Tag Archives: church

“I Got Bored with Relevance and Just Wanted Truth”

…A first time visitor to The Bridge made this statement to me following our gathering this Sunday

It struck me that she made a distinction between truth and relevance.

She was a very engaging, obviously intelligent women, and she has come to understand what the church has been selling for some time: truth and relevance are different.

How did we get to the place where a relevant church was not a church that stood on and preached strong Bible?

I was thrilled she was at our community, and thrilled she enjoyed it, but I hated the experience she had with church.  She has attended a huge local church before spending some time in Seattle, and attending Mars Hill, and coming to see a difference she had been feeling for some time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not drinking the haterade…I have no beef with mega churches, or even with seeker sensitive churches.  I think to a large degree they serve a purpose within the universal church by more effectively attracting the unchurched and dechurched.

At the same time, if I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times…”I just felt like I graduated”…”I just needed more”…”something was missing”…

How are we as a community going to correct the misconception that truth IS the most relevant thing we can provide someone.  The two are not different…and if it is not founded in truth, no matter has slick, flashy, or cutting edge…IT ISN”T RELEVANT!

Are we to simply come to see different churches serving different purposes?

Are “relevant” churches in need of a truth makeover?

Are “truth” churches in need of a relevance makeover?

What has been your experience?  What are your thoughts?

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What I Have Learned Doing Pre-Marital Counseling

Being a pastor has given me the opportunity to spend time with couples at important times in their relationships…

Many times, post wedding, the time I spend with them is during a difficulty or tragedy, but there are occasions when I get to spend time with a couple that is engaged to be married, doing their counseling, and sometimes, having the honor of marrying them

As with anything we do in repetition, patterns emerge, and in counseling I have noticed three: one discouraging and convicting, the other two very encouraging and hopeful

1.  Christian couples are the most difficult to counsel.

For more reasons than the length of this post permits, Christians tend to be defensive.  Sometimes it is guilt and shame.  Sometimes it is an expectation they think you hold.  Sometimes it is an expectation they hold.

Christians tend to struggle admitting areas they struggle, and will at times lie to hide things they feel like shed a negative light on them or their relationship.  It is frustrating for them and me, and feels like playing chess.   There are times when at a stale mate you have to allow them their path, knowing it contradicts God’s plan and will result is pain.

This is not to say I haven’t spent time with amazing couples. I am counseling a young couple right now…they are great, and are going to be a fabulous married couple that God uses.  In my experience, the tendency exists with any Christian couple…some just fight is better, or have less they cover, have less expectation, or haven’t been in the church long enough to know better.

2.  Couples who are not Christ followers are easier, more honest, and less defensive.

Because they either reject or do not know the standard of the Bible (or the church) those apart from Christ are remarkably honest.  They tell you their wounds, experiences, failures, thoughts.  Because you are a pastor they feel safe with you, and shoot incredibly straight.  They are generally open to new ideas or even conflicting worldviews.  Not knowing that they “should” feel bad, they don’t, even if they voice displeasure with their actions or belief.

I know there is debate about pastors marrying people apart from Christ…I simply do not understand what the question is.  People are willing to spend time with you, be honest about times of influence in their lives, and invite you to speak into their lives while being a part of one of the most significant days of their lives.

Truth is, I would rather spend the time with this kind of couple

Truth is, I am troubled that there are so few of these type of couples in the church

Truth is, I am not sure I am this type of couple

3.  Couples who are not Christ followers believe the Bible without knowing it.

I have been able to spend time with “mature couples” and young couples that are a apart from Christ, and I have found two things

-The Bible makes sense to them, and betters their marriage when they follow it.  Often times, not even knowing the what the Bible says, its truths resonate with them when its principles are presented to them

-Couples who have had time and experience (good or bad) sound very Biblical when they talk about how marriage should be.  I was able to spend time with a woman who had been married a few times, and was entering into another marriage.  As she talked about what she would like her next marriage to be I could not believe how much her thoughts were right out of God’s word.

The whole experience makes me love God’s word…

God, in creating marriage, knows the very best way to be married, to be a husband, and to be a wife.  God knows how to make our marriages healthy, happy, and expressions of His goodness and grace.  The Bible talks in great detail about how this can occur.  Anyone who hears His thoughts knows this, and anyone who has followed His ways has experienced this.

