A Place to Fail

Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales, built a small Christian animation kingdom called Big Idea and then watched it slip through his fingers. He has told his story to numerous groups. Toward the end of his recounting on his podcast of how it all got away from him, he mentions something about 40-something men that really breaks my heart:

Skye Jethani of Christianity Today chimed in too. His is a refrain I’ve sung before on Cerulean Sanctum:

We Need a Gospel That Speaks to Failure

Still Looking for a Gospel That Speaks to Failure

Mistakes As Sin: Does the Church Need a New Grace?

Steve Went Looking for Grace

I think one reason that grace, the lifeblood of the Church, remains just a concept in most Christians’ lives in the West is because of the very problem Vischer mentions: Anything less than success is considered unworthy of our attention. Therefore, people who fail go wanting, looking for grace, when grace is only afforded to those who triumph in the eyes of the world.

What do you say to the guy who finds the perfect girl—only to lose her to someone else? Or who lands the perfect job—only at a company soon to fail? Or who spends plenty of time with his kids and tries to train them up right—only for them to rebel and complain about him to friends? Or who listens to his heart and goes for his dream—only for it to crumble in loss?

Why don’t we preach a gospel that reaches that guy? Why don’t we practice a gospel that makes a safe place for him to fail? Where is that pool of grace to be found when all of life goes to pieces? And why is it so hard to find in the very place one should expect to find it?

Lastly, what if that guy tries to live by every Christian principle in the Book and still fails?

We need something better than what we’re giving people Sunday in and Sunday out. We may talk about the brokenhearted, but nine times out of 10, that brokenhearted person is someone who failed, often spectacularly. God help us if we have no grace to offer him.

by Dan EdelenComments (3)

Empty Faith: When Manliness, Quiverfull, and Christian Principles Add Up to Nothing

Many people are lamenting the loss of church membership in the U.S., though I’m not convinced those loss numbers are anything but statistical anomalies.

Still, I think something is happening to the quality of Christian practice in this country. In addition, there’s a loss of understanding about what it means to be a Christian, what the Gospel is, how the Church should act, and what the whole point of being a Christian is.

The disintegration of a Christian family is at the core of this article:

“How Playing Good Christian Housewife Almost Killed Me

The author talks about being in the Quiverfull Movement, made famous by the Duggar family. Quiverfull practitioners believe that large families are a blessing from God, so they adhere to a set of Christian principles based around Psalm 127.

While the term fundamentalist comes out in the article, it’s clear to me that Quiverfull is not relegated to old school Baptist churches in line with Jack Hyles and Bob Jones. It’s far more evangelical than some evangelicals care to admit.

And frankly, I see nothing wrong with having a large family. If God blesses you with a large family, fantastic!

But what does trouble me is that despite the author’s protests that she indeed had a great relationship with Jesus, what comes out in the article shows she had a deeper relationship with someone’s idea of core Quiverfull Christian principles.

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, laments Tammy Wynette, but being a dad is just as hard. Over at the Familyman podcast with Todd Wilson, we find out that the “Buck Stops with Dad,” and if you’re a man without a job (that section starts at 15:00 into the podcast), well…

The answer? Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps, knuckle down, put your nose to the grindstone, work harder, take three menial jobs, and do it by yourself. Man up. Abide by Christian principles of manliness and fatherhood, read a couple John Eldredge books, and good luck. Because you’re on your own, buddy. Every godly man for himself.

It makes me wonder what the point of being a Christian is.

Nothing in that podcast said anything about what a man should expect from his church when he’s out of a job. It’s likely that this overt omission is because we have churches built on Christian principles, but not a whole of evidence of being those churches being built on Christ.

Amid all that loneliness and despair, someone gets it right…

Over at the Brant & Sherri Podcast, Brant Hansen talks about what happens when churches play church and fail to be the Church (starts at 10:11)…

It seems to me that people aren’t going to the American Church for answers anymore because the Church gave them Christian principles rather than what they showed up to receive. People came looking for a family and for Jesus, and they got a list of disconnected, out-of-context Bible verses instead.

Desperate people walked into church on Sunday, and they got a lesson on how to be a perfect wife/husband/student/employee/taxpayer/American, when every part of their life was falling apart, and they just needed someone to care, to listen, to be Jesus in the flesh for them.

Hurting, needy, broken people do not need Christian principles; they need a community of believers who will do anything necessary to help. But most of all, they need Jesus. Hell is filled with people who lived by Christian principles and yet had no relationship with Jesus.

It staggers me that we can’t get this right.

I’m sure people will listen to Hansen’s podcast and tear up at some point, because what he talks about is what people are dying for. They want to know that someone–anyone–cares enough to make them a part of a “forever family.” They keep looking for that kind of love, acceptance, and support, with Jesus at the center of that caring community, yet they can’t find it anywhere.

by Dan EdelenComments (2)

To Whom Shall We Go?

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life….”
—John 6:68 ESV

One of the oddities I’ve encountered in talking with Christians who have been walking with Jesus for decades is that many of them are asking the question Simon Peter asked of Jesus. There’s a sense that many are looking around, wondering if this Christian “thing” is it.

I find this odd because this renewed asking of Peter’s question is starkly opposite the intent of the original. Context should help:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
—John 6:48-69 ESV

boots, walking awayThe context here is that Jesus laid out such a Christ-centric statement that the challenge of it blew his followers’ theology to pieces, and they could not accept it, which led to only the core group of followers remaining with Him.

What strikes me is that mature Christians today are asking, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” not because what they are facing is too challenging because it is too Christ-centric, but the opposite: Christian faith in the 2010’s has become too facile and not nearly Christ-centric enough.

This reversal in what is stimulating the question amazes me.

What you have are mature believers frustrated to death with dog and pony show churchianity that talks about everything BUT Jesus, and they are going to Jesus and asking, “To whom shall we go?”

Of course, there is nowhere to go but to Jesus, but the problem for those older believers isn’t with Jesus; it’s with the dead religious show that is foisted on them in churches across our country.

Where do you go to get away from that and to the real thing?

A recent study showed that the apparent decline in church attendance isn’t what it appears to be. Yes, on any given Sunday, fewer Christians are in church. But the real reason is that more and more Christians don’t feel obligated to attend church every week. They may skip a dozen Sundays or more in a year, where once that kind of “mostly there” attendance was unthinkable. In short, the number on the church rolls hasn’t changed, just how many of them attend on any given Sunday.

I wonder how many of those folks are struggling because they feel that need to be in church, but they can’t take week after week the inautheticness of the packaged religious experience that passes for church in America 2014. So, they skip now and then.

Perhaps it should be: “Lord, to where should we go?”

If anyone can answer that question, please let the rest of the country know.

by Dan EdelenComments (3)

  • From the Author…

    Thank you for supporting Cerulean Sanctum!

    Blessed by Cerulean Sanctum?

    Click here to see how you can help!



  • Feeds & Subscriptions


    Subscribe to Cerulean Sanctum post feedPostsBadge Image MapLink to My Twitter AccountLink to My Facebook ProfileLinked to My LinkedIn AccountAdd to Bloglines
    Subscribe to Cerulean Sanctum comment feedComments
    Feedburner badge
  • E-mail


  • For Your Consideration