Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I hold myself in contempt

Jim Carey, in the movie, Liar Liar, was threatened by the judge that he would be held in contempt. Jim Carey shouted,

"I hold myself in contempt!"

It's one of my favorite movie lines. I want to hold myself in contempt of a lot of things. I want to have scorn for evil, for sin, for things that are self and other destructive. I want to leave some things behind because I am disgusted with them.

I would like to live a life in which I would be held in contempt:


Consumerism
Greed
Apathy
Ignorance
Selfishness
Social Blindness
Churchism (Churchianity)
Insane Individualism
Fear
Lust
Prejudice
Pride

Care to add to the list?


A Post-Easter Meditation

Much of the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus last Sunday. Another large portion of the world noticed Jesus, heard the name in some form, but did not celebrate. Still another quite smaller portion of the world didn’t even notice. In America, though, most people did notice Easter.

However, as I think a little bit deeper about Easter, I think most people probably did miss it. Huh? How could people miss Easter? I mean let’s be honest, 3 billion dollars worth of candy is pretty hard to miss.

Yes, I think people realized a holiday of some kind had occurred. And yes, people really did notice Jesus (and the Easter Bunny). Lots of people got up at sunrise to honor Jesus. But I think that they missed him. I’m not going to compare Jesus and the Easter Bunny here; I want to go deeper than that.. What I think people missed is the enduring meaning of Easter. Now, before you quit reading because you know where this is going, hold your horses. This is different.

If Jesus really died and then rose from the dead, and Christians aspire to be like Jesus, then Christians need to take Easter Sunday with them on Monday as well. What this means is dying themselves.

No, not physical suicide, but death to the things that they are attached to, entitled to, feel connected to - the things with which so many Christians have affairs. I’ll camp out on one, but with two parts.

The first is personal money. If Christians are serious about Easter, they need to die to their addiction to money. Consumerism, capitalism, and individualism have run amuck in the Christian church so badly that it is “normal.” How much money was spent on Easter clothes? Let’s say a church of 1000 people averaged $25 worth of new clothes for Easter (many people buy nothing new and other go to some great expense). BOOM! That’s $25,000 worth of unnecessary crap Christians feel entitled to. I bet that same church collects that in a special contribution for mission annually.

The second is corporate money. Christian churches feel compelled to have land, buildings, and various assets. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. Utilities alone is a fortune, and then there is insurance, maintenance, upgrades, repair, and on and on. Missions, relief, social justice and other things that require resources typically come after churches take care of the “fixed” costs. I’m not 100% against buildings. I think the Impact Houston Church utilizes their buildings in excellent ways. However, for most churches, their buildings are “the church” are treated like “the church” and protected as “the church.”

What would a congregation do if it suddenly had no building? Well, it would find a way to get a new one. What a waste of time. Why not reorganize and shift the focus of resources to the people who really need them instead of the people for whom a comfortable life gets even more comfortable?

When churches have a building, it is impossible to resist the belief that attending a weekly worship service is what being church means. It’s not! Wait, let me try that again IT’S NOT!!! Our buildings, and the way they structure our lives give meaning to how we believe church life to be. If there is a building, then church life is going there.

However, if there is no building, then what does church life look like?

The church of Jesus, the Jesus of Easter stands opposed to wealth as an entitlement for those who earn it. The church of Jesus gets excited about wealth as a surgeon gets excited about having new surgical instruments that will help save lives. The surgeon never boasts of his surgical instruments or merely hangs them on the wall for everyone to see what he or she has. No! The surgeon uses those tools for the benefit of other people, the people who need it the most.

May the church of Jesus come to know Him in their hearts.

Let me know Him in mine.

Check Out This New Blog

www.wwjdn.blogspot.com is a new blog about Jesus that is wondering what would Jesus do next?

It is story like in its format. Short and short short stories about Jesus an the people who met Him.

Click over and read "Holy Spit," written by yours truly.


Thanks to Keith Brenton (blog freak and decent guy) for setting up this blog. Nice work.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Post-Holiday Quakes Strikes Again

Messy Christian blogs about Post-Easter quake here.

It was the day after Christmas that the 9.0 hit in the Indian Ocean. Now, the day after Easter, another one almost as big hits in nearly the same spot.

