Saturday, September 22, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
Doing outreach for a new church may seem like a normal activity, but for Michael Cheshire, senior pastor of The Journey Church of Conifer, Colo., it would include opening up a diner, sponsoring a racecar, and getting shot at.The line between pastor and media star is a thin one these days.
These and other crazy adventures are recorded in Cheshire’s book How to Knock Over A 7-Eleven and Other Ministry Training, an account of the experiences of the young pastor and his pals while planting a church in the rural Midwest.
“You have to believe God is telling you to do this,” said Cheshire in an interview with The Christian Post.
I return to what has become a tired theme around these parts. If we truly have the Good News of Christ - that will attract attention without all the falderall.
If you want to open a diner - do so - but if it is not making any money, do not call it a ministry and start asking for handouts. The problem with this kind of approach to ministry is that it becomes about the minister. It's supposed to be about Jesus.
The media is not the message, but ask yourself this - how often does the show get in the way of the music? Ask yourself this - 20 years from now are you going to be listening to Lady Gaga with anything other than nostalgia? I hope not - all show, no music.
If fact, I bet you will listen to Beyonce' "Bootylicious" the same way. But, I have heard some acapella Destiny's Child recordings, particularly of gospel music, that I be will be listened to for decades to come.
CHurch should be about the content, not the show.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Standing on Shifting Sand
He is saying that in America the foundation of our faith is the self, and the needs of the self shape the way the church addresses faith. This self-faith is built on what are called “felt needs.” Churches all across the land meet on a regular basis to come up with ways to meet people’s “felt needs.” From the songs that are sung, to the length of those songs, to the instruments played during those songs, to the lights that are up (or down) during those songs, everything is geared to elicit an emotional response which will lead into the next segment of the service. That next segment will be geared toward felt needs, with emotional pleas to come forward to repent or be prayed for, or emotional pleas to give. (“Plant a seed so God can meet your need.”) Then comes the message, which is also tailored around the hearer’s needs.Let's think about this for a minute - Jesus could have given them what they felt they needed - but he didn't and was crucified for it.
I’ll just come out and say this square: I hate the phrase “felt needs.” I think it is the greatest profanity my ears can hear. What is so special about my needs and how I feel about those needs? Look, I taught marketing for fifteen years. I have been involved in media marketing for more than 38 years. I know how to manipulate people with words and images and sounds. I know that to get an emotional reaction usually means to get a financial reaction as well. To be able to get a consumer to think, “I have dingy teeth. And if I have dingy teeth, that stud walking by won’t be interested in me. So I’ll spend money and buy this toothpaste that promises me white, bright teeth, and by association, promises me that stud,” is magic. It means millions of dollars in sales. Meet someone’s felt needs and you have a vacuum cleaner hooked up to his or her wallet.
So tell me, what does this have to do with the Gospel? And why are churches so concerned with meeting one’s felt needs?
So what's that say about the church today?
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Addition By Subtraction
For Christ to make himself nothing, says Paul, was for him to humble himself, and he humbles himself by being born in the likeness of men and by becoming obedient to the point of death.It is in fact the counter-intuitive case that we reach our fullest potential only in humility and submission to God.
So, as Paul describes it in this passage, the self-emptying is, in point of fact, a self-adding.
But I wonder if that is the correct rhetoric to use? If our motivation, even for humility and submission, is self-serving, are we really submissive and humble? Doing nothing from our own interests includes even this.
We submit to God becasue He is - God.
End of point.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Looking For Hope
So I kept listening, reading and thinking. I heard people use “hope” to describe a sort of vague wish. That wasn’t the kind of hope I was longing for. I heard people use “hope” in relation to upcoming events and plans they had, sometimes with a strong confidence that I admired and wished for. Increasingly I could see that hope is rooted in confidence. But where does that confidence come from?As I read this poignant words, it occurred to me that hope is also something we must act upon to make it more than just a "vague wish." When we have a source of hope like Christ, worry ceases to be an issue.
Where does confidence about the future come from? From the power of God, which we see revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus is our only hope for the distant future, for life after death, but Jesus is also our only hope for today and tomorrow. God has blessed me with so many good things all my life, and I can have confidence that God will continue that blessing the rest of today, tomorrow, next week and next year. Sure, that blessing isn’t always an experience of pure joy. Even in the hard times, God is present, giving the comfort of companionship and the redemption of pain.
In fact sometimes, we need to act like we have this hope and then let the feeling of hope come in the wake of the action. I an seen people do really stupid things in the name of "hope in Christ." That is not what I am talking about. But you do not want to wallow in a bad place becasue you have no hope. Get up, GO, act. You will find you have more hope than you thought.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Joining Christ or Joining The Crowd?
While I responded politely to my friend, I was curious. Why was this the first and really only thing they had to say about their church? Is its sheer size really its only admirable feature? Surely not.There is a difference between building a following and building a church. There is nothing necessarily wrong with borrowing techniques from marketing to help build the church - to a point.
My friends fell victim to the logic that is so pervasive in our American consumer culture. We live in a culture where numbers impress. We validate our choices based on what others are doing. We want to buy cars that are popular and clothes that are fashionable and live in up-and-coming neighborhoods and visit the trendiest stores and restaurants. And even when it comes to religious expression, we just go with the crowd.
In advertising, it’s called the “bandwagon” approach. 12,000 people can’t be wrong!
Of course, while advertising has one name for this logic, your mother had a different spin on it. Didn’t she ask you if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it to?
Of course we told her that we wouldn’t.
I doubt it. The trendiest, flashiest, most beautiful and popular church was the obvious choice. It didn’t even require prayer.
Much of marketing is about selling things with little value. People sit in line for the latest iPad - it does not do anything that the last model did, it just looks prettier doing it. That does not represent a huge increase in value. Marketing sells something like that - it moves a product that would not otherwise move.
But Christianity is of the highest value! It should sell itself.
So why must we resort to marketing to produce results? Maybe becasue the product we are trying to sell is the cheap counterfeit.
Might want to think about that as you discuss the next move for your church.