jonathan wilson-hartgrove

from the book "new monasticism":

We cannot overlook the fact that America's loneliness stems from an economy that demands our allegiance when it comes to where we live. We often acknowledge, sometimes with a hint of pride, that ours is a mobile society. Middle-class people in our culture feel free to relocate almost anywhere for a good education or a better job. But we ultimately do not experience this as freedom. Without people who know us well, we feel alone. At most we hope to spend our adult life with the person we marry, but even marriage doesn't seem to last very well without the context of community. Divorce is no longer a tragedy but rather an expected heartache for the lonely traveler.

In such a culture of divorce, small groups and storytelling will not be enough to root us in the reality of the people of God. Churches will also have to call people into higher-commitment membership. We have to find ways to get people to stick around. Maybe the only way to do that is to ask people to pledge their allegiance to the church. Of course, the minute you start talking about allegiance to a particular community, people in America worry that you're becoming a cult. Allegiance to the nation is normal. Allegiance to one's family is understandable. But allegiance to a church? That makes people nervous.

But if pledging our allegiance is a way of saying who we are and where we're going, then Christians have to pledge ourselves to the people of God. If our home is in God's kingdom, we cannot pledge our ultimate allegiance to America. If God is our Father, the nuclear family cannot be our god. Instead, we've got to say that our primary commitment is to the church. But for those words to have any real meaning, churches will have to get serious about membership. We need to name our commitments to each other and develop a process to determine whether God is calling an individual to leave our community or whether the forces of the economy are simply tearing us apart. If God's plan is to save the world through a holy people, it makes sense that the devil would want to separate us. But we cannot be deceived by the devil's schemes. We should know better. After all, all those you's in our Bible are ya'lls.

speaking of the economy, chris posted a really interesting video the other day--this was my favorite quote from it:

You cannot carry on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fun the unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.
--Member of European Parliament Daniel Hannan

have a good palm sunday.


  1. allegiance to a church might take away from the idea of a church being organic...

  2. how exactly do you mean?

    yeah the allegiance to a church thing is interesting, and i'm not sure about it myself. i think he is perhaps talking more about "the church" rather than a singular particular one.

    or if he is talking about a specific community, which he very well could be, then i don't think this keeps it from being organic. organic does not mean unrestrained or independent. all organisms need the other parts to grow and bear fruit, but we seem to think they are interchangeable and therefore impersonal.

    if life is taking someone in a different direction then the community will affirm that--i think he is just talking more about people dictating their lives (giving their allegiance) because of economics and jobs, rather than their role in the church/kingdom.

    it's still tough though, we don't want to submit ourselves to that. is that what you're talking about? it's a good question.

  3. Yeah, I meant to a specific community. I like the idea of allegiance to the church as a whole, but wait! To me, allegiance means that you agree with and support, and I don't think our generation agrees with and supports the church as a whole. I think we're rebelling against it in fact.
    When I think of the word organic, I think changing, multiplying, living, dying, growing etc... I guess allegiance seems to hold back organic because it limits change and dying. But maybe it doesn't have to...

  4. haha, well i wanted people to see the podcast link so i'm trying to write posts when i get the inspiration and then post them later. i accidentally posted that one and had to turn it into a draft. i'll post it later if you want to comment!