Sunday, May 13, 2007

Are You Called To Start A Church?

Ok, here's my theory. Well, maybe it is not a theory so much as something I've observed several times and extrapolate to broader application (Yeah, that's a theory, right?). Here goes:

If you sit down and talk to people in their mid 20's who grew up going to church, you will find that for many, they at some point stopped going to chruch. Mosst of these will tell you that one of the main reasons they stopped was that they just didn't seem to fit, or that their seemed a lack of something real going on there and so they stopped, no anouncement, no declaration, they just stopped going. And if you ask them, the problem wasn't God, it wasn't Jesus. The probem was church -- even if they couldn't really explain what exactly it was. And, they felt a little guilty about it. Some of the these people are back at church, some arn't.

But, for ever one of these church disatisfied but not God disatisfied people, there are 15 or so others in thier sphere of influance, people who they grew up in church with, who had a similar experience, but were not so thoughtful about where the problem lay, instead they chucked it all -- God, Jesus, church. The put them all in the no or I don't know catagory. And they are not back in church.

That's my theory, this 1-15 ratio. People who are disatisfied with church but not God and people who are less thoughtful who have chucked the whole thing.

The theory gives rise to a call: While none of these 15 would go with you to church, they'd all come to your house -- if your one of the 1's (even on a regular basis) to share a meal, share concerns, share prayer requests, and even share questions about the Word, written and incarnate.


So We Tried To Stop Them

This morning I was reading in Luke 9 the sad, sadly funny and completely contemporary exchange where John comes up to Jesus to excitedly tell him the great thing he had done for the cause: "I saw people doing kingdom work, but they weren't part of our team, so I stopped them." The bible merely says that Jesus told John not to stop them, because if they are not against us they are for us -- you've all heard the quote. But I wonder what his expression was, or what else was going through his head. I think that maybe he looked at John like I look at my dog when he gets all tangled up in his leash. He does it time and time again, and it is so stupid, but I love him and untangle him.

This week I heard about a controversy at a church we are close to. They are having a conference with the subtitle "Are Science and Faith Compatible?" I did not know that that question was still up in the air, but that is another post. The point of this is the controversy -- hostility and threats from the church, threats to resign membership and more. The young pastor who was put in charge of the conference at the last minute and has received dozens of hostile e-mails, said, "This was supposed to be an event to bring non-Christians to and now I'm afraid our members are going to picket."

So, you ask, what is this huge controversy? One of the speakers believes in an old earth (and our church's official position -- if we even have one -- is a new earth, literal 24 hour day creation and all). And so, we are allowing someone to speak on a Wednesday night who does not believe exactly as the church does (even though he is not speaking on anything related to old/new earth!) And so he must be stopped, the conference must be stopped.

One exchange took place at the end of one of the largest (hundreds of folks) Sunday school classes. One of the lay leaders loudly telling others that he had resigned his membership because "(the senior pastor) lied to me, he said we would never have anybody in the pulpit who did not believe that the bible is the infallible word of God." This over a guy who believes that God might have created the earth in days that were longer than 24 hours. Now, that issue for me, I don't really care. God created it and that is a wonderful thing. But the hostility that has in this case risen to the surface -- we will stop the work of the kingdom if it is not done by people who are with us -- it's really sad.

This story is merely the dirty laundry of one unnamed church (it could be many church's), but it is a symptom of the inward, inbred, nature of so many communities of faith. Jesus started his ministry proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was among the people of his day and that he must go and proclaim that good news. Well, the Kingdom of God is still among us, and now we are charged to proclaim that good news. When we stop those who are doing Kingdom work, or we fight against those doing Kingdom work, or gossip about or look down our noses at those doing Kingdom work, because they are not part of our particular tribe, stripe or group we are quite frankly working against God's kingdom, rather than for it.

I guess that's all I have to say about it. Let's all look for opportunities to partner with someone who is doing Kingdom work -- maybe they don't even know they are doing kingdom work.

What a head scratcher it will be for them when you tell them.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Where Has Civility Gone?

So, I try not to post on dialysis days -- the mind just doesn't work well and the energy level too low and the quality suffers. But, this short post could not wait -- WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS DISTURBING CONTENT.

After dialysis today, my family made a stop at the always pleasant Costco. While there . . . to put it delicately . . nature called. I opened the door and . . . ok, I'll just say it, some animal of a human being had peed all over the seat. Apparently he could not use a urinal and upon his choice to use a stall could not be bothered to lift up the seat -- even with his foot. "What an animal," I said out loud.

Dumbfounded, I told my tale of broken humanity to Kelly upon my exit. Her response? "I don't want to hear about this, put it on your blog."

Done and done.