“It is possible for both individuals and churches to become devoted mainly to personal spiritual culture and forget outreach, especially if the process of reaching out involves touching those who may contaminate us. Thus many Protestant churches have in effect become closed systems for the nurture and servicing of the inheritors of a denominational tradition.” Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life

Ingrown Churches: I’ve seen them, I’ve visited them, and I’m sure you’ve been to them as well. And I can be ingrown as well, caring more about my own ‘contamination free zones’ than I do about impacting lost people with the glad tidings. Lovelace was a keen observor of the ‘stuff’ of cold orthodoxy, just as he was a loud proclaimer of live orthodoxy.

Here he reminds you and I, in a breif yet lucid fashion just how possible it is for us to become closed churches, closed systems of personal spiritual culture without a care for the world around us. When our programs, our principles, our purpose statements begin to sound like insider language with insider only cares we are dangling above that cold sleep of dead orthodoxy. When multiplication is only a byword for serviceing the inheritors of our denominational tradition inside our own private family lives, and our neighbors doors seem blocks instead steps away, our identity as the church has been turned upside down…

(Photographic art by Iguana Jo)