I am a barbarian.


This is the declaration of teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) in the Dead Poets' Society and it is the basis for this new blog. Some of you have followed my previous blog, "the SIGNIFICANCE of insignificance", which I consider to hopefully be a warmup for this blog.

I've recently read Erwin McManus' The Barbarian Way, which has renewed my personal sense of calling. We live in a time that the culture is changing and society is largely unchurched. As a pastor, I would say "rightly so!" even though it is a shame that we have failed to reach so many.

As time changes, our focus changes, and the time for passive Christian leadership is gone, and with it, the distractions of the ultra-conservative and ultra-liberal 20th century churches. I stand at the beginning of a hopefully long career as a pastor and see many of the challenges that lie in the landscape of the next 40 years of Christian ministry and I am excited by the possibilities for the Kingdom of God in my generation.

I am a barbarian. Let me explain.

I love the way that McManus puts it - he begins his book with a text from the Old Testament Book of Judges, chapter 11. You can read it for yourself, but basically, he uses the example of Jephthah (pronounced yiptah) to illustrate the life of what he calls a barbarian. Jephthah was one of three brothers, but was the only one whose mother was a prostitute. When grown, the other brothers were ready to claim their inheritance and ran him out of town, where he was accompanied by other "adventurers." Once the Israelites were in trouble, with the Ammonites ready to attack them, they went to Jephthah to ask him to head their armies.

All this is to say that in peaceful society, there is no room for the barbarian; however, as soon as there is struggle or conflict, no one is more valuable. We have been in a widely "churched" society for several centuries and now we find that suddenly, that comfort is gone, that we are facing a culture where only one in three people know Christ, much less follow him. I am convinced that God has created me to be a barbarian. I get frustrated with Christians that want to offer a simple program or cook some barbeque to save the world's problems. I am exhausted by endless committee meetings and overcome by the technicalities of church bureaucracy. Likewise, I am empowered by effective ministry, compelled by God's vision, and energized by Christians who are passionate about seeking out that vision.

I am unapoligetically barbaric. No, I don't stand for fighting any religious wars or lashing out against anyone. Christ didn't, so why should we think that would be appropriate? Yes, I do fight a spiritual war that is real and I come to the fight armed with love, faith, mercy, and some really good news of hope.

This blog is my story as a barbarian in the Kingdom of God and my observations coupled with my attempt at vision casting.

Here's your starter question: where do you feel most comfortable? Are you content in the time of a widely churched society, or does the prospect of an unchurched culture on our doorstep excite you? Comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

On Blogger? Not Alex Stroud...a REAL blogger would never be caught dead...;)

If you had any sense at all, you'd move with all us REAL bloggers over to Word Press. Yeah, that's right. You've tasted your own medicine and it's bitter, my friend.

Barbarian yawp suits you. Personally, I've always kind of considered you a barbarian. Glad to see you've gotten on board.

Seriously, I've been praying for y'all a lot lately. I'm excited to hear you're so on fire. That's where ministry is at, brother. You're going to catch a lot of flak for it, but, hey. You're a barbarian. By definition, you're prepared.

Go get em.

Wally said...

Pretty awesome start. I've been reading a book called Rediscovered Christianity that really has me thinking about some of the same thoughts.

To answer your question, until recently, I have been more comfortable in the churched society. However, that has started to change. I'm becoming excited about an unchurched culture -- even if it is uncomfortable. God specializes in uncomfortable!

Blog on!