Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keep "X" in X-Mas

What? Surely now I have fallen off my rocker by making a graphic that says, “Keep “X” in X-Mas.” Well…that really isn’t the case. You may be asking "What is Bob and 'That's Not my God' doing?" I am choosing to join in the celebration of this sacred holiday with those from centuries ago in the purest fashion by calling it “X-Mas” this year. Don't worry...I am not really going to call it that in conversation...I still love calling it Christmas.

I realize this makes Christians downright militant when they see this. However…I could explain but why reinvent the wheel? Here is Christian author, R.C. Sproul’s writing on this very topic, which I have stood by for years.

“The simple answer to your question is that the X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don’t see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.”

So join me as we celebrate our Savior’s birth this “X-Mas” and live the life worthy of the calling!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Doctors Are Ungodly...Nurses? Yep.

So how many times have you sat through a testimony time at church, with friends or in a prayer group and someone inevitably says, “the doctor gave me no hope of living. God did a miracle and the doctor was astounded!”? Many I have known take the stance of the title to this blog. I want to discuss why that is wrong.

To be brutally honest I never really gave this much thought in the past. Fact of the matter is I guess in my “everyone’s going to hell unless you save them” upbringing I just assumed that doctors for the most part are non-believing people. I mean, I am a product of the “Evangelism Explosion” era. It was pretty much engrained in my head (along with many others) that when you are doing street witnessing and talk to someone…you just assume they are going to Hell (especially those standing at a bus stop). I remember being a teenager and one guy at a bus stop said “I attend church over at…….”. The adult that was with me laid into him about “many people go to church and still go to Hell.” How disturbing! It really was the mindset that if you don’t attend MY church then que up the AC/DC because you are on a “Highway to Hell.”

Now…back to doctors and nurses. Why is it that Christians assume just because a doctor has given them a grim prognosis they must not be a Christian? This usually results in the patient trying to convert them with phrases like “NO…I simply won’t accept that…MY GOD IS BIGGER THAN THIS AND YOU!” There was one person who told the doctor “wait until you see what God will do with me and this cancer…than you will believe!” With statements like that why do we wonder why Christians are looked at as jerks these days.

Doctors and people in the medical field operate and a whole different intellectual level when it comes to discussion on such topics. To tell a doctor, nurse or anyone that has studied biology and cells that you need “faith like a mustard seed (not much)" would be the wrong answer. A person that has studied cells, biology, etc. will in fact tell you the mustard seed is in fact NOT the smallest seed but rather one of the larger ones…therefore you need A LOT of faith.  A person going through the terminal illness is just one person. One person wrapped up in themself is a very small package. When something great does happen or they see progress in their healing rightfully so it is there world. They are consumed by it and it changes their life. A doctor and her staff tend to see MANY people in a day, week or year. In their world I am quite sure they are happy when a miraculous healing happens. However….I am quite positive they see many more cases where nothing did happen and the prognosis is what it is. It very well may be that Aunt Ruth was a solid Christian and the healing never came. It’s as if a Christian is trying to convert the medical staff over someone who has cancer. We simply assume the doctor or nurse doesn’t know Jesus, which is why they are not talking about him when discussing the patients illness/treatment plan.

Let me ask you a question. When you have a brain tumor forming or in need of a major physical healing or simply shattered your leg on a worksite…would you rather the doctor spring into action with his/her God given medical gifting’s or have them come in and say, “you know…I am a believer and well…let’s just trust Jesus for a healing. On your way now.” I am opting for the first one. I am not going to assume anything about my doctor or the nurses regarding their belief system because a)I don’t know them well enough to state pious Christian clichés to them and b) OW…I need help now and if God is so inclined to perform a miracle…BONUS! Perhaps the miracle is in the doctor using his/her God given gifting to heal me. We preach it often don’t we “you may be the answer to someone’s prayer.” Guess what? That doctor or nurse is a "someone" and can very well be answer to your prayers as well. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Blame the Youth Pastor

Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not my fault” before? Chances are if you are a parent or had siblings growing up then you heard it and used it. I recall seeing a billboard a few years ago that had that very saying on it followed by “it’s the American way.” This got me thinking for some time now that this line gets used a lot in the church world as well.

