Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So What's Next?

In listening to Christians around the world, I have discovered a few things. One, the church has caused a bit of damage. I find that sad. Two, church goers are looking for something that is life giving. And three, the patented formulas for church growth are leaving a lot of folks feeling lonely.

Online there is a lot of noise about how hypocritical the church is, the scandals and abuses - and the naysayers are still talking about the crusades! Bill Marr, and Elton John can't seem to spew enough hate to go around. And then you have the Larry King preachers like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren who can't even spit out a simple gospel when they have an audience. It's a good thing Jesus doesn't need a PR agent.

I actually don't think it is possible to change the image of the church enough so that people notice. It's seems like it is always going to be about money and bad character.

I have a lot Christian friends through blogging, Facebook, and some other social media. Most are not attending, or are marginally attending church. What is it going to take for a real pastor to leave the damn offering basket on the pew, and go looking for the lost sheep?

What is is going to take to stop all the programs, and church analytics and just love people and preach a simple gospel? For a church that has seen major moves of God in Toronto, Brownsville and other places, where is all that power? Are we still going to conferences to get a buzz, or are we putting our prophetic words and anointed insight to use?

I don't know about you, but I am hungry and thirsty for more, for deeper; for Jesus.

And lastly, I am finding folks that are lonely even in church. Folks that have real stuff going on, and need a friend. What they've seen is a lot of lip service for the Kingdom, and not a lot of action. Do you have a few committed Christian friends? I don't mean Facebook buddies, I mean flesh and blood folks that look forward to hanging out with you.

If we look at the damage that church has caused, we can see that men fail. But can't we see that Jesus doesn't? If we are hungry and thirsty, what are we willing to do to get in God's presence? If we are lonely, can we take a minute to see hat type of friend we have been.

How about you, what's next for you? Have you been hurt in church? How are you going to fix it? Are you thirsty, where are you going to get your next drink? Are you lonely, how are you going to meet your next friend? What's your next step? Tell me about it.

Psalm 107:9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

13 comments:

photogr said...

David:

I don't have a clue but:
I think starting a new church dedicated to worshiping God with out seat belts or restraints and letting the Holy Spirit flourish and lead the worship. Primary goal is tending to the needy, the lost ones, the hurting ones, and giving love to all that walk in seeking God and fellowship.

As far as a brick and mortar building, I think starting off with a tent will suffice to keep the expenses down.

That is just my take though. It will be up to the Lord to make it happen.

I can get a good deal on renting a tent and chairs Perhaps I can get a band to play music.

~*Michelle*~ said...

What is it going to take for a real pastor to leave the damn offering basket on the pew, and go looking for the lost sheep?,,,,,,,,to stop all the programs, and church analytics and just love people and preach a simple gospel,,,,,,,,"

Can I hear an Amen in the House?!?!
Preach it!



*~Michelle~*
~a Believer who is now on that search myself, and is very thirsty.

photogr said...

Michelle:

Welcome to thne club or is it click group.

GCT said...

"If we look at the damage that church has caused, we can see that men fail. But can't we see that Jesus doesn't?"

That's a pretty lofty claim, is it not? If people go to hell, does that not indicate that Jesus fails? (As Ebonmuse puts it, "7. Since the Bible states that God does not desire that anyone perish, but also states that the majority of humankind is going to hell, doesn't this show that God's plan of salvation is a failure even by his own standard? If this outcome is a success, what would count as a failure?")



If people are killing others in Jesus' name, does that not indicate a failure of Jesus? If the Bible can be interpreted in so many different, vile ways in order to repress and hurt others, is that not a failure of Jesus? How bad do things have to be, how bad do things have to go before you'd consider something to be a failure of Jesus?

I'd be willing to bet that you would not ever consider anything a failure of Jesus, which would be assuming your conclusion.

Tracy said...

Yes I'm thirsty and want more of God.

