Monday, April 26, 2010
I Can Have My Own Thoughts, Can't I?
Have you said to yourself, “this is what’s wrong with church?” Followed by a thought or an idea that you felt would make things better and more spiritual? I know I have. I have been teaching and blogging about it for years. I suppose that many of my ideas and insights are not new, but bear with me for a bit.
I recently was talking to the elder of a church I visit from time to time. He told me that I should check out some of the books by Frank Viola. I didn’t buy any – sorry Frank. But I did go and read some of the reviews online. Any good church guy is going to stir up some stuff with new ideas. Isn’t that what Jesus would do?
Apparently Frank is not to hip on the institutional church and doesn’t care for a “hierarchical” leadership model. In some respects, I am with him.
Listen, I didn’t read his books, and I am not going to review his books. I like having my own thoughts, even if they are a little off base, not opinions polluted with others thoughts. I want to hear from God, not from Frank Viola. In many ways, I am not into institutions or single leader controlled churches. But who cares what I think about that. What God thinks is really what matters. What I identified with in some of Viola’s quotes is that he was bored with church. Can I get a few sleeping teenagers to take out their iPod ear-buds and stop texting long enough to say “Amen!”
I an see this blog getting rather long – so let me get right to the points I’d like to make, and then I can follow them up with more detail.
-1 Church is boring, are we going to blame that on God?
-2 A lot of folks don’t feel valued in church for a variety of reasons. Relationship is the “big one” along with having a gift that is not recognized.
-3 I believe that everyone should be passionate and excited about church.
-4 Leadership models tend to focus on the pulpit, not on reaching the lost, making disciples and releasing ministers to follow God and make things happen in the Kingdom.
-5 Accountable, deep and meaningful relationships are few and far between.
-6 Regardless of what size a Christian gathering (meeting or service) is, can we use some of the guidelines from 1 Corinthians 14? (basically to bring something from Heaven to His people.)
-7 (is such a spiritual number – I like it.) As Nicodemus asked Jesus, what must I do to have church like God wants it?
If you read the table of contents in Viola’s books, he and I think a lot a like. I can’t say that we agree on the solutions – but the fact that someone is addressing the issue of the passionless church is very refreshing.
I hope get deeper into these seven issues over the next few blogs, but I think this a good time to discuss a few root causes for the problems – well, in my estimation.
To get to a place where the church is without passion and love, we must have missed something (read that sinned!), wouldn’t you agree? I mean if it is working, why fix it? Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder with me.
-1 It seems that the love of the church has grown cold. I see less affection, less hanging out, and more of the ships-passing-in-the-night scenario than ever before. We’re too busy.
-2 It seems that folks in church are not desperate for much these days – save healing from a deadly illness. We have health care, money (or we file bankruptcy), cars, TVs and in return for 40+ hours a week, we still live paycheck to paycheck. We’re too self sufficient.
-3 Church folks seem to be easily left out, judged, and sad to say, even ridiculed – and all that, causes offenses that can become deep roots of bitterness. We are too selfish.
-4 Barna says that somewhere around 70 to 80% of professing Christians do NOT see the Bible as the only authority on the issues of morality. I think we’re getting a little arrogant too.
Before we can fix any real problems, we need to cut off the roots.
What can we do if the love of the church has grown cold? At the very least we need to turn our calendars over to the Lord. I know that busy-ness has become a way of life. For years I have had negotiate real 40 hour weeks where I didn’t have to sit around for a 1 hour lunch. I arranged my hours to work from home, or drive during non-rush hour times. I did my 8 hours and ate a sandwich on my break.
I recently lost the battle to the 9 hour-a-day plus commuting schedule. Now I am busy too. I make time to get a 20 minute cup of coffee with my wife before the shower/traffic/parking garage waltz. When I get home I’m tired, need to unwind a little and get a dinner with my family. Then I try to spend some time with my little one, and whatever 20-something happens to be in the vicinity. My wife and I try to get some time to talk before bed, and have a date night once a week.
Busy is easy to do – and it is hard to make time for Christian fellowship.
Amazingly we are such a rich nation with many so entitlements that we need little from God. Sure, there are poor folks, but nothing like some other countries. But that is another story. Most of our citizens have shelter, have food, and a large percentage even own homes, cars and TV – the basics of American living. So, why would we need God? Oh yeah, that cancer scare, the unemployment line, something big – that’s when Americans seem to need God the most. 9/11, lots of folks got back on church on 9/12.
In the dysfunctional church, we seem to have produced a generation of offenders and victims. There are problems with the hierarchy of control, management, pastoring - whatever you want to call it. There is a better way, but it takes digging deep into the word of God for answers and revelation. More on that later.
And finally, if the word of God is not the final authority, then honestly, how can we call our selves biblical Christians. I suppose I can call myself anything I want to, but if what I am does not match up with the biblical description, am I really that which I have called myself?
How about you, do you think the church is passionless for the most part?
Stay tuned for 7 radical answers fresh from the mind of yours truly.