Out of Context: Ivy Beckwith

"Just look at church websites. How many of them have this picture of a perfect family with a blue sky background. They all look so nice in their polo shirts, and the kids all have straight teeth. It's all just so lovely."

-Ivy Beckwith is a minister to children and families at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, Connecticut.

Taken from "Family Portraits" in the Fall 2006 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.

November 17, 2006

Displaying 1–8 of 8 comments


November 20, 2006  3:00pm

Apparently churches are using photos of models sold by some supplier of stock photos. I suspect churches are using pictures of fake models because you can't use photos of real people any more due to privacy and legal ramifications and because the Internet has become a dangerous place. (I was a church web master in the 1990s and used lots of real photos but probably would not do so today.) When trying to get information about your church I do not want to see photos of models. I want to see what your church is really like.

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Richard Moszumanski

November 20, 2006  12:07pm

Dear Friends, I would have to say that over the years God has turned me around as seeing through anything as an "obstacle" in His plan of redemption... including the organized Christian Churh. We, at times, find ourselves as looking at the branch and demanding the it be the Vine. Surely the best place to be is where God has us. We should greatly rejoice that the word of God is preached and let God give the increase. All the ugliness of small churches or mega churches, to me, are worth it to hear some small child speak John 3:16 that was taught in their Sunday school. I have in the past said to God our Father...."Why did you allow the pilgrims to make it over here to America and then allow the so called founding fathers to let it all get so out of hand that " The violent take it by storm." His answere to me was that so every knee shall bow and every tounge confess that Jesus Christ is Lord... He is in the business of salvation because He is Love. He gives meaning to the moment wether it's Sunday morning or Monday morning or any other day of the week. The new creature doesn't see His week structured by evil but by the One who is greater in us than he who is in the world. I love contemporary services with people of many races and backgrounds. I love church buildings that are decorated mostly with living icons as symbols pointing for whom Christ died for so that they may relate with the only Life there is, eternally. I find no problem with saying good morning to my neighbor or co-worker as a act of worshipping the only God who is all and in all. He was a friend to sinners and He still is I find. Church is every day I always say, since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. No more rushing to Wenesday bible class to get re-fueled since revival is the living person in us who took us captive by the ransom He paid. I am not saying that I don't like to go to a Wenesday bible study... I used to tell people when they said God bless you. Oh he has! He has blessed mankind with His son, the veil has been rend from top to bottom and that's not on Sunday mornings only. We are in wonderful times for the scripture tells us that the whole world suffers as a woman giving birth for the manifistation of the Sons ( Life of God ) of God. Please do not think that I am criticizing what God is doing today for all increase is His given and the gates of hell shall not prevail against Him. Religion, out of context, is a polerization in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Life is the tree, the Person of Jesus Christ and they that partake of Him are His. We are, no matter what anyone would tell me as contrary, by choice exactly where God wants us if we believe that His choice is ours also. We can claim that we are in His Best Will for us since the things that we are going thru today are in His Best Will even if it's to find out what His Best Will is. We are in a win win situation with Jesus. Richard

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November 20, 2006  1:23am

It seems that most churches in America want to be the growing suburban church with the beautiful new campus that offers a full-fledged program for your suburban family. Why are we teaching yuppies to be better yuppies? Why are churches pretending to have it so together to reach people who are pretending to have it all together? How can any real ministry happen in such an inauthentic environment? Ministry is messy. People are messed up. The most messed up people and churches are those who pretend to have it all together!

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November 19, 2006  5:32pm

that stuff is straight up propaganda. but i don't know that it is any different than when a trendy emergent/postmodern church designs their website to reach their particular niche market. if there is a danger it is in that it creates an image of Christians/christian family that is unrealistic. and being unrealistic it is bound to result in disillusionment. at least that has been my own experience. but i don't know what the alternative would be. maybe a picture of the Conners from the Rosanne bar show? with the caption: Jesus won't make your family perfect but he'll make em barrable."

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November 18, 2006  10:42pm

Of course they do. Come on, what do you expect? Why would anyone not show their best side? I guess the only problem with that, in my opinion, is that those images may not really depict the best aspect of a church. It's the heart that really matters. So the question is: do those pictures portray the heart and compassion of the church? Maybe not in the most complete way, but I'm sure they represent part of what these churches are about. I feel we Christian criticize ourselves way too often on trivial things. I'm getting kind of sick of it. (Of course, now I'm criticizing us).

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November 18, 2006  10:38pm

Very true. It makes it seem as if we, in the church world, live in a "dream world" so-to-speak. Ministry is messy because life is messy; so let's get our hands dirty and really reach out to the "least of these."

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November 17, 2006  11:54pm

I think churchs think a lot like hollywood. People go to church to get away from real life. Leave the horror books for the library.

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Sam Andress

November 17, 2006  10:46pm

Hmmm...Hmmm...Hmmm, I sense some subversive sarcasm in Ms. Beckwith's statement. I happen to think her sarcasm is the truth. Hey wanna do a cool comparison between "baby-boomer" mega-church websites and that of an emerging-missional holistic community? www.willowcreek.org and www.saddleback.org for our baby-boomer representatives and www.mhbcmi.org and www.mountainsidecommuion.org for our emergin missional reps. Ivy is on to something.

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