Friday, March 09, 2012
(Blogger's Note: This is a "re-write" of a piece that was begun yesterday. Upon examination, it had a bit too much "punch-in-the-face" factor, so I've begun take two on the essay.)
More good stuff to follow.
My thoughts this week have orbited around the Church. Not just Celebration, but the church as a whole. In my approaching half century, I've had a relationship or been an active member of fourteen churches. Granted, this number is probably higher than average due to twenty years of military service and the requisite military moves. I suspect that you too, gentle reader, have had a relationship with a few churches. Each of these churches had their own distinct flavors, ranging from Irish-American Roman Catholic, to primitive mountain-folk Pentecostal and not surprisingly, each had their admirable qualities. Conversely, Many of them had undesirable qualities that adversely affected them and in some cases, led to their demise as a faith community.
If we were to consider all of the churches in our lives, the thriving/successful along with the dysfunctional/dying ones, our minds quickly draw a series of questions. What makes the thriving church thrive? Or, what's at the root of a dysfunctional church's decline and death?
I'd like to state from the beginning, that I don't believe in gimmicky, pop-wisdom methods for growing churches. It doesn't take a "rockstar preacher" or earplugs to build a successful, thriving church. Conversely, churches don't decline and die because they don't employ the latest multimedia tools, tips and tricks. No, let me say emphatically, that the reasons for either growth or decline are found solidly within the pages of Holy Scripture. We don't grow sustainable churches by becoming a disciple of Barna Research Group or Aping the latest thing that Willow Creek or Lifepoint is attempting, nor do we kill a church by not hanging on every word of a certified church planter.
Let's close this installment by getting one fact straight from the start; we don't build churches, period. The Church is being built by Christ Jesus, who in addressing St. Peter said:
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
More good stuff to follow.
Saturday, March 03, 2012
OK, Let me tee this up for you with a little exercise in imagination.
Suppose you're a recreational golfer, someone who regularly hits the links. You really dig golf and enjoy a day out on the links with your partner. There's so much to love about the game; the warm breezes, the vibration that travels up your arm when you have a well-hit drive and the sound of that little titleist as it drops into cup. Then, there's the nineteenth hole, relaxing after the round over a crisp Reuben and a beverage. But, there're expenses associated with this recreational activity. True, you don't buy clubs every day, buy you've got to be kept in balls, tees, greens fees and the like. Sure, these aren't exorbitant but they do add up over time. But since this is your recreational activity of choice, you've counted the cost and play on.
Now, suppose you and your partner decide that your golf outings are a fundamental right that should be underwritten by others including those who like Mark Twain who consider golf "a good walk spoiled". Enter Stage Left, Miss Sandra Fluke.
The Socialist left in their never-ending parade of victims and grievances introduced us to Sandra Fluke Rather than present a poor and downtrodden woman, they (knowingly or not) created a poster child for subsidized recreational sex.
You are by all estimations Ms. Fluke, a mature adult. You need to be paying for your own recreational activities to include sex outside the bonds of marriage.