jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

atonement and the death of the church…

…a meditation.

Here is a situational explanation of my own current perspective on the ills of the church, as well as a cathartic confession, which was recently shared here in conversation with Dr. Kim Alexander.

When we moved back to Cleveland last August I was put in an unique situation of being ‘dislocated’ (thanks Johnny for that language) from the system. The system did not dislocate me, it’s just that we ‘followed the Lord’ to Cleveland and the only thing available for me vocationally was public school. I think that simultaneously my ‘vision’ was dislocated, and I found myself seeing things that I had not seen so clearly beforehand. At the same time, I was privy to a lot of ‘insider information’ to various happenings among our central offices. What I saw was a very disturbing level of fear that seemed to almost paralyze individuals in administrative positions. It seemed like many had resigned to ‘waiting it out,’ whatever ‘it’ is. More specifically, there seemed to be a fear of ‘repercussions’ for ‘speaking out’ about problems and/or discussing the possibilities for some serious change. What seemed clear to me was that this ‘spiritual atmosphere’ that had somehow developed was extremely unhealthy. So, I felt like I needed to do something, yet recognized that I was not necessarily in a very strong position to do much.

That became the genesis for this blog (which has a larger story of its own that I hope to share another time). I felt very compelled to demonstrate to a few people that one could launch out with some very bold and honest dialogue without these repercussions that were feared. I guess time will tell if I was right in my estimation that there was really nothing to fear. But for now, all seems to be quite well. Furthermore, it was, and is, my hope that such dialogue can actually prove to be constructive. I do not blindly call for drastic structural change, but I have a very deep concern for the current ethos and atmosphere of our system overall.

Since launching this blog I have found myself texting, emailing, calling, and sitting down with more people that I had previously never found the time to hang out with than I could have anticipated. Perhaps the real issue lied within me. Perhaps I needed to decide that ‘things need to change with the church’ so that I could find the courage to change the things within myself.

Ultimately what is lacking is a depth of relationship, including genuine care and regard for one another, as well as the type of commitment that grows out of true covenant. I would guess that most of us have contributed in our own way to this fracture (sin=corruption=tearing apart), and I would suspect that each of us has our own responsibility in pursuing the restoration of wholeness (atonement leads to holiness=wholeness–Lev. 16). So, I believe that each of us needs to challenge ourselves in this way. And, at the same time, I believe that each of us needs to make room for the various ways in which each individual needs to process these things, and his/her own personal contribution (sin).

10 comments on “atonement and the death of the church…

  1. Weston Williford
    April 2, 2008

    STONE!! Check out my blog http://savedwithamission@blogspot.com

  2. Steve Wright
    April 2, 2008

    Simply put Big J…I’m so glad you are blogging. It has been a joy to hear your heart and be part of your destiny in such a close and personal way. Thanks for letting all of see into your world. I like what I see.
    Steve

  3. steve wright
    April 2, 2008

    duh! there should be a ‘us’ in between of & see. Help a brother out J and edit my comment. Otherwise the world will find out how dumb I really am!!!!!!!!!!!

    LOL

  4. Jonathan Stone
    April 2, 2008

    Wes, thanks for dropping in. I checked your blog–sweet! Thanks for the link love. I’ll add you to blogroll here as well.

    Steve, thanks bro. It’s very cool to get connected with so many great folks in a deeper more meaningful way. And since none of us have anything to hide, I’ll leave all the typos! 😉

  5. Pilgrim
    April 2, 2008

    jon…
    couldn’t agree more. i’ve experienced a similar ‘refraction’ of the lens i look at the church through…where the Holy Spirit quietly dispelled much of my angst when i realized that i’m truly broken over my own state as opposed to the institution’s.
    in the journey we’re on, i recognize that the church can’t be ‘new’ or better unless i commit to a following of Christ’s ‘new’ way. this is soooo much easier said than done…which is why i need community: a collection of those who see clearly my motivation and failing while simultaneously calling me to ‘keep the pace’ of Jesus.
    much love to you bud. wish we could meet over coffee. when you coming to seattle…or whistler for skiing?
    scott

  6. m.d. mcmullin
    April 3, 2008

    I appreciate your honesty and transparency. I too am about to be voluntarily “dislocated in Cleveland”. It doesn’t make sense to some but I feel led to it.

    In fact it seems that many paths are crossing in Cleveland this year. I won’t out anyone but I know of two other couples whose journey seems to be leading them there after a ministry assignment. It would be nice for us all to share our stories. Maybe journey together a while we are traveling on the same road.

    (I’m also going to be looking for a job so if you have some ideas….)

  7. Jonathan Stone
    April 3, 2008

    Mike, we definitely need to ‘journey together!’ I can’t wait!

    Also, shoot me an email with your cell number. I want to give you a call so I can get a better feel for what type of work you might be looking for.

  8. Johnny Taylor
    April 3, 2008

    Isn’t interesting that the first time that Jesus began to specifically unveil the idea of church, sandwiched between Peter correctly speaking of the kingdom in one breath and then becoming a stumbling block to the kingdom in the next (Matt. 16). I suppose that we all breath the same two breaths. Wow, do we need to take ourselves less seriously and become humble.
    jet

  9. Jonathan Stone
    April 3, 2008

    Scott! I’m so glad you posted a comment here. When I first launched the blog I went looking for your site, but somehow I must have lost the ling along the way. Now I’ve got it again!

    Our need for community is exactly right. There is much for us to overcome in our own enculturation to see this happen! And yes, MUCH easier said than done!

    Whistler…ahhh….I just need the invite!

  10. Jonathan Stone
    April 3, 2008

    Johnny, that makes me think about how ‘jealous’ the Lord must be over His church. He was so quick to rebuke Peter! I see all of these problems in the church! And yet, I also fear that we tacitly blast the bride of our king (and doesn’t that make her our queen?). Perhaps both humility and some ‘fear of the Lord’ is what we need!

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This entry was posted on April 2, 2008 by in faith.
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