I'm so grateful that daily I can come into His presence and spend time praising & thanking Him, and that I can spend time in His Word. That He's good enough to even use me in the lives of others.

Although I've certainly never found a perfect church, I'm just as assured that it would not remain so if I did find such a place, the moment I walked through the door. I mess up sometimes. So do others in the church. When I look in the Word it very clearly tells me not to forsake gathering with other Believers and to practice being patient and forbearing with others. I do not think that such a "gathering" has to look like formal church does in America, nor do I think formal church is necessarily wrong either.

I'm not looking for perfection, so I don't seem to struggle so much. Every place I've lived I've looked and prayed and found a local gathering of Believers who believed closely the same as me (for sure the same on the essentials) and then committed to that group. To make myself move out of my comfort zone and get to know people, to pray for people, to look for ways to serve the people in that group and ways to partner with them to reach out to people in the local community. My church experiences haven't all been good but I can say that I've experienced hope, encouragement, instruction, correction and love in the local church.

As far as pastors and money, I've personally met very, very, few wealthy pastors. I've known a LOT of pastors and most of them have lived frugally at best. I know there are some rich pastors, but I bet if you researched the data you'd find that is not the norm.

David said...

Thanks all for the comments.

I am just looking for folks that want to be be real, and not put on a Sunday show. The comment about the basket was not about how much pastors get paid, but some that have a focus on Sunday morning, the money, the building fund and not the people.

@GCT - You are correct, Jesus wants every one to be with him for eternity. The sad reality is, as you pointed out, many will not believe in Him that was sent.

God is not a failure - He gave us free will, a world to live in, He gave us a second chance; a chance to "get good grades."

This particular blog, was about the failures of the church - made of humans. I always try to make a distinction between those of faith, and those that claim faith. The church has spent a lot of time on a lot of stuff that really doesn't matter.

If you read the other comments, you see folks that have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and they want more.

I know that I can't convince you of anything - but for someone like me, and a few others that have commented, they have found something of real value in Christianity.

Anyone is who is killing in the name of Christ is not doing God's will.

How do I know? Because I know God. Once you have the Spirit, most times it is pretty easy to tell who doesn't. It is one of the benefits of real faith. But most would like to intellectualize and have opinions and whatever - good luck to them.

You seem to enjoy the debate, but you might want to try a different tack to see if God is who He says He is.

God bless you.

GCT said...

David,
"You are correct, Jesus wants every one to be with him for eternity. The sad reality is, as you pointed out, many will not believe in Him that was sent."

So, when god doesn't get what he wants, how could this possibly not be considered a failure?

"God is not a failure - He gave us free will, a world to live in, He gave us a second chance; a chance to "get good grades.""

And yet, those things (I would argue that he didn't give us free will or a chance to "get good grades" as you put it) haven't worked. How is this not a failure?

"This particular blog, was about the failures of the church - made of humans."

Yeah, I understand that, but I'm always struck by the Xian propensity to say such hateful things. When things go wrong, god is never to blame, humans always are. When things go right, god gets the credit, humans do not. I find this to be a hateful theology.

"If you read the other comments, you see folks that have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and they want more."

Every dictator has friends, and maybe god is good to you, but that doesn't mean that god is good overall or to others or that god doesn't make mistakes.

"I know that I can't convince you of anything..."

I know you don't mean to be insulting here, but ouch. You can convince me. You just need to actually use rational, logical, and evidential arguments. It is highly irrational and illogical to say that one can not be convinced, and I do not take that stand. The problem, for you, is that you actually have to use arguments that work.

"Anyone is who is killing in the name of Christ is not doing God's will."

And, I'm sure they aren't really Scottish either, right? Anyway, there's no prohibition on killing in the Bible. Sorry, it's just not there. In fact, quite the opposite. Death is the punishment for all sorts of crimes. Also, there's nothing in the Nicene Creed that indicates that anyone who kills can't be a true Xian.

"How do I know? Because I know God."

So you claim, but you don't actually know that you know god.