The difference? No tsunami this time. No tsunami and scientists are baffled. I'm not going to jump right into the Hand of God explanation. It's just too easy to wonder where God's hands were during the Post-Christmas quake.

I'm also not going to make too much out of the unusual timing of these quakes, coming on the heels of the two biggest Christian holidays and all. Following the two days in which more people than any other time have just spent at least a little time hearing the name of Jesus, BOOM, the biggest quakes in a generation.

Coincidence? Who knows? And if it not a coinidence, then what meaning can be assigned to them? Has Satan been unleashed? Is God unloading some wrath? Is God awakening and reawakening the sensitivities of rich Western Christians?

Frankly, if there is meaning to the timing of these quakes, I think I will fall on this one:

God is speaking to Christians in judgment. "Spread your wealth to a hungry, diseased, and illiterate world! Become poor for the sake of the poor and sick and uneducated! Quit being self-absorbed in your self-esteem ministries, in the building of bigger barns, and in self-promoting your inbred communities! Go to the world or something worse might happen to them - and their blood will be on your hands. Have I opened the treasure chest of wealth for you to consume it all? What more can I do to rouse the compassion that still lies within your hearts, though buried in narcissism? Church, wake up!"

I want to clarify that I do not consider myself a prophet of God, but if I had to place a bet, I think God's saying something like this.

By God, justice will be done!!!

So Rick Warren is off in Africa when the Ashley Smith story breaks. She was the young woman who was kidnapped by rapist and murderer, Brian Nichols. SHe read from the book THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. You can read the story here. You can read the chapter she read to Brian Nichols here.

What the flip was California Megachurch Man doing in Africa?

He was piloting a program called PEACE. On Larry King Warren said, "And so we came up with the plan called the PEACE plan, p-e-a-c-e. Plant churches, equip the leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation." Read the entire transcript of his Larry King interview here.

It is mysterious how God takes an evil and uses it for His own good. Certainly what this man, Brian Nichols, did was horrific. At the same time, God worked through Ashley Smith to save her life (and maybe Brian's life) and give some exposure to what else God is doing in the world. Rick Warren is planning on making his PEACE plan an international effort that will expand the kingdom of God in churches planted and new leadership in the church. That is great, but I think what is even greater is what that will mean for poor people, for sick people, for illiterate people.

By God, justice will be done!!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Bad Words

10 Words I find hard to use, but don't know how not to:

10. Church (The Church)
9. Worship
8. Service (As it relates to church and worship, not as it relates to helping people)
7. Christain
6. Saved
5. Evangelism
4. Evangelical
3. God's Word
2. Witnessing
1. Truth

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Post-Restoration Hope #14.1: Something's Not Quite Right

I love to play with my children. They are 5 and 7 at the writing of this chapter. I love to read books, tell stories, and pretend; to learn, sing, and pray, and to say “Amen.” Spiderman webs and small fairy wings, these are a few of my favorite things.

One book I read with my kids was called, “Something’s Not Quite Right.” Page after page there were cartoon looking pictures of children playing in yards or at an amusement park and things of this nature. At first glance, the pictures looked normal. However, the goal of this book was to get the children think critically. There were things in the pictures that made no sense. For example, a boy was flying a kite, but actually he was flying a fire hydrant. When you looked in the driver’s seat of the fire truck driving down Main Street, there was a dog, not a firefighter. The more you looked at these pictures the more you realized how ridiculous they were. So much of what was happening in the pictures could never happen in reality.

With every turn of the page we said in unison, “Something’s not quite right,” with excitement, anticipation, and a little wonder. Could we find everything that was not quite right, or would we get tricked?

What I liked about the book was that it never told you how many impossibilities there were on each page. You never felt sure that you’d found all of the mistakes. Although fun, there was some tension in experiencing this book. In fact, it was the tension that enhanced the fun.

“Did I find all the mistakes?”
“How come I didn’t see that mistake all this time?”
“Is that a mistake? No wait, that really could happen.”
“Am I losing my mind?”
“Should we turn the page?”

We seldom agreed that it was time to move on. Each time it seemed like it was time to turn the page, one of us would object, thinking that there might be one more thing not quite right.

