Wednesday, June 29, 2011

what were you thinking?

If you'd never been to church or had any friends or history there, what would you expect it to be like? It seems the only attention the church is given in movies and TV is the Catholic church, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've been in one in my life. So, what is a place you would want to go and just hang out?
I bet it would be like a combination concert/sporting event/bar. Cheers always said a place "where everybody knows your name." For me, it would have to have great music. I mean, at least semi professional level musicians-people that wouldn't be out of place in a bar band. There would need to be general excitement and proper publicity for when these meetings were going to take place. There would also need to be elements of my world there-a little of the regular music I love, the TV and movies I watch-that kind of stuff. This would be included in the sermons, and we'd all get to preach if we wanted to. I mean, not all at the same time but there shouldn't be significant separation between the people and the staff of the church. Sermons would cover growing as a follower of Jesus stuff as well as becoming a follower.
There would also need to be places where we could get together apart from these big group meetings. Places and times designed to help people really get to know each other and be open and honest. Getting together over good food and adult beverages and maybe an after dinner cigar. Opportunities for people to let their hair down in a Jesus-following environment. I'm kind of an academic type so I like to read really good books on philosophy/apologetics-type stuff and I'd love to talk about them with other like minded people. Seems it might be nice to me to do this with other guys since I know my wife might like a similar experience with other women.
Anyway, pleasant dreaming, no?

Onward and upward

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

on being the new kid

Everyone will probably be one once. The brand new person that nobody knows anything about. Nowhere to sit in the lunchroom-you don't know what other kids are like you. But it happens all your life. And so few of us will ever have a chance to let people know who we really are without an extended introduction period that lasts until the natives say it's over. And that can last literal years. But isn't it so nice when one of those natives accepts you ahead of time? Maybe you've had that experience-when someone reaches over and makes you feel welcome before their friends think you deserve it. Or starts including you in things before you have proven yourself worthy to other friends and colleagues.
If you're a Christ follower, be that person. REALLY love your neighbor-at work, at school, at church, and that club/thing you lead.

onward and upward

Sunday, June 26, 2011

a package deal

I don't know which is harder for people, going through bad fundamentalist phases as a Christian kid or finding out there are parts of the Bible you don't like as an adult. I know the cold alienation I got as a high school kid that told his friends they were living a wrong lifestyle. I didn't get invited to many parties where I would get the opportunity to turn down drinking, drugs, and premarital sex. But it must also be hard to have lived a life where most things were acceptable to find out since connecting with Jesus that some of your current lifestyle has always been holding you back. Or finding that you can't be as open minded as you thought you needed to be to be the coveted "politically correct" person you so value. Jesus never said being a Christian would be hard. He said it would be impossible. We do it with God and other Christians.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Worry, Atheist?

I thought this was a good article for those of us accustomed to being accosted by the atheist's fight against anything reeking of faith in God.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

assume the best

I think the internet has been really tough on personal relationships. I believe that those among us that are introverts and passive-aggressive conflict avoiders are much quicker to interpret what's been said as posts on twitter, Facebook, and blogs like this one. I would rather you dialog with me as to what I mean exactly rather than jump to conclusions that you know what I'm talking about. This blog is just me and my sometimes internal ramblings which may be raw and nervy at times. If we're really friends in the first place just talk to me if you think I'm going crazy. Having said all this...
I go to a great church. Ministry as a staff member AT ANY CHURCH has not been a good thing for me. All churches are limited by what they can do with secular, non-Jesus familiar people and therefore can't really do ministry as the New Testament speaks about. After all, we don't have community possessions and live together. That might make working out problems with each other a little easier. And a little harder. Working out problems with others is just hard, but if they're brothers and sisters in Jesus it's what we have to do. And hopefully we all care enough to do that.

Onward and upward

Monday, June 20, 2011

whatever is necessary

I kind of wanted to follow up on a post the from the other day. I don't know if the unrest I'm feeling is that I'm getting ready to start a church or just dissatisfaction. I just see ministry being done so poorly it just really makes me want to do it myself. As I said before, for me ministry is not in the church, and if all my work week is spent planning worship services, am I really hanging out with people that need to know Jesus? I don't think Jesus or Paul spent all week planning a worship service or their next series of sermons. I think it was spent hanging out with people that wanted a life change. I know pastors have to stick with denominational standards so they can't exactly hang out with non-followers of Jesus in a bar or where "evil" things might happen. I and others that feel like me don't have those hangups. I feel that I learned a lot of these ideas from Blue Like Jazz, which as I understand will be out in theaters as a movie soon. I think it changed me forever, maybe some not in a good way.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

not legit

I have a lot of friends who are in the ministry full-time, as a life and career choice. It was a choice that I thought I'd made too at one time in my life, but God had other plans, and I was driven off from almost every ministry job I ever had. Maybe I never had the personality to be a pastor, because I'm sure they know that the sheep are not always docile. I felt a need to confront people on their attitudes and behaviors, but maybe that's not what one does. Anyway, for me, I did not feel it was a legit career. Let me explain.
I did not like planning and reading. I loved preaching a weekly sermon but I still feel that the average church attender thinks pastoral staff only works one a day a week. I also wanted to be around non-Christians more, even though many of the people attending are nominal or non-Christians. So, if I ever do it again...
It won't be my day job. I will work at something that allows me to build relationships with those that don't know Jesus. I will eat with them, drink and smoke cigars with them, be a friend and confidant, and hopefully their preacher on the weekend. My faith will never be watered down and my character won't be compromised. Because this is my understanding of the early church fathers and even Jesus-they stood out for being different in character. But they related to normal people on their level, whatever they happened to be doing.
Singing tonight in a voice recital. My first ballad.

onward and upward

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ministering from the Outside

I hope this topic stays with the theme of my blog but I'm writing it on here anyway. It's very difficult to have been in professional ministry, whatever that is, and go back to being a church paean. I have so many ideas about things that would make the mission of the organization fulfilled, but no one to talk to about them. Or if there is talking there is no implementation.
I just read an interesting article by Perry Noble, the guy who pastors a complex of churches in South Carolina, about the things he wants from the people he works with. Where does that leave the people outside the professional staff? Did Paul or Jesus only work with the professionals or all those who were committed to the cause of seeing people become Christians and grow in that life? I'll bet it was the second one...
So, to all the pastors out there, remember those who were in ministry full-time but had to leave it for good reasons; maybe we have some good advice to offer. Or maybe we've already offered it and you haven't followed through. If you want those people to hang around maybe you should involve them. If not maybe they'll go somewhere they can be more involved.
But maybe this is just advice from someone that desperately needs a job to stop thinking about dead end issues, like what I used to do and where I used to be. I sure hope not.
Onward and upward.