"Once you have the Spirit, most times it is pretty easy to tell who doesn't. It is one of the benefits of real faith."

So I'm told by the people who disagree with you.

"But most would like to intellectualize and have opinions and whatever - good luck to them."

Again, if god is real, then why wouldn't we be able to use our intellect to reason to him? Your argument is basically admitting that your theology is irrational and that one must first believe in order to believe.

"You seem to enjoy the debate, but you might want to try a different tack to see if God is who He says He is."

A) If a theist of a different religion said the same thing to you, would you find that argument compelling?
B) What about the scores of atheists who are ex-Xians (myself included)? Are you going to contend that none of them were true Xians?

David said...

@GCT - I think I am going to have to write a series just to keep up with your comments. Here are some high points from your last round of comments.

God give us free will. I don't see how he could control us anymore than I can control you. I suppose that I could set up some circumstances to push you in one direction of the other, but not make you choose to do something. If God controlled us - or specifically Christians, how would that be love? I believe the basic need here is to bee significant, you can't have that by being controlled.

The biblical take is that He let's us do and choose as we please - within the boundaries of creation. There is a law of gravity, and in the same way a law (captured in the Bible), by which we are judged. Some of those laws are painfully obvious - others are more intimate an veiled to some degree.

I like the analogy of light - where there is darkness, light cannot be. It is the same when bad things happen. I don't agree that God is only in charge of Good things. t is obvious by reading peter or Job that God allows bad things to happen. The best example is when Jesus calms the storm.

"Every dictator has friends." I can't argue with that. However; when God does stuff in peoples lives that is beyond mere coincidence, I can't argue with that either. IE: Physical healing, foretelling the future.

Killing, not forbidden - it maybe veiled in "love your neighbor as yourself" or "turn the other cheek," "or though shall not murder" but I am not seeing that killing is a way to love anyone. BTW - the Nicene Creed is a statement of faith from biblical writings (a collection of you will) for those beliefs that required for salvation. Of course belief without faith is not enough.

Sorry for the debate comment. You're right, it was not meant to be sarcastic or hurtful.

The debate over the "realness" of God or the existence of God is ridiculous. If God exists, then He will do what He says He will do.

I say that if one wants to experience God, they should go and do it. Just reading and debating is not enough.

If I were seeking, I would be going to all the places that claim whatever it is I am looking for from God. If I am looking for salvation, then wold visit those places, if I was looking for miraculous healing, then I would visit those places. i don't think that I would take anyone's word for it. If God is real, then He'll show up for the sincere seeker.

I find most folks just want to relate to God on their previous experience, they don't want a new one. I have a few questions for you though.

How did you become a Christian?

How did you become an ex-Christian?

Do you believe in the supernatural, paranormal, psychics or any of that?

And lastly - calling Christianity irrational and illogical seems odd. I find it very consistent, orderly, and the principals have not failed me. I also find it exciting because God does not provide the same answer the same way all the time. I have written lots of blogs about being led by the spirit. Many are beyond the realm of mere coincidence.

God bless, and thanks for commenting.

GCT said...

David,
"I think I am going to have to write a series just to keep up with your comments."

LOL..it wouldn't be the first time.

"God give us free will. I don't see how he could control us anymore than I can control you."

Free will can't exist with an omni-max deity. But, for the sake of argument...

I find your characterization to be a false dichotomy. Basically, you're using the argument that we have to be free as we are (and inclined to do evil) or we have to be complete robots. There are, however, many shades of gray in between. We could desire to do good or maybe our actions would not be able to negatively affect others. Besides, free will does nothing to counter the fact of natural evil.

"I don't agree that God is only in charge of Good things."

Most Xians would not agree with you. Either way, how do you square this with a supposedly omni-benevolent deity? Isn't it a contradiction to have a god that is omni-benevolent but also visits evil upon people?

