Bottom line there is a passion that flows from the heart of God…, ‘God so loved the world that He gave’...God loves the people of the world…‘Christ so loved the church that He gave‘…Jesus loves His Church.
I often say this is how God’s heart beats…One Beat… His world… Next beat … His church.
At a wedding last night…the contrast between a man marrying a woman and Christ’s love for His Church really spoke to me.
Dave Workman Senior Leader at Vineyard Community Church wrote a thought provoking post.
Sometimes I think when people want to return to being a “New Testament Church”, there’s an idyllic myopia. When people ask me why we can’t be more like the New Testament church, I answer
The church in Corinth was sexing it up every which way and getting drunk at the church potlucks.
The Colossian church was worshiping angels and beating their bodies to prove they were holy.
The Galatian gang was legalistic and racist.
The Thessalonians were sitting on their hands waiting for Jesus to take them away, hoping for a Left Behind scenario. And check out the things Jesus said to the churches in Asia Minor in the Revelation. It isn’t pretty.”
Randy Bohlender wrote a great post.
This may be a little controversial among some of you. A few are going to challenge my credibility or shut me off forever….but I’m going to say it. I still like church.
Spare me the story of your bad experience….the time you visited a church and no one talked to you, or the leader who left you bitterly disappointed. I don’t doubt you a bit. In fact, if you’ve attended church much at all and this hasn’t happened to you at least once, my guess is you weren’t very involved to begin with.
I can’t help but notice, though…that you’ve eaten in lousy restaurants, but you still belly up to the lunch counter. You got rooked on an ebay auction, and you still buy things online. You find a way to deal with your disappointments in every other system. You’ve found a way around the bad experience to get what you want or need. Except for church.
Yes, church is different. The stakes are higher. Eternity is on the line. But people are still running the systems, and the people are flawed. Don’t even begin to grouse about starting your own church that’s only led by the Spirit, though. That’s your code for wanting to run the show. You’ll be the answer to your own prayers and the burr under someone elses’ saddle, because you’re as human as those who’ve disappointed you.
All that said, I still like church. I’m involved in a slightly unconventional model centered around 24/7 prayer, and as the pressures of life grow in intensity, we’ll see prayer come to the focus in more churches, but I really like all sorts. I love the mega church with the wide open door. I love the corner church that reaches it’s neighborhood. I love the house church where the leader rolls his eyes when people call him ‘pastor’.
There’s a lot to be frustrated about, but there’s a lot to celebrate. People find Jesus every week in as many different ways as there are to comb a pastor’s hair over. Maybe the find Him in one congregation and grow to love Him in another, but good is done, and I like it.
And God bless the potluck…one dinner, under God, with cheesy potatoes for all.
Here is another article by Jeff Smith at Next-wave.org.
I spent Sunday morning between two churches. My 12-year-old daughter wanted to try out her new skateboard so we headed to the nearest skate-park. We like to get there early before the crowds, so we pulled in around 9 AM.
It was cold for western Washington yesterday morning and I tried to be the faithful dad and sit on the incredibly cold cement side and watch. I lasted about 10 minutes and soon retreated to the car (and its heater). As I was sitting there, watching my daughter between page-turns of my book and start/stops of the car so the heater could work, I noticed two churches revving to life around me.
The first – which I’ll call Foundations Church – meets in one of the public buildings across from our community skate-park. Their parishioners share the parking lot with those of us “skating”. Each of the 50-60 year-old couples attending were dressed very nicely and politely smiled as I smiled at them getting out of their cars. They hurried from the parking lot to the meeting without a look at the skate-park.
The second church is the one my daughter was worshipping in – the skate-park. Watching my daughter through my warm windshield I realize that she loses herself in the very same way her father used to lose himself on the basketball court. There’s a flow to the movement and the repetition is not boring but harmonic to her. There were a number of other worshippers with her and they too, in their own ways, worshipped in the flow also.
What made that skate-park an even more sacred place was a family of four that pulled up after the Foundations couples had parked and departed. The family had two sons, carrying their boards, as well as a father carrying his. The mom, boardless, had a large cup of coffee, a Sunday paper and a big trash-bag.
The coffee and the paper I understood, but I wondered what she needed the trash-bag for. She promptly set down the coffee and the paper and proceeded to pick up every piece of trash she could find in that skate-park. Her sons acted as though it was the most normal thing in the word – Mom always picks up trash here, no biggie – and she chatted with different skaters as she picked up empty bottles and assorted litter.
I don’t know why but it brought tears to my eyes. In this crazy mixed-up world, where I feel more at home (or at church) with my daughter at a skate-park on a Sunday morning, this woman was worshipping in such an elemental way. I think Jesus would have picked up trash – I think it would have seemed the most natural (and maybe supernatural) thing in the world to him if he was there on that morning.
I mean no disrespect to those older couples heading off to church. They find God in a different place than my daughter – such has always been the case. But what about those of us “in between” – unable to tolerate the ‘Bible-study’ that our parents find so essential and wondering why the skate-parks of our world don’t count in the sacred category?
I have a friend who was doing a workshop on the east coast a few months ago and he met a fellow named A.J. My friend said A.J. was one of the toughest men he’d ever met – gruff and strong for his 70+ years.
In the course of the workshop, A.J. mentioned that the church he was attending didn’t really matter to his children or grandchildren.
My friend asked him, “If you had to pick between the two, who would you pick – your family or your church?”
A.J. didn’t hesitate, “Why I’d choose my family – every time.”
I wonder if that’s not the biggest difference between me (a 39-year-old church-kid turned church-alumni) and my parents? I’d rather be with my 12-year-old. I’m actually more interested in what she considers sacred then what I think I know is sacred. Perhaps I don’t’ know what’s sacred anymore at all – that’s a possibility.
Which leaves me with a question that I am going to pursue with young and old alike –
“What do your children (or grand-children) think?”
I find that I enjoy the prospects of that question for several reasons:
- It doesn’t put anyone on the defensive. I’m really asking a parent (or grand-parent) what their child thinks.
- They’re not defending anything of their own.
- That answer matters more than what we (as 40 or 50 or 60 year olds) think – at least in terms of time left to do anything about what we think.
- The description of someone else’s thinking often tells you more about the describer than you would otherwise get.
Such a description taps something deep in all of us as parents and grand-parents.
It’s not that we want to be “in the know” as much as we (each of us) want to be known – especially by those who are next, those who will shape policy and grandchildren and even great-children that we will never see on this side.
So, my self-proposition is two-fold. I will seek to:
- Ask the “What do your children think?” question and listen, as well as
- Look for church in the unlikely (and simultaneous) places
…Where passion, flow and imagination breath the fresh air of a good God who is constantly speaking in Foundation bible-studies and bag-ladies and everything (and everyone) in between.