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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

For Sale: A Christian Lifestyle

The Crystal Catheral (home to Robert Schuller and the "Hour of Power" ministries) is going to be purchased soon, possibly by the Roman Catholic Church for the mere price of 52 million dollars and change. In my 20 years of ministry I haven't even come close to spending 2 million dollars for ministry, so the number is a bit off-putting for me. But I can say I am not surprised.

The Crystal Cathedral exemplies a type of ministry that no longer gets at what it means to be "Christian" in "America" anymore. Aynthing the CC and its ministries are about is part of an America that no longer exists. As Gibson Winter noted fifty(50!!!!) years ago, the suburban captivity of the Church probably cannot last. Mainly, as he noted, because the suburban American lifestyle cannot last. The Church that puts all its ministry eggs into the suburban basket is going to find itself in trouble, and the Crystal Cathedral and its problems are just the largest example of a change that has been happening over the past decade or so in suburban ministries across the country.

Prairie Table Ministries began because we knew the suburban lifestyle Christianity exemplified by the Crystal Cathedral wasn't working for us...based on programs, hierarchies of power, and a focus on self-help religion rather than incarnational Christianity was exactly the kinds of ministries we were not connecting we started Prairie Table. We wanted to be about God, and have people we know journey with us...we wanted to be authentic, and not find ourselves compromised in faith in order to support a building or program...we wanted the love of God to influence how we behaved and believed, and we sought out ways to search scripture and ourselves for clues to that love...

It's precisely because of ministries like Prairie Table that the Crystal Cathedral no longer can sustain its ministries...but I read Gibson Winter 30 years ago, went to Chicago and studied under his students, and I've always believed he was the folks at the Crystal Cathedral--I've had 30 years to get ready for its sale. And Prairie Table works--not because it's based on a Christian lifestyle---but because it trusts in God, and God alone.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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