Archive for October, 2008

It’s My Church and I’ll Cry if I Want To

Posted in Christianity, Church, Evangelism, God, Jesus, Religion on October 30, 2008 by Scott

Every now-and-then I read something and its as if the writer were speaking directly to me. Such is the case with this rant from Gary Lamb:

…I am convinced most churches will never change because IT IS ALL ABOUT THEM. They would never admit it, but the large majority of churches care more about what they like, then what it takes to be effective.

Most churches will tell you they want to reach unchurched people AND I believe them…. They want to reach unchurched people but they want to reach them on their terms.  What they mean is they want to reach lost people as long as the lost people like the music we play, the traditions we have, and the way we do things. If they don’t like our way of doing, they can die and go to hell. They won’t say it like that, but trust me that is what they mean.

We are a selfish society and nowhere is this more evident than in the church. As long as we are getting what we like, we are good to go.  Very few people join a church to see how they can help; instead they join to see what is in it for them.

It takes unselfish people to make change happen in church.  It takes people who are willing to put their preferences on the backburner and do whatever it takes (even changing) to reach those who are far from God. Sadly, those type of people are hard to find.

Guilty as charged.

Saving Christians

Posted in Books, Christianity, Church, Discipleship, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Missional, Religion on October 29, 2008 by Scott

In their new book, Jesus Wants To Save Christians, Rob Bell and Don Golden examine the disparities between the message of Christ and the message of the modern, Western Church.

From Relevant Magazine:

“To preserve prosperity at the expense of the powerless is to miss the heart of God.”  (Rob Bell)

In what ways do you believe the church in America has “preserved prosperity” at others’ expense?

Perhaps one obvious question a church can ask herself is “What percentage of our budget is spent on us and what is spent on others?”

The Church has missed the heart of God by speaking out against abortion while keeping silent about war. Both are forms of violence used to preserve prosperity. Abortion is prenatal war against the powerless child. War is postnatal abortion that destroys innocent life. The kingdom is life for the fetus and life for the civilian. The church embodies this life in a world of expedient and preemptive killing.

It can be difficult to understand the plight of the powerless when we have so much, what can church leaders do to help connect their communities with the heart of God for those suffering right now?

The most powerful thing we’ve seen is when people make a friend from outside their bubble—through a tutoring program, a job skills training class, a Habitat for Humanity build project-when “the poor” has a name and a face and personality for you, everything changes.

As the title of the book suggests, Jesus Wants To Save Christians. In your opinion, what are the biggest things we need saving from?

Boredom. Which is really despair in its non-caffeinated form. And boxes. Where we live in fear and where we put those who unsettle us.

You describe the plan of God for the church to be a gift to the world. Many people today would say that the church is anything but. What are some crucial changes that our churches need to make to become a Eucharist that is broken and poured out for the world?

1. Master the art of doubt. Faith needs it to survive.

2. Surrender the compulsive need to constantly remind people that according to your worldview you’re going to heaven forever when you die and they’re going to burn in hell forever.

3. Celebrate the good and the true and the beautiful wherever and whenever you find it regardless of the label it wears or the person it comes from or the place you found it. All things are yours.

4. Remember that the tax collectors and prostitutes loved to feast with Jesus and the religious establishment gossiped about him and dissected his teachings and questioned his commitment to orthodoxy and eventually had him killed. There’s a lesson for us there.


Factoids

Posted in Christianity, Church, Evangelism, God, Religion on October 29, 2008 by Scott

According to Lifeway Research:

  • 37% of Protestant churches are very involved in local evangelism/missions
  • 41% of Protestant churches are very involved in overseas evangelism/missions

More churches are more involved in the other side of the world than they are in their own communities.

  • 32% of evangelical Protestant churches are in a strong financial position
  • 48% of the average church budget is spent on personnel expenses

48% of the budget is too high. Church staff is underpaid.  We need to give more.

  • 24% of both Protestant pastors very informed about sports

Yet at least 75% use lame sports analogies.

