Walter Mitty Church…The Crucial Move from a Daydreaming Church to a Daring Church

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WalterMittyA few weeks ago Missy and I watched the movie “Walter Mitty”. In the movie, Ben Stiller, plays a daydreamer who at times checks out from reality as he dreams of himself doing amazingly brave things he would never do in real life. What makes things worse is that his job feeds his propensity to day dream. Mitty works for LIFE magazine in the negative room. Day in and day out he sees life through the camera lens of those who have put themselves in dangerous positions to give the world glimpses of the spectacular…images that could never be seen unless someone put their life on the line.

Sometimes I wonder if I (and maybe a few other people out there too) aren’t just a little bit like that. When we read the book of Acts and we read about the things those early Christians went through for the Gospel they had great adventure and challenge and they also endured great suffering. It is easy to sit in the negative room and peruse all their photos, chapter by chapter…snapshot by snapshot of people who were Spirit-led, taking on the world…taking on the powers that be and gaining the victory for the purposes they gave their lives to accomplish…and then daydream that we are them. If I am honest with myself, I have Walter Mitty moments when I read Acts 2. It is stirring to read Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the 3000 baptisms and the fellowship of the new believers. Deep down we would love to be a part of something that was moving so rapidly and growth was happening everywhere. I have a Walter Mitty moment when I read Acts 4  and how Peter and John were persecuted for healing man and speaking in the name of Jesus…and the believers’ prayer to speak even more boldly that followed. It is moving. It is raw and real. And there I sit, Bible in hand, daydreaming again.

As the movie goes on, Walter eventually finds himself in a situation where he has to make a decision to doing something brave rather than just daydreaming about it. He takes the risk and what he finds out is that he was more ready for the challenged he would face than he ever realized. I think the same thing would happen with the church today but you don’t know that is true from the pew. You have to jump. You have to run. You have to snap out of the daydream, find the next kingdom challenge and opportunity that is right there in front of you and make the move.

Spoiler alert: There is a seen near the end of the movie where Mitty has climbed the mountain and found the man he is looking for…at that moment this famous photographer sees the very moment he has been waiting for and let’s Mitty look through his camera to see it for himself. What he sees is breathtaking. The moment passes and Walter realizes that the photographer never took the picture. He asks him why and his response is that some things are just so special he keeps the moment for himself…never to be shared with the world. Walter could have never had that moment had he not set out on the journey, taken the risk and climbed the mountain for himself. There are moments God has in store for us if we are willing to go and see for ourselves. Eph 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The crucial move for the church today is a move from dream to active participation in kingdom movements. We are more ready than we know. We have mountains to climb and amazing things to see and experience but those moments won’t come to you. You have to go to them. What’s stopping us?

10 Responses

  1. Yep, the COC could always talk a good fight. But they were all hat and no horse when it came to Civil Rights and opposing the Vietnam War. They were both racist and pro-war. That was no daydream. The daydream they had was that they were “the Lord’s church” while they supported Jim Crow and their members waged war in Vietnam.

    1. Matt, in reply to your reply to Gary, most of the time it is not possible to talk of “where do we go from here” without being honest about the past. In fact, much of that “past” is still a problem today. What I see and hear are church members, too many members who actually call themselves “progressive” because they now accept a few other churches, who delude themselves with, “As long as I accept people of color who are Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ, as being one with me in Christ, then my belief that whites are more capable at governing and leadership and my efforts to make sure that only ‘knowledgeable’ people vote, cannot be labeled as racist.”

      This is a mindset that is out there and cannot be ignored. It is a giant step backwards regardless of the “religious open mind” a person may claim to have.

    2. The past is important but it is easy to get hung up there and not deal with the present. Too many churches operate like alcoholic families where co-dependency rages and no one wants to point out the elephant in the room. We have to deal with reality in order to work through it. That is going to hurt but it has to happen.

  2. Matt, thank you for this article – and for the reply to the first comment!

    I feel God is allowing me to be a part of something big and exciting in my work for EEM, even if all I do is talk about what others are doing. Just to be even THAT close to God’s activity today is awe inspiring to me! It’s made me realize more than ever just how awesome He is.

    For example, there’s the America widow of a missionary who is fighting g cancer herself but who is working in the Transylvania area of Romania with the Let’s Start Talking program. She’s given away Bibles by the 1,000’s & even 10,000’s. Early this year she asked for 20,000 children’s bibles plus several thousand other Bibles and books. She asked if we could do it. The answer? “We can’t, but God can.”

    Before the week was out, a letter telling us a supporter had died and left us a bequest that would more than cover the cost of printing the books she needed.

    Am I a Walter Mitty? You bet I am! Does god ever let me do great things? Yes he does, though I don’t always see them as great while I’m doing them. It’s only in retrospect when He lets me see how he’s taken the insignificant thing I’ve done and use it to his greater glory

    . It’s at times like that when I see him as being more in control than I can ever hope to be!

    1. You aren’t daydreaming in the least! God has used you as a conduit for some great things and I am thankful to know you brother.

    2. I agree with you. God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes we don’t think that a method worked but it did. It may not have produced instant results but the results may be developing over a decade.

    1. Matt, I hope it is ok I linked to this post from my blog. I thought your post was excellent! It really got me thinking about a few things. Thanks for using your talents for the Kingdom!

    2. I appreciate you doing that. I hope your post stirs some hearts. God bless you

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