Really fine article by Andy Crouch on segmentation: how marketers encourage self-differentiation in order to sell soap. Here are some quotes from the end of the piece.
For surely one of the scandalous things about the gospel—indicated by Jesus’ own practices of welcoming sinners and eating with them, calling tax collectors along with fishermen to be his disciples, and praying for the forgiveness of his executioners—is that it does not fit the marketer’s (or the Pharisee’s) formula “for people like me.” It is in fact for people not like me—unless they are “a wretch like me,” and wretchedness was never the basis of a successful marketing campaign. Christianity is not a product that can be added seamlessly into the lives of consumers like one more lifestyle-enhancing appliance. It is instead a call to a completely different way of viewing the world, one in which the one who looks least like me is at a minimum my “neighbor” (Luke 10:29-37) and could well be Jesus himself (Matt. 25).
Meanwhile, as the experiences of countless energetic and entrepreneurial young adults can attest, the ease, and the thrill, of starting something new “for people like us” is mighty tempting when set next to the plodding rate of change in established, multi-generational organizations which seem unwilling to share power or reward initiative. Add in a world view which takes consumer culture’s generational segmentation for granted, and new churches (or, ahem, new magazines) can seem like the only way to go.
Yet what is needed is almost exactly the opposite: to form in every generation the will to love the stranger in every other generation. This is not a matter of creating ministries, be they worship services, small group Bible studies, or sermon series, that appeal to one or another age group—however useful a transitional step that might be. Rather, it is the task of forming young and old into hearts that welcome those who are different from themselves. This runs straight against the grain of our atomizing culture, but without it the multigenerational promise of Joel that “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (quoted by Peter at Pentecost) becomes null and void.
Tim Keller’s advice to take a country church.
- The Country Parson by Tim Keller
- Rural ministry is not second rate
- Time magazine on rural church decline. If you read the Time piece you’ll see that it’s actually economics, which is no secret or surprise.
Don Elium and the difference between Criticism and Blame, or what we are doing when we blame. John Gottman on youtube on repair conversation attempts. Also a youtube on how to complain without hurting your partner.
Alan Jacobs on time management for academics. A lot of it is to help people find time to write.
The real cost of steroids in baseball from SI. Naulty’s life in steroids, in baseball, and finally in the church.