Community . . . God's Way
January 27, 2009
Tuesday Re-mix – Here is an early post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration.
There are some things about the “culture” of the church today that, in my humble opinion, need changing. There are some things we do very well, but there are some disciplines we tend to ignore and some attitudes we display that do not honor Christ. Obviously, there are some individual churches who are getting it mostly right and to whom these opinions probably don’t apply (it’s difficult talking about “the church” in broad strokes since there is such extraordinary diversity among us), but looking across the landscape of the Christian church in the Western world, there are some glaring deficiencies. And these are not simple behavioral issues that can be changed easily. They are cultural–i.e., they are deeply rooted and ingrained in the very “DNA” of today’s church. The change that is needed, therefore, is likewise a pretty profound, invasive shift at a cultural level. I won’t take the space here to begin listing the symptoms of what is wrong (if you have been drawn to this blog, you probably already have some ideas about that). Rather, I will jump right to the solution…or at least a part of the solution.
My good friend, Dr. Ann Farris taught me something important about change. If you want to change the results you are getting, you have to change your behavior (that’s not the part she taught me–everybody already knows this part). It’s that old definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But often times, no matter how hard we try to change our behavior (be honest, how many of your new year’s resolutions have you already blown?) we do not. Paul talked about this is Romans …
January 20, 2009
Tuesday Re-mix: This is an update of a popular post I ran last year.
Do you agree with me that, to a large extent, the American church has fallen asleep in the pews? I don’t mean that literally (although there may be another post there). I mean that we have grown fat and lazy as servants and have been lulled to a state of Spiritual incapacitation by our “entertain me, feed me, give me, minister to me” consumer mentality. I think if the apostle Paul came to America today, he would be appalled.
I believe in an active laity. I believe the Spirit of God Himself lives, moves and manifests Himself through every believer. I believe God’s calling on my life (as a layman) is no less significant than His calling on a pastor’s life. I believe God gives laity specific assignments in Body life with an expectation that they will be met with faithfulness and commitment. Put all these “belief” pieces together and it means that I am often accused of “blurring the line” between laity and clergy in the church. Of that charge I am completely guilty.
Please understand, I believe strongly in the notion of pastoral authority. I believe God gives a pastor an ability to see what He (God) is doing across the landscape of a congregation and therefore have a critical insight on vision and direction of that congregation. In that regard, then, I believe there is a difference between being a pastor and being a layman. But I’m not convinced God intended the differences to go much further than that.
It seems to me that the church (at least the various church cultures with which I am familiar) is guilty of maintaining two classes of “citizens”: the professional clergy (whom we pay to do …
January 06, 2009
Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and re-run.
I wish I had a dollar for every time a pastor or church leader has commented to me, “I’m all for unity, but at what cost?” It always makes me smile. I know what he or she means—that agreement with each other is a good thing, but not the most important thing. I can’t argue with that. But agreement and unity are not the same thing.
Unity is not about agreeing all the time, it is a state of the relationships among a group of people. Biblical unity is a right state of relationships among Christians. And this, I believe, is the highest priority in the church. I believe it is more important than any of the issues which divide us. I’ll explain below why I believe that.
What is at stake in this discussion is the value of Christian relationships. For most of the conflicts I see in the church today, the real heart of the matter is the relationships among the players. How much do these parties really value their on-going relationship? How interested are they in healing the broken relationship and what are they willing to sacrifice in order to do so? If you have ever been involved in marriage counseling, even informally, you have seen this at play. People talk about wanting reconciliation, but when it comes to making that happen, they often are not willing to do the things it requires, because (the truth is) they don’t really value that relationship that much. They would rather be right than be married. Or they would rather be free, or be any of a number of other good things, than be married. Unfortunately, that happens with relationships in the church as well. Lofty …