""Every dictator has friends." I can't argue with that. However; when God does stuff in peoples lives that is beyond mere coincidence, I can't argue with that either. IE: Physical healing, foretelling the future."

The point was that a dictator's friends might claim that the dictator is a good person, but that doesn't make it so. Also, I'm unaware of any actual verifiable evidence of any actions of god. Do you have some evidence for things such as physical healings that have come from god (regrown limbs perhaps?)

"Killing, not forbidden - it maybe veiled in "love your neighbor as yourself" or "turn the other cheek," "or though shall not murder" but I am not seeing that killing is a way to love anyone."

I can think of quite a few ways...like killing in order to protect someone else or if you believe that aborted fetuses go to heaven, then aborting them would be a loving action.

"Sorry for the debate comment. You're right, it was not meant to be sarcastic or hurtful."

Don't worry, I didn't take it that way.

"If I were seeking, I would be going to all the places that claim whatever it is I am looking for from God."

What makes you search for a god to begin with and why would you expect that god to conform to your personal biases?

"How did you become a Christian?"

Born and raised, like the majority of Xians.

"How did you become an ex-Christian?"

Started to actually read the Bible and examine the beliefs and saw that they don't make sense.

"Do you believe in the supernatural, paranormal, psychics or any of that?"

No - not without evidence.

"And lastly - calling Christianity irrational and illogical seems odd. I find it very consistent, orderly, and the principals have not failed me."

It's not consistent or orderly, and even if the principles that you claim are Xianity work for you, that doesn't mean it is correct, rational, or logical. This is especially true when you outright claim that you can't get there through rational debate but must rely on faith. Doesn't it seem odd to you to claim that you can't rationally deduce Xianity but that Xianity is rational?

"God bless, and thanks for commenting."

Thanks for remaining civil. Not all Xians behave so well. It's one of the reasons I still comment here and on Tracy's blog.

David said...

@GCT - because i don't have time to respond to every point let me say a couple of things.

There is a recurring theme with your comments as if this is the only life there is. I am not suggesting that we don't cherish it. I will say that as one who has the utmost faith in eternity because of what I have seen God do, I see this life as part of the next. My soul will live eternally and therefore; I don't get to wigged out about injustice and other things caused by the sin nature.

Part of my faith understands that there is going to be trouble, even trial. In America, until maybe 9/11, no on believed that. Now maybe a few more. I also know that in some regions there will be persecution. it is part of the deal if you are in. The Bible predicts a huge falling away in times of trouble.

I don't need to debate who that is, or why. I an secure in what I have faith in, and even some of what I believe.

I don't agree that anyone is born a Christian. I believe that you grew up in that illusion. John chapter 3 is very clear about a rebirth. It stinks, because there is a the real thing.

For that reason, I am glad that you don't have to live under some stupid precipice of Christianity that is only an exchange of ideas, opinions, intellectual debate and the like.

I reiterate, true Christianity is a relationship with a living God, not a theory, not a philosophy or a belief system. As one knows when they are born, they know when they are born again. And yes, I do claim that I know God - not because of what I believe, but because of what I have seen.

I will have to revisit this if I have time.

Peace.

GCT said...

David,
"There is a recurring theme with your comments as if this is the only life there is."

It's certainly the only one we have evidence for.

"I am not suggesting that we don't cherish it."

If I believed I was going to heaven, I would want to get there. I wouldn't cherish this life and hang onto the mortal coil tightly.

"My soul will live eternally and therefore; I don't get to wigged out about injustice and other things caused by the sin nature."

To me, this sounds like you are shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Who cares that injustice exists since our souls are eternal and this is but a small part of our eternal lives." Would you be willing to tell that to people who suffer from horrific acts or diseases however? Perhaps your particular life isn't that bad (mine isn't either) but that doesn't mean that we should be so nonchalant about it.

"I don't need to debate who that is, or why. I an secure in what I have faith in, and even some of what I believe."

What evidence do you have that leads to your surety?

