by Jim Henderson on December 3, 2015

We launched OAMC with this goal.

Help people become Emotionally Mature Adults Who Follow Jesus (EMAWFJ).

Normal church mission statements use language like “fully devoted followers of Christ” or “spiritually mature believers.” While none of these are measurable they at least sound right.

Including “emotionally ” in our goal introduces all sorts of complications.

It would be far easier to say “Spiritually Mature Adults Who Follow Jesus.”

EMAWFJWhy? Because we’ve inherited theological systems that place a high value on the immeasurable (heaven, being spirit filled, transformation) and a low value on what can be observed (kindness, empathy, clarity). We’ve been trained to be suspicious of our humanity and cautious about linking “emotions” with spirituality, spiritual maturity, or discipleship.

I love the Roy Williams quote; “The risk of insult is the price of clarity.”

At OAMC, we like to say that it’s our hope that everyone feels uncomfortable at least once. By exchanging “spiritual” with “emotional” we expect people to be confused, offended and quizzical. What we don’t expect is for people to be bored.on earth as it is in heaven” and that’s why this whole mess will eventually culminate not in us going to heaven but heaven coming to earth. Jesus likes people. He wants to live together with us forever right here on this redeemed planet.

Considering the fact that millennia of theological emphasis has been focused on teaching people that “going to heaven” is the big idea, it’s no wonder we’ve developed a spilt personality, one which allows us to of be self serving while still being able to access eternal life. The Muslim terrorists’ belief that they’ll be rewarded in the afterlife with 72 virgins for killing people (or themselves) is the current example of what this split can lead people to do.

On a practical level we need communities and practices that help us grow up. For all the reasons explained above the church has not done a great job of this. That’s why Christians have to look to counselors and AA meetings to process their humanity. It could be said that the real church has been meeting in the basement (AA meetings) while the traditional church sings upstairs. The upstairs church is not a safe place to talk about humanity. The upstairs church has proven to be judgmental and primarily focused on its own survival.

Of course, this is a generalization but not a gross generalization. This experience is far too easy to document. We can’t wait around for the upstairs church to get the memo. We need models of church that reintroduce the humanity of Jesus. OAMC is expression of that impulse. It is not the only expression and it’s definitely not the best model but it is our model. And remember – it’s just an experiment!

We’d rather fail at helping to develop emotionally mature adults who follow Jesus than succeed at having the worlds largest upstairs church.

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