Disruptor(s) Needed: A Conversation with The Alan Noble

Business disruptors. Sports disruptors. How about Church disruptors?  The story is told of a pastor who, while preaching, noticed his son chewing gum. He is said to have stopped the sermon and instructed his son, “Paul, go spit out your gum!”

It Will Take More Than Gum

More than 50 years later, gum is the least likely disruption in a Sunday worship gathering. You have not lived until someone stands up and begins shouting at the preacher. It does not matter that the person was barely coherent. The experience is decentering.

Accelerated change in the cultural surroundings left, and leaves, churches with few options. Often it felt, and feels, a losing battle to other choices available to church-goers and potential attendees. Many have already identified the condition as a loss of privileged status. Christendom, as some refer to it, described the period when, for example, schools would not plan extra-curricular events on Wednesday evenings in deference to local church schedules.

Today, winning churches succeed, or so it seems when they market themselves as a positive lifestyle option. Christianity is not a lifestyle option no matter the marketing prowess. If Christianity has become one lifestyle option among many, how would a formerly radical message be renewed? 

Who Will I Send?

Not just a few theologies offer a critical analysis of Christianity as lifestyle option – Liberation Theologies, Womanist Theologies, Radical Theologies, and Radical Orthodoxy, to name a few. Dismissed by some as merely perspectivist theologies, voices from within these theological movements have identified the secularizing influences often missed by dominant culture theologies.

Who might help identify the trajectory that led us to the place where the Church, churches, seem as susceptible to secularizing forces it has so vocally battled? If you answer someone like Charles Taylor, then be prepared for pushback. Not many would wade through an 800-page tome like Taylor’s A Secular Age. More importantly, how would one appropriate the insights Taylor provides that result in descriptive phrases like buffered self, immanent frame and expressive individualism? Particulary how might the Church, churches, and pastors/leaders identify the ways discipleship to Jesus is affected by these trends?

The Definite Article

Enter Alan Noble, @TheAlanNoble. In his new book, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age, Alan answers the aforementioned questions for the Church, churches, and contemporary forms of Christianity. Pastors, this is a most helpful resource. It is not a cliff notes version of Taylor’s work, though you will find it an excellent introduction to Taylor’s assessment of the secularization hypothesis and its failing.

More than that, Disruptive Witness calls attention to the Church, and churches, as the needed disruptive witness for a world turned inward. Voices of hope are needed in a world represented by persons reduced to individuals that express themselves in hopes their chosen identity becomes the transcendent for which they long having been told truth resides within. Disruptive Witness calls the Church, and churches, to forego assuming themselves closed off to what Darrell Guder described as the Continuing Conversion of the Church.

Take a listen. Share the podcast. Buy the book. 

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.