The waters off Vancouver Island, British Columbia, are clear and cold, making for some of the best scuba diving in the Northern Hemisphere. The weather can be cloudy, making the ocean steel gray with flecks of white, but below the surface are teeming schools of wildly colorful fish. When pastor and writer Mark Buchanan emerges from the water in his scuba gear, he is inevitably grinning. The author of books like Your God Is Too Safe and The Rest of God consistently finds surprises in deep places. So we thought he was an important voice to respond to the Christian Vision Project's big question for 2008: Is our gospel too small?
I had a Paul-like conversion.
There were no horses, voices, blindnessno bloody trail at my feet. But it was dramatic. Something like scales fell from my eyes. I stood in the shadow of Christ's cross and in the light of his resurrection. Christ met me, embraced me, forgave me, and gave me himself. I never looked back.
That was more than 25 years ago. For 18 of those years I've been a pastor, a fact that has not yet ceased to amaze me: that God would take me, the worst of sinners, the least of the "apostles," and make me his chosen vessel to carry his name before kings and gentiles and homemakers and dentists and plumbers and schoolchildren.
How could a gospel that performed such a feat be too small?
I was saved into a midsized Baptist church, suburban in its sentiments, conservative in its theology. It was a world both familiar and strange to me. The music was awful, third-rate lyrics set to fourth-rate melodies, as C. S. Lewis is said to have described the music at his Anglican church. The preaching was interminable and often bewildering, an exercise in splitting hairs over doctrinal points that, until ...