Anthony Bourdain’s suicide at age 61 has got me thinking. I know suicide isn’t the exclusive domain of any particular age group, but recently I’ve been troubled by the number of well-known and highly successful men who have ended their own lives in their 60s. The reasons for Bourdain’s suicide aren’t yet known. He was working on a new series of his television show when he died. He was in a new relationship, was exercising, and had given up his two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. All good signs. And yet…
Like the US forces in Vietnam, we’ve been counting our way to oblivion. As long as we focus on numbers, we’re not focusing on what we’re meant to be doing as the people of God. What the church needs is a fresh new metric for determining its effectiveness, a measuring device that releases church leaders from focusing on how many people attend, and starts mobilising them to greater missional effectiveness in their neighbourhoods and communities.
Four times the church got weird… and was better for it.
It feels like the church gets weird every four or five hundred years, and it does the world of good. In fact, it could be argued that the church is at its best when it throws off its desire for acceptance and conventionality and launches into the strangest and most counter-cultural behaviour.
Here are four times when the church did exactly that, and history was changed.