Below is a letter which was sent out to our congregation from our new pastor Tim about our upcoming call.
As a pastor, I am frequently interacting with those who wish to follow and sometimes flee our Christian faith. For those who flee, they usually have one issue or aspect of the faith that seems too difficult to reconcile. Others walk away from the faith because of a painful interaction with a Christian. For the most part, those who flee are frustrated horizontally and not vertically. I do understand where most people are coming from, yet at some point, all humans will disappoint and leave us scratching our heads.
There is another reason why some folks flee the faith and it just so happens to disturb me the most. Continue reading “Why Some Folks Flee the Faith”
I would not call myself an angry person.
I am fairly sure those who know me would not call me angry either.
Yet, at a certain point with certain people I can feel anger welling up inside me. It can get me worked up, rob my sleep and completely sideline me. Anger does not manifest itself in my life through crashing cars or punching holes in walls. It is much more sneaky. So sneaky at points that I have no clue that I am being motivated or overcome by anger. Continue reading “On Anger”
Most churches I’ve seen are very fertile. They have the ability to birth new programs and ministries with ease. Why? Programmatic birth is fun! Starting new programs can bring groups together, it can give great energy to fledgling ministry. If you’re like me, the creative process makes you come alive especially when you feel as though God is at the forefront of the new movement. What is the church’s threshold for the amount of “babies” she can handle? A great ministry question to discuss is “are we as the local church called to do all things well or a have a specific niche for our people? Personally I think that having a child (planned or unplanned) without discussion, prayer and preparation on how to raise the child is reckless, and I tend to lean the same way when speaking about ministries. I have been guilty of being a fertile programmer who says ” lets see what God does with this one!” While God has blessed some of those, I still don’t think it is the wisest route. Where could you and your ministry practice programmatic birth control or programmatic family planning?
The Funeral:On the flip-side of being programmatically fertile, the church often lacks funerals for ministries and programs that are no longer fruitful. Funerals are needed for that group that reserves the biggest room in the church for the 5 of them who are still left, but this isn’t the only reason. I remember Louie Giglio made a decision to no longer have an event similar to Passion that was rapidly growing in size and popularity. Why did this growing ministry get a funeral? It was no longer in line with what they believed God had called them to be about. Their decision had huge financial implications and yet they followed through.
The Funeral Service: I prefer the term celebration of life. I find it deeply impactful to bring a view involved people around to share what God has done through a certain ministry before we put it to rest. This is a great reminder that ministries are just tools that God can choose to use, they are not holy or spiritual within themselves. For healthy programmatic births to happen, it generally takes a few funerals.
The Lazarus Funeral: My friend and co-worker had a great term today in our staff meeting when we discussed this. He said that a third option was a Lazarus funeral. We invite everyone who is interested to the ministry funeral and if they all believe it should come back to life and it seems to fit the vision of the ministry that God has entrusted to you, then take those grave-clothes off baby and let that ministry live! Sometime the Lazarus funeral can serve as a gut check for those involved and for the church as a whole to support it.
What needs to be born, what needs to have its life celebrated and what might need to be resurrected?
I may sound old fashioned, but I absolutely believe there is still absolute Truth. There are theological truths that I rarely waiver on.
What i was referring to in my original post can be called “little “t” truth” or peas and carrots. Here is the problem I run into; what is a pea to me can be a hunk of meat to you. I’ll give you an example using myself as the resident idiot. I was in a meeting full of guys and gals who serve in the family ministiries area of our church. We were studying 1 Peter and got into a discussion about women in leadership. I made the comment that I wish this would all go away so we could get on to bigger and better things. One of the females remarked, “of course it is not a big deal to you!” I responded with “touche”. She was very right. I’m male and white, so it’s easy for me to gloss over all kinds of issues.
last point: You may disagree with me,but here is how I have defined the meat from the peas. If it is salvific, then it is meat. If it is not, then it’s not.
You are right that as culture changes, the way we act out our life of faith can (and should) change. I guess that’s what being “relevant” is all about. However, we still need to reflect on what motivates our particular views on certain subjects: tithing, worship, women in leadership, homosexuality, the environment, etc. If we are not acting out of Christ’s Love, then we can assume that our cultural prejudices are getting in the way.
To me, that’s not being a “Cafeteria Christian.” My job, as I understand the Shorter Westminster Catechism is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” I am not sure I can adequately and faithfully accomplish this with prejudice in my heart.
So, I guess I have to ask the hard question: does my faith influence how I live in my particular cultural moment, or does my cultural moment dictate my faith? That’s a complex question, and I will constantly set myself up for ridicule if I say that my faith should always trump my culutral moment. But this is what I want for my life of faith–this is what I think Jesus says when he asks us to take up our cross . . .or, to “die to self.”
One last thing on the “women in church leadership” issue. The following passage comes from the “Brief Statement of Faith” of the Presbyterian Church (USA). It was created in the mid-80s and it can be used for public proclamation:
“We trust in God the Holy Spirit . . . the same spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles / rules our fatih and life in Christ through Scripture, / engages us through the Word proclaimed, / claims us in the waters of baptism, feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation, / and calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.”
That’s reconciliation. Amen.
Point #1: We live in a particular cultural moment. That means that all of our thoughts and actions are products of our environment: social, political, religious, pop-cultural, etc.
Point #2: Jesus preached and lived a counter-cultural Gospel. That means that what it means to be a Christ-follower is not always the same as what it means to be an American.
I make these two points because I constantly ask myself the following question: Are my thoughts on this (or any) particular issue a result of my understanding of the Gospel, or do I feel this way because of my cultural placement? In what ways does my faith (or understanding of the Gospel) come in direct conflict with my culture?
So, is the issue of women in church leadership a Biblical/theological/Christ issue, or is it a cultural issue? I argue that it is our cultural prejudice that keeps women out of the pulpit, not Jesus.
Dad mentioned the other night that this discussion is exactly what this blog is all about. This is the threshing floor where it is vital to find the Truth in cultural squabbles.
Props for Nate being so vulnerable. Not much gets accomplished if we can’t be real.