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Does this audience really exist?

November 21, 2009

I was going through Internet Monk, as I occasionally do, and I came across this post: Curious Minds Want to Know: Does the IM Audience REALLY Exist?

With some changes in nearly all the particulars, I think the message strongly applies to the post/ex/former/liberal/middle way/new order Mormon experience.

Now, they/we know. There are thousands of us at a thousand different places in the evangelical wilderness. Our experiences in evangelicalism weren’t exactly what we originally thought. Given a place to stop, listen and talk, it turns out there are many of us, not just a few. No one seems to have a map, everyone seems to have a story. Very few of us want to go back to whatever evangelicalism was when we were happily going along with the show.

We are simply here, and we’re greatly strengthened by the stories we’re hearing and the reality we’ve discovered can’t be questioned.

Whenever I write, I’m aware of this. An audience exists around this web site and around some of what I have written, who understand what the wilderness experience means. They do not all want or even understand the post-evangelical label. They do not all agree with me or my pessimism about the future. They are not a “movement.” (Good grief.) They are not all reading Brian Mclaren, or N.T. Wright or Don Miller. They are not all anything, any denomination or any common complaint. They are not some common hoard of emerging caricatures.

We are every denomination, every age, both genders, in and out of ministry, holding on to different parts of what we once were. We take encouragement from some of the same voices, but we are most definitely not anyone’s club of the discontented. We are tribes, hermits, monastics, liberals, conservatives, traditionalists, emergers, contemplatives, prophets, lamenters, artists, solo players and plodders. Most of us have found a place to live out this wilderness experience and we go to work every day doing something for Jesus.

The audience for what I write is very real and very there….having an experience that my critics will endlessly and tirelessly describe as nothing more than the whimperings and whinings of people who can’t get over some aspect of their fundamentalist past or can’t see the glory of the evangelical present and future.

This audience has found thousands of faithful and happy evangelicals, but it has also found those who have left, are leaving and will leave. The people with no where to go. The people who don’t know what to do with their experience in evangelicalism. The people who have found shelter in some half-way house, oasis or way station.

Be that as it may, the audience for this blog is real. They can be diagnosed, shuttled off to the back lot with all the other wimps, cranks and troubled kids who won’t behave. You can dispose of this audience with a word and swish of your rhetorical wand, but this audience, its experiences and its place in and out of an evangelicalism gone sour is not imaginary.


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One Comment
  1. FireTag permalink

    Most hopeful thing I’ve read all week, Andrew. Thanks for that.


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