synchroblog event leading up to the Big Tent Christianity conference being held in NC in September. Some of my favorite speakers and authors will be there, but it is nearly a continent away, so I won't be able to make it. The focus of the conference seems to be - how to get Christians together in some semblance of unity, despite coming to Christ from radically different worldviews. The questions for the blog are:
What does “big tent Christianity” mean to you? What does it look like in your context? What are your hopes and dreams for the Church?
From my view, the church has always had one fundamental Achilles' heel. Its members cannot help but see themselves as "in" while others are "out". Typical solutions to this situation have been to be more stern, or more relevant, or more entertaining, or more... whatever... so that we can get a growing number of folks "in" with us. The goal is to get people in.
This foundational attitude creates the dichotomy which Dr. Seuss so brilliantly gave example to in his book "The Sneetches". There were Sneetches with stars on their bellies... and those who lacked "stars upon thars". Like the Pharisee and the tax collector praying before the temple, the star-bellied sneetches were grateful for their stars and thought less of those without.
So what is my hope for the church?
At the conclusion of the Sneetches story, the various Sneetches are running through a machine - either trying to get stars added to their bellies or stars removed. The star-bellied Sneetches are desperately trying to remain distinguished so that the lines drawn between the inner and outer groups can remain. In the end, they all run out of money to go through the machine and are hopelessly mixed... unable to distinguish the "in" and "out" groups any longer. In that moment, they discover that it was not the stars that were important... but that they were all Sneetches.
My hope for the church is that somehow our dividing lines would become hopelessly mixed up; that, like the Sneetches:
"until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
whether this one was that one...
or that one was this one
or which one was what one...
or what one was who."