© 2010 John Casimir O'Keefe

Jesus In A Box

Not too long ago, we were out “yard saleing” when we came upon this box with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  It got me thinking so I figured I would share:

One of the major issues I have had over the past few years is this idea that we can put Jesus in a box.  The industrial church needs to keep Jesus in a box because it allows them to have control over theology and theological thought.  Think of it this way, if Jesus is in a box it is easier to control and direct how others walk in their journey of faith.  I am so tired of hearing “Do we toss the baby out with the bath water?”  or “Do we change for the sake of changing?”  Well, my answer to both is yes.  Keep in mind, I am mixing the heck out of these metaphors.

When we think in terms of “tossing the baby out with the bath water” we never do anything to truly move our faith from a “faith in the box” to a living and cultivated faith.  We are told to simply live in the confines of the box and accept that Jesus as “the real Jesus.”  So, those who desire to keep the baby in the bath water fear the idea that if we start to drain the sink we will lose the baby – so we keep the dirty bath water.  In my mind I see some major issues with this idea.  We start to worry more about the bath water then we do the baby.  But over time the bath water has become so dirty, so cold, that it does very little.  Besides, as any parent will tell you when it comes time to toss out the bath water you always lift up the baby and hold it dearly in your arms.  The idea of tossing out the baby with the bath water is false logic the industrial church uses to ignore change.

The other question (there are not really questions to the industrial church leader, they are statements designed to stop people who question them) is “do we change for the sake of change?” – and to this I say yes.  Let us change for the sake of changing.  What is wrong with change for the sake of change?  This question/statement assumes that change is a bad thing, so we should be asking ourselves “why change?”  But I ask, “Why not change?”  This question/statement has been used to stop progress in the industrial church for years.  The machine that governs the industrial church does not like change because if change happens they would need to redesign their assembly lines of theology and church.  They would need to rethink all they are doing and question some of their most dearly held positions.

I have been amazed that over the past 15 years that I have been involved in the emerging conversation very little, if anything has been changed in the industrial church.  In fact, many “emerging churches” I have visited over the past years are simply younger, ‘hipper,’ examples of the industrial church in newer factories designed to produce the same product.  Many who are moving ahead with emerging churches are doing so without the ‘guidance’ and ‘support’ of the industrial church because they find it impossible to connect with the organization.  I have been amazed that many emerging churches are filled with programs and “giving opportunities” and even follow the same “three songs, a prayer, a sermon and a closing song” order of worship.  I mentioned this to a pastor a few weeks back who said, “Well, if it works why change?”  But does it work?

Keeping Jesus in the box has caused the church to lose ground.  We are not even keeping pace with the population growth.  Each year churches close, each Sunday the industrial church looses more and more people – and we think this works?  The more I think about this the more I realize that we are placing the baby back into dirty bath water – we are not changing for the sake of not changing.  I believe it is time


  1. Mary J. Monterrosa
    Posted 2010/05/13 at 11:37 am | #

    Well written, John! I agree with you.. However, I’d like to know what kind of changes you are talking about?

    By the way, you should come to my church one of these days!

  2. john o'keefe
    Posted 2010/05/13 at 12:31 pm | #

    mary –

    any change is good 🙂 the industrial church is missing the boat in major ways with a conceptual mind. they need to be far more right brained then they are right now.

    i would love to visit your church – i like visiting churches and seeing what is happening in the community.

  3. Posted 2010/05/19 at 7:25 pm | #

    Hey bud, great site!
    Well I kinda agree and disagree about the whole change for the sake of change. If something is stale then I say change it all up, but I wouldn’t change something that is working. The example about the Worship order of a traditional service does still work for millions of Christians around the world. This style does allow for the individual to make a connection with God and there are even new Christians that do arrive and transform their lives in at least a small help due to the service..

    But one thing that I’ve noticed as I humbly visit churches is that I could walk into a service, shake a few hands, sit by myself and then leave without saying more than 10 words to someone. I could barely feel any existence during or after the service. This, I think, needs to change because it shouldn’t happen. I don’t think its the individual’s responsibility to “join” the community. It is the community’s job to welcome the individual and show him or her the special guest seating reserved for the esteemed.. but thats just my opinion 🙂

  4. Posted 2010/06/19 at 3:37 am | #

    What a great resource!

  5. Posted 2010/06/25 at 4:08 am | #

    Genial post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

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