The Christian Athiest (and online church)

Just got done reading “The Christian Athiest: Believing in God like it doesn’t matter.” (Craig Groeschel, Zondervan, 2010) It’s worth the price and full of sermonable content.

Other than the snappy title, what caught my attention was that it came from the pastor of …an online church that they say occasionally meets around the country/globe. I first ran across them when I downloaded their free “youversion” Bible for my iphone.  It’s not my favorite free iphone Bible app (none really are at this point.)

The concept of “online church” seems oxymoronic. But then, so does “offline church” !   And by “off line” I mean a church which seems disconnected from its community, social issues, and the members from each other, –only to “pretend connectedness” on Sunday.  As a pastor now serving from the pew, I’ve been in congregations which are more OFFline than ON. They are more “apart” than together. This is both literally true of all, and figuratively true of most!

EDGY PERSPECTIVE: One of the “conceits” of the church is that they believe they are the center of their members’ lives, and don’t make coming to church a priority all the time. As a former staff person, this is often what all our efforts were about… GETTING people to church, as if being there and building faith, and acting faithfully were all the same thing.

I spent too much time preparing people to COME, and not enough time preparing them  to GO.  Too much program connectedness and not enough personal connectedness. 

Here’s a short listing of the author’s definition of “Christian athiest.”  They are also his chapter titles.

  • You believe in God …but don’t really know him
  • You believe in God …but aren’t really sure he loves you
  • You believe in God …but not in prayer
  • You believe in God …but don’t think he’s fair
  • You believe in God …but don’t forgive
  • You believe in God …but don’t think you can change
  • You believe in God …but still worry all the time
  • You believe in God …but pursue happiness at any cost
  • You believe in God …but trust more in money
  • You believe in God …but don’t share your faith

Pretty damning, if you ask me. But the cool thing about this list, and about the book, is that we know some of the solutions.  These are messages and ideas we’ve been hearing/preaching for years, which the author gives an engaging new spin to.

To his list I would add:

You believe in God, and Go to Church, but….

  • don’t read your bible
  • don’t invite your friends about your church
  • don’t try to establish friendships with church members OUTSIDE the church building
  • don’t expect more from your church
  • sit back and keep quiet rather than step forward to help

What would you add?

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