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Do we have realistic expectations for others?

September 5, 2008

When I began the journey toward a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and freedom from the tyranny of “religious performance and religious obligation” (to borrow a phrase from Wayne Jacobsen), I felt a strong compulsion to defend my decision and, more than that, to convince others to do the same thing. It was an instinctive response, so to speak, that I had previously acted upon over the years; for example, when I first embraced a particular theological worldview I felt the need to engage my friends, challenge their perspectives (which I had shared only weeks or months prior to my headlong pursuit of a new direction), and try my best to convince them to join my “new” way of thinking. Read more…

Feeling guilty for not going to church?

August 24, 2008

Someone asked me yesterday, “What would it look like to walk with Jesus outside the box of institutional Christianity?” This person is very connected with other Christians, meeting up for prayer, chats over coffee, a home-based Bible study, and lots of one-on-one meetings with Christians and non-Christians. I simply said, “Subtract the Sunday meetings at 11:00 and 6:00 and there’s your answer! That will give you more time to pursue the relationships that I know you really thrive on.” He said, “Oh, yeah, I see. But then I’ll feel guilty for not going to church.” Read more…

Leaving Organized Religion :: One Woman’s Story

July 20, 2008

Here’s a great blog series by a young woman, Heidi, of Live With Desire:

Part 1: A Child Following Hard After Father
Part 2: From Legalism to Grace
Part 3: Broken Hearts and Broken Promises
Part 4: Leaving and Coming
Part 5: Deconstructions and Constructions

While living in Germany for a brief period of time, God brought a fellow American into Heidi’s life and the two of them began getting together informally to share their lives from week to week. At some point in their relationship, she says (excerpted from part 5):

I started asking questions. Just where did we get American-style, institutional churches anyway? They didn’t remind me too much of what I read in Scripture. I started wondering about our formulation of “church”….lots of people, sitting in a room arranged with a stage and an audience, listening to what basically Read more…

Nightmarish church leadership meetings!

June 20, 2008

Image © Micah A. PonceRecently, I endured a four-hour meeting of our church’s leadership team. It’s a monthly nightmare where everyone on this twelve-person team puts forward their ideas to “improve” the church by adding programs, fixing potential problems, tweaking this and that, disbursing financial support, and discussing the merits of strange new pursuits that might be the magic bullet to revitalize the church’s health. I am not exaggerating when I say that I think this group is the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine ever developed! It could go for days, as long as someone would put food/drink on the table and allow time for bathroom breaks.

I will be so glad when I’m off this ridiculous leadership treadmill. But this is what happens when “the church” moves beyond the New Testament model of intimate, relational gatherings for food and encouragement; and pursues life in the fast lane, with buildings, large weekly gatherings, massive programs, and the necessary infrastructure to manage it all with the attention these sort of things require. Read more…

Another reason why sermons are unnecessary

June 4, 2008

Mark DeverHave you ever heard or read an explanation of the following passage?

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

This recorded prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33-34 outlines several important distinctions of the “New Covenant” that God intended to bring to fulfillment. Our Father in heaven declared through the pen of Jeremiah Read more…

Living in our communities, sharing God’s story

June 3, 2008

Here’s an excellent video clip by Alan Roxburgh regarding “A Tale of Three Churches & A New Age Mall in Toronto.” Based on one of his earlier books, Reaching A New Generation. At the end of this brief clip, Roxburgh says,

I keep meeting all kinds of people who are tired of the “go to church” and “do the church thing” and be disconnected from what is actually happening in their neighborhoods and their communities. All kinds of people are asking, “How do we enter our local communities without needing to sell them anything, but just live among and be among, listen to stories, and begin to engage them with God’s story in a non-coercive way?”

The Most Segregated Institution in America

May 10, 2008

Rural American ChurchIn 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke on Social Justice and the Emerging New Age at Western Michigan University. Following that speech, he received a standing ovation before fielding a series of questions by WMU’s President Miller. In that Q & A, he declared:

We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing in Christ there is no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation. This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this. Now, I’m sure that if the church had taken a stronger stand all along, we wouldn’t have many of the problems that we have. The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body. Now, I’m not saying that society must sit down and wait on a spiritual and moribund church as we’ve so often seen. I think it should have started in the church, but since it didn’t start in the church, our society needed to move on. The church, itself, will stand under the judgement of God. Now that the mistake of the past has been made, I think that the opportunity of the future is to really go out and to transform American society, and where else is there a better place than in the institution that should serve as the moral guardian of the community. The institution that should preach brotherhood and make it a reality within its own body. Read more…