Category Archives: Church bashing??

Is it okay to make accusations against The Church?

The purpose of this article is to find out whether or not it is okay to speak against The Church.  In fact, is it okay to speak against a local church of which is a smaller part of the whole Body of Christ?  Often criticism against the Church is popular among secularists and Christians alike.  In fact, some pastors would seemingly speak in such a way to attract people to their church particular part of the whole Body.  Usually this type of attraction is levied in such a way to try to get Christians to leave their church, or to reach those who say they are Christians who have rejected church.  That might be another blog someday.  While those on the other side, meaning, those outside of The Church universal would criticize The whole Body in general.  Many of these are those who want nothing to do with Christ because they have rejected Him by determining to live their lives on their own without Him.  In other words, they do not want to live lives influenced by Jesus Christ.  In fact, this is God’s gift to them anyway because He allows them to choose freely to live without Christ.  On the other hand, there are those who want the gift of life which only is available through Jesus Christ.  Yet, these sometimes only want eternal life and, therefore, follow Christ in the way that they see fit.  Sounds very similar to those who reject outright, but only God knows the heart; yet, Jesus does tell us that we will know them by their love, while Paul says by their Fruit.  In other words, these do not allow Jesus to be their Lord, but will allow Him to be their Savior if such a distinction is possible.

When trying to put our minds around the idea of Church, the Bride of Christ, it is helpful to remember that The Church is both Human and Divine at the same time.  It is important to understand this concept in order to properly address the question at hand.  As a result, this simply means that churches can make mistakes and need correction from the Word of God as prompted by The Holy Spirit; hence, Human and Divine at the same time.  This is usually needed when the church has gone outside of the boundaries of what is written in the Bible.  In fact, when correction is needed, it is not necessarily from an individual who is not associated with The Church.  Therefore,  denominationally, there is usually supervision that comes from those whom God has placed in leadership and their charge is to hold a local Body accountable to operate within the boundaries of what is written in The Bible.  These leaders are overseers that we trust that God has placed in these roles.  If not, God will remove them.  In fact, when governing  a Body, leadership will seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, The Bible, and historically from the early Church fathers.  This should be a comfort for those who tend to be suspicious of churches.

It seems that many Christians in America, in particular, have not been discipled properly.  In other words, it seems that many fall into the group of people who want to be saved by Christ, but they do not want to follow and obey Him.  This may be the result of praying a simple prayer to receive Jesus as Savior and then believing that the finish line has been reached.  This is far from the truth.  In fact, receiving Christ is the starting point.  Yet, most churches, unfortunately, do not disciple young believers (not young by physical age, but still new in their belief) into a healthy relationship with Jesus as their Teacher for life.  Jesus is supposed to teach all believers not only how to live Holy lives, but also how to love and protect The Church while existing in a hostile world.  After all, He gave His life for everyone to be incorporated into The Church (God’s Kingdom; the New Israel).  In fact, Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24-25).  Further, in this same passage, some accused the work that Christ did as being the work of Satan.  This is blasphemy against The Holy Spirit.  Jesus warned them about this type of accusation.  Therefore, it only makes sense that Christians are not quick to make accusations against Christ’s Church and churches.  After all, if God is doing something unusual through The Church or churches, it is better safe than sorry.

The Apostle Paul addressed the importance of The Church in the world, by dealing with the Corinthian Church which was part of the whole Body, in 1 Corinthians.  In fact, contrary to popular belief, churches exist to hold members accountable according to this book.  In this church, Paul said that there were those who were not Spirit-filled and seemed to build the church from the foundation of everything but the Cross.  They did so because they operated under the influence of the world’s wisdom and not under the Spirit’s wisdom which is not of this world.  Therefore, when listening to those who would criticize The Church, one needs to decide whether or not someone is has a unifying spirit or not.  God desires that His Kingdom be united here on earth.  If not, then it is usually because the person may not be filled with the Spirit. This means The Church should not listen to someone who fits this mold.  In fact, if someone is not filled with The Spirit, The Bible seems to classify this person as someone who is part of the Kingdom of this world.

