Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Technology, Leadership, Personality - Church
And in an era where video preaching is becoming ever more popular and makes more of an impact, the connection between church pastor and church brand can’t help but grow stronger. After all, every podcast downloaded is one more lengthy impression with the consumer (to use crass media buyer-speak).It strikes me that we need to remember that it's the world that defines the church this way - not us, yet we buy it totally.
Therein, though, lies the rub. Every pastor I’ve ever met is a person. A fallen, imperfect, inherently sinful person--just like every human who has ever lived, except for one guy about 2,000 years ago. So when a pastor leaves, falls publicly into sin or just goes on sabbatical for a few months, the church, its identity and its brand come tumbling after.
That is, unless the church and its leadership has a culture in place that’s deliberately, intentionally and passionately committed to pointing people toward Jesus and away from the guy with the wireless mic. That’s how disciples are made, how Christ is lifted up and how all our churches are made healthier and stronger.
I’m not arguing for or against video. Heck, I subscribe to a gaggle of vodcasts myself. What I am arguing for, though, is decentralizing leadership in an effort to avoid the worship-the-rock-star scenario that both non-Christians and Christians alike often fall into. If we do, not only will we be helping create stronger, more enduring church brands, we’ll be spreading the gospel more effectively.
Scripture gives us a very different image of church than the Sunday morning service - it's a community, even a culture, of people living together like and for Christ. The world thinks it's about Sunday morning.
And yet, centuries ago, we bought into the argument that since that is where the world focuses it's where we need to focus. But I think a big part of Christ's ministry was to tell us that such is not where we need to focus. We need to do more than decentralize leadership - we need to get truly radical about what church is and what church does. We need to focus on the community, not its head.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Talk About A Loaded Question!
...the most important paragraph in the Bible for a Christian worldview?I see the point David Mathis is driving at here, but to be honest, some durn fool is going to read that and think it is the only paragraph in the Bible about a "Christian worldview," then they'll write a book about it, there'll be conferences and seminars and all the sudden all our attempts to improve things will just turn them rotten in a different place than they were rotten before.
In the end, a Christian worldview is the worldview held by a Christian. I doubt it will ever be monolithically described because Christians are too diverse and there are things we will always disagree about. And frankly I am beginning to think that efforts to settle those disagreements do more harm than good. As sinners we tend to inflate those arguments past the point of reason and things get ugly and then Christianity looks ugly.
We need to learn how to build better people before we figure out how to codify a worldview. Because only if we are better people will we ever be able to have such discussion reasonably and in a way that reflects well on us.
Col 1:15-20 is a powerful passage, but what I would like to do is figure out how I too can be a visible image in all aspects of my life, not just how or what I think, but how I live and argue.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Leadership as Identity
Leaders, if you believe in the concept of teamwork…sometimes you have to let go and let others take the lead.I think Edmundson has put his finger on one of the big issues facing the church today, but I wonder why?
What do you need to let go of and quit trying to control?
I know…I know…it’s hard to do.
The answer is I think people wish to self-identify as "leaders." But let's ask ourselves, who was our leader? Jesus, right? How did He lead? He went to the cross - he completely let go of His identity (God) and died.
Now here is where it get really interesting. By His very nature, we know He could lead best and right. He could not help Himself - he was after all - perfect. But He chose to ascend and leave leadership in the hands of a bunch of guys that abandoned Him at His lowest and pretty consistently got stuff wrong.
On paper like that I think most of us are willing to let others lead, so why do we not do it? Because we are more worried about being leaders than actually leading. That's our insecurity talking.
But we have nothing to be insecure about to begin with - we couldn't do as little as we do now on our own - think about it.
Wednesday Special - AMEN!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Are Christians Defeatists?
Admit that an Augustinian ecclesiology is perhaps what we need because it's what we've got.There is nothing but truth there, but in its heart lies defeatism, or at least the roots of defeatism.
Perhaps a cracked Fellowship of cracked Eikons is the point of what the church is!
Perhaps that's why the churches have always put the Eucharist table in the middle. We come to the Table to partake in God's forgiving grace because we're cracked Eikons. When cracked Eikons form a fellowship, you get a cracked Fellowship. In the cracks God works his grace.
Indeed, God's grace is evident in the cracks, but the point of that grace is to heal, even remove the cracks. We have to draw a fine line between accepting God's grace and thanking God for its infinity and embracing that grace as reason to just let the cracks stay there.
As the Apostle reminds us in Romany 6:15:
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!So no, the church is not perfect, and no we are not to leave it an start over, but we can never, ever revel in that imperfection or expect that falleness. We must always strive for better, we must struggle to improve, we must mourn the imperfections and decry the hurt they cause.
Anything less makes us defeatists, and we have the ultimate victory!
Monday, June 21, 2010
There are those who feel like outcasts because their congregations are increasingly choosing to move in directions that seem to exclude them (i.e. once they sang hymns with an organ and now they sing Taize chants with a flute.) Some feel like outcasts because they don't use email. And some feel like outcasts because no one seems to believe what they believe anymore.There is an interesting flip-side to this. Consider the remark about change in music. You know, the whole reason the music style changed to begin with is because another group felt "outcast" and we wanted to make them feel welcome. In other words, somehow, somewhere, probably democratically and bureaucratically - so no one can be directly "blamed" - a decision was made to make one group "incast" while rendering another group "outcast." I think there is something inherently wrong in rendering our definition of outcast in a fashion that makes our own actions, whether direct or indirect, appear not responsible for the outcasts perceived status.
Who are the outcasts in our churches and what are we doing about it? Do we insist that everyone believe the same thing theologically? Where do we draw the line?
Do we trust that everyone is trying to follow Jesus, even if we are in different places spiritually? Do we begrudge the ones who don't look anything like us? Do we assume we have nothing in common? Do we judge each other?
As the church continues to evolve in the 21st Century, one of our huge challenges will be showing the world how we who call ourselves "Christian" treat people - especially people who are not like us generationally, politically, spiritually, culturally. Like it's always been, people will notice how we treat the lepers among us.
In fact, I think the challenge for the church is not how to deal with outcasts, but just as the church has worked with great care and deliberateness over the centuries in support of medicine to actually do away with leprosy - we need to find a way to create transition in the church without making ANYONE perceive themselves as outcast.
I don't pretend to have all the answers here, but some include things like more democracy, not less. People generally do not feel outcast by majority decision where they feel like their concerns have been heard and addressed. Gradual, not sudden change also helps - it may even help discover a happy medium where no one feels outcast.
Certainly an admission and confession that such choices, by their very nature, will result in someone feeling hurt is the place to start. You know how the doctor says, "This might hurt a little" before the set the broken bone? We don't often do that. We go to change things and we try to tell the patient that if they are feeling pain it is their fault, or that it is not really pain at all. BS only adds anger to the pain - it certainly increases the alienation described as "outcast."
Yes, we are judged by how we treat the lepers among us, but we really ought to be doing everything we can not to make lepers to begin with.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
It's Father's Day!
My wife does some extraordinary things - but this bit of art tops her ordinary extraordinariness - that is a photo of the living room of my parents (and mine MANY years ago) home when we emptied and painted it to sell after my dad died a few years ago. Thank you honey!