John has an incredibly sensible thought today on the Church. Drawing from Jollyblogger’s extensive critique of George Barna’s new book, John writes:

God does not change, and neither, fundamentally, do we. Why is the question, “What do we do today,” instead of “Why aren’t we doing it like they did then?” Bottom line, it is easier to look around than it is in. It is easier to say, “Scoiety(sic) has changed around the church” than to say “The church has quit doing what it is supposed to do.”

He closes with this punchy line:

I love the church — it does not need to be “rethought” it just needs to be done right.

The comment echoes Mere-O role model Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s famous maxim about Christianity: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. which church has quit doing what it is supposed to do? Who is “they” and when was “then”? Which Christianity has never been really tried? Is he criticizing “church re-thinking” in the sense of altering or abandoning central doctrines, or “church re-thinking” that proposes alternate forms of worship?

    I think the denominational crisis strips his point of considerable force. He seems to be focusing on the praxis rather than the dogma of the Church(es), so that “doing it” refers to living out the Christian life in and as a community of believers. Given the fragmentation of these communities, I think that “re-thinking” has its place.


  2. I laughed when I read your questions, Tom. Bravo!

    Asking such affrontively specific questions breaks, for me, the spell of such self-deprecating statements about “the church.”

    “The church has quit doing what it is supposed to do,” satisfies my vague sense of unease, my creeping feeling that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing… but this feeling need not be vague. I know what I’m not doing well enough: Loving God with my whole self and loving other people as myself. I know why I am failing at these two tasks (or states): Sinfullness.

    But I also know what God is doing about it. He is taking the initiative to conform me (very regardless of what I say or do in the matter!) to the image of his son.

    Praise the Lord for his attention and initiative.

    A second part of the spell that I want to dispel: When I find myself talking at great length and with great expense of energy, about “the church”, or “humanity as a whole,” I have noticed that this is just another way for me to avoid my own personal responsibility for myself, my family, my possessions, the limited sphere of influence the Lord has given me to prove my faithfulness. Responsibility is painful, but the pain is O so sweet, and becoming sweeter still. Franklin Covey says, “the more we care for what is in our sphere of influence, and ignore what is outside of our control, the more our sphere of influence grows to include things previously outside of our control.” In other words, be faithful in the little things. This is something each human being must learn and do.

    As for re-thinking the church, yes, re-thinking things being done wrong is a good thing. All part of the conforming process.

    Let everything that has lungs, worship the Lord.


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