In answering the question of whether or not it is okay to make accusations against The Church, or part of the whole Body, one needs to see what The Bible said about it.  In fact, Paul talked about the dangers of someone who believes he or she is wise.  The issue he dealt with was that unity had been challenged by those who followed certain leaders and their particular teachings.  Division was brought about because worldly wisdom seemed to help shape the Corinthian Church.  Paul believed that those who created division and operated under the influence of worldly wisdom were actually destroying The Church.  Here is his reply, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple  is sacred and you together are that temple” (1 Cor. 3:16-17, NIV).  This is usually a passage that some like to use to discourage Christians from drinking and smoking.  But, in the context that it is found, and the plural “you” that is used, it is obvious that God has a major problem with those who are destroying His Church whether knowingly, or unknowingly.

Therefore, creating division and making accusations seems to be dangerous.  It is true that people can have an opinions.  Yet, those opinions must submit to the authority of God’s Word.  At least if these who say they are Christians would desire to please the Lord.  According to The Bible, Satan is one who accuses the Saints, those who belong to The Church, and with that knowledge it is a very serious thing to bring accusations against The Bride of Christ.  Moreover, it seems that these Scriptures, along with others not listed, seem to exist to cause one to consider carefully what he or she says.  In my opinion, it is best not to bring an accusation unless the accuser has had a Burning Bush experience.  Yet, even then, signs and wonders would accompany such an individual.

 

 

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Filed under Christianity, Church bashing??, Discipleship, Ecclesiology, Unity?

Right church, wrong church and division

Small churches become aggravated at megachurches because many leave the small church for the megachurch.  On the other hand, megachurches have a way of defending themselves that seems to lash out at small churches who criticize them.  Both groups have stereotyped the other side.  One side will say that the other only entertains, while the other side will say that the other is old and is not a church that people want to attend. This is counterproductive to the Kingdom building that is supposed to be taking place.  After all, people leaving one for the other is not an increase in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, this back and forth between these two sisters has brought much confusion to many believers.  What is more, it has brought confusion to those who find themselves in a place where they are not committed to a church, but may actually be in the process of  looking for a church.  What I mean is that they have heard the echo from those in both camps of this issue.  So this means that they are hearing this discussion between the two sisters, and I would argue it is a negative discussion, which is aiding people who are not committed to Christ choose the church in which they worship and serve at that may not be the Spirit’s leading.  With one side pointing out the imperfections of the other, it seems appropriate to outline those characteristics of what aright church looks like.  There are four universally, historically, marks that someone should look for in a church so that he or she may decide whether or not they have found a right church or a wrong church.

Those who are looking for a church should be looking for distinctive marks that seem to help define church on whether or not it is a right church, or wrong church.  Of course this type of discussion is nothing new.  In fact the Early Church set forth The Marks of The Church, which can be observed from the book of Acts.  You may recall that the book of Acts is a book that describes the birth of The Church as a result of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell those who receive and follow Christ.  According to H. Ray Dunning, in 381 B.C., The Marks of The Church were stated formally for the first time in the Creed of Constantinople” (529).  Four Marks were named in the Creed, Unity, Holiness, Catholicity (which means universal), and Apostolicity.  Dunning further pointed out that these marks are produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  “They are not the result of organization or administration but are the creation of the Spirit” (529).  This last statement is another discussion for later, but it certainly should cause one to pause at the role of leadership, and administration, in many Protestant churches today.  Since these marks are understood to be the creation of the Spirit, this means that people, both inside and outside, of the Church, should be able to see these traits as reality.  If these traits are not seen as reality in regard to a group, then it is possible that group may not be a right church.  Here is a little more clarification to aid understanding these marks.

The first mark in our list of four is Unity.  This mark is one that both small churches and megachurches need to consider again.  Remember the discussion in my intro of this article.  Each side tends to point out what the other side believes to be wrong with the other.  Jesus’ teaching to His followers should be applied in this situation, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).  If both sides rightly understood this, then each could be beneficial to the other which would glorify Christ.  Consider a statement that makes a great point, and should be a rule that is kept in mind,  James B. Chapman said, “The Christ in me will never be at variance with the Christ in you” (Dunning 531).  This obviously should demonstrate the unity of Christ’s Church.  These two statements are important for each side to consider because these were made in reference to what leads to disunity, and what should help to create unity.  Christ is not divided against Himself.  The Holy Spirit should be aiding to keep this from happening.  Our goal as those who are part of The Universal Church is that we be united as part of, and by taking part in, God’s Kingdom.  When we work against each other it creates disunity and this means there is no benefit to the Kingdom.

