Saturday, October 17, 2015

Who needs what?

“If you don’t have a drag queen in your congregation, you should get one,” the subject, Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber says, “Oh my God, it just makes church better.”  I am not so sure about that but Bolz-Weber is an ELCA phenomenon and some folks hang on her every word.  The point of this is not who makes church better but who needs to be there.  Drag queens may contribute to some folks' idea of ambiance but the reality is that drag queens like everyone else are sinners in need of the forgiving grace of God in Christ.  Period.

It strikes me that we spend a great deal of time talking about who we would like to see in our churches (drag queens for Bolz-Weber and young families for gray haired congregations and such).  We ought to be spending less time figuring out who we would like to have in our parishes and more time spent reaching sinners with the Word of the Lord.  I know how easy it is to think in terms of the make up of our parishes (ethnicity, family status, age, etc...) but we are not marketers seeking to sell a produce but witnesses to the grace and mercy of God (of whom we are also those who have received grace upon grace).

I cannot tell you who God needs or who we need in our parish but I am pretty sure that every person is in need of the message of the cross, the splash of new life, the absolution of their sins, and the taste of eternal life.  Once we stop marketing the Gospel or looking at the pews as if we were decorating God's living room we just might get it.  God's grace is all inclusive even as it is the one and exclusive source of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Church growth gurus are quick to give you formulas about the kind of folks you need in the pews for your parish to survive or flourish.  Stewardship folks will tell you the kind of givers you need to make sure the bills are paid.  Diversity people will tell you what a representative sample of your neighborhood, community, or denomination looks like.  All of this might be interesting enough but it is surely a distraction from the bold and blunt reality that we are sinners in need of the merciful God who is Jesus Christ.  Once this is first and foremost in preaching, teaching, and focus, churches just might forget about wishing for those they think might spice up the mix in the pews.  And that would be a good thing.


Carl Vehse said...

"... Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber..."

XXXA pastrix Nadia Bolz-Weber is no more of a "Lutheran pastor" than Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Anonymous said...

Well, in a previous column, you were complaining that people were not dressing up enough for church.... Seems like a drag queen would spend a lot of time getting ready for an hour on a Sunday morning. -- Christopher

David Looke said...

I wonder what that particular church would do if the drag queen saw the depth of her/his rebellion from the Lord and repented, giving up her ways before they totally destroy her. If having a drag queen is an asset to a church, would they encourage that transformation from sinner to saint or discourage it? Sadly, that church may now be blind to sin.