag and it had a color on it. Mine was orange. The orange meant that I was involved in sexual addiction. Other colors were for drug, or porn or alcohol. In that group of people, all wearing their struggles around their neck for all to see…were and are the finest human beings I have ever met. Maybe it is why the street people I have met are so incredible and so kind…they have nothing to hide and they display their struggle in life on the outside.
In The Barbarian Way Erwin talks about how far we have fallen from what Jesus expected of His followers and His church. He says “Somewhere along the way the movement of Jesus Christ became civilized as Christianity. “We convinced ourselves that God’s optimal desire for our lives was to insulate us in a spiritual bubble where we risk nothing, sacrifice nothing, lose nothing, worry about nothing. Yes Jesus’ death wasn’t to free us from dying, but to free us from the fear of death.”
I am a Barbarian and I love The Gutter, my favorite part of The Barbarian Way is this:
- The civilized build shelters and invite God to stay with them; barbarians move with God wherever He chooses to go. The civilized Christian has a routine; the barbarian disciple has a mission . The civilized believer knows the letter of the law; the barbarian disciple lives the spirit of the law. The religiously civilized love tradition; the barbarian spirit loves challenges. The civilized are satisfied with ritual; barbarians live and thrive in the mystical. For the civilized disciple, religion provides stability and certainty; for the barbarian, a life in God is one of risk and mystery.
Jesus said “Follow Me”, but he did not say Follow me and it will be easy, I think that might surprise many people.
Yes, I am a barbarian and so are so many of you who come here willing to share the pain and the guilt. For many of you are like me, you have been to the gutter, you have felt that shame and you embrace those who are still trying to find their way out.
God bless you great barbarian men (and women) of God…I am so glad to know you and I am so blessed to know so many of your stories. Those stories and your struggles tell me even more what great men of God you are.