The second mark is Catholicity.  This term is not about being a geographical location, or part of any particular tradition of doing church.  It means that it is universal by embracing Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you (Christians who have been saved by the Blood of Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them) are all one in Christ Jesus.”  This again seems to be another way of saying unity too (532).  Clearly, this is what Paul had in mind here, and in his other epistles.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit ties us to all who are in Christ.  This means that those who have the Spirit are part of The Universal Church.  This is important because this means that there isn’t a worship style, or a particular way of being the church.  Instead, it is an outer reality, that exists on the basis of the inward reality of the Spirit that makes the church be the church.   After all, there is only one Savior; and He is not divided in Himself.  We are “doing” church right, when we are being the Church through the aid of the Spirit.

The third mark is Holiness.  Holiness, unfortunately, sometimes is understood in a variety of ways.  For example, does one become Holy simply because Jesus automatically gives it to those who He calls His?  Or does Jesus offer Holiness to those who surrender themselves totally to Him so that He they can receive another helping of Grace?  This is a debate without end.  Yet, as a Wesleyan, I believe that Holiness is imparted by Christ.  From John Wesley’s point of view, “Holiness of the Church is attributable because of a real, rather than imputed, holiness” (532).  It should be pointed out that the Church does have within her those who are babes in Christ.  In fact, we are becoming Holy by allowing the Spirit within to mold and shape us.  We also are learning from the Great Teacher, Christ.   This means that each person is walking in the light they are given at that particular point of their new life in Christ.  If this be so, there will be issues each church will have to deal with because of the universal impact of sin in our world.  Further, corporate Holiness also involves accountability within the church.  I recognize that writing this some might say that this leads to judgment and condemnation and more legalism in the church.  By the way, both sides of this discussion have this element to contend with.  On the contrary, I believe it is about motivation.  Holiness that comes from the Spirit is centered on love for God and others.  It is not involved in lording over other people.  Instead it is driven by the heartfelt need to keep a brother or sister from sinning.  This in turn helps to keep the purity of the Church’s witness.  In fact, this is why Covenant Memberships exist in many churches.  This, too, will be a topic for another discussion.  Holiness, as Dunning puts it, is “the conscience of the church” (533).  Moreover, it is time that we Christians understand that we are Saints; and that we should no longer be sinners.  This is the common cry of many Christians today.  It is important that we remember that God still has expectations of us.  Therefore, right churches will remain aware of this.

The final mark in this list is Apostolicity.  This is not to be understood as an office what one can seek.  Instead it is what should be present within the Church through her members.  Members who are empowered by the Holy Spirit who dwells within.  This is the same Holy Spirit who dwelt within the Apostles.  In other words, in regard to Apostolicity, “It is the truth of the gospel proclaimed in the power of the Spirit” (534).  In fact, this is why each person receives spiritual gifts.  These gifts are meant to build up the Church.  If we localize this by saying build up the church, which is part of The Church, then we realize that it is not about one person, or a few, who have the ability to attract.  It is about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within the corporate Body, and in individuals who make up the Body.  Therefore, it is not really about the greatness of the speaker, singer, or leader.  It is more likely that it is about the greatness of God who is present in His believers and among them as well.  With this type of understanding it easy to see that each person has a gift, or gifts, which they bring to the local church so that they too can help build up that particular church.  In turn, if the church being built up has these marks, then the Kingdom is being built up.  In fact, The Bible said that the Holy Spirit places in you in a church to do just that.