Another fun part of the book was saying what should be there for real. It’s a kite, not a fire hydrant. A fireman should be driving the fire truck, not a dog. Or maybe a firewoman should be driving the fire truck. Aha, sometimes there was more than one right answer.

This fun book exposed my children to a construct, had them deconstructing it, and then had them reconstructing it. Good grief! This was the same thing I learned in my literary criticism class in college. As we were learning what was not quite right, something very, very right was happening at the same time. They were learning not to merely accept what was placed before them, but to think for themselves, no matter how familiar it looked on the outside. Some of it was acceptable, but some of it was not.

Hmmm.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Liberty Trumps Life

Fox News Reports it this way: Here are a couple excerpts

TAMPA, Fla. — A federal judge early Tuesday morning refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's (search) feeding tube, leaving the fate of the severely brain-damaged Florida woman unresolved

David Gibbs III, the parents' attorney, argued at a Monday hearing in front of Whittemore that forcing Terri Schiavo to starve would be "a mortal sin" under her Roman Catholic beliefs and urged quick action: "Terri may die as I speak."

But George Felos, an attorney for Michael Schiavo, argued that keeping the woman alive also violated her rights and noted that the case has been aired thoroughly in state courts.
"Yes, life is sacred," Felos said, contending that restarting artificial feedings would be against Schiavo's wishes. "So is liberty, particularly in this country."


What do we do when life and liberty collide in such a way that we have to trust someone's comments about someone else's life and liberty? Terri Schiavo is not dead, not yet. But she's dying.

It would be easy if Michael were someone you could have a great deal of respect for - if he had some credibility. However, he's got some strikes against him. It would easy if something had been written down. Nope, don't got that either. It would be easy if Terri could talk or communicate in such a way that a judge would recognize it as speaking for herself. These are challenging decisions - very complex.

I am more concerned about the ripple effects of this case than I am Terri herself. That might sound cold and compassionless. I mean, she is a real person and her family is in real anguish. I would be too if I were in their shoes. On the other hand, things that get huge in the news and in politics cannot avoid leaving a legacy.

In life Terri is victor because the cause for life has been advanced. I'm for life, by the way - I like it. However, if she dies, especially this way, in slow motion, she will be a martyr. Terri Schiavo isn't going away whether she lives or dies. For the people wanting her to die, they have little to cheer about if they win - death, but little to cheer about if they lose - they lose. In either case, life wins.


Monday, March 21, 2005

The Glory of Adolescent Faith

When people start asking faith questions, comfort no longer is an option. When the soul emerges from its cocoon and wants to fly, things get kind of scary. Scary because whatever is trying to fly has no prior flying experience. Yeah, it gets kind of dangerous.

Personal integrity requires ditching the cocoon for God knows what. However, community life so frequently says, "Ok, Ok, you've had your fun, now get back in that cocoon."

OR

"Good grief, when are you ever going to grow out of this?"

OR

"What the &*^% is going on here?"

What a strange life of faith we are called to - one of personal integrity within the communal life. It's an oxymoron.

Butterflies cannot become caterpillars. To force them to live that way is sick and abusive, or at best, disresperctful.

May we transcend our discomfort when other people have this questioning faith - and may be find some questions of our own.

The only way to get out of adolescent faith is to ride those white water rapids and scream like a maniac until the river gets calm again.

Monsters Defeated By The Spy Kids

Octotic
Octoticklemonster
The Invisible Monster
The Blue and Yellow Haired Clown
The Glop Moster
The Invisible Lie

Friday, March 18, 2005

Desperately Seeking Jesus

Peter said, "You are the Christ."
Jesus whipped out the keys to the Kingdom and said, "Here ya go."

Peter said, "You're not gonna get killed. I won't let it happen."
Jesus said, "Dude, back off, you remind me of Satan."

Peter said, "I love you."
Jesus said, "Yeah, we're pretty decent friends, aren't we?"

Peter said, "I'll die for you."
Jesus said, "You're about to ditch me."

Peter said, "I got no where else to go."
Jesus said, "You Rock."

OK, so I've done some interpreting and some cutting and pasting, but preachers do this all the time, so I don't feel bad about it.

