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    An “Undercover Exploration” of the Church

    An “Undercover Exploration” of the Church

    Well, that's how Gina Welch's new book "In the Land of Believers:  An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey in to the Heart of the Evangelical Church describes her journey.  Here's the premise.  A 20-something, Yale educated secular Jew from California infiltrates Thomas Road Baptist Church, pretending to get saved and evangelizing with the faithful, all the while concealing her true identity.

    According to Welch, she wanted to understand what evangelicals were like 'unfiltered and off-the-record'.

    Remarkably, The LA Times wrote an book review that really wasn't favorable of the book.  Citing such petty criticisms as women who wear too much make up, they take the author to task for hoodwinking and betraying trust of people who were always on the record but didn't even know there was a record.  They actually call it a "Judas kiss" of a book.

    So... my question:  As a church leader... does a book like this interest you?  Do you think there is anything valuable to get from a book like this?

    And how important is the input of those outside the church?  Is it important how people view Christians?  Is it important how people view YOUR church?  If so, how do you get their feedback?

    Just wondering.

    Todd

    Comments

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    1. Leonard on Tue, March 09, 2010

      I already serve coke and pizza for communion, I just don’t know how much more I can go.  smile

      I am not interested in that book but I do care what those outside the church think.  My approach to this is to be aware, stay aware and keep that awareness sharp.  However the strategy I use is to decide based upon scripture what I want to be known for.

      As a church, as a person, as a husband and follower of Christ, I want to be known for generosity.  In other words I wan’t the impact of knowing Christ, worshiping Christ, being people of the book to transform us into those who live for the benefit of others. 

      I want to be generous in time, forgiveness, grace, truth, hope, the gospel, money, love, kindness… 

      I do not need outsiders to tell me this… but outsiders often reveal if I am doing this.

    2. Matt on Tue, March 09, 2010

      This is the same premise as the book, “Unlikely Disciple” by Kevin Roose. He went to Liberty University and became a member of Thomas Road Baptist during the year that Jerry Falwell died. I see it as a copy-cat book. I enjoyed his book as an honest and objective look at what he experienced. It doesn’t sound like she had the same approach in her book.

    3. Angela on Tue, March 09, 2010

      it is important what “outsiders” think, and if her conclusions/findings were sincere and heart-felt as a true seeker, they should be considered. BUT she says herself she was pretending to be saved; therefore, there was no real heart change, making it more likely her motives were not pure.

    4. CS on Tue, March 09, 2010

      “As a church leader… does a book like this interest you?  Do you think there is anything valuable to get from a book like this?”

      A dishonest woman lied and pretended to be someone she wasn’t.  Can I really trust her opinions given her subversive strategies?  I don’t think so.

      “And how important is the input of those outside the church?  Is it important how people view Christians?  Is it important how people view YOUR church?  If so, how do you get their feedback?”

      That depends.  Like Leonard said, nonbelievers can be a great barometer of living out one’s faith.  But if that input is intended to set the course for how church is being done, that would be wrong.  The best way to get opinions, if you really want them, is to talk to them in common public places like stores, libraries, etc.

      Angela:

      “it is important what “outsiders” think, and if her conclusions/findings were sincere and heart-felt as a true seeker, they should be considered.”

      There is no such thing as a, “true seeker.”  Christ is the only seeker; if the Father draws us, then that is the only way by which we will come to Him (Romans 3:11; John 6:44).  The notion of, “seekers,” in general is flawed.


      CS

    5. Adam on Tue, March 09, 2010

      CS—

      I generally enjoy your comments, however I think I disagree.  I do believe that there are people who “seek” God.  What is the eunich doing reading Scripture he is unable to understand if not seeking for answers?  What about Lydia?  She was a “worshipper of God” even before Paul spoke to her. 

      I just don’t think we can dismiss the idea of some people wanting to know God but not knowing how to know Him.  However, I don’t buy the “Seeker Sensitive Movement” either.  Of course I’ll be the first to say that we don’t know if God was drawing them before they heard the Gospel, but Romans tells us that it is the very hearing of the Gospel that leads one to belief.

    6. CS on Tue, March 09, 2010

      Adam:

      How do you deal with Romans 3:11, which says that no one seeks after God?


      CS

    7. Fred on Tue, March 09, 2010

      I was thinking lately about how Christians come across to people in the world. Some put scripture and something about God in everything they post on social networks. Any birthday card (or whatever occasion) they send has to be “religious” and etc,
      I’m not saying we shouldn’t be a witness. I just wonder if this type doesn’t turn more people off than on.
      I remembered the lyrics of an old James Taylor song where he was talking about wanting to go back to the islands and hear “welcome back” instead of hearing some Salvation Army sister singing Nearer My God to Thee.
      Does anyone understand what I am saying?
      It’s like they become a walking bumper sticker.

    8. Adam on Wed, March 10, 2010

      Romans 3:11 is a reference to Psalm 14, which begins “the fool”.  Paul is talking about the fact that we are sinful and rebellion.  However, he also states in Romans 2:7 that there are some who seek glory, honor, and immortality leading to eternal life. 

      We were designed to worship God.  It is through the perversion of this design coupled with man seeking that led to false gods and idols being developed.  If man was not “seeking”, why do false gods exist?  I’m not saying that man can find God without God’s drawing and revelation, but I do believe all humanity realizes the absence of a relationship with the Creator and seeks to fill that void.

    9. CS on Wed, March 10, 2010

      Adam:

      “However, he also states in Romans 2:7 that there are some who seek glory, honor, and immortality leading to eternal life.”

      Context is important.  Here Paul is talking about those who are saved and making a juxtaposition against those who aren’t.  He is not saying that people innately seek God, but that those who are called by Him will seek after Him since they have been saved.  This is similar to how in Deuteronomy 4:29 talks about seeking after God, but the context of this was that this was given to the nation of Israel who already had a relationship with Him.

      And, although Psalm 14 starts with, “the fool,” it switches gears to say that ALL men have gone astray, making the case that none follow after Him.  The Bible says over and over that no one naturally wants to go to God, and that we all stand as enemies to Him unless He saves us through His will.

      “If man was not “seeking”, why do false gods exist?”

      Romans 1 explains this one pretty quickly.  People know that there is a God, but instead become prideful in their imagination.  Their hearts get darkened, so they then create idols.

      And, remember, just because everyone knows that there is a God does not mean that everyone has an inward desire to seek after Him.  As an analogy, everyone knows there is a President, but not everyone supports him.

      “I’m not saying that man can find God without God’s drawing and revelation, but I do believe all humanity realizes the absence of a relationship with the Creator and seeks to fill that void.”

      I have yet to see any biblical evidence, citing specific verses, of this void or the, “God-shaped hole in the heart,” that many Christians describe. 


      CS

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