Before I became the lead pastor of a church I was a youth pastor for 9 years. It is true that I do youth ministry once again along with pastoring a church and I must admit it is kind of fun. In talking to other youth pastors and having this happen to myself on occasion it is funny how some kids grow up in church and because they either didn’t care or simply were brats in their kid/teen days they blame the youth pastor on their lack of spiritual maturity. This happens with some adults as well with their pastor.

Now, I have always been of the mindset that a youth pastor should not be teaching anything that isn’t already being taught in the home. There are exceptions to this rule. Especially if the home the teen comes from a home that simply has no biblical foundation. However most of the times when I have heard this blame game being used…it is usually from a person that grew up in a nice middle class home and was simply a brat during their younger days. Now perhaps this person/persons had a wake up call and suddenly became a stronger Christian. It seems odd that they would immediately point to their youth pastor as the reason for the lack of their spiritual maturity in those days. A youth pastor should never take the place of a parent therefore if it is indeed needed to point the finger at someone it should be the parents because almost 9 times out of 10 attitude reflects leadership (which begins in the home).

In the church world I believe we place WAY to high of a priority on the youth pastor to raise our teens. This really needs to begin in the home less (like I stated above) the kid comes from a non-Christian home.

Even in the teenage years a kid has to take ownership for his/her own spiritual maturity. James 1:22-25(NIV) says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Nowhere in this passage does it say “teens are exempt.” I have seen my fair share of teenagers that have gone onto awesome things. Some have become pastors, worship leaders, mechanics, etc.  Many of them knew who God was even in their teen years and therefore grew from it. Some have walked away from God or the church because they simply are not interested and what I find interesting is that they do not blame the youth pastor. Then there are those who were simply bratty, hard headed, and obnoxious who in their teen years never took their relationship with Christ seriously. No pastor or youth pastor could have swayed them because they were in a hard season of their life. It took the power of the Holy Spirit to change their lives and what do they do in return? Blame others for their lack of maturity then.

We have to be careful and own up to our past. There is no reason to blame it on someone else. Simply look back at where we came from and look to where we are going and OWN IT! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sadomaschist Christians

Catchy title isn’t it? Perhaps the title is a bit edgy but none the less true in my opinion. Let me give the definition of masochism according to m-w.com: “the derivation of pleasure from the infliction of physical or mental pain either on others or on oneself.”

I do not plan on going off on a rant about kinkiness or anything like that (I’ll save that for my marriage blog hehe)…rather I want to talk about this movement of people that meets every Sunday in many different buildings they mistakingly call the church. Don't forget...people are the church...not bricks. These are people that think every time they get beat up they are having an encounter with God. If for some reason they do not feel pain then they feel sorely neglected and perhaps made to feel like a major sinner. They enjoy being yelled at the entire message because if they are not hurt by the message than perhaps they did not hear from God.

I ran across a quote today posted to my ministries website (www.thatsnotmygod.com) that said this, “Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you...He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you; he hates them too. God hates--right now, personally, objectively--hates some of you. He has had enough...YOU are the problem, not the solution....God doesn’t just hate what you do, he hates what you are!”

I will not say who said this because I prefer not to give him the publicity though many already know who it came from. What I find interesting about this quote is that it is not out of the norm for him or others to say this kind of thing and get a rousing “AMEN!” This was stated not in a church of 100 people but rather a church of thousands of people. This almost motivates me to get behind my pulpit….er….um….rocked out music stand and be a complete and total hard-nose lacking in scriptural knowledge. It seems more times than not if you are loud, mean, scripturally challenged and a lacking in grace pastor that you could end up with a large church!

Now this is what I read in the red letters of the Bible. Matthew 11:29 says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Now if you are like me you have heard that the “yoke” is something heavy and because Jesus was a carpenter he probably made many heavy yokes. However Torah teachers (Rabbis, ie. Jesus) would teach the accepted interpretations or yoke of their community. Jesus invitation to those who listened to many teachers and interpretations helps establish him as a Rabbi would present an interpretation that was easy and light (to understand not necessarily to do) (Matt. 13:11-30). Therefore, he was probably not speaking to unsaved people bogged down with sin but people unsure of the many interpretations they heard in the great religious debate in Galilee.