The purpose of writing this is to help those who may wonder whether or not their church is a right church.  At some point, All churches who claim Christ as their Savior must stop acting as if they are the only church who is really right.  Beware of that type of rhetoric, whether it comes from large or small.  It seems more likely that God uses both megachurches and small churches.  As a small church pastor, I want people to know that I understand these marks.  In fact, I wanted to write this because my church is small and can easily be labeled as a church that doesn’t get it.  Therefore, if Christ is in me and in those who attend my church, then it is dangerous when other pastors make blanket statements about churches who are not right or productive, in their opinion, because of a certain tradition that may seem to be out of touch with this new age.  Likewise, it is dangerous when smaller church pastors preach against what God is doing in larger churches.  The damage that is being caused is only to the mission of Christ to make disciples by using His Church.

There are more developed Marks of The Church, for example Mark Dever wrote a book called The Nine Marks of  a Healthy Church.  I have looked though this book, and it looks to be a good read and teaching tool.  However, I elected to stick with what I see as the earliest work on this subject.  I say this because I am aware that there are other variations of The Marks, but each should be developed from The Creed of Constantinople in my opinion.  I believe Dever’s is.  But his is a book, and this is only article that is meant to be basic.

Once one establishes whether or not a church is a right church, and there doesn’t seem to be division of Christ taking place, he or she needs to seek and hear from God whether or not that is the place to serve.  This should be helpful for those who are wondering what a good church looks like.

Works Cited

 

Dunning, H. Ray.  Grace Faith and Holiness.  Kansas City,

MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1988.

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Filed under Church bashing??, Church Health, Ecclesiology, Holiness, Leadership, Megachurch, Pastor, Small Church, Unity?, Worship

Christian flavors of the month

I am someone who did not grow up in church so that makes my point of view different from yours if you did grow up in church.  There are some fads, waves, movements, and whatever, in the Christian world that I question because, well, I think I am always suspicious.  Or, when those fads seem to work and I am not a part of them it could be that I am jealous.  You will have to decide.  But go easy on me 😉

One area that I am concerned with is the Christian world’s focus on leadership.  I believe that leadership resources are important, but sometimes, it seems as if they are most important.  It seems that Jesus displayed leadership in the Bible and that is who we are to imitate.  As a matter of fact, He is the Leader of the Church.  Consider this, if you are really Christian who has been called by God to lead a ministry of some type, then you need to unlock the leadership potential in you.  Right?  In other words, unbind Jesus who is in you. 

Pastors, Jesus had trouble getting past 12 committed members.  Jesus’ emphasis was on discipleship instead of producing numbers.  Some pastors need to know that all any of us can do is to present the Gospel.  We are called to plant and water the seed of the truth with those who do not believe.  We are called to be led by the Holy Spirit as we allow Jesus to work through us to lead His people.  When we see sin, call it sin.  When we see something that does not work, or does not bear fruit, then consider that God isn’t using that.  But, to simply refer to 3 or 4 hundred different leadership books seems to be odd when the Bible clearly is capable of giving guidance to each of us.  

My fear is that focusing on leadership too much can lead us into the temptation of unconsciously thinking that the Church is ours.  It is not.  In some ways, leadership has become the Golden Snake of the Church.  I looked for two things when I sought a church.  I looked for Jesus and a pastor who understood Jesus.  I was not looking for a CEO.  After all, I had to deal with that in my secular job already. 

I am always amazed at how many leadership coaches there are in the Church.  Don’t believe me, look at Twitter and Facebook.  We can busy ourselves to death trying to reproduce what worked for those guys without success.  Yet, we never busy ourselves to death in prayer to receive insight from the Spirit. 

Another troubling issue is the way people are down on the Church.  I have talked about this before.  It seems in our desire to grow our churches numerically, we have made it second nature to talk about how Church has become a farce.  One of my favorite church signs said, “A church for those who don’t like church.”  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that the Holy Spirit places people in the church as He sees fit.  Jesus Christ died and rose again for the Church.  Why do pastors and other Christians run the Church down?

We might possibly think that somehow, if we talk bad about the Church, then the world would come.  Before I met Christ, I already thought bad about the Church.  You simply would have been confirming to me why I didn’t think about the Church.  Remember, the Church is both Human and Divine.  The only time there is trouble in the Church is when she loses touch with the Head, Jesus.  

