Monday, June 16, 2008

Church: Unfiltered

I keep getting this image of church and the gospel being run through a Brita filter. Like we take out all the nasty tasting stuff until it tastes really good going down, making it easier to swallow.
I've been in a number of small churches around the country over my life and the ones that were dwindling in membership seemed to have one thing in common. They were too 'nice.' They didn't want to hold people accountable to the gospel, they didn't want to ask people to do hard things in the name of Jesus. They were incredibly apologetic. They were "sorry to ask," but could so-and-so do such-and-such for the church. We're always sorry as though church itself has become a burden to people. As though it's importance is less than that of family and work and hobbies. It makes me want to scream! In fact, I think I will...
Thanks for letting me get that out. On with the tirade...
Jesus was never sorry for telling people the hard truth. Why should we be? Why do we think we need to apologize for asking people to serve and to give? We had to pull teeth to find people to be on this year's officer slate. Why is service Christ and the church such a burden? Where are our priorities? And why am I the only one in my church asking these questions? Why aren't our leaders calling people to task? Some of my committee chairs have no committees because they are so worried that they will overburden someone or offend them somehow by asking them to take on something else, even in the name of Christ.
Are we Christians or what? If we can't even find time to serve, how can we claim that title? Sitting on our butts for an hour once a week is not all there is to being Christian. Yes, worship is a part of it, but so is service, so is study, so is making disciples. We can't choose one over the others.
If we filter what the gospel says, it's not the gospel anymore. Jesus comes not to bring peace, but the sword. That's hard to swallow. That doesn't taste good to our 21st century, status-quo tongues. Let's just drink our filtered water. We're sorry about that Jesus guy. He kind of embarrasses us middle-class, middle Americans. Jesus can be down right tacky at times. And we don't want our children to hang around tacky people, much less follow them around and emulate them, use them as role models. We're sorry Jesus asks you to give your money to the poor rather than spend it on a new fishing boat. We're sorry that the church needs your help and your time to serve Christ as we've been called to do. We're sorry, we're sorry, we're sorry.
I'm hoping I can encourage our church's leaders to call people to task. They need to get out there, hold members accountable. Don't be sorry for asking for help, or for making people uphold their baptismal vows, or for helping them to fulfill the Great Commission.
So I have officer training this weekend. Can you guess what we'll be talking about?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Get a Break This Week!

Our Executive Presbyter has offered to come and preach here just to give me a break after our local disaster a few weeks ago. We've been working pretty hard around here to offer what aid we can and so I've had a few (she says sarcastically) extra responsibilities around here. Have I mentioned that I don't have a secretary at this church?
So I get a week without sermon prep. Of course, I should probably use this chance to start looking ahead, something I don't usually have the chance to do much of.
Then there's vacation. I have officially purchased the plane tickets. Ontario, here we come! Gotta leave the spouse behind; he doesn't have enough vacation accrued at the new job yet. I hate that for him, as he needs it more than any of us right now. His new job is horrible as far as vacation time 8 days! and no personal or sick leave!!!) and not to mention they sorta fibbed about what he'd been hired to do. I have to admit that I love the vacation time that we pastors get. I suppose we need it though or we'd all go nuts.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Long time, no post

I didn't realize that my last post had been the day of the infamous happening. I suppose I've wanted to post a few times about that, but it would be a little bit too telling for what is supposed to be a rather anonymous blog. We've recovered well from said happening; life is returning to whatever passes for normal in our house.
I've been neck-deep in confirmation the past several weeks. We do not have the time or resources to do a year long study, so we have developed our own curriculum to do in 10-12 weeks. It's a small group of kids, so this works pretty well. We meet for two hours each week and they seem like they are getting most of what we're teaching. Of course, there is plenty of repetition, they are only 13 after all.
P had a great b-day. I surprised him with a party at a friend's house. I even surprised him with his gift that I had convinced him he wasn't getting. (An electric guitar pedal--that he is super-de-duper psyched about, I might add.)
I'm starting a bible study group this week that I'm modeling after one I co-created in ATL. It only meets twice a month, Fri. evenings in a coffee shop. Aimed at my generation and a little older, though I'm getting a surprising # of my retirees saying they want to come. Cool!! It is going to focus on faith and culture. We'll be using a lot of the "Thoughtful Christian" material and some of the other shorter studies that focus on faith as it relates to our world, politics, media, etc. So I guess it's not technically a Bible study, it'll be more of a faith study. I'm excited to get it started. It's the sort of things that feeds my faith too, so even though I'm leading (at least the first one) I will still be able to renew my spirit.