  • 36% of Protestant pastors very informed about politics

Correction…36% think they are informed about politics.

  • 7% of Protestant pastors are very informed about clothing and fashion

Have you seen these guys on television? Hawaiian shirts, old guys dressing like teenagers, bad suits, and more.  7% seems high.

  • 4% of Protestant pastors are very informed about celebrities

What about Pastor celebrities…Rick Warren, Ed Young, Rob Bell, etc? Guess they had to abstain.


The Last Drip

Posted in Christianity, Faith, Jesus, Religion on October 27, 2008 by Scott

Seth Godin writes about those on the front end of something who see the first drip

It is almost always about the accrued power of a thousand drips, drips that accrue, drop by drop until they overwhelm the status quo and break through, starting a flood.

The first drip is very exciting, of course. Everyone lines up to cheer.

It’s the last drip that’s lonely. Most of the time, everyone has long left the building, lost interest and moved on to celebrate some other first drip…

Think of this in terms of a new believer.

Typically a lot of people are around for the first drip.  You might call it a celebration.  At some churches, people line up and shake their hands, give them a hug, treat them to lunch, etc…

But what about the next drip?  Or the one after that when they really need someone/something – when they realize that their new life isn’t easy? Where are we at then?

Chances are we moved on to celebrate some other first drip.

But its the drips that follow… “drop by drop until they overwhelm the status quo and break through, starting a flood.”  Its worth the wait.

Scare Tactics

Posted in Christianity, Faith, God, Politics, Religion on October 27, 2008 by Scott

Focus on the Family published a letter as if were written from a Christian in 2012 – after Obama is elected President and a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate.

The includes this paragraph:

This letter is not “predicting” that all of the imaginative future “events” named in this letter will happen. But it is saying that each one of these changes could happen and also that each change would be the natural outcome…

The intent of the letter is to scare people into voting Republican. Here are some of the “predictions”:

  • Terrorist strikes on four American cities.
  • Gay marriage in every state.
  • Nationalized health care with long lines for surgery and no access to hospitals for people over 80.
  • Churches have no freedom to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples
  • Tens of thousands of young churches suddenly had no place to meet when the Supreme Court ruled that public schools in all 50 states had to stop allowing churches to rent their facilities
  • The phrase “Under God” as part of the Pledge of Allegiance has been found unconstitutional
  • Television programs at all hours of the day contain explicit portrayals of sexual acts
  • Gas costs more than $7 per gallon

The best part is that the letter blames young evangelicals for breaking apart from “real Christians” with their votes.  Why point the finger at McCain/Palin when you can blame it on young people – the very same who will be paying for our mistakes and spending for decades?

Had Focus dealt with facts instead of creating fiction they might have had a chance to sway young evangelicals.

More than likely their scare tactics will have the opposite effect and have people running to the Obama camp.

Blended Faith

Posted in Christianity, Church, Religion on October 23, 2008 by Scott

“What I have done is to create a politically correct, emotionally correct, and spiritually correct religion that offends no one and is accepted all over the world.”

God is Missing

Posted in Christianity, Faith, God, Jesus, Religion on October 22, 2008 by Scott

You can’t sue God if you can’t find him.

According to the Omaha World Herald, Judge Marlon Polk threw out Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers’ lawsuit against the Almighty, saying there was no evidence that God had been served.

Chambers had sued God in September 2007, seeking a permanent injunction to prevent God from committing acts of violence such as earthquakes and tornadoes.

In August, he argued that the court should take judicial notice of the existence of God. The senator cited the facts that U.S. currency says “In God We Trust,” God is invoked during oaths in court hearings, and chaplains offer prayers before legislative bodies.

Amazing that they didn’t think to serve the papers to a church.  Or is it?

The truth is that God is missing.  Not from any fault of his, but because we don’t recognize him.

He’s out there and you can see him everywhere…in the eyes of a child,  the beauty of the ocean, mountains or sunset.  He might be the homeless person standing on the corner or your next door neighbor.  It might even be the person sitting next to you at church.

God isn’t missing…we’re missing him.