However, many times people quote and therefore base their theology on Psalms 5:5 “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong.” SEE…GOD HATES YOU BECAUSE YOU SIN! Now I believe Psalms to be a very inspiring book of the Bible and would teach from it proudly. However to base a theology off of one of the most emo people in the Bible is probably not the wisest thing in the world to do. There is a simple phrase going on here we are familiar with, it goes like this “you are putting words in my mouth.” Now…imagine God and David sitting down at the great Starbucks in the sky ready to have a little coffee talk (insert Mike Myers Jewish joke here). Do you think God might say to David “um…perhaps you were putting words in my mouth.” In my opinion I think he would.

Sadly each Sunday people come in to buildings and want to be beat down. What is even sadder about this scenario is that people will then mistake a ranting leader at an altar call as having a God experience when in fact God may have left the building. I have been guilty of making some ignorant comments in the heat of the moment. I am leading a youth group again while pastoring a church and as I look at some of the messages I spoke on during the old days of youth pastoring….I have no other choice than to throw them out.

We need to stay educated on the Bible and what it says. So put your latex wear away, leave your whips and chains at home and come to a place where you hear about the red letter Jesus. Will the teachings always be mushy leaving you with a squishy feeling….no…not all the time. The concepts should be easy to understand…perhaps the difficulty is putting it into action. Let me state it this way. A pastor may make it very difficult for people to live out the simple teachings of Christ because they expect change in one meeting at the altar before they leave the building. This is the end result of the Billy Graham generation we live in. "If you don't change RIGHT NOW you have sin issues." What? I think it becomes much easier to put the teachings of Christ into action when we are free to continue on with our journey WORKING OUT our salvation taking things one step at a time. It is true we should work on it and not be lazy but I am pretty sure if you don’t change THAT MOMENT a bus probably won’t hit you on the way home from church.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Building Projects and Burnout

I love the outward example of a revival in the book of Nehamiah but first let me give a sketchy history of Ezra. He had come back to Jerusalme to revive the people who had come back from Babylon to rebuild the temple. This temple was destroyed before they were taken into captivity. But they had gotten into the mundane phase of the building program and they began to fall away from God and intermarry with the people around them. Ezra came back and he began to read the word again and brought a sort of revival to those who were again building the temple. The temple wasn't the only thing destroyed back before they were brought into captivity. All the walls around the city were destroyed as well. Nehamiah had a passion to rebuild those walls and got permission from the king of Persia and he got it. The whole book of Nehamiah is about one of the most amazing construction project that has happened in history. With what he had, he rallied the people and completed the reconstruction of the walls in a record time. The whole first half of the book of Nehamiah is about how that happened. But...just like the temple as soon as the project was completed the people began to slack in their walk with God. This is often the case when we set up a physical goal and when it is met we can easily begin to decline spiritually.

Just today I ran across an article talking about how long a pastor stays after a building project. Unfortunatley some are a victim to the process and don't make it to see the completion. What is even more interesting is that often times within 2 years of that project being done the pastor will resign and go to another church or do a complete job switch. Why? What might happen is that they get jazzed up with their people on a physical goal and when that goal is met there is nothing there to keep them motivated. If they don't keep the spiritual goal the priority then when the physical goal is met there is nothing and a kind of depression sets in. This is what happened in Nehamiah's day. The wall was up the city was finished but the people lost their connection with God. When you come to the end of the book you find that not only was their a need for the reconstruction of the walls but the reinstruction of the people. So once again Ezra is the man. The people come to Ezra and they begin to get back into what matters....what God has to say. In other words to keep the main thing the main thing....ministry. When they got back to this a sort of revival broke out.

What can be a sad thing looking at this story and statistic is that I and maybe you have seen it happen. You end up getting the churches that live from capital campaign to capital campaign. From one building project to another they are constantly pursuing a physical goal mislabeling physical growth for spiritual growth. This simply is not the case and cannot be the case. It would be interesting to me to see some of these churches that are building without truly needing to, to do a capital campaign in their church in order to wipe out poverty/debt within their congregation (a sort of jubilee). To see if people would pledge as much not to see a big elaborate new sidewalk going into their church or new building but rather pay off a widows home within the church. The spiritual goals will always give more gas to a church body than a physical goal. Sure it is nice to have new with the latest and greatest. I think it is necessary to be a good steward of what we have. However, would some of the money we drop into a church building program make even King Solomon blush? If we could talk to some of the saints that have gone on before us or even Jesus for that matter and say, "1, 2, 3, or 20 million dollar building project or fight social injustices (starting first in the church...I am a big advocate for helping those within the family)?" I think I know what they would say and I think I could show you a church body that is on such a spiritual high that no building program could ever duplicate. I opt for spiritual goals.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Perhaps Missing the Basics

