Tag Archives: membership

How Your Church Compares: Apples to Apples

Tuesday Re-mix –

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9

apples-to-orangesGenerally, I have never liked comparing churches…for lots of reasons.  It is a thing wrought with pitfalls and other dangers.  I think comparing churches just fosters the already-prevalent attitude that churches are somehow in competition with each other for all the best people.  We all know better intellectually, but our actions and attitudes say otherwise.  I also do not like comparing churches because each local body of believers is dealing with its own special calling to a community or a certain people group or some other such “calling”, and the processes and programs should be specific to that calling, which makes comparing your church’s programs to my church’s programs an apples and oranges kind of thing.

But as with almost any other rule, there are exceptions to my rule against comparing churches.  I mean, seriously, if a particular comparison was OK with Paul, then who am I to question it?  Paul did not seem to hesitate in his second letter to the Corinthian church, comparing the generosity (in giving) of that church to that of the poorer Macedonian churches.

You see, there is something about “living generously” that transcends cultural differences or even differences of church size or Christian “flavor”.  It is the very heart of a church, and it has a way of leveling the playing field in any comparison.  The church who focuses on pouring itself into the lives of others, who focuses on being generous in giving …

Belonging, Believing and Being a Boomer

Tuesday Re-mix –

I grow tropical plants in my backyard, specifically, plumeria and some hybiscus.  It is one of the wonderful “perks” of marrying into a Hawaiian family.  Mind you, I am no master gardner, which makes plumeria the perfect plant for me.  I can break off a limb, stick it in the ground, nurture it for a year or so, and it will take root and bloom just like all the other ones around it.  I just have to have some patience while I wait for the roots to grow.  That is the key…patience.

Besides being a gardener, I am also unashamedly a Baby Boomer.  Pretty much all the observations I have heard sociologists make about my generation are true about me as well, at least in some degree.  I was shaped by a cultural mindset that said anything is possible, that I can make a difference in the world, and that a common vision is critical to any “revolution”.  For my generation, the way this all translates into church is this: what I “believe” is of first and highest importance…if we don’t all “believe” the same central truths, our “revolution” will fail.  For my generation (and, by the way, for the generations which came before me as well), BELIEF comes first, followed by BELONGING to the church.  For us, without belief, there is no belonging.

So it is with great fear and trembling that I turn to Generation X and then to the Millenials, two generations who will lead the church sooner than any of us realize, and I begin to embrace their very different values and priorities when it comes to church.  These generations hold connection and community as much higher values than we Baby Boomers have.  These generations may well come to respect the concept of …