The Unreasonableness of Being Reasonable (part five)

Within a larger conversation concerning courageous leadership we’ve been examining the outworking of placing “an unreasonable faith in reasonableness” – a central tenet of much of post-Enlightenment Christendom in the West. I am indebted to Edwin Freidman’s A Failure on Nerve for illuminating this characteristic of the anxious, shallow, quick-fix orientation to leadership.

This kind of leadership is ruining the Church in North America in our time.

We’ve pointed out that when you preach what you don’t practice, the dissonance repels people – not just from your sanctuary – but from Christianity and Christ. The implications for a society are deeply profound and can infect it for generations.

See, Christianity is nothing if not a call to courage. When her leaders bow before the idol of reasonableness, a dry, humdrum philosophical religion results.

 

And, men leave the church in droves.

 

Or haven’t you noticed?

 

I subscribe to an excellent book reading service called Leader’s Book Summaries [www.StudyLeadership.com].

I highly recommend it. In a summary of David Murrow’s Why Men Hate Going to Church I learned that only one third of church attendees are men—and most of them are over 50. It’s almost impossible to find adults – of either gender — under age 30 in church.

How come?

Consider these two lists of values: The first list: Love, communication, beauty, relationships, support, help, nurture, feelings, sharing, harmony, community, and cooperation.

And, the second list: Competence, power, efficiency, achievement, skills, results, accomplishment, technology, goals, success, and competition. 

Which list of values are most consistent with the culture that predominates the North American Church today?

The two lists come from John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and distinguish culturally “masculine” from “feminine” values.

What do you see?

In our commitment to be reasonable, among other major shifts, the Church in the west has been emasculated. Neutered. It’s been feminized.

The Leaders Book Summary points out that numerous studies reveal “there is widespread agreement among both the religious and the secular that to be a Christian is to embrace feminine values.”

Consider this: those most absent from church (men and young adults) value challenge over security. Again, taken from the Summary, the key values of this missing population include adventure, risk, daring, independence, variety, and reward.

Women and seniors are more likely to embrace:

safety,

stability,

harmony,

predictability,

comfort,

support,

and tradition

as core values.

Since values are revealed in behavior, not belief systems, what does your lifestyle reveal, pastor?

When the time has come to take a courageous stand, what does your behavior reveal?

  • When the opportunity came to stand up to that manipulative, obstructionist power-wielding elder, what did you do?
  • When you thought to lead your parish out into the city to serve and love those outside your tight-knit congregation – and push-back came, as it always does – did you lead courageously or cave under pressure?
  • When a clear biblical injunction has become as unpopular in your denomination as in the culture at large, have you censored your own voice?
  • When the Holy Spirit stirred you to put your hand to the plow in pursuit of some great, challenging work for God’s glory, did the fearful complaints of the cowards prevail in the end?

As leaders, we get to champion our people to become who they always wanted to be, by taking them where they never wanted to go.

And, since life is always lived from now on, your past behavior is no predictor of the greatness you’ll accomplish before you breathe your last.

So, before you see Jesus face to face, what great, rewarding, daring adventure will you and your people give yourselves to?

What’ll it be?

You get to choose.