"I don't agree that anyone is born a Christian. I believe that you grew up in that illusion."

People are born to Xian parents and surprise of all surprises generally tend to stay as the religion their parents raised them to be. Same with Muslims and Hindus and every other religion. You can't deny that.

"I reiterate, true Christianity is a relationship with a living God, not a theory, not a philosophy or a belief system."

Then why does this god not make himself known to all so that all can have this relationship? This is a glaring error in your theology. Also, how do you know that the entity you think of as god is not some imposter or that this god is not lying to you? How does this relationship manifest itself - does god come and have tea with you, etc?

"As one knows when they are born, they know when they are born again."

People don't know when they are born as they don't yet have the cognitive capacity to understand what is going on.

"And yes, I do claim that I know God - not because of what I believe, but because of what I have seen."

Which is? And you know that it came from god how?

"I will have to revisit this if I have time."

I understand time constraints as I face those myself and don't blog nearly as much as I used to.

David said...

@GCT - more answers a hundred more questions!

My life at the moment is typical American. But in the past I have worked as a missionary in both Brazil and Norway. I have been to the slums, seen those dying of all kinds of diseases, worked with drug addicts and alcoholics, and seen my share of those that suffer from mental illness. I do not discount any of that. But I do have real ad undeniable hope for eternity because I know God.

How one comes to actually know God is as personal as the number of hairs on your head.

My story won't be any one elses. What I do know that is that God is there, He is available, albeit on His terms, He is there. I didn't not find God in the stand-sit-kneel church service of the manicured American church. My parents were church-ed, but neither was born again until near death.Both those stories are on Fire and Grace. (cancer)

My challenge to you, get suitcase and let's go the poor folks, the underprivileged, and those who don't have it all - I bet there you'll find God. God is not a spiritual bellhop, and church isn't meant to be a bless me club and He doesn't do parlor tricks for the curious. But for those that truly want Him and are willing to give it all up - everything you believe, and stpe out in faith, I be He'll meet you there.

I am not the person to ask what to do until you have no money, no place to stay, and not food. I have been there, and God was with me.

Let me know when you want to leave for South America, or South Africa I am ready. I even wish I could afford a ticket for you.

More later. Blessings.

GCT said...

David,
"What I do know that is that God is there, He is available, albeit on His terms, He is there."

The problem is that if he is there, he's either very difficult to find since he seems to be obstinate about it being "on his terms" or he's deliberately hiding. The Bible tells us that the majority of people will go to hell, meaning the majority of people will not find god. If god desires a relationship with us and knows how to get us to find him and yet most people will not find him, what does that tell you?

Also, I have to once again ask you, how do you know god is there, or that you have found the god that you think you've found? Could it not be some other supernatural creature playing a trick on you or a completely made up figment of your own mind? How do you know?

"My challenge to you, get suitcase and let's go the poor folks, the underprivileged, and those who don't have it all - I bet there you'll find God."

You bet that I will believe in god or that I'll find people who are under-educated, looking for hope and promises, ignorant, and end up clinging to the idea of a religion which promises them good things? If I go to a country that is not predominately Xian, will I find that the poor people there all embrace Xianity? And, how many of them have heard of Epicurus?

"But for those that truly want Him and are willing to give it all up - everything you believe, and stpe out in faith, I be He'll meet you there."

This is demonstrably untrue. I know of people who were born again, fervent believers who have since given up their faith due to a lack of god. You can't tell me that they didn't truly desire to be with god or that they didn't truly believe. They did. Look at Bart Ehrman who is now an agnostic. He went into Biblical studies in order to get closer to god, to make his born-again faith more complete. Instead, by studying god's word, he ended up leaving Xianity altogether.

"Let me know when you want to leave for South America, or South Africa I am ready. I even wish I could afford a ticket for you."

I'd love to get out of all this rain. But, let's go to Palestine and see how those people like Xianity or the poor people of Saudi Arabia, India, China, etc.

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