if you’re selling apples don’t be surprised when people keep buying them
Thursday, 10 November 2011
I was listening to someone share their journey through religion recently. Like so many who grew up in the Baptist church, she recalled the many altar calls she responded to as a child. And my thought while listening to her reflect, was of course why not.
Anyone who has grown up within such a tradition—where salvation as a specific proclamation especially in fearful response to eternal torment is highly regarded—will smile and possibly laugh at the many times they and their friends walked down to the altar call on a Sunday morning. We smile and laugh and wonder why we were so silly to do that same act over and over.
But I can’t help but think it makes perfect sense.
When you place such a high value on that one act. When all too often the only participatory-responsive act anyone is called to is an altar call. When the central message of any sermon always comes back to the proclamation. Then what do you expect?
Moving forward we need offer people opportunities to respond which fit both the new and old believer alike. We need to find varied ways for people to respond to the Call in just as many varied ways as their are people. One of the great heritages of American Christianity is the revival. We have mastered the service of gathering multitudes into a swooning atmosphere. We have learned well have to draw an announcement of dramatic change. What we haven’t learned yet though is what to do the next day, week, year later. We don’t know how to make our liturgical structures form to anything beyond a confession, a this I believe. And we shouldn’t be surprised to have a people who are never getting any further in their faith unless we are showing them what that looks like and how to respond through our gatherings together.