Revisiting Orange 2010 – John Ortberg

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Jeremy Brooks)

My family recently did something crazy and left an amazing church to move back to Northern California. We’ve landed in Fremont, which is next door to the cities my wife and I grew up in. Fremont is also a quick trip over the Dumbarton Bridge to Menlo Park Presbyterian where John Ortberg is the senior pastor. Unfortunately, we haven’t made our way over there, but I plan to!

John followed his wife Nancy at Orange and began his talk by asking everyone a question:

“What is the fastest growing religious faith in America?”

I know I was caught by surprise by his answer. According to Christian Smith, author of Souls in Transition and it’s precursor Soul Searching, it is something called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

The basic tenets of MTD are:

  • There is a God. God made the earth.
  • God wants everyone to be nice and kind to everyone else.
  • God wants me to feel good about myself.
  • My main goal in life is to be happy and fulfilled.
  • Except when I need him, God has little to do with my daily existence.

The thing about MTD is that it isn’t a movement or even a new religion. MTD is something that is a result of our culture and exists across religious lines.

John spent the remainder of his talk using material from his book The Me I Want To Be. John stated that MTD is a false God and a false God will lead to a false self. He took Ephesians 2 where Paul says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” and outlined the “false selves” that we need to expose to within ourselves and for the families we minister to so that we can live beyond ourselves and be better versions of ourselves whom God created us to be.

Here’s a list of those “false selves:”

  • The ME I think I should be
    • We become better versions of ourselves when we grow spiritually. We don’t become someone else.
  • The ME other people want me to be
    • We will never live up to the expectations of others, so we need to be willing to disappoint some people in order to become the people God wants us to be.
  • The ME I’m afraid God wants me to be
    • We have fractured ideas of what it means to be spiritually mature. It’s not about what rules or disciplines we follow. It’s about becoming more like Christ.
  • The ME that fails to be
    • We must first be transformed ourselves before we can expect others to transform.

I think John summed it up well at the end, “We are not how we perform, who our culture says we are, just a sum total of our looks or our stuff or our gifts… We are God’s handiwork – his child.”

  • What are some false selves you are believing? What about the families you minister to?
  • What things are you doing to help families live lives in opposition to MTD? How do you encourage families to accept that they are God’s handiwork and subsequently live beyond themselves?

Don’t forget to check out Orange 2011. Registration begins next Tuesday, October 5. If you haven’t attended, then you need to put April 27-29, 2011 on your calendars and plan on attending! If you register on October 5, then you only pay $240 per person! That is a $60 per person savings! Don’t miss out!

Other posts in the Revisiting Orange 2010 series:

Original Revisiting Orange 2010 introduction post
Revisiting Orange 2010… Take Two!
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Doug Fields
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Perry Noble
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Nancy Ortberg
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Mark Batterson

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