McCORDSVILLE — Rob McCord has some advice for Christians how to express their faith in 21st century American society: Stop looking through the “culture war” lens.
“We’re not at war with the culture, and that paradigm has not been very useful,” said McCord, senior minister of Outlook Christian Church in McCordsville.
That’s just one of the points McCord makes in a recently released book, “Keepers of the Way.”
In it, McCord makes the case for a simpler, humbler Christianity, one he says is not new but actually very old — from the pages of the Bible. He points out that early Christianity was known as “The Way.”
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“The beauty and simplicity of the ancient way of Jesus can really get lost in the noise of today’s world,” McCord said.
Instead of this or that side of a culture war, McCord points to a third thought.
“Changed people change the world,” he said. “That change only happens through love and service to others.”
The material in the book originated with a sermon series McCord shared at Outlook in 2015. Janna Mitchell was there for the series and enjoyed it so much she bought the book.
“It was very practical, and it was just a good reminder … of the importance to follow the teachings of Jesus,” Mitchell said.
McCord noticed three factors that became an impetus for the series:
Christianity has been around so long that “our familiarity can breed boredom and cynicism and even contempt in our society.”
Second, notable figures sometimes misrepresent the faith’s key ideas, making some Christians want distance from that label.
“There are self-described Christians in the public sphere who are a tragic misrepresentation of the faith,” McCord said. “That can make the rest of us Christians hedge or hold back … We don’t want to be associated with hate or bigotry or narrow-mindedness.”
Third, McCord said society is becoming more groundless morally and ethically, and it’s easy to be confused by all the philosophies swirling around.
“It’s kind of like a compass that sort of keeps you headed toward truth north, … what we’re called to do, what we’re called to be in the midst of this chaos,” said Pam Hamilton, a former Outlook member now living in Arizona who is reading the book.
Hamilton remembers that during her growing-up years several well-known Christian leaders who were involved in scandals; she’s seen some observers “kind of throw the baby out with the bath water” and point to such incidents as evidence Christianity doesn’t work. On the flip side, she’s seen people of faith feel they have to present a got-it-together image.
“When I was younger, I felt you had to have it all together,” she said. “I wish I had in my life growing up more of an authentic honesty of ‘this is where I struggle.’”
Readers of the book say it has an approachable tone.
“It’s challenging, but I don’t feel like it is judgmental or abrasive,” said Brad Singleton, who was in McCord’s youth group at another church 25 years ago. Singleton said he’s a highlighter and has found plenty in the book to make him pull out his pen. One thought that stands out to him is where McCord suggests the correct response to sin is not so much anger as it is grief. Christians have a worldview that says sin separates us from God, … but we also have a reputation for pointing out others’ sins,” McCord said. “… The first sin to grieve us should be our own.” With that approach, “We’ll gain a lot more credibility in this world.” Singleton said as a pastor himself, he finds the book fresh and relevant.
“This is something that helps me in the way I preach, in the way I teach the Scriptures,” he said.