Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Myth of Inclusivity

Several things have me thinking about “being inclusive”. The first is the ranting of Michael Steele, the New Chairman of the Republican National Committee. His desire to attract “one arm midgets” is a sign that he really has no business being the RNC chair. Just like all those who endorsed him such as Shawn Hannity, he does not understand the problem and thus cannot give the answer. The problem is not being inclusive of African-American, or women, or one arm midgets. The problem is not the need to include lots of different groups. The problem is that your message is not believed by enough people. Steele sees the RNC shrinking in Congress and thinks to himself we need to include more groups. When the answer is not to be inclusive but to bring people into your own group. Inclusive Big Tent parties have no union and fall apart to be worse than before. Teaching people the truth of your viewpoint unifies everyone and swells numbers.

But what really gets me is that this is the same mistake the "evangelical" church has been making for years. The problem with shrinking membership roles and declining levels of involvement of young people led many Evangelicals to try and be more inclusive. Some like the PCUSA and the United Methodist along with the United Churches of Christ tried to include women by letting them be elders and ministers and are now trying to include Homosexuals by letting them be members and soon will follow ordination. They could ask the Episcopal Church how that turned out, but they will do it anyway. Other churches that did not wish to compromise their doctrine turned to Seeker Sensitive worship services (pretending that did not change doctrine of course). They wanted to attract people through bands and ditching old hymns in favor of repetitive choruses among other things. They brought in people to the church in some cases, but did they make more Christians? Did they create a unified front with Christian Churches or did they simply sell the heritage of the church for a bowl of porridge. Take a look at the “Mega-Churches” out there today. Right their names down on a piece of paper and come back in ten years. Bill Hybels and the impressively large Willow Creek Church is already in decline, not to mention that a poll showed that something above 60% of their members felt they were not growing at church. Of course not. The church was built to attract people to church, not to actual be a church. People have seen enough and the fads of the culture have moved on. So the church will now decline unless it reinvents itself over and over and over. See the problem is that changing church and worship and doctrine to fit the culture to attract the culture, which is what inclusiveness is, you have one of two problems. One, you miss judged the culture and no one shows up. Or you get it right and you become a slave to the culture and their fads. Willow Creek is a thing of the past, their model for church is already outdated. Now it is the reign of Rick Warren and Saddleback or Joel Osteen in Houston. They are the new Mega-Churches. Ten years from now it will be someone else. Do you really think Saddleback will survive Rick Warren leaving? Or do you think it will still be popular when the Purpose Driven Logo has been put on everything? Does anyone still remember the Crystal Cathedral? That was the Mega-Church before Bill Hybels. It is now bankrupt and the father has fired his own son.

The problem of declining numbers is not to be answered by appealing to more people. The answer is to re-double efforts to convert people to your view. The RNC has a harder sell that Christianity, but the both have wandered off the path. The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. This means go back to what the Bible teaches. Go back to faithful worship and doctrine. Take seriously the things of the bible like training up your children, telling others of Christ, and living a life in conformity to His standards. Trying to "hip-hop" the gospel is not the answer. Living and teaching the gospel. That is the answer.

3 Comments:

Andrew said...

Lee,

I agree regarding the church. There is a difference with the RNC in that they have to build coalitions in order to win elections. I think the flaw in the current philosophy is not that building coalitions is good but the way in which they are built. The RNC cannot play the liberal, patronizing racist/sexist and lump groups together according to skin color, gender, or even handicaps and stature:). There is already a party which does that. The RNC must do what Reagan did--build coalitions on the basis of political ideals. Most have given up on the idea that social conservatives, libertarians, and fiscal conservatives together can garner a majority vote. I am not sure this is true. The problem is, I think, the fact that these groups have no confidence in the RNC. The more pandering the party does, the less confidence it will earn. It also does not help that most libertarians and FCs are given Huckabee and some others as the faces of social conservativism. The philosophy that will unite these factions is and always has been "Life, Liberty, and the Free Pursuit of Happiness."

Having said that, I think we can bend an ear to certain economic classes that we have hitherto ignored. The poor, inner city resident has a point when he complains that his streets are not policed like the streets of the suburb. If a gang operated a meth ring on my street, they would be arrested within a couple of days. Not so in the inner city. He has a point when he says that poor men are more likely to be convicted when tried than middle class or rich men. Our public defense system is, obviously, lacking. The prison system we currently have is an absolute abomination, bringing terror and havoc to the streets of our cities. Even with healthcare, which is not always available to the poor among us, there are solutions we can certainly offer short of nationalization. I am not saying we should pander. I am just saying that we have been turning a deaf ear to many such complaints. Of course, some of the solutions we have offered, such as school vouchers to give poor parents educational choices, are not very popular. This simply means we need to make our case and not be intimidated by all of the ranting and raving from the left and from the media.

Peace to you,

Andy

Lee said...

Andy,

I disagree about the RNC. I think the coalition built by Reagan is overhyped and given too much credit. Reagan taught people that government was the problem. The big deal made about Reagan Democrats is just an attempt to make Democrats responsible for electing Reagan. I mean he won 49 states, it was not the Reagan Democrats that put him over the top.
All of the stuff he did to include others in the Republican Party ended up back firing on him.

Andrew said...

Lee,

I hear you, and I think there is some merit in your position. However, I do not see how a national election can be won without coalitions. This is why I am not a member of the Constitution Party. I like their platform, but I am not convinced that an explicitly Christian party is viable. It is idealistic, but not practical. In my philosophy, I am a Libertarian, although the LP's official stance on abortion and gay marriage, especially the former, cause me to refrain from becoming a member. Remember, the "government is the problem" mantra was libertarian at its heart. With the exception of abortion, most of the issues in the 80s were economic. Times have changed.

But, let's face it, the RNC is neither conservative nor libertarian. Since I do not see this changing anytime in the future, I think both factions will remain disenfranchised for years to come, as we have been for decades. This was quite evident with the complete disrespect that Ron Paul received during the primary. Everyone thought his ideas were completely insane, although they were simply classical, American conservativism.

Peace to you,

Andy+