Monday, October 31, 2005


Faux: made in imitation of a natural material, for example, leather or fur

Some key words you will hear in the average evangelical church in America today are "relationships," "community" and "authenticity." Upon closer inspection, you find that, like fur, there are two varieties of these words being worn.

Case #1: The leader of a men's ministry that I have encountered speaks often about authenticity. I've actually never been around him except that he has spoken with me about "being authentic." Oddly, I don't think I really know this guy. The more he talks about being authentic, the less he seems authentic to me. Something is not natural here.

Case #2: A friend of mine attends an evangelical church with a large emphasis on community. It seems forced to me. The "relationships" that they emphasize are too rehearsed, too cheesy, too perfect. The people seem plastic to me. They dress the same, talk the same, act the same. It appears manufactured and contrived.

To keep from “faux” relationships, I believe that important corollaries to “community” and “authenticity” are “natural” and “imperfect.” If it’s the real thing, it will often have a most natural feel to it. If it’s the real thing, it will probably be imperfect. A wallet I once purchased held a little slip of paper inside that read:

Your wallet is made of real leather. Unlike artificial or simulated leather, authentic leather may have imperfections and variety in coloration or texture. These are not indications of defect. These are marks of distinction. You are the owner of a genuine leather article.

After a woman visited CTK for the first time, she told the friend who invited her, “This can’t be church. Everyone is so real.” When I heard that, I had mixed emotions: Happy, because that is our mission (to create an authentic Christian community....); Sad because this makes CTK stand out. When many outsiders think of the church they think “artificial” - this in spite of current evangelical rhetoric. The average lost person is not looking for someone to speak to her glibly about “relationships.” She is looking for a friend.

In the 80th year of his life, the famous English sculptor Henry Moore was asked a fascinating question by literary critic Donald Hall. “Now that you are 80, you must know the secret of life. What is it?” Moore paused ever so slightly, with just enough time to smile before answering.

“The secret of life,” he mused, “is to have a task, something you do your entire life, something you bring everything to, every minute of every day for your whole life. And the most important thing is: It must be something you cannot possibly do.”

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