There are good ways and bad ways to go about making change happen in the church. Some opt toward some approaches that humbly push the people of God to become more like Jesus in our 21st century context. These are the prophets of our day.
Some are known through books and speaking engagements and several others make change happen every day as they quietly “seek first the kingdom of God.” These folks dream together of how to create a better future by living as followers of Jesus in the present.
Prophetic types draw from their values to create good for our world and honor the tradition that reared them (even when disagreements are present).
A temptation for those forced to the margins of evangelicalism is to react inconsistently to the way of Christ. These people think that they have the “right answers” and that they must aggressively and obnoxiously make sure everyone in their church knows about it. And after being asked to leave, they then badmouth the church and create further dissension.
People like this care about their particular cause, which might actually be quite important, but they don’t know how to manage their passion appropriately. They have chosen a pathetic approach. Pathetic because their cause eventually becomes centered around their wounded ego instead of the values they wish to express.
My conviction is that we need to honor churches and those part of the broader evangelical culture while also offering an alternative to the status quo. Any strategy that looks more pathetic than engaging in Jesus-centered prophetic (truth telling) witness only damages the cause that many of us hope to push forward.
What other marks distinguish prophets from pathetic types? Be kind.