Sep 16th 2008

Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing effectively. Specifically, it is the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times and the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.  In other words as a preacher, rhetoric is my job.  It started when I was a teenager.  I was a part of a singing group and every concert I had a solo…but the only reason I liked having a solo was because it gave me an opportunity to speak (right before the solo).  Then in college my major was speech-communications.  We studied rhetoric.  For me…rhetoric is a positive word.

But then along comes a political season…our most political season and when I hear the word rhetoric, it is used with negative meanings.   We listen to a politiican, or a pundit, and our immediate thought is… “ah it’s just rhetoric…I’m tired of the rhetoric.” (Or course it depends upon whether or not we agree with the candidate — then it’s not rhetoric, it’s inspiring!)

So we listen to the rhetoric.  We read the fact-checking blogs.  We try to shift through the words, the character, the truth…  I go back and forth from being entertained to being discouraged, and when I get discouraged I think… It’s just words.  It’s just words.

Okay here’s the convicting part…  This blog isn’t really about the presidential election, it’s about the church, christians and our faith.  See, the way I feel about the political process is the way the majority of non-Christians in our county — feel about the church.

I’ve been reading this book by David Kinnaman called UnChristian. The book is based on research that the Barna group did on how the mosaic generation (teens and 20’s) feel about the church.  Less than 4% have a favorable view of the evangelical church. If we have 50,000 mosaics in the Centre Region…less than 2000 have a favorable view of the church!  As I’ve been reading this book — my heart has been breaking…

This group feels that the church is too judgemental, too hypocritical, too political, hates homesexuals and doesn’t care for the poor.  In other words, they think that our faith is — just rhetoric — just words.  We can get defensive or we can listen.

I’m still not sure who I’m going to vote for — I’m wondering if we could all call Washington and ask for a Obama-Pahlin ticket.  :) — but to be honest I’m less concerned with the Washington, than I am with the church.  More on this later.