Someone gave me a copy of Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution, and I just finished reading it last night. Now I'm passing it on to my son, Tim, and I hope that after reading it he passes it on to someone else. Whatever one may think about Shane's utopian political agenda (he's sort of an Evangelical Socialist), I found much in this book to commend itself. One of the elements of modern-day American Christianity that Claiborne sets himself against is our love-affair with bigness. Shane calls on his reader's to "de-spectacularize." Jesus says the Kingdom comes quietly, invisibly, spreading its influence like yeast in dough, but the corporate model of growth--bigger and bigger buildings, more TV networks--seems distinctly counter to that.
De-spectacularize! Yes, I do think he has a good point here. I think we need to challenge ourselves to imagine an alternative. Our addiction to growth (and the real benefits that it brings) is the root cause of the flight of many churches from our urban centers to the more roomy (and wealthy) suburbs. Thus the urban poor, no longer our neighbors, become the distant objects of our charity. Claiborne's answer is to return to the city, establish communities there, houses of hospitality, simply being good neighbors. He accepts and revels in the 2-or-3 together approach to ministry, where "church-life" has become, well, just plain life. I highly recommend Irresistible Revolution. It challenged me. It just may challenge you too.