The Bride(zilla) of Christ — what a bold and radical assessment of church by authors Ted Kluck and Ronnie Martin. Here are some of their observations about church as it is usually done in the Western world:
“One of my most enduring childhood memories happens to be one of the most difficult, dreaded, and agonizing rituals of the American evangelical family; going to church on Sunday morning.”
“Sometimes I have thought that the church looks more like a psychiatric ward than a place of restoration.”
“Consumerism is the mind-set we find filling the pews and padded chairs of many of our churches today. We attend church to be served, not to serve. We attend church to be won over, not to worship. We attend church to complain, not to confess our sins.”
“Church goers want what they want when they want it Instead of a shared community of believers united under God’s grace, church becomes an individualistic smorgasbord of boss-like demands that must be noted and fulfilled.”
“The church has become an empire of individualism.”
Also, Kluck and Martin both give several stories about how they and others have been hurt by traditional church. Reading their book it appears obvious that there are major systematic problems with the traditional way of building church services around one man’s message and control. However, although the book’s subtitle is: What To Do When God’s People Hurt God’s People, Kluck and Martin fail to address the ineffectiveness of the traditional structure of church. Instead, they give familiar and individualist answers, such as, forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity.
Kluck and Martin remind me of Rodney King when after being beaten by the Los Angeles police, asked: “Can’t we just all get along?” Systematic problems are much more complicated than that! And that is where The Birde(zilla) of Christ falls short. It tries to tidy up the Bride(zilla), not to radically change it.
If church in the West is as big of a mess as Kluck and Martin present it to be, isn’t it time for a radical solution — a new reformation? Ted Kluck touches on this when he tells how a friend shared with him about how God miraculously used him to cast out demons.
Kluck replied to his friend: “Dude, that doesn’t happen in academia.” Then Kluck goes on to write; “And it really doesn’t happen on the conference/publishing/celebrity circuit either. It happens in places where people are humbled and broken, not where people are receiving accolades and being exalted.”
Perhaps it is time to go beyond the individualistic solutions and band aids called for by Kluck and Martin, and instead to radically change the way church is done in the West. Perhaps it is time for us to begin to obey the New Testament instructions in 1 Corinthians 14:26 and allow everybody present to speak in the meeting when we gather in Jesus’s name. Maybe it is time to implement the biblical (and Reformation) concept of the priesthood of all believers by breaking the clergy/laity stronghold off of the body of Christ. Perhaps it is time to replace the word church with the Greek New Testament concept of ekklesia which was the city council in Greek city states, and not a religious building or organization.
How do I rate this book? I give it 5 stars for the diagnosis, but only 1 star for the solutions. When I average those numbers it gets 3 stars.
To experience a bold and life-transforming departure from traditional church check out The Salvation Army Berry Street every Sunday morning at 10:45, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207.