Latest Read: State of Fear

May 11, 2007

state of fearI just finished “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton (remember Jurassic Park?). You may not know this, but I have recently taken up reading as a hobby. I think I have read about eight or so books in the last three or so months – mostly suspense thrillers. This book started out pretty slow but I’d say the last few chapters made it a worthwhile read. It’s basically an environmental suspense novel using tons of real environmental and scientific studies to support a fictional story. The book does raise some very good questions about what is environmentalism, what is conservation, global warming, species extinction, urban industrialization, etc. Basically what I got from the book was that we (humans), don’t really know much about the climate, the earth, temperature changes, atmosphere, the future, etc., and yet we are spending tons of money and creating policy based on studies that are basically “good guesses”.

I’m not really huge on environmentalism – got lots of other things going on right now. Don’t get me wrong, I recycle when I can, and I would really love an electric vehicle (especially with gas being over $3 a gallon!). But this book has got me thinking alot more about our current situation. For example environmentalists want to build windfarms to generate energy, but apparently no one has studied how this will effect the bird population… oye – see what I mean? Sounds great – will it work? How much will it cost compared to how much energy will it produce – omg I need to stop typing!

Well at the end of the book, one of the characters decides to start a new type of environmental group – new vision, better research, more effectiveness, etc. He says “…all these environmental organizations are thirty, forty, or fifty years old. They have big buildings, big obligations, big staffs. They may trade on their youthful dreams, but the truth is, they’re now part of the establishment. And the establishment works to preserve the status quo.”

This got me thinking about my line of work – the church! Could this be compared to the church? What is we replaced the environmental group with the church and used that statement to describe the church of Jesus Christ? Could the church be just working to “preserve the status quo?”. This is a great discussion – personally, I think the modern American church does seem to have a lifespan – or a common growth chart that it follows. At staff meetings we have called it the church bell curve. It basically states that a church begins with vision – solving a problem, meeting needs, being fired up, creatively reaching for new and effective ways to accomplish Jesus’ final mandates. Then it starts to normalize, stabilize, organize, and settle into it’s programs – doing things the same way over and over. Then the church begins to be irrelevant, old fashioned, out of touch, and staunch in it’s views of how things should be done – and before you know it, it becomes a museum – celebrating the “good old days”, and becoming completely ineffective.

Ok, I have pontificated enough; the question we are left with is – how to you overcome this process? I am too tired of typing right now to tell you what I think, but I will follow up soon. Leave a comment on what you think!

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One Response to “Latest Read: State of Fear”

  1. James Says:

    I think you are absolutely right about that church cycle. I believe the problem is that our focus gets clouded. Jesus never called us to save anyone, that is His job along with the Holy Spirit. He didn’t even necessarily call us to start a bunch of churches (not that they are not helpful for spiritual growth). He called us to make disciples. (Matt. 28:19-20) This takes a lot of time and effort and unfortunately most Christians only want to commit an hour on Sun. and maybe an hour during the week.
    Not trying to sound like a downer but it is the truth for the majority of the American church today. If anyone is interested in what discipleship growth could look like check out the book “Cultivating a Life for God” by Neil Cole.
    I really am starting to believe that this is what Jesus intended for His church.

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