My Own Personal Jesus… what is the message here?


Your Own Personal Jesus

I saw this sign today while visiting Wells-next-the-sea (on the North Norfolk coast). It was on the board inside the churchyard for the Evangelical Congregational Church Centre. I can’t figure out if they are advertising a programme, giving a ‘thought for the day’, or trying to say that the church is the ‘personal Jesus’.

With no referent, I assume they are trying to reach out to those who need someone to hear their prayers and need someone to care for them. Not necessarily bad in itself, I suppose. But is this the reason for the church’s existence?

I guess this is why I have been thinking about hell and universalism this week. Without hell, it seems the church has lost a primary motivation to do to mission. It also seems that we struggle to find our reason for existing. So, we are now here to let people know we are ‘there for them’ (which reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine try to ‘be there for’ the couple who are fighting and they are trying to break them up under the pretense of caring for them).

Leading two churches worried about their future, I am struggling to article a vision for mission in a new era. I don’t think hell is useful anymore, but certainly our mission must be broader than ‘being there’ for others (again, not bad in and of itself, but not enough on its own). Any thoughts?


3 thoughts on “My Own Personal Jesus… what is the message here?

  1. I wonder if that church knows that was a Depeche Mode song. Hmmm.

    I think questioning whether hell is useful in evagelism may be a poor choice of words, after all if we are think of usefulness in terms of what is effective then Christ crucified is not very useful either. The same goes for a number of other theological truths. In regards to hell, the question is whether it’s true or not and if it is, is it a necessary part of evangelism? If it’s not true then it can obviously be left out.

    Bryan L

  2. Without hell, it seems the church has lost a primary motivation to do to mission.

    I don’t agree. Or, at least I don’t agree for me.

    I can understand it from your point of view, but I just want to point out that the statement you make is far from being an “objective fact”.

    First of all, if I thought that the primary reason for being a Christian was to avoid hell, then I would emphatically not be a Christian at all. Nevermind wanting to spread the bad news about God.

  3. I can see I wrote this up far to quickly and didn’t choose my words carefully last night. Sorry about this.

    Bryan: Perhaps usefulness is a bad choice of words, and you are right: the crucifixion is not exactly useful either. I was trying to carry on from a previous post, but I think the point is the same one you’re making.

    As far as the song, the only thing I can figure is that since Johnny Cash was a Christian singer of sorts, they used him (or perhaps has better name recognition?). Anyway, the quote was in complete isolation.

    Pam: I wasn’t so much trying to make an objective fact, but trying to comment on the appearance of the situation. For instance, as in the radio programme I mention: the question the traditionalist asked Parry – how you can you believe in mission/evangelism if you don’t believe in hell. For many Christians, one hears ‘universalist’ and thinks, ‘Oh, they don’t do evangelism.’ I think hell and evangelism have been intwined for so long, it’s hard to separate them out. I have even had a few conversations about this with church members in England (who wouldn’t call themselves evangelicals) and still wonder how we can encourage folk to come to church.

    I am not saying hell should be our primary motivation for being a christian, and I wouldn’t say it was ever mine (even as much as hell played a part in my own theology growing up).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s