Today I wish to direct your attention to a piece by Charles Featherstone entitled “How Daesh Does Really Effective Ministry“. You know his story, how he came to faith in Christ after a detour through radical Islam, so surely you figured he would have something to say about the events in Paris this past week.
This piece presents a contrast between the so-called Islamic State and the Western world in one specific area: how they reach young people. Say what you will about the evils of the Islamic State (it’s all true). I am not here to defend or justify or excuse anything they are doing. Only to point out one thing they are doing very well: reaching young people. They do it organically, by connecting with young people and building empathetic and supportive relationships where they help young people to see their lives, struggles, and problems as part of a much much bigger story. (Who doesn’t want that?) Contrast this with the Western way of doing things. It is all about institutions, programs, processes, structures, accountability, standardization, quantifiable results, and rigid controls.
Here the whole problem of the West (including the church) lies bare — we cannot conceive of anything or anyone working outside the confines of our bureaucratic and institutional structures. We cannot think outside of those structures, and we cannot hire (or call) people who don’t quite fit in them (or don’t fit in them at all) because fitting in those structures, conforming to them, is more important than actually accomplishing the things those structures and institutions are designed to accomplished. In our modern understanding, man was clearly made for the sabbath, and damned is the man who cannot or will not rest on the seventh day.