Lessons from Doug Pagitt's Backstage Conversation
The blogosphere has been filled with commentary regarding Emerging Church leader Doug Pagitt and evangelical pastor John MacArthur’s televised discussion on whether or not Christianity and Yoga are compatible. If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it below.
Since the debate, a recorded conversation between Doug and one of the workers in the studio has surfaced and has been spreading throughout the blogosphere, primarily because of Doug’s scoffing attitude towards John MacArthur. A personal letter from Doug to someone else claimed MacArthur was preaching a “perverted” gospel. (Doug sounds more and more like his fundamentalist enemies every day.)
But let’s return to Doug’s backstage conversation with this lady. After you read transcript of their conversation found below, check out the three lessons I believe we can learn from this conversation.
Pagitt: Yeah, yeah,…well, you’re sure welcome. Ok, so was it on live too, and then be re-aired? Huh; yeah, that’s great. Thanks. Bye-bye.
Woman: [Way to] go.
Pagitt: Well, thanks. It’s just so weird, isn’t it? [background, "Yes."] To hear people say stuff like that, like what he’s saying?
Woman: [unintelligible] the reason why younger people don’t go to church. You know what I mean?
Pagitt: I do.
Woman: Because everything is so black and white. You know a position has nothing to do with your body and your spiritual th-you kidding me? [Pagitt snickers in the background] Seriously.
Pagitt: Seriously, [mockingly] “if you want to relieve stress go to the Word of God.” [chuckles]
Pagitt: [snickering] Oh my goodness.
Woman: It’s like, that’s totally separate; how can you even-ah.
Pagitt: Ah, I don’t know; I…
Woman: I’m glad they have you.
Pagitt: Thanks. Thanks, I apologize for him. [laughs]. Ah…
Woman: [sighs] Well, maybe since that was such a nice conversation, they didn’t give us a lot of time, maybe we can see you again-
Pagitt: Maybe we’ll do it again sometime. Wouldn’t that be fun.
Woman: I got your recording so they did go live with it.
Pagitt: Well, that’s nice.
Woman: That’s here… [unintelligible] you have a DVD-
Pagitt: I have a DVD player. Now my phone should start ringing. All my quirky friends calling me.
Woman: “I saw you…”
Pagitt: “You were pathetic.”
Pagitt: “I told you to sit up.” I can hear it now.
Woman: No, you were great.
Pagitt: Well, thanks.
Woman: And you didn’t sound crazy either.
Pagitt: [laughing] Thanks.
Woman: Like tha’ other guy. But then you get to watch it again, so…
Pagitt: Yeah, watch it over and over.
Woman: An’ wanna make more copies.
Woman: It was cool to meet you.
Pagitt: Yeah, thank you. Good to know you.
Pagitt: Should I leave the tag with you.
Woman: I’ll take it for ya. Is it easy for you to go out that way?
Pagitt: Go out that door? Yeah, because I’m parked across the street.
Woman: Oh, cool.
Woman: Alright, you have a good day.
Pagitt: Thanks so much.
I’m not interested in starting a debate over yoga. If you want to debate that, find some other blog and have at it. I have serious concerns about incorporating Hindu practices into the Christian’s life when syncretism is already a societal temptation for many. But I’m not going to get all hot over it and condemn brothers and sisters who feel differently.
So… leaving the yoga issue aside, let’s look at three revealing aspects of Doug’s backstage conversation.
LESSON #1: Don’t apologize for other believers.
Apologizing for John MacArthur? Do I need to say more? Regardless of whether or not you like his tone, MacArthur has faithfully pastored a church for many years, seen many people come to faith in Christ, and musters up the courage to speak the truth, boldly, wherever he is.
LESSON #2: Don’t Scoff at the idea of God’s Word being a Help
Other bloggers have jumped on Doug’s scoffing sarcasm regarding the idea that the Bible can help relieve stress. I’m not going to rehash that. Let’s just take it as a lesson to learn and leave it for now.
LESSON #3: Open your eyes to the evangelistic opportunities around you!
For me, this is the biggest strike against Pagitt’s discussion with the lady backstage. Forget for a moment his stance on yoga, his open derision of John MacArthur and his sarcasm regarding the Bible. What is really amazing is Doug’s failure to make the connections with a woman who was wide open to hearing the gospel!
How many avenues did she need to open up before he would realize she was intrigued and wanted to hear more? Doug could have used her comment about why people don’t go to church as a spring board to other questions about her community of faith, if she has any. He could have asked her what her personal beliefs are. What is her spiritual background? What does she think about Jesus?
She hinted that she’d like to have a good conversation with him some other time. But he doesn’t get her name. He doesn’t follow up. He just hands her his pass and walks out the door. (Maybe he did this earlier… if he did, my apologies!)
I’m not saying that Doug needed to present the gospel message in a three-minute soundbite here. But this woman was obviously open to continuing the discussion. In fact, she was the one initiating the spiritual discussion.
We who have been participating in the EC dialogue for several years can benefit from some of the missiological insights of the movement, take some of the movement’s healthy critique of modernism, and learn from the movement’s emphasis on narrative.
Yes, there are negative parts of the EC. But those parts of the Emerging Church doesn’t worry me too much. I’ve come to realize that, though the movement gets a lot of press, it’s not going to be around forever. Many of the EC guys just don’t have a gospel to share. They’re not reproducing themselves. They’re not making disciples, only making already-disgruntled Christians even more disgruntled.
written by Trevin Wax © 2007 Kingdom People blog