A few weeks ago, I was talking with two executives from a successful Christian ministry. They informed me that they tried to launch a ministry outreach program but the program failed due to the type of people they selected to spearhead the leadership and speaking engagements. The people had all the right pedigree, experience in ministry and were very knowledgeable on theology and church doctrine. However, none of them were able to muster or sustain a following. When they described the type of people they selected to lead this program, the first thoughts that popped into my head were "Educated but Mediocre and Boring" - I know I'm terrible, I apologize. Lately, a lot of people have been asking me how we created such a large following (especially with this cheapo website design) Marketing and PR people spend thousands on websites and advertising and yet they don't muster any traction or following, much like my outreach friends. As I was pondering this thought and falling asleep last night, Jon Acuff started whispering in my ear. Actually, I was listening to his book Quitter on my ipod, but Jon and I are practical best friends because even though we have never met, I almost stole his executive car at the Nashville Airport one time (Jon still hasn't thanked me for not doing this!)
As I drifted to sleep, I realized that this blog and ministry is Dangerous. It's edgy, it's raw, it's real and sometimes I say things that shock my Christian audience and scare those who have stuck their necks out to support me. This is really who I am. Read my testimony, I'm not the poster child from Christianity. I'm broken, I sin (often) and sometimes I say mean things. I've seen people try to artificially conjure this dangerous persona for the sole purpose of creating a "badboy" image or to try to sell people products, especially on the internet. But I'm not selling anything. I don't want anything from you. The reality is that I'm an unfinished masterpiece, still struggling, still running to Christ daily asking for help and forgiveness. I'm not blissful and parked in the warm and fuzzy Christian comfort zone. I'm constantly on the edge, pushing the envelope and dragging followers with me.
This scares people. Ultra-Conservatives. The Status Quo crowd. Pastors who hire me to speak.
During my last performance appraisal at work, my supervisor told me that I was scary to manage because I don't play by the rules, don't tow the party line and play it safe. He also told me I was the insurgent in his organization but that my insurgency challenged him and the organization to become better and reach further.
Why are people nervous of dangerous people?
Because living outside your comfort zone, not accepting the status quo and speaking/living your faith and convictions often scares the hell out of people. (I said that to shock you!) Many Christians I meet are just happy to go to church, attend potluck and live a mediocre life, this was me too once upon a time. We start out on fire for Christ or go to a conference and get fired up but then slowly drift towards mediocrity and the status quo.
When I was in the jungles of Panama, you have to navigate by map and compass. The triple canopy does not let a GPS signal in and the vegetation is so thick that you have to stick your nose to the compass and walk on your azimuth. Up and down hills, through rivers, ants on your head, hollowing monkeys tossing excrement at you. You stay on your azimuth because if you don't stay true to the azimuth, you'll slowly drift off course. Walk just 1° off azimuth for a few hundred meters and you could end up miles away from your destination. How many of us started on azimuth but slowly drifted towards comfort Christianity? Many Christians do so it, so it seems natural to us, we often don't even realize it. Once we're there, it's warm, cozy, familiar and safe.
But in John 14:12 Christ says “I tell you the truth, anyone, who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Okay JC, I know you're the Lord of Lord's and all but, I will do greater things than you?
Surely Christ didn't mean us? We do bake sales and breakfasts. Surely God is happy if we just attend church each week, tithe faithfully and go to our small groups? Why get all crazy and dangerous, let's just stay comfortable, it's what everyone is doing. Then along comes this Legacy Dad punk in A21 T-Shirt (or a Kyle Idleman, a Matt Chandler, or an Eric Mason) and starts challenging people to get off their butts and start living like a follower not just a fan. Lead, Follow or Get out-of-the-way! This scares comfortable Christians and makes them uneasy. It confronts believers to elevate their faith and life to be more Christ like rather than a weekly social club we attend with no challenges or risk. Christ told his disciples "Drop what you're doing and follow me!"
I speak with truth, quote scripture and don't sugar coat life, if this offends you, I don't apologize. I'm not your "nice" Christian man with a cardigan and a soft-spoken voice, that's not who I am, it's not who God made me. I speak up when I see injustice. I abhor judgmental and legalistic attitudes. I often debate and challenge my fellow Christians or even dress them down like R. Lee Emry in Full Metal Jacket when they are not being Christ like to others and I expect you to do the same for me when I act unChristian.
So, back to my Ministry friends, why do people follow dangerous people and blogs like this one? Because were not pretending. We're not "playing church" We're not hiding our faults and flaws. We're being honest with people instead of trying to portray a facade of perfection and zero defect theology. We are willing to take a stand for our faith, our families and our church. Go ahead, fillet me open and see all my faults and sins, Christ died for them and me and I love Him for that. This website and ministry is God's ministry and for His glory, not mine. I will continue to follow the vision he set for me and live on fire for Christ, dangerously challenging the status quo and following the example of a rebel Jew from Nazareth, who challenged the religious status quo of his day and turned this world upside down. If this offends you, unfollow me, others will take your place.
Amen! Pass the Tylenol.
Esse Quam Videri