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I Do Not Believe in House Churches

We seemed adequately warmed up in the present blog series, so I will let er’ loose…

Before all you missional, house church guys freak out: of course I believe in house churches IF…those doing them feel they are following God’s plan and will for them in doing so

This is of course subjective…and between them and God (not for me to judge)

BUT…when was the last time you heard someone talk about house church in this way?  When was the last time they said they felt God leading them to be a part of a house church, or to start a house church?

On the flip side, how many house churches are started by, and attended by people completely infuriated/wounded/burned out with the “institutional church”?

How many people house church out of reaction?

Can you imagine if we said…

My 401K is a mess right now, I am going to stop saving?

My kids are out of control right now, I am giving them up for adoption

You get the point…

But this is exactly what we do with the church!

C hurch sucks, church is broken, church is hypocritical…I am just going to house church

I am not saying house church is not church

I fact, I deeply respect guys like Neil Cole, and Alan Hirsch who feel like it is an effective model to reach this generation

BUT…my concern is that many of the prophetic voices in the church have reached a point of anger, and rather than staying and helping reform, they are “leaving”!

The church has ALWAYS relied on these perspectives…have you heard of Martin Luther. What if he had unplugged, just done church where and with whom he felt comfortable?

Can we please…

-Please stop using the “first century church didn’t have buildings and met in houses, so so should we” argument, as though the early followers of “the way” could have leased a store front or rented out the local pagan temple. It was culture, not principle. Certainly we have gone insane with the buildings idea, and the money we put into them, BUT, you don’t stop have buildings to address this…you stop being stupid about buildings and start using the money on people instead of brick and mortar

-Ask if  church has EVER been for you? Or has it rather been an outlet for you to serve with your talents and gifts? It seems that house church can tend to be about lessening the opportunity to be annoyed because I like everyone I church with. It seems it can be about me growing instead of you growing. It seems that it can be so I can feel authentic. But has church ever been about that? Hasn’t the church always worked off of the idea that the sum was more important, and that loving service was the highest virtue?

-Please, prophetic voices…stay. Please, no more parting shots at the church on my way out the door, and to house church with my pals. My respect for Luther, even though I disagree with the church he stayed in, he chose to stay and reform rather than react, leave, and criticize.

Also, if you are a lead guy, don’t push your prophets to the fringe, welcome them in, allowing their gifts and voice to strengthen the church.

-Don’t give up on us. We are messy, but we can be and do something beautiful

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I Believe… (The Church)

OK, first post for the “I Believe” series…

thought we could move in slow, before we start talking about speaking in tongues, women in church leadership, and Calvinism

I Believe…in the church

I believe in the entire idea…churches of every kind, every size, in houses, warehouses, buildings with steeples, in schools, theaters, and store fronts.

I hear people say all the time: “the system is broken”

The system isn’t broken, the people in the system are broken

Church is like anything else…put a bunch of people in one room together, and at some point the fact that we are prideful, fallen, wicked sinners is going to expose itself.

Truth is, people quit church, blame church, and accuse church, when the problem isn’t the idea…the problem is them…the problem is people

Church is just an easy target for those of us who are fed up with living in a broken, sinful world…and the part we play in it

I am not saying that church is perfect.  Far from it

Especially in the west, church is painfully inept, painfully prideful, painfully self centered, and consumerist.

But the doesn’t mean the idea isn’t perfect…

to take a group of people, all redeemed, all restored, all new creatures in Christ, and put them in pockets of every community in the world as the physical, tangible, observable manifestation of the truth and love of Jesus

Al Queda has ripped the idea from the Bible, and created a terrorist group that is impossible to destroy…if you defeat one group, two pop up in place of the one you destroyed, while at the very same time ten new, unconnected groups are created in the next nzip code.

its genius!