So the other day I am sitting under our swingset on the built in picnic table with my kids. We were having a good ol’ picnic style lunch on potentially one of the last warm days of the season. I unwrapped two Lunchables…the Capri Suns and some veggies. The whole time I am doing this they were just going to town on it all. As I was watching them eat and laugh I began to think that we as Christians could learn a lot from children. The cliché thing to talk about right now would be laughing, not taking life seriously but for me the biggest one is to simply have faith.

My kids will often times remind me when they are hungry. They also know that all they have to do is ask and it requires ZERO faith on their part that we will actually have something for them. It may not be exactly what they want but they will get something to eat. They fully rely on Tracy and I to take care of them. All they need to do is ask and know we will supply their needs.

I am reminded in Matthew 6:25-27,34(NIV) states “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Us as Christians can be SO good at pointing out the sin in others or talk about issues that are so far-fetched I wonder if we even believe what we are talking about. For that matter we are great at even talking about lifestyles others live or moral standards other people have because they don’t line up with our biased Christian life. Personally I think the biggest area a Christian struggles in BAR NONE is to “not worry about tomorrow.”

It seems we are wired to worry. We worry about current events, end times, our daily lives, money, retirement, kids future, what movie we will see, etc. I would not be so naïve as to say we ought not to plan a bit. What I would say though is we ought to quit worrying so much. If you and I fully trust God….I mean really trust God beyond what any cliché might say…then we need to let God take care of us. I do not think we have the right as a Christian to talk about others until we get the fundamental basics down in our own life. Personally I like the motto of some of my guy church friends that say, "it is what it is."

Do we love God? Do we trust God? Then don’t worry. Do be dumb, but don’t worry. Remember in the past all of the times God has come through for you? I think he will do it again. My kids have no need to worry about whether or not they will eat, have clothes or a home to live in. I literally want them to go through life being wise but having fun while letting me take care of them until they can take care of themselves. I pray that at that point they will return the favor when they become married and have children. Worry can stifle us and hold us in complete bondage if we let it. Trust in God.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Halloween Series (said in Vincent Price voice)

It has been awhile since my last blog…pretty much the only reason is that I have had nothing to say. However, there are a few things that I am excited to talk about now. The first would be the, October series we announced last Sunday at Radiant Fellowship. You see many churches and Christians will do everything under the sun at Halloween and label it as “harvest party” or “candy carnival” or "Harvest Carnival" or other things. We have decided to just call it what it is…a Halloween series. Our outreach during trick or treating will simply be called a Halloween party (complete with bon-fire...have you looked up the origin of bon-fires? Perhaps we should call them "Harvest fires"?).

I recall serving in a church where if you even printed on orange paper during the month of October it would be frowned upon. This was simply silly. There are all kinds of arguments one could make that if you do a Halloween party than you are worshiping the devil. Let me share with you a note from a lady at our church in her 50’s that I got the other day after we unveiled the series.

“I really like your take on Halloween. For years we did Halloween Barns for the church we went to. One of my Baptist friends asked why I was worshiping the devil. I just said they must know more about devil worship then me, cause I was giving the kids a safe place to dress up in costumes to play while getting food for the food pantry, and just what does devil worship look like? So we are looking forward to your Oct series.”

This gives me great hope as we will be reaching many people with this series that the church may tend to run and hide from. Each week is the title of a classic rock song and I will be sharing a message that parallels it doused with scripture (I threw that last bit in there for those who like mention me in their church messages). The worship team will be playing each song before I speak…it is going to be a great time of deep study and the avid music lover will really dig it.

Week 1: California Dreaming….Topic: Letting go of the past.

Week 2: Shooting Star…Topic: Dealing with casualties of life.