Peter, though he was in the very presence of Jesus in flesh and blood, was seeking Jesus. Peter did not have the 2000 years of church history to cut through to get to Jesus. He had Him right there. They hugged; they kissed.

Yes, Peter had his Jewish history to cut through, so maybe we're more alike than I think, but here is the point:

If Peter, who stood with Jesus, touched him, walked with him, and was mentored by him still sought after him, then what right do I have to believe that I have some corner on the Jesus market? How could I ever believe that I know Jesus - know him in such a way that I need not know him any deeper, broader, higher...etc?

I have no right to take comfort in my "comprehensive" knowledge of Jesus. All I can do is get to know him better - which frankly, isn't so bad. In fact, if I knew everything about Jesus, I might just ditch him.

I want to develop a better relationship with him.
I want to be friends with Jesus.
I want to love Jesus.
I want to believe Jesus.
I want to trust Jesus.
I want to get vulnerable with Jesus.
I want to find Jesus in places I fear.
I want to crucify fake Jesus.
I want to abandon all that contaminates my love for Jesus.
I want to forget that there are other options.
I want to remember Jesus is freedom.
I want to smell like Jesus.

I am desperately seeking Jesus.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Post-Restoration Hope #13: My affair with the supermodel is over

"I used to love her, but I had to kill her." - Wise words sung by the forlorn, but liberated lyrical genius, Axl Rose.

These words matter to me. You see, I've been in love for some time with a supermodel. In fact, I've, up until recently, given myself to her. But I knew something was not quite right with this situation. She never was my true love. She was exciting at times, the envy of many once upon a time, and it even felt like she WAS the one for me.

But all that has ended. It's over. I'm done with her and I'm not going back. Don't get me wrong, she's not of Satan, but she is not worth giving my heart to. Maybe we can be friends, but I'm not so sure she'll accept it that way. I hope she does not reject me.

Are you wondering why I am blogging this to the universe? You probably want to know her name. You're probably really curious. You probably think I'm lying. You might be thinking, "Is she available?"

What I ended was not an affair with a runway model, but an affair with a model of doing church. The Restoration model of church is done being the one and only way to "do it right." In fact, all models of doing church must be dropped like a bad affair. Denominational allegiance is an affair.

You may be tempted to think that this is hyperbole, but it is not. Jesus formed zero denominations.

"Yeah, but..."

I know, so now what do I do? Everything is a denomination, either expressed or accidental. Well, I think that a friendship with a denominatrion is fine, but not an affair. I want to continue a friendship with my restoration heritage, perhaps attend restoration churches over the course of my days, or post-restoration churches, if there is such an animal. What I no longer want to do is to place a movement, an organization, a denomination, a fellowship, a brotherhood, leader, a person, or any other thing in place of my first love - Jesus.

But Fajita, you talk of emergent churches, aren't they another denomination? Well, they better not be. If emergent becomes a denomination, it will no longer be emergent. I would do well not to be seduced by the sexy supermodel of emergent. The paradox is that if I do attach to emergent like I did to Restorationism, then my very way of connecting to emergent is unemergent, but denominational. Emergent will become a denomination if idiots like me treat it like a sexy supermodel and not a friend.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Incarnational Living: The Fajita Challenge

Had a conversation recently with some people I have been talking to concerning the possibility of planting a church. These conversations are exploratory and preliminary, so we are not exaclty a planting team. We hit the wall in this conversation when (quite innocently I must say) in reference to non-christians the question was asked: "Are we going to have walk on eggshells around them or are we going to be able to be ourselves?"

The divide was revealed. When that question was asked, I felt a million miles away, lonely, and speaking a foreign language.

Incarnational living means intentionally leaving your comfortable world and entering into a strange place because you love the people in the other world. You do not want to convert them to your world, but rather, you want the kingdom of God to enter their world. You do not bring them to the light as much as you bring light to them in their dark place. But you gotta go to the darkness with the light in order for the light to enter the darkness.

Jesus did not sit up in Heaven, waiting for us to make it there where he was, but he came into our world - HE BECAME ONE OF US!!!!!!!!!!!!! He quit being one of his kind and became one of our kind.

