Thursday, March 19, 2009

We apologize

"We in the modern church confuse witness with reputation. We conceal facts discreetly, saying, 'It wouldn't be a very good testimony if this sort of thing got around.' Discretion is valuable in its place. What we sometimes forget is that the world around us is well aware of what goes on in our congregations and institutions. Truth will out. And as people begin to realize not only that our standards of behavior are no different from theirs but that we tolerate and conceal what we profess to abhor, our preaching becomes an empty parroting in their ears. It is not sin which destroys our witness, but concealed and tolerated sin. If we were to deal with sin more openly, more radically, and to be less concerned with our reputations, our witness would in fact be powerful."

John White, The Golden Cow, page 35.

Proposal. A full-page ad in The Tennessean. Section one. Right hand page. Lots of white space. Two simple words in big font at the top: "We apologize." Then, in smaller font just below that, something like this: "We, the undersigned churches of Nashville, apologize to our city. We have not been the witnesses for Christ that he commands. We are neither delighting you nor disturbing you with Christ. This is our failure alone, and we own it before him and before you. God helping us, we pledge to be humbler, clearer, more provocative and more pleasing to you in the future. If we break this pledge, you will have no reason to take us seriously ever again. But we cannot go on as we have been. The time has come for repentance and revival." Below that, the participating churches could be listed, in alphabetical order, in columns. Then everyone involved could go back to their churches and we could get down on our knees and beg the Lord Jesus Christ to change us.

What do we have to lose? Only the status quo.