A church in Texas is building a life-sized replica of Noah’s ark.
Because that’s a good use of millions of dollars.
Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk calls it the “Disney-ization” of Christianity – taking classic stories and making cartoons out of them. This may help you sell a product, but it does little in the way of creating disciples of Jesus. Fred Clark quotes the pastors of the church who say that the reason for building this ark is to show people that the story really happened, to which Fred retorts, “And because building a replica proves something happened, just like the way Peter Jackson proved the existence of Rivendell.”
What does such a spectacle ask people to put their faith in? Cool graphics and colors? Jesus?
People are walking away from the church on a daily basis. Building a gigantic ark is not going to convince the skeptics to stay on board. Providing spectacular entertainment that wows a person may be enough to provide a good vacation or a fun afternoon, after all, that’s what amusement parks are for, but it is not enough to build a life-changing religion, relationship or spirituality.
Churches can choose to shelter kids as long as possible in an attempt to prop up a shallow or non-existent faith, or take the risky move of following that crucified Jew from Nazareth all the way into the suffering in our own world.
Too many churches choose the shallow way, and I resonate with what Jen Hatmaker says about this:
I’m hungry for a church less known for sanctimony and more for their shocking intervention for hungry babies and human trafficking and racism and injustice. Christianity is too thrilling to reduce to middle/upper-middle class First World Problems, encapsulated in issues and gauged by a nebulous moral compass that lost its bearing decades ago.
People are starving – spiritually and physically – and this world needs some Good News, but they can’t decode what is actually good about us. Good is finding a safe place to struggle, to doubt, to ask hard questions. Good is food when you’re hungry. Good is warm, kind, genuine love extended, no strings attached. Good is clean water, medicine for your sick baby, education, family. Good is community, even before ‘belief’ binds us tight. Good is sustainable work, dignity. Good is Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways.I constantly ask these hard questions of the Bride, of myself, of my own little family.
Because of this, I was recently uninvited to speak by a large church. They cited my struggle with the church, concerned that “these disparaging glimpses at the church certainly can be helpful to a more mature follower but cause great confusion to those who are not quite so far along in their walk with the Lord.” In fact, it is the exact opposite. It is the young believers asking the questions and finding very few safe places to do so. Sanitized Christianity in which the church is propped up and healthy criticism is labeled as “spiritual attack” is the head-in-the-sand approach turning away the next generation.
A few days ago news came out that Rob Bell endorses gay marriage. It was big news. Some applauded, some shook their heads in dismay.
Yesterday millions of children went to bed hungry, young girls in this country were forced into prostitution and raped by men, other millions died because of lack of clean water or suffered from disease.
What matters more?