I don't fault this person for the question of eggshells. This person speaks the voice of most Christians. "I like my Christian ghetto. It's comfortable. I know it. It feeds me."

The idea of new wine needing new wineskins is neat and exciting, but let's be honest, when the rubber meets the road, it's expensive, challenging and leaves you feeling bare naked.


Take the Fajita Challenge:

1. Inventory your religious connections. Worship services attended, Bible classes, seminars, number of Christian friends, ministries, etc.

2. What if all of this was no longer accessible to you? Imagine all you have is you and your faith (OK, and your family).

3. Now, be church.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Belief Creates Its Own Proof

Belief creates its own proof.

Is this not a dangerous reality in which we live? Yet, it is God who constructed this reality. What human power is greater than belief?

God has given humans free will. We can assert our will upon so much. We can assert our will on the past, the present and the future.

The Past: People say, "You can't change the past." What a crock! Only the facts of the past cannot be changed (a minor detail), but the meaning of the past is always up for grabs. Historians know this. Furthermore, what part of the past are you willing to remember and what part are you willing to forget?

For example - what does my parent's divorce mean? Sure, their divorce is a fact, but the meaning has changed in the past ten years - for everyone involved.

I believe that my parent's divorce benefits me now. Huh? Yes, my belief has tons of proof. However, I could have chosen to believe that everything about my parent's divorce is bad and that it is immutable and will punish me and the generations to come forever. You know what, there is proof for that belief as well. Yet, my belief has its own proff and that is the proof I agree with because of my belief. Belief first; proof second.

The Present: "I am who I am." I think both Popeye and God said this. And yes, it is true that I am me and not anyone else. At the same time, there is quite a bit of play in how I live my present. I am becoming what I believe I am becoming - and that impacts my present. If I believe thatI am headed in this or that direction, then lo and behold, there the proof appears that this is what I should be doing or the direction I should be going. The belief creates the proof. So, with the proof supporting the belief I keep on in the same direction.

The Future: When the future presses against the present to squeeze out the past, something emerges as real. That future is like a scketch drawing that then gets color as it presses toward the present. Future belief constructs its own proof.

This is in part how faith works in humans. It wouldn't work so well if there had to be all the proof first and then the belief. No, the belief comes first. "Believing is seeing," as the little girl elf, Judy, said in The Santa Clause. And frankly, there is too much proof to examine anyway. Faith by- passes an eternity of exploration so far as coming to a decision on direction is made. At the same time, the belief is fluid as well, and changes while remaining consistent at the same time.

Yes, there are a million ways to abuse this reality, but a relaity it is. Take that complaint up with the Creator of Faith.

Death To Octotic

The Spy Kids were at it again last night. The evil Octotic was wreaking havoc on the city. Octotic, if you don't know, is an 8 armed creature about the size of a gorilla. At the end of each of the 8 arms are rabid, bloodthirsty tics.

Webs and sticky gum could not contain Octotic like they did Mr. Mischief. Nope, it was going to take something more creative than that.

Then a call came from the Chief at headquarters.

"Our computer data tells us that you have to pour something on Octotic that you also pour on food."

The spy kids went to work. Soy sauce failed. Kethcup just made him mad. When they tried mustard, Octotic got a corndog in each hand and taunted them. Butter? Nope.

Salt? Yes, salt! The Spy Kids covered Octotic with salt and he melted like a slug. They put Octotic in the desert with a huge pile of salt in a circle all around him. A salt prison.

Justice was done.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

David Wilcox on art and Jesus

Take a moment and go to Sam Middlebook's blog here and read a brief interview he found of David Wilcox, a really cool musician.

Friends, art is not a sideshow in the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"Where did Jesus go to church?" And other questions

I challenge anyone to read the NT and tell me where Jesus went to church.

Furthermore, where did Peter go to church? Paul? Where did the 3000 baptized on Pentecost go to church?

Where did the church go to church before there was a place called church?

How did children develop spiritually when there was no Sunday school?

How were the poor served before the "We Care" ministry?

How did the church grow when there was no place to go?

How did the church worship without a place of worship?

How did people know that they were part of the church before their was a Bible?

Did the Pharisees treat the Old Testament like Evangelicals treat the New Testament?