Week 3: Enter Sandman…Guest speaker Mike Barden

Week 4: Sound of Silence…Hearing God when it is quiet

Week 5: Welcome to My Nightmare (title of the series): ….Guest Speaker Pastor Bob Beeman.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oddly Conservative: Parents and Kids

So here goes part 3 of my “oddly conservative” blog series. What I find interesting about this so far is the amount of input I have gotten from a crowd I have not heard from before. I enjoy being a free thinker/free believer and stretching…wrestling…debating theological issues. All you have to do is hang out with me for a bit and you will find this out. I really don’t get offended by a whole lot, especially other people’s opinions or doctrinal beliefs. In fact I welcome it because I may learn something along with the way. I have to be careful though because though I label myself as one...even free thinkers/free believers can be some of the most close minded people. If your experience does not align with theirs and you still see the cup as half full...you are in trouble. I will say that sadly those who have had nothing but good experiences or hide the bad ones can come across as pompous and arrogant which drives me nuts.

The thing that I see quite a bit since I was a youth pastor beginning in 1995 is the after school activities ramping up. Do you remember when soccer and other sports NEVER met on Wednesday nights? If you do you might even remember when stores were closed on Sundays. This is where I become “old school” and again…it is my opinion.

Growing up in church, I along with many friends from my church…it was never an option to miss either a Sunday or Wednesday night program (Royal Rangers, Youth Group, Awana, etc.) due to extracurricular activities. To be honest with you my Dad never gave us an option. Again...it was a lifestyle not a weekly decision. Anything I or other kids wanted to sign up for pertaining to school had to run through the filter of “will it interfere with church activities?” Kind of like the question most youth pastors ask when a teen tells him/her they are dating, "Is he/she a Christian?" If it did interfere then the parents would talk to the coach and ask if something could be worked out. If not…then plain and simple we were not involved with it. It was not because “that sport is evil because it pulls you away from church” it was simply because parents wanted their kids in church. In my own experience and many of my friends on Facebook we found it to be a great experience. I never did want to miss youth group…I wouldn’t have mind missing a few morning services but even Sunday night church was fun.

So why am I such a stick in the mud when it comes to parents getting their kids to come to church? Again…I say church but however that looks for you is what’s important (home fellowship group, etc.). The reason why is that I remember being 14 or 15 and thinking when I get my license and car…church will be the last place you will find me. However…thanks to my parents who were willing to be hated by me, and some very cool youth pastors and senior pastor (still at Poplar Creek Church) I never wanted to leave. The fact of the matter is I was ticked when I had to miss as I became 18 and began to work full time. If it was not for those guidelines in my life (though some may say were legalistic) I can say I would not be where I am today because of it. I was able to weather two horrific storms in church politics as a pastor. I am able to come alongside other hurting people in the church and help them find hope. Trust me when I say, If my parents did not at times MAKE me come to church, I would not have gone and probably would not be where I am today.

I believe it is healthy for parents to setup boundaries. I dealt with many teens in youth group and speaking engagements where there are no boundaries. As one person said, "a river without boundaries is just a swamp." Will boundaries solve everything? Nope. I would like to believe though that they would certainly curtail the number of Christian drop-outs however. I can only pray that I raise my kids the same way and when those teen years come…I can be as cool with them as my parents were with me and that they stick to it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oddly Conservative: Christian Music

So here is part two in this series entitled, “Oddly Conservative.” One of my great passions is music. Pretty much any kind of music you throw at me I will more than likely enjoy…except (wait for it)….COUNTRY.

Growing up I was never really into music at all until my brother one Christmas bought me my first, Guardian and Sacred Warrior tapes. I was instantly sold and began to listen to more and more Christian music. By time I was 17/18 years old I was DJ’ing for a Christian skate-night my youth pastor and I started. It began with one night a month and rapidly turned into every Friday night from 9 until Midnight at Milwaukee’s premiere skate rink. I formed a great relationship with the local Christian bookstore (while working for another) and began getting all kinds of underground and hard to find Christian music from rock to rap to rave. It was rare if the skate rink didn’t close their doors each Friday night because they ran out of skates which meant 450+ people.

My favorite style of music still to this day is industrial and goth. Everything else I enjoy as well. During my mid 20’s though I began to enjoy more and more of the mainstream stuff as well (I hate the word secular). My collection of 4500 CD’s and cassettes went from ALL Christian to mainstream as well including, Pink Floyd, Ozzy, Phish, Rush, and more. I have and remain very open minded about all things music unless it is a new album from, Brad Paisley.

