Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Wittenburg Church Door

Okay, so we've had many discussions on what church should be, and what church seems to be lacking.

We know we want action. In fact, I *feel* a call to action. A call to do something concrete, rather than just the bitching and moaning we've been doing for the past many weeks months years.

Wait, can I say "bitching" on a family-friendly blog?

Too late.

So I think it's time for some specifics. If something is wrong, what is wrong? And if something needs fixed, how can we fix it? What do I *desire* to see out of a church?


Bloggers love lists. Martin Luther loved lists. Have you seen High Fidelity? John Cusack. Good flick. His character loved lists.

Let's begin, shall we? This list will be fluid, as these are all up for discussion, debate, and editing. I doubt I'll come up with 95, but it's a start. Please feel free to add your own or argue some of these.

  1. Church is a community of believers, and much of the focus of "church" should be on that community.
  2. Obviously, the focus of a worship "service" should be on God.
  3. The purpose of "church" should NOT be to get people to sit in a pew on a Sunday morning. A church that is too "Sunday morning-centric" is not healthy for the church as a whole or Christians individually, as it fosters institutional thinking within the church and a "once-a-week" mentality within Christians.
  4. A worship service should be careful not to fall into a routine. If it lacks creativity or any discernable change on a week-by-week basis, it becomes problematic (we may need to explore the "why" here some more).
  5. A worship service should be careful not to be performance-based. When it becomes a production, when it becomes all about excellence, then it becomes less about God and the Holy Spirit.
  6. The Gospel of Christ, of love, of His kingdom... All those things should be preached. There is nothing wrong with "seeker-sensitive" worship services, but psychological self-help, chicken-soup-for-the-soul type of sermons are a problem.
  7. The church is smart enough to follow a sermon without needing blanks to fill in.
  8. Giving the Holy Spirit room to maneuver during a worship service means that occasionally, things may not go as planned. We should allow this.
  9. God doesn't care if there is feedback, or if a screen flickers, or if a microphone doesn't work.
  10. Along the lines of #4 and #8, worship services could be drastically different from week to week. That could mean a week of all singing and scripture reading. That could mean a week of drama and prayer. That could mean people coming forward to give testimonies.
  11. Other teachers could be raised up to preach on occasion. These don't even have to be paid staff or elders or someone with a PhD.
  12. A church needs a common vision, something to work towards and bring people together, moreso than just a generic mission statement. (This one is up for debate, as one could argue that the New Testament church did not have a specific "vision" beyond Jesus' call to make disciples of all nations.)
  13. Honesty and vulnerability is tantamount in a church. If the church is in a major financial bind, the congregation needs to be aware of that. If Sunday morning worship services are the main meeting time for the congregation, it is obvious that during a Sunday morning worship service, honest talk of finances is vital.
  14. The "success" of a church is not measured by its weekly worship service attendance in numbers, or by its "growth" in numbers from year to year. If numbers must be used to measure real "growth," then small groups, Sunday School classes, and other specific ministries are probably the best way to quantify.
  15. Along with #13, vulnerability and openness within a church needs to be fostered from the ministry staff. REAL vulnerability and openness, including sin and repentance.

That's only 15, but I don't want to hog all of these. Any thoughts on these 15, or additional ideas?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Noah vs. Moses, round I

In the absence of deep theological discussion, I'd like to throw out something a bit different...

Go here now. Do it. You'll thank me later.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rob Bell Interview

Velvet Elvis guys - this was an interesting interview I thought

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sex and Church

Well, we've hit on the topics of Men and Church, and then Kids and Church... Why not Sex and Church?

So... here we go.

Sex is shameful.

Masturbation is dirty.

Lust is sinful.

Notice a trend here? Churches really corner the market on telling people to wait until marriage for sex. Sure, I believe that the statistics point out that there is no noticeable difference in churched and unchurched kids having sex, but the fact is that "Sex is Baaaad" is a common theme in American churchianity. Perhaps the only statistical difference is the degree of guilt after-the-fact.

While 90% of the sex talk is centered around abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within marriage, there MIGHT be 10% that mentions, "And oh, yeah, sex is a *good* thing within marriage. God made it, so it's good, and, uh, stuff. But make sure you wait! And make sure you don't look at other women lustfully! Or PORN! That's really bad! And, uh, hey? You women? Dress modestly, because all men (even the Christians!) are pretty much ruled by their johnsons, so it's your responsibility to wear turtlenecks and baggy pants, lest the men be overcome by their lustful ways!"

Or something like that.

Let's face it, the church has conned generations of people into thinking that anything sexual is shameful. You can't just go from hearing these things your whole life, into having a ring on your finger and your mind doing a complete 180.

"Great, I'm married now! Anything goes! No guilt, no shame, no more worries, and no more problems! Everything will be perfect now!"

A great deal of Christian couples DO have premarital sex, and then they deal with the guilt of that for many years within their marriage.

A great deal of Christian couples have sexual struggles within their marriages that are never discussed.

A great deal of Christian women are taught that being nonsexual is virtuous.

A great deal of Christian men are taught that sexual thought and desire is of the devil.

And just out of curiosity, how many here have heard an in-depth sermon from the pulpit on I Corinthians 7:1-5? A show of hands? Anyone?

How many Christian couples are sleeping in separate bedrooms? How many are going months or years without having sex? And how many children are growing up, seeing THAT as their model of Christian marriage?

We know that God made sex and it is something that is good, but I sometimes wonder if premarital counseling at churches should actually be some sort of intensive deprogramming from years of "Thou shall nots." I once heard someone say that regarding all-things sex, God is cast in the role of The Great Frustrator.

It's about time that the church get a lot more candid.