Church

Teenager depressedI’d rather write about just about anything than this.  But Jesus said a few things about little ones and offenses and millstones, and I believe Him.

So can we talk about the secrets we keep?  And the ones we shouldn’t?

Last week a group of Evangelical leaders joined together to release a statement in conjunction with the American Association of Christian Counselors and an organization called GRACE, which stands for “Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.”

Boz Tchividjian, the executive director of GRACE, said of the statement, “To my knowledge, this is the first major public statement by the evangelical world regarding the horrors of sexual abuse within the church and the dire need to begin addressing this in a manner that loves and serves those who have been so hurt. This is a historic moment in the life of the Church.”

My God, what took us so long? And I do mean “us.” [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Church keep outA few years ago I was having coffee with an old friend and colleague.  I was in a pretty wounded state at the time, and felt compelled to tell him my story.  He was compassionate, listened attentively, then asked, “How can I help?”

“I was thinking about visiting your church,” I said, “and just wanted you to know.”

“Well, I’ll be honest with you,” he replied. “We’re not much of a healing place.”

Wow.  There it was.  Translation:  We’re more interested in fresh blood than spilled blood.  But to be fair, his church was and is true to its mission as they perceive it.  And at least he was kind enough to be honest.

For years I have heard the old saying, “The Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded.”  Let me say right up front, that’s not accurate.  If you really believe that, you’ve never been in a corporate “army” or a political one.  The wounded get eliminated there all the time.

But the church is supposed to be different, right?  We’re supposed to be trophies of grace, havens of love, lighthouses of hope and (make your own cliché here:  [blank] of [blank]).  So what’s up with that right foot of fellowship? [click to continue…]

{ 10 comments }

It was a new day at Grace Church.  A new pastor was coming, and this would be his first weekend.  People were excited, and they needed to be.  Grace had gone through an ugly split that had left a lot of angry, hurt, and confused people in its wake.  A pretty solid plug of people had started Faith Church down the road and had contacted the outgoing pastor from Grace to help them get started.  Some people had left for other churches.  Some people had quit attending anywhere.

One of the walking wounded was a former associate pastor – Chris Naylor.  Chris had received “the right foot of fellowship” from the previous administration.  Though he had found other opportunities for Kingdom service, Chris was still a member – at least on paper – at Grace.

That’s why I was a little surprised when I asked Chris and his wife Rachael if they were going to hear the new guy that weekend, and both immediately, categorically said, “No.”

Ooh.  Sorry I asked.

“My friends think I’m bitter,” Chris added.

“Are you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied honesty.  “How do you balance the fact that on the one hand I love the church and wish nothing but the best for them, but on the other hand, have absolutely no respect for their system of leadership or the choices they have made?”

“I don’t know.”

Chris was just getting warmed up as Rachael was tearing up. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

communityJan is a mother of four, two each from two failed marriages.  This morning, her 19-year-old lost his temper and verbally crushed his mother with a flurry of profanity and rage.  Jan wanted to die, literally. I got the call.

Last year, at the tender age of 44, Bruce became a husband for the first time.  Less than a month later, his bride, this time blushing with anger, ordered Bruce out of the house.  Their divorce was final last week.

Larry introduced himself to me by telling me how he was betrayed and fired by his corporate board.  Then he faced the most insidious wound of all – the church wound.  After months of being ostracized, the victim of church politics, Larry finally realized the need for a change. “When your wife has to take a tranquilizer on Sunday mornings just to go to church,” he said, “it’s time to do something different.”

All these people share two things in common.  First, they’re living in the Land of Nod (see the previous post).  The age that’s given us instant gratification, disposable everything, and technology-on-demand has elevated revolving door relationships to an art form.  The people I just introduced you to are Exhibit A.

Second, on Sundays they’re in our church.  [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

rejectionDear Daniel,

Thank you for taking the time to share your heart and concerns with me last week.  I respect your honesty, and am frustrated that you have experienced so many disappointments and hurts in your church relationships.  While I can relate to many of them, only you know how savagely this has impacted your life and the life of your family members.

I know it has to be a bit surreal to always feel as though, in your words, “you kept missing the memo” about what was expected beyond a simple faith in Christ.  And to be caught in between two conflicting women “leaders” had to have felt like a no-win situation.

I still don’t understand what the whole turf war stuff was all about.  But I do understand the tension between trying to show grace and love to someone in deliberate sin and yet not approving the lifestyle.  I guess until Jesus comes, we’ll still be arguing about that one. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

xmma-00145News Flash!  This just in…  In a shocking reversal of public opinion, somebody thinks something’s wrong with the church.

Here’s a blast from the past from an old B.C. Cartoon.  Picture the anthill, and the Dad ant poking his head out the top.  His teenaged son is coming back from the movies.

Dad:  “How was the disaster movie, son?”

Son:  “A disaster.”

Son:  “Why do they make so many disaster movies, Dad?”

Dad:  “So when Armageddon comes, we can all go back to sleep and say we’ve seen it already.”

I can see a 2009 update:

Dad:  “How was the disaster movie, son?”

Son:  “A disaster.”

Son:  “I thought we’d see a bunch of explosions, death and mayhem.”

Dad:  “Let me guess – you saw the Ted Haggard documentary instead.”

Pick your spot – inside the church or outside.  Mainline, sideline, or no-line.  House churches and megachurches.  Political and “news” organizations.  Cultural elitists and preachers.  Gay rights advocates and Fred Phelps.  Everybody seems to converge on one common opinion:

The church sucks. [click to continue…]

{ 10 comments }

null

In spite of all her lamentable weaknesses, appalling failures and indefensible shortcomings, the Church is the mightiest force for civilization and enlightened social consciousness in the world today.  The only force in the world that is contesting Satan’s total rule in human affairs is the church of the living God. -Paul Billheimer

What does it take to rouse a sleeping giant? 

Whatever it takes, I think now is the time.

One of the biggest clichés and repeated experiences in history is that of unrealized potential.  It’s one of the reasons I believe heaven will be a place in which God wipes every tear from our eyes.  When we see what was in light of what could have been – with our lives, and with our corporate potential – we will have no alternative but to weep.

For years, as a global body, the Western church has been asleep at the wheel or, worse, awakened to fight the wrong battles, the wrong enemy, or with the wrong weapons of warfare.  We’ve made an art form of “trivial pursuit,” and the world is worse off because of it.

The first Century Church didn’t keep up with its time, didn’t spend its energy keeping up with its time.  The first Century Church changed time.  It rewrote history.  It radically impacted culture.  The church was the forerunner, not the runner up. – Erwin McManus

If you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m referring to you.  I’m referring to me.  But the news isn’t all bad.  We serve a God who is wonderfully capable of  waking sleeping giants.  He did it on a national scale, both with His own nation and at times even with foreign, pagan countries.  And I believe He’s doing it today. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Hanukkah HamSeth Godin shared this head-turning picture taken at a market in Greenwich Village. Here’s an idea sure to get somebody a promotion – Hanukkah ham! Seth’s comment: “Sometimes a little knowledge isn’t such a good thing.”

Where would we be without ideas? And where would the good ideas be without a few Hanukkah hams thrown in for good measure? Pets.com, New Coke, Volkswagon’s “Thing” and ketchup-flavored potato chips come to mind. Seemed like good ideas to somebody at the time.

Years ago Mad Magazine did a list of ad slogans that never quite made it to TV. Things like: [click to continue…]

{ 10 comments }