I have been listening to T. D. Jakes series. ‘At the Crossroads.’ In this series, he talks about the (and I quote) ‘the Dumb Ass at the crossroads.’ He is referencing the story in the New Testament about Christ telling his disciples to go to a certain place, and loose the ass in preparation for him to ride into Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday.
I must confess, that I do not usually hear the term ‘dumb ass’ in church. However, that prompted me to continue to ponder the question that has been uppermost in my mind of late: Is the church relevant in today’s society?
By relevant, I mean is the church (the people, not the building) meeting the needs of the culture? I have the opportunity to talk to many people in my work. I wear several hats: educator, naturopath, minister. These hats are in no particular order. They are interchangeable as the need presents itself. If the need is for an educator, and I put on my ministry hat, that may or may not be appropriate. If ministry is needed and I am wearing my clinical hat, then the need will probably go unmet and both parties are frustrated and no better off.
Which brings be back to the question: Is the church relevant for today? In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess that I like church. I was raised in church, but church has changed. When I was young, women did not wear slacks outside the home. We were not allowed to wear then to school (yes, public school) unless the weather was 32 degrees or lower, AND we had to wear a tunic type of shirt which came to mid-thigh. We certainly did not wear slacks to church. Today, it is not unusual for women to come to church (even in the holiness varieties) in slacks, shorts, torn jeans, strapless dresses, and other fashions which would have been unheard of in years past. I am happy to say that most churches have accepted this dress code change, and these women are not labeled ‘hussies’ or something similar. I use this word because I myself was thusly labeled when I was in my early twenties when I went into a holiness church with flaming red nails and lips; platinum blond hair; and God forbid, earrings.
Many of the people I talk to are young people I talk to today do not feel that they are accepted, and do not trust that the church is able to relate to them or meet any of their needs. In talking to a young man in his late twenties last week concerning God’s plan for his life, I was told: “I will never be the kind of man who will never take a beer; I will never be the kind of man who will never drop the F-bomb. I don’t measure up.” Really? Church is about performance? In the eyes of those we label Generation X and the Millennials, religion is about regulations and not relationship.
Hence the ‘dumb ass’ comment. One can have any number of conversations and someone will declare that he had a ‘dumb ass moment’ was a ‘dumb ass for making that decision’ ….. We don’t bat an eye when this happens in real life but when it happens in the confines of the church then we are offended. How is that relevant? In fact, I was talking with a family member today, and when asked if I was on the way to the clinic, I responded I was working on my blog concerning church relevance and being a dumb ass. You could hear the gasp…. The conversation continued like this:
Him: Dumb ass as in “I am a dumb ass?”
Him: Well, I am cool with that language, but what about all your religious people who read the blog?
Me: That’s my point. The church must be relevant.
Him: Right on!
The conversation continued, and as we said good-bye, he said: Go back to work on your dumb ass blog. We both laughed.
Jesus is relevant. He sees us in our dumb ass moments. He sees us when we are at the cross roads, we are bound up, we are not living up to our potential. We are stuck. He offers His assistance to loose us, and help us move forward. He wants a relationship with us. He is not offering us a rule book, nor is he counting the offenses against us. In fact, He came to wipe out the offenses against us.
As the church (the people, not the building) we should be doing the same. We should be relevant. We should be reaching out with answers, not ticking off violations in the rule book.
What do you think? Has the church been relevant to you in your dumb ass moments?
Until next time,
LOL This was wonderful! I’m laughing here at work! Right on, sister friend. This is as relevant a posting as ever and so very truthful! And to answer your question, I feel my church has definitely been relevant to me with my ‘dumb ass’ [gee…did I really get to write that! case in point I guess! lol] moments. Guess it’s like having a relationship with God…He covers those moments too! Keep your blog going, I love it, and you!
Thank you, and yea for your church!
Love you back!
Yay, Polly!!! Thank you for putting this out there. I was also raised in a holiness church and know of the stigma that is attached to “those people” who don’t fit the mold of a properly dressed person, who walks and talks the right way. Even though it is a lie, they carry the appearance of holiness. Churches need to be relevant to the lost. They need to be relevant to the different stages of Christianity. I am happy to say that I believe I go to a relevant church, but even we still have struggles with individuals wanting the church to remain in the dark ages. I am also guilty of being a “dumb ass”. To many times in my life, I have been the one to cast the first stone, and I have been just as guilty. Shame on me.
This blog makes me think of the Dream Center in LA. They are not a “dumb ass”. They are successful because they are relevant. They went to the streets and met people where they lived. It did not matter if they were prostitutes, gang bangers, pimps, drug dealers, or addicts. They are taken in and taught the love of Christ in action, not just words. This is how Christ taught us to live.
I deal with people on the fringe every day. They don’t want to hear about Christianity, they want to see Christianity. Too often what they see is what they feel is a farce, and they do not think that they will measure up. I remember the song so often sung, “Just As I Am.” I think that we have lost the compassion and the grace. If someone doesn’t look like us, talk like us, worship like us, then they are shunned by us. What a terrible indictment of Christianity. It certainly does not advance our cause, and Jesus is not pleased. Lets be accountable as the Body of Christ to make sure that we continually err on the side of grace and compassion.
OK i totally love this one.
As someone raised in the church, leaving in my twenties and thirties, God Brought my “dumb ass” to my Knees. I turned and said yes here is little ole me coming to you “Just as I am” worn, torn, battered and bruised by life.
churches were symbols of long forgotten traditions not relevant to today, i was raised i guess you would say as an Anglican, then Methodist church, then non denominational church.
Looking back on my dark days where i had no light i realize that is when i was being carried. today there are two sets of footprints as i walk beside the very relevant Son/father and holy spirit.
There are still those who say oh look at how that person is, only looking on the outside not what is inside. oh that Jezebel female, not very Christian, there should be no rule book to go by, no judgement, let he who has NOT sinned cast the first stone.
People us we the church, need to step outside of our “dumb ass” box, and welcome all of those who have had their own “dumb ass moments.” at least this is my opinion.
Thanks Polly for speaking on “dumb asses”
Awesome insight, Ruth! Thank you!
Kuddos to you for this article! TD Jakes can get away with something like the Dumb-Ass theology…..Lol. It is true Polly, there are so many people that won’t even darken a church door because they think they can never “measure up” to the standards of the church. I think that many times those standards are higher than Gods. I am always reminded of when God told Eziekiel to lie on his side for 365 days and eat a meal consisting of a cake made from human dung….Eziekiel was horrified and said “Lord, I am a high priest and cannot desecrate myself this way.” God said, “Oh allright, use cow’s dung.” I remember laughing out loud because God knew what the RULES were! Religeon has rules and demands conformation, and when our standards are not met we lay our parameters out around us and we become the “untouchables.” Jesus was never that way…..keep on keeping on with your articles….I love it and we all need to hear them!
Thank you, Linda. Yes, God is more interested in Relationship than the Rules, and HE made the rules~