Vaccination, according to the Wikipedia definition, is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen.
We were recently in a town in Germany and saw a man with a bicycle with big signs saying, “Jesus saves”, “Jesus lives”. He was preaching with a fire-and-brimstone-voice, but avoided any eye contact with anyone. Almost as if by magic, people spread around him, caste bewildered looks at him, so that, in a sea of people on high street, he was finding himself standing in an isolated island created by himself and his evangelistic method.
In church consultancy language, we called this the island syndrome. It’s a typically terminal spiritual disease causing once vibrant religious churches to become stagnate, stale and finally die. The reason for this is that a church can quickly become a self-sufficient micro-cosmos to itself that becomes frozen in time, while everything and everybody else keeps changing. The church realizes this growing isolation and in a typical ghetto reaction, it starts to increase its volume shouting its message, driving away people with its not only irrelevant life and message, but now also with its loudhailer mindset. People will still go and look who is shouting, but quickly determine that the message is irrelevant, and walk the other way. Many churches, especially those with big loudhailers – seeker driven, seeker sensitive churches, high-tech youth-things, – see a lot of folks enter the front door. They jubilate thinking how successful they are. But nobody seems to watch the back door, where disillusioned ex-seekers pop out into oblivion, leave and are done with this Jesus thing.
This makes those evangelistically ineffective churches actually very effective – but in the wrong way. They very efficiently vaccinate people by presenting them a lame churchy Jesus, pepped up for a church service that is essentially plastic and unreal, not backed up in real life. Those who leave are now vaccinated against the Jesus Scam. Should they ever encounter the real article in the future, they will just wave a bored hand and say, ‘yeah, been there, done that, thank you very much’!
So even the hippest churches and our fire-and-brimstone preacher in that German town have something in common: they are both working for the Anti-Jesus-vaccination department. Jesus is now seen by them as a pathogen, and people have become immune to him.
What is wrong with this picture?