Sunday, June 11, 2006

Christianity Ain't for Wusses*

* People who lack strength, stamina, courage or conviction

A piece I came across over at CaNN last week got me to thinking about what images of the Christian faith churches present to the world as a way to gather in the harvest.

We are so accustomed these days to hearing such things as "God loves you, and he loves you just as you are. If you are looking for a place where you can feel affirmed in who you are, where you can be what you want to be, and be encouraged to become what you want to be, then come and join us on Sunday morning."

Rubbish! That isn't Christianity, it's secularist humanism. It's for wusses.

And Christianity ain't for wusses.

As I pondered, I began to imagine the sort of advertisement that might really make people stop and think about what the Christian faith is, and whether it might be right for them.

And it was this piece which, while focusing particularly on young people, gave me the bare bones of something to work with for all people:

It begins with the following:

The Church Fathers had a distinctive approach to youth ministry.

Now, don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t uncovered any evidence that St. Ambrose led teens on ski trips in the nearby Alps. Nor is there anything to suggest that St. Basil sponsored junior-high dances in Pontus. (There’s not even a hint of a pizza party.) In fact, if you check all the documentary evidence from all the ancient patriarchates of the East and the West, you won’t find a single bulletin announcement for a single parish youth group.

Yet the Fathers had enormous success in youth and young-adult ministry. Many of the early martyrs were teens, as were many of the Christians who took to the desert for the solitary life. There’s ample evidence that a disproportionate number of conversions, too, came from the young and youngish age groups.

How did the Fathers do it?

They made wild promises.

They promised young people great things, like persecution, lower social status, public ridicule, severely limited employment opportunities, frequent fasting, a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe, an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.

Imagine a church running an ad making promises like that?

Imagine a challenge like this: "You think being a Christian is easy? Try it for 24 hours."

Or: "You think Christians are weaklings? See how strong you are."

Or: "You think Christians hide from reality? Tell that to the people down at the soup kitchen."

Those are three challenges that came to my mind.

There must be countless more.

So I have decided to host a contest for most challenging advert along these lines.

I'm thinking of the sort of thing that would fit easily on a poster or one side of a leaflet.

If anyone is game, send me your entry offline (you'll find my email address in my profile). The winning entry will be posted on The Continuum, with appropriate chapeaux to the author.

Come on, now. Don't be a wuss!

1 comment:

Albion Land said...

I've already received one entry to the contest, and not even a day has passed. Let's have some more.