Many people believe the oft-quoted judgment, “The most segregated morning of the week is Sunday morning.” My personal belief is that while containing some truth, it is overstated. I do, however, believe churches are far more segregated than they should be.
I do not believe that all-black, or all-Hispanic, or Korean, or all-white churches are inherently evil nor a blemish on the complexion of Christianity. But there is something beautiful about an integrated church. I personally prefer to be part of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic community of believers. Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic churches are more interesting, messy, and culturally rich than all-whatever churches.
Honesty requires that I confess I was not, nor am I a Trekkie. I’ve watched a few episodes but that’s about it. But this past week, I heard a die-hard Trekkie tell about a particular episode and apply it to ministry. It got my creative juices flowing and I want to pass on some thoughts about Tribbles.
The segment was entitled, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Tribbles, it seems resembled small balls of fur and had no other discernable outer characteristics. They were gentle animals whose only sound was similar to a kitten purring. The “trouble” with Tribbles, is the Starship Enterprise was overrun with them. No matter what strategy they employed to eradicate them, they just kept on multiplying. McCoy finally discovered the reason they multiplied so prolifically. Tribbles, you see, expended more than 50% of
their metabolism on reproduction and were born pregnant!
Periodically throughout the history of the Church, God brings about transformation in the form of renewal movements. These movements have changed the face of local congregations, seen throngs of people turn to Jesus in faith, changed communities and dramatically changed the culture. Each has been marked by seismic shifts resulting in conflict between the traditionalists and the change champions. Whether in a denomination or a local church, new movements of God generate intense conflict between the old and the new guard.
Paul Pierson is a Presbyterian Minister, Missionary to Brazil and Professor at Fuller Seminary. He contends in the renewal and expansion of the Church, the breakthroughs always occur on the fringe of ecclesiastical power—never at the center. In every generation, in some obscure place, using unknown people, God is beginning something new that will one day impact the center. The epicenters of these movements are never the denominational “headquarters,” seminaries, theological conclaves or church governing boards.
Okay, I’ll admit it; one of my all-time favorite bands is the Eagles. When Gwyn and I go to Cabo San Lucas, we drive to Todos Santos to have lunch at the Hotel California. There must be at least a dozen or so “Hotel Californias” all claiming to be THE Hotel California made famous by the Eagles. Now the Eagles themselves would be the first to admit their memories have been clouded by their use of certain substances and excessive libations. So even they don’t know for sure which one is the real Hotel California. But the one in Todos Santos works for me because about every thirty minutes or so the sound of the Eagles singing Hotel California escapes the bar and envelopes the dining area and lobby.
One of my favorite Eagles’ songs is Frail Grasp on the Big Picture. The recurring refrain is a series of variations on:
“Frail grasp on the big picture
Light fading and the fog is getting thicker
It's a frail grasp on the big picture”