There are those in the Church who say they are not Christians.  They say that they are followers.  I understand what these good people are trying to say.  They are fed up with the sin they see in the Church.  I think this is where those who say they are a church for those who don’t like church are coming from too.  Yet, Christians is what they called those who were part of the Church at Antioch in the book of Acts.  Antioch was a sending church.  It was a missionary minded church who was devoted to spreading the Gospel wherever they could.  That was a good thing. 

I think it would be easier if we were able to simply say that there are those in the Church are really not Christians, then saying that I am not a Christian I am a follower.  I just become concerned with poor discipleship that can cause people to leave Jesus and never return. 

I want to assure everyone that I am fine with leadership books, but we should never get away from 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and the Gospels.  These are the ultimate sources of leadership for the Church.  I also realize that we must still preach against, and fight against, sin in the Church.  That is why God calls us to hold accontable and for us to practice confession.  We also must struggle against  those who do not really have love in their hearts being  referred to as Christians.  Our goal should be to live the Christian life, which is also a life of a follower.  It is not either/or. 

These are just some of the flavors of the month so to speak that Christians everywhere seem to chase after.  These are my opinions.  These opinions come from someone who just wants to serve Jesus Christ the way that He says to in His Word.

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I want a mad church

An amazing thought I have been wrestling with lately is “Should the Church get mad?”  What I mean is should the church develop an anger that will motivate her to spread the Word?  Someone might think, “Isn’t that what the Church already does?” Yes, and no. 

The Word of God is being preached in many churches.  Sometimes though, the Word comes with a slant toward a particular view, or goal.  Periodically, I will use the topical method of preaching, which tends to naturally have a view point with it.  More often, I use an expository method.  In my opinion, this gives me, and others, a better opportunity to allow God to speak. 

The problem is that generally only believers are going to church, which is good, but they are not bringing anyone from outside the church with them.  As a result, the preached Word is staying within the Church.

Back to where I really want to go with this.  Somehow, the Church has allowed herself to appear, or become, unlike Jesus Christ.  When I thought of church as an unconverted person, the first thought that came to my mind was I don’t belong.  I felt that attenders looked at me and my family with disdain.  This is another story.  I did not see Jesus in the midst of  that attitude.  Sinners were attracted to Jesus because He is lovingly attracted to them. 

As a believer, I now see churches struggle with each other over 10% of the “desirable” type of people who we think are worthy to come to church.  You know, those people we think would make good members and contributors.  Amazingly, the others are left out.  I venture to say that they do not even come up on the radar screen as those who need to be targeted. Well, maybe in shop talk once in a while.

As a believer, when I think of church my first thought is flip flops, gotees, coffee, and a lot of theory.  The battle the Church has been fighting in America is not against the kingdom of darkness, it is against itself.  Freedom used to mean freedom from self desire to sin against God.  Now freedom is about worship style.  The bottom-line is that one group of believers wants to bind another.  Freedom?  This is the ever present struggle within the Church to please Jesus the right way.  Or please selves?  Sigh.  Does this stuff make you feel as tired as I do?

The whole time, the above struggle is taking place, the Church is not moved with the real love of Jesus Christ to mobilize in an effort to save her community’s children from sin.  Jesus did not spend time struggling over generational warfare with His disciples.  He spent His time talking about love for God and others.  He said that if we did this, people (sinners) would know that we are His. 

So when is the Church going to get mad over the fact that we have been wasting our time on too many philosphies that cause us to struggle against each other and be mad that Satan is destroying people with sin?  If we get mad about that I believe that we will really focus our attention on setting the captives free

This madness must be rooted in love for others.  Madness can, and will, motivate us to do what Christ called us to.  This madness will create an overwhelming desire to be Jesus and deliver the good news that people can have a better life through Jesus Christ.  What is more, salvation can be gained through Christ.  The Church has to become mad for those who are lost again.  We cannot settle for being mad at each other.  We are called to be mad for those who are perishing. 

I want a mad church.  I want a Mad Church.  I want Christians who will stand up and say that they have had enough of Satan snatching our community’s children and adults and leading them to hell!  I am tired of Christian groups Church bashing.  I am tired of Christians competing with each other.  I am tired of the freedom march that seeks to deliver churches from a particular style of worhsip.  I long for the freedom march that sets people in bondage to sin free.  It sets them free from eternal damnation!

