Purpose Audience and Gandalf vs Dumbledore

Do we really need another blog? Blogs are the cholesterol in the arteries of the internet, occupying too much space and if left untreated lead to inevitable cardiac arrest. Even the word sounds sluggish: bbbllloooogggg. Okay, perhaps that is a bit strong. I am, despite my best wishes, a millennial and it seems that my generation’s functional version of prozac is the blog; all we need is enough space and a moderate audience—or the illusion of an audience—and we can type our problems into submission through the almighty therapy of self-reflection. If this therapy worked we would be witnessing the most relational mature generation to ever grace the surface of this planet, but alas the blog is not always what it is cracked up to be. In stark contrast to the self-guided home brew therapy, blogs are a flawed medium within the questionable world of the online exchange of ideas.


On top of the typically toxic nature of the blog-o-sphere there is also the tangible problem of entering into the fast running waters of the internet that are dominated by Christian leaders with far more name recognition . . . or perhaps any name recognition, how do you pronounce Suciu anyway? Why would I throw my thoughts into the ring with the heavyweights of Piper, Moore, Chandler, Wilkin, Furtick, Acuff, MacDonald, etc. At this point the strong stench of irony must be oozing through your computer: I have just spent the first two paragraphs OF A NEW BLOG lambasting blogging and arguing for my irrelevance within the established community. Probably not the best sales pitch . . . I’ve been told I don’t make a great first impression.

All of this begs the question: Why? Why am I taking time to type this up and why would I care to step into a world in which I struggle to veil my obvious contempt towards? Within the past year I have been privileged enough to sit in staff meetings with the Wallen Baptist Church staff—the church that planted Hope Community Church where I am the pastor. I have listened and contributed to the many different logistical and theological questions that rise to the surface when shepherding a church body. Some of these topics have been incredibly serious and to the core of what it means to be human while others have been incredibly superficial as we laugh about weird hybrids of theology/culture/politics/history. I have sat in that room frequently and thought, “This is a good conversation that our church family needs to hear, but the subject matter doesn’t lend itself to a sermon or Sunday school class.” This blog exists to bridge that gap.

With the expressed goal of connecting important conversations between our church staff and our church congregation it needs to be stated that by no means does this mean that if you do not attend Hope Community Church you are not allowed to read this post—my grasp on the internet is not so dubious that I think that would even be possible—it simply means that the posts will be written with my local church congregation in mind.  This approach conveniently obliterates my opening two objections

1. This is not the “vomit my thoughts” or “share how I’m feeling” or even “update everyone on what’s happening in my life” type of blog (I’m not saying you should stop writing your blog that fits one of those categories, just that this is not going to be that type of blog)

and

2. even though I am unable to compete with John Piper on the vast majority of things pertaining to the Christian life, I am able to write directly to the perceived spiritual needs and solutions of my congregation far better than any other pastor no matter how many books they have published

So here we are. Me, sitting down to write a blog—on a side note this now marks my personal transition from Bible school student to hipster pastor at 70% complete with the only two major remaining milestones being 1) adopt a child and 2) write a book too young that will haunt me into middle age—and you reading a blog. The only thing left to ponder is why in the world Gandalf and Dumbledore are in the title.

I spent a few years in Oregon as a youth pastor. When I arrived I inherited a youth group that had different lives and different interests than I did and one of my most pressing challenges was to find common ground with the students I was trying to shepherd. I had no idea who “the Doctor” was or why all these kids were talking about him but I was willing to learn. One of the first real points of contact came through the release of the first Hobbit movie—yes the movies were bloated and filled with unnecessary moments but another blog post for another day. Because Tolkien was fresh on many students minds the question arose, “Who would win in a fight: Gandalf or Dumbledore?”  What started as a your run of the mill fictional battle royale opened the door to deeper questions about angels, heaven, and what is worth fighting for as a person of faith.

I provide that example to say that we have those moments every day. Moments that appear to be only superficial but have valuable understanding for faith if we just attempt to look a little deeper. We are attempting to take our Christian faith and apply it to all things, as Paul instructs in II Corinthians 10:5 we are to, “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Theological thinking is not a nine to five type of task, or a Sunday morning from ten to noon kind of task. There is no action, no inaction, no spoken word, no video, no story, and no moment of life so inconsequential that it should not be viewed through the lens of faith. Sometimes that gets applied to things that are directly related to that week’s sermon and other times we end up debating from a Christian perspective which fictional wizard would win in a fictional fight. I don’t particularly care about the outcome as much as the practice of viewing the world as a new creation in Christ . . . . but also Gandalf, he is one of the maiar and technically immortal.

So we wade into an imperfect medium hoping to think well, dialogue civilly, and emerge on the other side looking more like our savior. Thanks for reading.

Luke is the pastor at Hope Community Church.

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