If the church is spiritual Israel, the who are the spiritual Gentiles? And can they be "saved?"

Where does the white go when the snow melts?

Hints of Home

There's coming a day when I will arrive at the one place I long to be - Home. My longings satisfied, my fears evaporated, my hopes justified, my brokenness healed, my fractures mended, my relationships reconciled, my life completed.

I'm listening to Creed - "Higher." It's snowing outside in a beautiful display of huge snow flakes. Hope and beauty collide at this moment and I just want to go Home.

Can you take me higher,
To a place where blind men see?
Can you take me higher,
To a place with golden streets?

Ah yes, this is the hope I have as a flawed, but forgiven follower of Jesus.

This feeling, the one I have right now should be my single most powerful motivation to evangelize. Why be greedy with my hope?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bono on Justice and Charity

This is a good video.

Watch it and then ponder your responsibility.

World Vision

Then get a good laugh at Greg Brooks Blog.

Contaminated Doctrine

I heard a story from another Church of Christ youth minister who was driving a van load of teens to a church event. One of the moms sat in the passenger seat joining him as a chaperone. One of the teens was playing (rather loudly) some rap music that all the teens knew and sang along to. It was not the worst music, but it was not the best either. The content certainly lacked a Christianly tone. The trip moved right along.

Then one of the teen girls wanted to play a CD, a contemporary Christian CD. A contemporary Christian worship CD, with lyrics that honored God. When the mom who was chaperoning realized what the lyrics were saying, and of all things, set to musical instruments, she was fit to be tied. Finally in frustration, she said to the youth minister, “How long are you going to let this go on? This music has instruments you know.”

Monday, March 07, 2005

Resuscitation or Resurrection?

Leonard Allen, in his book, "Things Unseen," takes a look at how Churches of Christ are (and aren't) entering the postmodern era.

He says that many Churches of Christ are more interested in the power of resuscitation than they are in the power of resurrection. The more I think about it, the more disturbing this becomes. It becomes even more disturbing that this observation made does not merely apply to Churches of Christ, but to the entire church in America.

OK, I might have just overstated that just a little, but I wish I had overstated it a lot. The problem is that it is next to impossible to overstate that point a lot.

How much energy do we spend trying to keep something alive that is near death? How long can we live on life support? Isn't there a church out there with a DNR order? How worth it is it to invest everything we have in order to prevent the inevitable?

The great temptation with resuscitation is that it fights death by avoiding it - perhaps with the belief that whatever is dying might actaully never have to taste death. However, no matter the method or the technology, everything dies.

The risk of letting something die is the fear that maybe there is no resurrection.

What if the Church of Christ needs to die in order to advance the kingdom? What if nothing can emerge unless there is death? What if the only thing between where we are now and resurrection power is our endless efforts at resuscitation?

Yes, I ask these questions to be provokative, but at the same time I'm not just firing blanks either. In order for there to be resurrection, something's got to die. What does that really look like in the Churches of Christ?

I'm glad Jesus died. Not because I like to think about the pain he went through for me. Seeing "The Passion" was simply horrific. But what kind of redemption can a resusucitated Jesus give? No! I want a resurrected Jesus. I need a resurrected Jesus! I simply wish His church was as interested in resurrection as He was.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Prayer Out Take

My daughter and I were praying before bed tonight.

She said, "God, give us goodness, patiance, kindness," and then she mumbled the next word and it sounded like "jello-ness."

"Did you just ask God for jello-ness?" I asked.

"No, gentleness!" She replied.

"Oh, it sounded like jello-ness," I said.

"Yeah, that was an out take," she said.

How could I keep from laughing?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Perpetuating Dysfunction

I read in a recent Church of Christ publication that the state of Arkansas has 548 churches of Christ, most of them small.

The article made a call, one which included an exclamation mark, to retired preachers, elders, teachers...etc who are now spectators in large churches to go and help the small churches who have no teachers, elders, and preachers...etc.

Something about that hit me all wrong. Yes, God never called the church to be a gathering of spectators. Perish the thought. However, he did not intend for there to be some kind of clergy/laity divide either. Whether intentional or not, the author of the article promotes the perpetuation of the top-down, hierarchical, clergy/laity divided church to spread into small churches. In short, he advocates for the very things that create dysfunction. Not a good idea.

