I think it was no accident that our retreat facilities were being shared with another group of Christians who take 'modesty' and legalism to the extreme. The dress of the women in long skirts and covered heads stood in contrast to our students' more trendy and contemporary dress....until the white-trash-bash-dance-party in which all our students set out to shock and awe their peers with the shortest jorts and trashiest cut up t-shirts with misspelled words, MURCA! To-date, I think that has been the best dance party we have thrown.
The weekend did cause me to think about my effectiveness in outreach. Much like the over-modest Christian group creating unnecessary walls between Jesus and people, do I create unnecessary roadblocks with the lost?
I think I do this in a several ways but here are 3:
1) Language -- The way I talk sometimes creates unnecessary confusion. We as Christians like to use weird phrases when expressing ourselves. We use replacement cuss words as if uttering them will somehow cause spontaneous combustion. All of this sends the wrong message. At best it is confusing, at worst it leaves someone with the impression that Christianity is a set of rules that regulate behavior.
2) Culture -- Within our ministry we have interesting customs. I will just mention 1. "Worship Services," I admit they have very little to do with worship and tend to be 98% praise. Sometimes they are called "Praise and Worship Services." The only "Worship" that goes on would be tithes and offerings. Also, why are they called "services?" It seems as though much of the structure and format is built around a perception that Church is a place I give money to and I expect spiritual goods and services in return. Secular culture does an outstanding job of twisting the bible and trying to cause confusion, why do we insist on helping?
3) Time -- What is most confusing today in Church is the contrast between what I preach and what I expect my students to do. I can't count how many messages in the last year I focused on reaching out via-relationships. I teach on how they need to 'spend time' with and 'engage' with people in order to see fruit. However, the time of the week that MOST people are free that need Christ are Sunday mornings. Our best time for evangelism is spent talking about evangelism in a place no lost person desires to go.
I realized that it took me a long time to see the hypocritical nature of my own system. Much of what I now see has taken many years to weave through. Much like the over modest Brothers and Sisters, I think there are plenty of areas where I am severely 'out-of-touch.'