In music and stage, a greenroom is typically a room backstage in which an artist can rest, think, and prepare for a performance. The Green Room is a podcast/radio show/blog focused on helping Christians to think and prepare for a life of making disciples in every aspect of life.
It’s time to start a new conversation. I have been stewing on this for a while now, and I can’t shake it. I am convinced that God has been leading me to facilitate conversation on the state of the church, the state of the culture, where we are, and where we could be. So without further ado, I introduce to you a new topic which will come to define a lot of what happens on this blog, on my show, and in my church. Welcome to the Green Room.
The church gathering is like a green room in that it is a place where Christians can gather and reflect before they enter into the performance space. Our lives are like a performance, not in the superficial sense, but in the sense of demonstration. We are demonstrating the power of the gospel to a world that is living lives based on a totally different cultural narrative. So in that way, in the church gathering we have the opportunity to prepare Christians to go out and demonstrate the gospel in both word and deed.
Ancient Christians understood this better than we do. Liturgical worship was a way of practicing the forms and thoughts of Christianity. They understood that Sunday shapes everyday. Much like in karate, the form is not the martial art exactly, but is a practice of its tenants. Our gatherings are therefore not about being cool, or hip, or cutting edge, or even attractional, but about formation. This isn’t to say that it can’t or shouldn’t be artistic of beautiful, but that those are not the primary functions.
We are past the time of being able to attract people through cultural innovation or cultural copycating in the church. The demons facing this culture are too strong for us to woo people away from the cultural narrative. D. Martin Lloyd Jones once said that secularism is like the demon of which Jesus said, “this kind can only be driven out by prayer.” What does this mean for the church? We have to get back to the basics of our faith.
I am by no means advocating that we walk away from creativity or innovation, but rather that we get centered on Jesus and his way once again. John Mark Comer, who pastors in Portland, has said that we must get back to apprenticeship to Jesus and life in the Spirit. This is where our power is. This is where our power always has been. Perhaps the church has bought into some of the pride and lies of the enlightenment. Perhaps we convinced ourselves that with enough wit and effort we could build churches which actually made the gospel seem cool and relevant to secular people. How arrogant and wrong this was. In most secular cities, we are failing to reach our culture in any sort of society rocking way. We are barely making a dent.
I don’t believe this is God’s will. Like C.H. Spurgeon, I happen to believe that it is better for the glory of God if more people are saved than those which are not. I know that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would that all would repent and return to him. It IS most certainly the will of the Lord that the church return to his ways and that we impact culture by bringing missions into the kingdom. Paul once wrote that he viewed himself as a priest of the gospel and that the offering he brought was the people who were being converted through his ministry. The same is true of us today. We are a nation of priests. How must we engage this mission? Through Spirit-empowered prayer, scripture meditation, and disciple-making in community we shall accomplish it.
God is reforming this world, restoring it. He will bring about his ends in history, make no mistake about that. He is beginning this restoration work in us and in those whom we bring to him through our gospel work. If we are to capture our modern secular culture for the gospel like the early Christians did theirs, we must commit ourselves to being a church which demonstrates the gospel in everything we say and do. This can only occur in churches where leaders are focused on forming people and it begins with the gatherings. The precedent is set there and carried out in other places.
Will we allow ourselves to build the sort of green room our churches need? I hope and pray that we do because this world needs a church that is ready not to be cute, relevant, or cool… but to demonstrate the power of the gospel by laying down our very lives for the sake of Christ.