Furthermore, this article seems to suggest that small churches have no spectators. I do not believe it. If they need so many people to come in and do it for them, then they have spectators. To the small church who is struggling, sell your building and make yourself into a handful of house churches, or get some equipping and training, or whatever. The only reason a small church would need someone to come in and it for them is if they are committed to remaining comfy/cozy without effort on their own part. This is not the first century ideal we long for, is it?

Now, the author did emphasize that larger churches should offer their ministires to smaller churches. I completely agree. Larger churches should use their resources to equip smaller churches which have fewer resources.

However, smallness does not indicate weakness. Largeness does not indicate strength. All size means is size, not strength. What's more powerful, 1 church of 1000 or 10 churches of 100, or 100 churches of ten? Be careful how you answer. 100 churches of ten will not spend one dine on bricks, on staff, on a lot of things. A church of 10 can provide direct services to people in need - perhaps better than the larger.

Anyway, this article bent me out of shape because the assumptions were flawed and it seemed this author had an axe to grind against people he thought should get off their butts.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Future Causes The Present

Most people believe that the past causes the present, but it's not true. The future causes the present.

Think about the depressed teen who sees nothing but more depression in his future. Is he going to class? Is he getting good grades? What motivation does he have to resist drugs, sex, violence? "Who cares? I'm going to die!" Future pull carries him toward death.

Yeah, but what if I don't believe that the future causes the present? What if I believe the past causes the present? What if the teen's parent's divorced? What if he was abused as a young child? What if...? Yeah, but what would Viktor Frankl say to that? It was not his past that got him throught the concentration camps. No, it was his future.

So, if you think the past causes the present, then I would say that your past has contaminated your future. But it is where you lean forward to that determines so much of where you are today.

Churches are notorious for the past contaminating the future and hurting the present. Since so many Christians in churches pine away for the good ole days when we didn't have to deal with gay marriage, abortion, prayer (not) in schools and so forth. They long for something that they know is impossible. So, there is a hopeless future view and therefore they act hopeless.

Many evangelical churches (Churches of Christ very much included), hopelessly hope for a future that looks like the past. So, that is the way they lean. And so in order to believe they are making progress, they create for themselves Christian ghettos wherein their beliefs can be preserved, but sadly, to the exclusion of the most important people to the church - the lost.

Thus, the future pull on the church is into an abyss that increases the disconnect between the church and the culture - Christian people and non-christian people.

One of the greatest differences between a missional church and a maintenance church is their future. Missional churches view engaging the culture when maintenance churches view preservation from the culture in order to remain comfortable. There are many differences if you think about it.

The idea of future pull is one that church leaders should consider. There is already future pull.

1. What is your current future pull? What future is causing your present?
2. Where is it pulling you? Next year? Five years? Ten years?
3. How strong is it?
4. Is it a missional trajectory or preservation trajectory?
5. Is there future pull toward planting new kinds of churches?
6. Is your future changeable?

Fat Man's Guide To Rock Climbing

I climbed Suagr Loaf Mountain today. Idiot! Last time I did that I was 15 years younger and 40 pounds lighter. I'm fat compared to that college punk who did that a decade and a half ago. Here is what I learned about a fat man rock climbing:

1. Don't

2. If you do, wear the right shoes.

3. Climb small mountains with easy inclines. Steep is bad.

4. Reserve the right to quit.

5. No matter what, you're not a sissy. So be safe.

6. Failure is determined by injury, not how you got.

7. Don't tell your spouse exactly how dangerous it was.

8. Stop lots of times to breathe. I mean huff and puff.

9. Face the fact that you cannot do what teenagers do - and make that your mark of wisdom.

10. Don't look down.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Korn For Christ

Brian "Head" Welch leave Korn for Christ.

Read about it here and here.

Missional

How many missional church members does it take to turn a church missional?

If the church were missional in nature rather than self-preserving, would people evangelize naturally?

Can one person get out of the Christian ghetto and remain in their self-preserving church?

Does evangelizing our own church members sound like crazy talk?

If you stripped the church bare naked (traditions, expectations, assumptions...etc), what would we see?

Would Jesus goto your church?