You should want a mad church too.

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Filed under Christianity, Church bashing??, Church Health, compassion, Living it, Missional Resources, Small Church, Vision

Newpring and Unleash

I went to the Unleash 09 Conference this year.  Without a doubt, this was the best conference that I have been to.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot things that made an impression on me were:

  • The happy-to-do-it volunteers.  I think there were 500 of them.  Every one of these people smiled and waved to every vehicle pulling in that I could see. 
  • There was a mob volunteers who hootin-n-hollerin with everyone that came in.  These people were located at the entrance.  They gave directions to where you needed to go.  They spoke to everyone that I could see. 
  • It was a Thursday.  I wondered how many of these people gave up a vacation day from work to help at this event on behalf of their church?  I can’t even get people to come to church on Sunday consistently; and like it. 
  • I know that these volunteers have been coached that what they do is important.  And, that they must make everyone feel welcomed; it works! 

Pastor Perry Noble was straight forward in each main session.  This conference was not the type that has someone come in to do some group counseling.  Instead, Perry challenged everyone to weather whatever storm they were facing and go hard for Jesus.  Let me share some thoughts about Perry Noble:

  • As much as I would like to, out of jealousy, I can’t deny that God is using him.  I see it! 
  • He had a breakout session for Senior Pastors only.  This was conducted the right way.  Pastors were able to ask questions and he answered every one.  He did this graciously.
  • Every pastor wanted to know how he did it.  Pastor Noble was careful to point to the mission of spreading the Gospel.  In other words, sharing Christ is the difference. 
  • He is straight forward about salvation through Jesus Christ alone.  This is not a liberal preacher.  He fears for people who are lost because they will go to Hell if they do not give their lives to Jesus Christ.  Preachers and churches everywhere would do well to be burdened in this way. 

For those seeking the formula for church growth.  And, I suspect that is why most churches and pastors showed up to this conference.  They want to know how to get to where Newspring is; and is going. 

  • Preach Jesus Christ!  He is Savior, Lord, He will be Judge, He is coming back soon, He is Healer, Miracle Man, He is All that we need.
  • Terms that were called a fad: Contemporary, Emergent, Missional, and etc. He believes these will outdated in 3 years.  I think he is right.   
  • A funny illustration about Missional: All churches are missional or they are not churches.  Saying that we are missional is like a fish swimming around saying I love water. 
  • There is no formula!  Just Jesus.  Amen.

The worship team was phenomenal!  I would say they are as good as anybody that I have paid to see.  That is saying a lot. 

  • I have not been moved in worship like that in a long time.  Let’s admit it, we get bored with the way we systematically do it. 
  • It was good to see one of the singers get moved by the Spirit.  I have not seen that for a while.
  • The songs were so good. 
  • The music was loud.  This meant that I could sing loud and not make anyone sick. 

Let’s talk about the money!

  • $59.  Did you read that!  I will say it again, $59.
  • They did not make any money, I don’t think.  They gave each person Lee McDerment CD.  Great worship music!  It would probably cost $16 to buy it. 
  • They gave us Chik Fila for lunch.  $6 to buy it.
  • Free drinks and snacks all day!  $5 per person. 

Hey! Christians! Let’s get motivated to preach Jesus.  Thank you to Newspring for caring for all, no matter what denomination that is Christian, because we are on the same team.  As Perry said, we don’t compete, but we complete each other.  I have been refreshed. 

To all of those that Perry and Newspring down, get over it.  Let’s all do what God called us to do without worrying what the other person is doing.  Did you know that there are enough lost in Pickens County alone that they could not possibly fit into all of our churches?  I am going to seek to do my part in God’s Kingdom.  What about you?  Or, will you focus on petty things and continue to put Newspring down because they are getting it done? 

It has been a while since someone encouraged me like I was at Unleash.  Thanks be to God!

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Devaluing the Church; especially at the local level

I have been reading The Church Jesus Builds while in the dentist office waiting room today.  I focused on the chapter titled, Tensions That Strengthen The Church.  Wayne Schmidt, Lead Pastor of Kentwood Community Church in Grand Rapids, wrote this chapter and dealt with some issues that I have been working through on my own.  I won’t take the time to address all of these but I will focus on a few questions that he asked.