This is what’s oddly conservative about me in regards to church music. I do not care for in the least classic hymns that are redone to include verses that were never in the original version. I also do not care for beautiful hymns such as How Great Thou Art; It is Well With My Soul, etc. butchered into something that completely sounds like garbage. Now I have heard some classics redone musically and they are phenomenal. The worship leader, Monica Barden at the church I pastor always hits it out of the park when she re-works an old song of the church.

However, when an artist takes an old hymn and adds some new lyrics and breathy or grunting voice behind it…to me it is an epic fail. Now I am not a musician but to add some lyrics to an already perfect song to me shows no creative ability. Where in mainstream pop-culture do you see someone adding a few extra chords to Moonlight Sonata making the new way the standard in which we hear it? Who would dream of adding a few new chords to Canon in D. So why add some lines to, Amazing Grace and throw out some of the original verses?

Call me old fashioned but I prefer people don’t mess with the old songs if it means getting rid of the original wording or music. Many churches probably have not sung the original, Amazing Grace in a long time. I don’t need marketing gurus telling today’s puppets of Christian top 40 what to add or change to make an extra buck by desecrating a pillar of the Christian music scene. Over and over you hear these redos on Christian radio which gets sickening after a half hour of listening. It is my opinion leave the music alone and let the beauty of its original wording and orchestrations still move people like the day it was written.

btw...the person standing in the picture with me is, Eric Clayton of "Saviour Machine." My fav. group that does Christian goth...think Wagner meets Pink Floyd.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oddly Conservative: Church Attendance

Tonight, I begin a series that will last one week entitled: Oddly Conservative. Many people have me pegged as a pretty liberal pastor which is not all bad. One of the best compliments I have gotten as a pastor is “you are very worldly.” Now before we shoot that through our “Christian filter” they were not talking “worldly” in the way fundie refers to the word. Rather they were talking about how I am savvy on things going on around the world and within pop-culture. So…with that said…some of my blogs may offend and some may love them. This should not change what you think of me because I am quite sure if I sat down with you and a cup of coffee for an intelligent conversation…there would be some quirky things I would find out about you.

I think the first thing I am conservative about given my upbringing is church attendance. I truly believe there is still hope for the church. Yes I understand many people have been hurt by the church…I HAVE BEEN THERE in a very real way and can relate. But for me to write of church because I had a bad experience would be like me writing off “Noodles and Company” because I had bad service at one location. That is simply crazy.In our study at church on Wednesday nights I love that N.T. Wright still finds this concept to be a great thing.

The argument out there is that “we are the church” and I get that. I do not believe you need a building to have church. I believe you do not need the building to have a certain look in order to be “the church.” I honestly do not care if you meet in a school, home, pub, etc. In my humble opinion I think today’s Christians has made church a weekly decision and not a lifestyle decision. To be completely honest with you I am grateful my parents made sure we were at church every Sunday morning (and Sunday night because that was the trend) and Wednesday nights. The programs were great and I think all in all I turned out alright. This is the same thing we are doing with our kids. Being a pastor, I am required to be at church more often but that will not be required of my children. Sunday’s and midweek will work for me. I find the statistics interesting with parents that try to be "the cool parents" and don't take there kids to church vs. the ones that do. The ones raised by "the cool parents" are statistically more likely to not even attend a church gathering of any kind.

No doubt people need a weekend here or there because they are sick or on vacation or just want to stay home after working…I get that. In the broad spectrum though I think it is very healthy to role-model church attendance to our children and quite honestly it is good for us as adults. I can already hear parents saying, “you just wait until your kids are in sports or are teenagers and don’t want to go.” My response for that is going to be in another blog ;-).

I believe in Hebrews 10:25(NIV) “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” There is certainly a push you get when you can meet together with other people on a weekly basis. No doubt we get fellowship in other places but there is something to be said about being with a church (however that may look for you) and making sure if you have kids…they attend. I love Facebook but I need to physically be with people.

Well…there is the first thing I am oddly conservative about. Did I scare you yet? You will find I am actually old fashion in some ways over the next week. Don't worry though...though I am conservative in some areas...you not so conservative Christians....I am with you as well!