Romantic Church Revolution

What does it mean to be a romantic?  So many times the romantic is portrayed as one who has lost touch with reality.  They long for something too idealistic.  Something perfect. Pragmatists criticize the romantic because they themselves can only see things for how they are, they don’t have the foresight to see things for how they could be.  Imagine an America in which early colonial settlers never risked their lives for the ideals of a country founded upon democratic principle.  No “by the people, for the people.”  Or tech lovers, imagine if Steve Jobs never entertained the idea of a personal computer. Romantics change things!  They dream about how things could be, how things should be!  However, they also pay a significant cost to see those ideals realized.  Some sacrifice their present financial security, some their occupational position, some their very lives.  Romanticism comes at a very high price.  

A few synonyms for romanticism are idyllic, picturesque, fairy-tale.  That last one really struck me.  Honestly, it humbled me.  All of us, whether we’re bold enough to admit it crave fairy-tales.  We long for Aurora to be wakened by true love’s first kiss.  We hope for Beast’s shallowness to be destroyed by his growing love for Belle.  We should hope for that in every story.  In fact, I believe it’s wired in the DNA of us all to need fairy-tale endings.  I had a pastor friend say, “There is no such thing as truly good atheist story.”   Every story worth telling has good and evil.  Every good story worth telling has redemption.  The story of the church began with a fairy-tale (romance).  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  The emergence of the church, the people set apart for Christ, begins with the most incredible fairy-tale of all.

Lately, many of the ideas I have had about the nature and purpose of the church have been questioned by dear friends and family.  I know they all love me and mean well.  I, unfortunately, am often too abrupt and argumentative in my response to them.  I have had difficulty helping them to see what I see.  I take comfort in that I am not alone.  (If I were, I would question myself, too.) However, one recent response to my wrestlings was that I had a romantic view of who the church should be.  I struggled with this at first.  I didn’t want to be perceived as a person who had lost touch with reality, like I described earlier.  Then, a quote I had read a while back came to my heart.  It was a definition I had heard of insanity.  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.” Think about it, if a friend came to you explaining that their marriage was falling apart, that they and their spouse were on the brink of divorce.  Then, you asked, “Well, have you guys talked about counseling.”  Their answer is “No. We don’t want to do that.”  Then you ask, “Okay, well have you thought about maybe taking a week or weekend to just talk through the issues you are having?”  “No,” they snap.  “We don’t really have the time to do that either.”  Finally, you question, “Well, have you done anything to try and change?”  They respond, “No.” What would your thoughts about the chances of survival be for their marriage?  Slim to none, right?  Why?  Because you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.

Every article I have read on the church for the last 3 months has pretty much headlined with something along these lines: “People are exiting the church in droves.”  From the “dones” who are committed Christians fed up with church to the college freshman who either won’t ever be a part of a church again or will find their way back only when they begin their own family.  What are we supposed to do?  What should our response be?  Do we do the same things we’ve always done? i.e. change the music, create “better” programs, hire fresh pastoral staff with new vision.  I laugh at that last one.  I have a good friend whom I happen to work with who says, “You know, the vision of the church really hasn’t changed in 2,000 years.”  No!!! The answer can’t be to do the same thing we have always done.  That’s insanity.  We must make a paradigm shift.  We need romantics who long for the bride of Christ to recapture the fairy-tale of her birth.  We need a romantic revolution.