After some church leaders heard Bono say, at Schmidt’s church, that he “previously loved Christ, but couldn’t stand the Church or Christians,” they “snickered.”  This bothered Schmidt, as does me, and he asks, “Is it a sign that even leaders of the Church have surrendered to the cultural conclusions that the Church is at best a dysfunctional family, hopelessly idiosyncratic and beyond redemption?” (166). 

Here are some concerns that I have had, in light of this question, for quite a while now:

  • Is it really funny that Christians “snicker” at the Church and other Christians because the they have come into agreement with the world that the Church is out of touch, a sham, and/or has failed in her mission to be a Godly community in the middle of a Fallen world?  Some Christians would go so far as to say that it is impossible to live by commands to love Him and others until Christ returns.  If that is true, then how do explain Bethlehem in the book of Ruth
  • Do the more successful pastors, in the churches that everyone considers it a privilege to go to, take advantage of the Church and those who attend when they fall?  In other words, are we bloggers and ministers, taking advantage of the opportunity to finger point so that we can say, or imply, that we are not like that? 
  • Have we, as church leaders, “surrendered” to the cultures label of the Church, that she is irrelevant in the 21st Century?  In other words, government, human goodwill, and famous people can fix this world that can be so cruel?  After all,  1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  I guess my question is do we, the Church, even think that it is foolish for the Church to be the Salt and Light of the world? 
  • Has the Church made friends with the idea that we are individuals first by looking out for our own interests instead of looking out for others?  As church leaders, are we guilty of hoarding God’s money as individuals, and a local Body, by turning our churches into a savings and loan branch?  The elephant in the room is that we say this is an “emergency fund.”  Isn’t God our emergency fund? 
  • I am all on board with church planting.  It is God’s mission in this world.  Yet, are most established churches really beyond redemption?  Can God not turn these organisms around?  He can.  So the question in the end that must be wrestled with is, when do the mega-churches, and/or church plants decide to encourage our creative and gifted people to be a part of the redemption process, instead of jumping ship to take part in the good times somewhere else?  I know that some are called by God to do this, however, I believe that many of the average attendees that leave are not. 

If you attend a church, or a leader, what are you going to do?  Can you still find love for the Bride of Christ in your heart?  Can you trust that God will redeem a troubled community of believers?

Here is an action question that Schmidt asks, “”Do you agree that our culture today, both inside and outside the Church, tends to devalue the Church as a “dysfunctional family, hopelessly idiosyncratic and beyond redemption”?  List several specific ways we can be honest with ourselves about the Church’s shortcomings, yet affirm its biblical position within God’s redemptive plan” (175).  I would add that you might list specific ways in your own church. 

Hope to hear from a few of you.

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Filed under Church Attendance, Church bashing??, Church Health, Leadership, Missional Resources, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?, Vision, Wayne Schmidt, Worship

Thoughts on a “Loss of case”

Mega-pastor Victoria Osteen has been vindicated.  Mrs. Brown failed to prove her story before a jury.  Here is the link to the latest article

Although Osteen paid a $3000 fine, she was found not guilty of assaulting Brown.  In my earlier post, I was not aware that the Osteens had their own witnesses; or I missed it.  The fact remains that Mrs. Osteen might wish that she would have simply cleaned the liquid off of her seat herself. 

It is troubling that Brown was allowed to pursue a case like this and that it only took the jury 2 hours to reach a verdict.  This might have taken 2 hours because they wanted to finish the donuts off that were given to them for snacks.  Just kidding. 

3 things should happen in my opinion. 

  1. Victoria Osteen should be careful of creating an opportunity for people to try to rip her off; she should be more self-controlled.  But who can accomplish this all of the time?
  2. Brown should be fired immediately!  She is an opportunist. 
  3. Brown should be made to give %10 of her worth to charity. 

I have been reminded by this case that pastors need to be careful when around people.  And Mrs. Brown needs to place her faith solely in Jesus Christ and not a minister or money.

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Filed under Church bashing??, Faith, Reality