Problem is…well you

and me

The church isn’t the problem, the system isn’t broken, they aren’t the problem…I’m the problem

I want to be right

I want to be comfortable

I want to be entertained

I want to be free to do what I want

I want to… (the list of “I wants” could go on and on)

Here is what I have found: People (including me) want the benefit of a biblical church without the bummer of actually being part of that church existing.  We want the benefit without the time, sweat, and tears

If you don’t like the church you are at…find one you do

If you can’t serve at the church you are at…find one you can

and if after ten or fifteen attempts you still haven’t, if may not be the churches, it may be the “I wants”

I know the church is a mess…I just think it is a beautiful mess…

Rather than throw stones at it, I want to help heal it…

But that doesn’t start with you, it starts with me

That doesn’t start with them, it starts with us

Please, we do not need one more book on how much the church sucks…we get it, we know…

we need 100 more books on how the church can be what God envisioned it to be

At the end of it all…if you hate the church, you do so in direct opposition to the perspective of Jesus, who loved, died for, and gave Himself to the church

To be grieved is different than hate or even indifference

I think Jesus is grieved by the church in the west, but He desperately loves her, and would never give up on her

I know the list of those wounded by the church is endless…I HAVE BEEN WOUNDED BY THE CHURCH!

I know countless people who have a church story…I HAVE A CHURCH STORY!

I hope that  we can realize, that the church isn’t the problem…the idea, isn’t the problem…its actually the solution

When the church is what God describes it is an agent of redemption, of restoration, of truth, of hope, of grace, of love…

I believe in that

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I Want to Be a Part of a Church…

that seeks truth

I am not interested in a church that does not give highest priority to their pursuit of truth

Honestly, what would be the point

I am not talking about pursuing what is true…the facts of a time or culture…I am talking about pursuing the truth…the overarching, timeless, transcending, understanding of the way things are

In the Old Testament truth is “firm/reliable/stable”

In the New Testament truth is: “disclosed/available”

I am talking about foundational, reliable truth that is available to anyone who is interested in it…not beliefs that change with time or are reserved for a select few

In the Gospels Pontius Pilate asks Jesus a question that is still applicable to today’s time…”what is truth”

It was a question that Jesus had already answered in two ways:

Truth is a person

Truth is that person’s words

Those that seek truth seek to know a person, and seek to hear what that person says

As in any relationship there will be times when we love, and are encouraged by what we see and hear…so anyone who is seeking truth will have to come to realize that their journey will include their acceptance that truth will sometimes be their friend, and will other times be their adversary

In the book of Genesis Jacob wrestles with God…and God lets Him.  

God throws Jacob, and allows Jacob to throw Him

What a great picture of how we ought to approach our truth journey.

Their will be times when the person of truth, and the word of truth will be a warm blanket, an welcome friend, or an encouraging word…there will be other times when truth will be a punch in the face, or a fight that wears you out and puts your hip out of joint

People that seek truth are willing to have both in their life

I want to be a part of a church that seeks truth…all truth…from all sources…

that when they hear truth in a song, a book, a statement, or movie (regardless of who said it) they identify it as an echo of their Savior’s words, and they claim it, and wrestle with it, and fight it, and allow it to challenge and change them 

I want to be a part of a church that holds truth with white knuckles, while at the same time never believes that it originated with them or makes them superior…

I want to be a part of a church like that

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Proposition 8 and Gay Marriage

On November 4th our country elected its first African American President.  It was a historic step in addressing our horrific history of racial prejudice and injustice.  

For many, the day was marred by the passing of a ban on gay marriage in Florida and California.  The proposition has ignited a fire storm nationwide, with many pundits weighing in…

protests getting heated and violent…

a nationwide protest tour covering “every major city in our country”

and many placing the blame at the feet of the church  (of any denomination)

To be honest, I did not see this one coming…I assumed Florida would ban gay marriage, but was shocked when California voted yes on proposition 8.  

On November 23rd we will be tackling the issue of gay marriage at The Bridge, and I am looking for input from anyone who cares to weigh in…

How should the church respond to this issue?

What are your thoughts on the role of government in this arena?

What thoughts or questions do you have?

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Church and Politics Quiz

With the DNC going on in Denver, and the election gearing up to the media frenzy it will become, I thought it would be interesting to get your position on the church and politics.  The Leadership Journal created a set of questions to help identify a person’s position on the matter.  The polar ends are two-fold: politically engaged or politically disengaged…and prophet or chaplain.

My results said that I believed the church should be neither engaged or disengaged, (in my words: no corporate expression, but significant individual expression) and that the church should take a prophetic stance rather than the stance of a chaplain. These results dubbed me a “quiet critic”, but on the line of being a “radical reformer”. Here is the link for the quiz.

How did you score and what are your thoughts?

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