Last summer I traveled to Washington, DC to visit my birthplace with my family and take my children to explore the sites that broadened my historical and scientific view of the world. Personally, I was looking forward to a Saturday evening stroll up to Union Station and then a few block jog over to Ebenezer’s Coffee House. I looked forward to worshiping with the folks at National Community Church and meeting their pastor Mark Batterson. What a powerful time I had as the oldest person in the room …
I had been introduced to Mark Batterson through the books In the Pit with Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase. Mark’s preaching that Saturday evening was just as powerful as his books and fleshed out in his experiences as Christian walking through the world. The opportunity came recently to participate in blog tour for Mark’s new book PRIMAL: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. I jumped at the chance!
Mark opens the book with a journey to Rome and a chance visit to the Church of San Clemente, named for the fourth bishop of Rome. This 12th century church was built on the ruins of its 4th century predecessor which covered the catacombs where first century Christians had gathered for worship, fellowship, and study. He then observed the following:
I’ll never forget my descent down that flight of stairs. The air became damp and we could hear underground springs. We carefully navigated each step as we lost some of our light. And our voices echoed off the low ceiling and narrow walkway. Almost like the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia, that flight of stairs was like a portal to a different time, a different place. It was as if those stairs took us back two thousand years in time. With each step, a layer of history was stripped away until all that was left was Christianity in all of its primal glory.
As I tried to absorb the significance of where I was, I couldn’t help but wonder if our generation has conveniently forgotten how inconvenient it can be to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I couldn’t help but wonder if we have diluted the truths of Christianity and settled for superficialities. I couldn’t help but wonder if we have accepted a form of Christianity that is more educated but less powerful, more civilized but less compassionate, more acceptable but less authentic than that which our spiritual ancestors practiced.
Over the last two thousand years, Christianity has evolved in lots of ways. We’ve come out of the catacombs and built majestic cathedrals with all the bells and steeples. Theologians have given us creeds and canons. Churches have added pews and pulpits, hymnals and organs, committees and liturgies. And the IRS has given us 501(c)(3) status. And there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. But none of those things is primal. And almost like the Roman effect of building things on top of things, I wonder if the accumulated layers of Christian traditions and institutions have unintentionally obscured what lies beneath.
Each great reformation of God’s church began in part by rediscovering the passion of Jesus’ first followers. Mark invites us to reconsider our assumptions about what the church’s authentic role in history is to be. Along the way the reader rediscovers the primal heart, soul, mind, and strength of the Great Commandment for themselves. I can’t help but be committed to living with compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power among the band of sisters and brothers that are reforming the church for passionate service to God’s world. Make this book your Christmas present and make a commitment to living into it in the new year. May 2010 by God’s grace be a turn-around year for you, the community where you live, and the church.
Check out last week’s interview with Mark Batterson at the release of PRIMAL.
Click on the following links to purchase PRIMAL, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, or Wild Goose Chase:
|Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity
By Mark Batterson / Random House, IncWhat would your faith look like if it were stripped down to the simplest elements possible? Storyteller and pastor Mark Batterson explores the four foundational principles of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion (heart), wonder (soul), curiosity (mind), and power (strength)—and supplies a new reformation beginning for your generation, your church, and your life!
|In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
By Mark Batterson / MultnomahEver been in the wrong place at the wrong time…several times? These memories leave you with an ill taste in your mouth, and nothing good seems to come from them. But what if the seemingly messy pieces of your life were actually strategically positioned by God? What if you’ve actually been in the right place at the right time every time? In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day will help you make sense of your past. You’ll begin to connect the dots to see clearly how God has been preparing you for future opportunities. With a God’s-eye perspective, you’ll soon be thanking Him – even for lions, pits, and snowy days.
|Wild Goose Chase
By Mark Batterson / MultnomahDoes seeking to know God’s will with certainty sometimes seem like, well, a wild goose chase? Author of the bestseller In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Batterson unmasks our misconceptions concerning discipleship and decision-making and urges us to dare to take risks. Topics include: playing offense, surviving shipwrecks, pursuing passions, challenging giants, and more.