Feeling Dirty at Church (149)

In this episode Gregg goes further regarding the Integration Project.

He begins by expressing doubt that “seekers” actually exist, arguing that this is a fictional category of people created by Christians.  Instead, Gregg views those people who appear most open to Christianity as perhaps a) those with past exposure but who have not been marginalized by Christianity, b) those who have ulterior motives for attending Christian events (such as being attracted to / in a relationship with someone who is Christian).  In other words, these people are typically better identified as members of a larger group such as agnostics or atheists, but for various reasons are willing to be engage with Christianity in certain ways / at certain points in their lives.

Next, Gregg draws some distinctions between the aims of church, typically, and the aims of the Integration Project.  He sees a significant disjunction in that churches are aimed at and “for” Christians, yet Christianity claims to be relevant and necessary to everyone.  One indication of this disjunction is that churches rarely if ever consider how outsiders will quantify the value to them of a given church, Christian organization, etc.

Thus Gregg proposes that for the claims of Christians (that Christianity is relevant and necessary to all people) to have integrity, Christians need to be asking themselves: “What is ‘in it’ for outsiders (to participate in this Christian event, with this Christian organization, etc.?”

So Gregg correlates the non-existence of seekers with the inability of churches to consider their programs, and even Christianity itself, from the perspectives of outsiders: these two tendencies are mutually reinforcing with the effect of ensuring that evangelical Christians effectively isolate themselves and render their message irrelevant.

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