Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Stupid church or stupid church people?

This past Sunday morning I was listening to my pastor preach a sermon and he gave an illustration about an annual business meeting. It was a meeting he attended shortly after becoming a Christian and he was all excited about the opportunity to be a part of God's business.

Well, the meeting turned out to be one of those knock-down, drag-outs, with members and leaders yelling at each other. Our pastor was very confused and dissappointed. He looked to an older friend for explanation.

"Don't worry" came the reasoning. "The church is fine. Just some of the people are stupid."

This got me thinking. Since I joined the blogging community, I have been challenged by friends who have mostly left "the church" institution. I hear many comments about the dumb attitudes and policies that church leaders promote, but not nearly enough about why the church, by itself, as an institution, is stupid.

So, that is my question. What makes the church a stupid institution?

74 comments:

BruceD said...

Are you serious?

JimmyBob said...

Bruced, yeah, why? Are you asking me that because you're not sure if I really want to know, or do you think that was a dumb question and I should know already?

For me it's easy to identify stupid attitudes and actions, but some seem to go beyond that, illuding to the structures and systems being stupid too.

So, I wanted to know so that in the future, if I'm still working in the church, I can make it better.

You seem like a good person to give me insight since you were leadership in an Assemblies of God church.

BruceD said...

Well, if you're serious, there's a ton of people's thoughts on the net. All of them can say it much better than I can. But, for starters, did you read my blog post on "money"? Then, take a look at the online book:

http://www.jakecolsen.com/jakefront.html

Also watchman.net articles are very informative.

But are you sure you want to know what is being said, seeing as how you make your living from it and all? An honest look at the observations of a bunch of former "insiders" could have quite an effect on your view of things.

JimmyBob said...

Thanks Bruce. I'm totally open to hearing from former "insiders." And, I'm not afraid at all of any information or view.

If there is honest criticism of structures/systems, I am especially interested. If they are focused on Theological systems, then I am interested, but probably not as apt to embrace. Just being honest there.

Sincerely, thanks so much for being a blogging friend.

DCMetalJr said...
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dorsey said...

"...how can they voice that without offending me?"

You decide whether to be offended. If your skin is that thin, it's because you let it be so. The kind of debates that happens on the blogs is more about iron sharpening iron. Choose to be iron, bro.

(No offense, LOL)

JimmyBob said...

DC, I'm so excited you're back! Dude, where have you been? I need you around here. In fact, I haven't even read your comments completely, but I'll get to them soon.

Love you man! Hope all is well.

eddie{F} said...

YOU DECIDE whether to be offended. If your skin is that thin, it's because YOU LET IT BE so. The kind of debates that happens on the blogs is more about iron sharpening iron. Choose to be iron, bro. (No offense, LOL)

Geeeeeezuz Dorsey

What a total hypocrite you are for giving him that advise, considering that you are the one with such a “thin skin” that deleted my comments on your blog because you didn’t like them. You only want to sharpen iron when the iron suits your fancy? Seriously dude, practice what you preach!

DCMetalJr said...
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dorsey said...

I'm not sure how to separate the stupidity of the institution from the stupidity of the people who drive it--or are being driven by it (I can't tell anymore. It's very symbiotic). The institution, by nature, fosters homogeneity and systematizes praxis. Meanwhile, the members of the institution are accorded structure and order. It's a comfortable arrangement, unless you're the Holy Spirit.

The stupidest thing about the institution is it's tendency to set itself up as the center of activity for believers, despite it's written mandate to go and engage the culture in Christ's name.

I'd love to hear of a church leader who tells a parishioner, "Dude, you're here every time the doors open. You need to get a life." Salt's useless if you keep it in the shaker.

Just my opinion.

dorsey said...

eddie, you're going to believe what you want, but I deleted your comments (and mine, and Jeff's) for two reasons. Neither of them was because my feelings were hurt.

DCMetalJr said...
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eddie{F} said...

eddie, you're going to believe what you want, but I deleted your comments (and mine, and Jeff's) for two reasons. Neither of them was because my feelings were hurt.
Well Dorsey

I didn't say your feelings were hurt, and since you didn’t to give the "two reasons" I can only assume the same from your advice that you have given jimmybob.

But if you have the balls, what were those reasons?

dorsey said...

It's not balls. I don't have the stomach.

eddie{F} said...

It's not balls. I don't have the stomach.
Trust me: many people confuse their stomach with their balls. So, until further notice, you remain a hypocrite for not practicing what you preach.

dorsey said...

dc,

What is a "pseudo-christian?"

Do you not differentiate between the Church (the Body of Christ, to which I belong) and church (the current modern institution, not some NT ideal of organization)? All of my remarks were directed at the institution.

Likening criticism of the institution to criticizing creation is misguided. God is responsible for creation, but man (Constantine, to be specific) institutionalized Christianity.

Be careful when you accuse me of fighting against His Church. You don't know what you're talking about. If anything, I'd like to see the Church rescued from the institution.

dorsey said...

"Trust me: many people confuse their stomach with their balls."

I have no idea what that means.

"So, until further notice, you remain a hypocrite for not practicing what you preach."

Boy, you sure know how to hurt a guy ;-)

JimmyBob said...

"The stupidest thing about the institution is it's tendency to set itself up as the center of activity for believers, despite it's written mandate to go and engage the culture in Christ's name."

Dorse, that was helpful to me because it leads to a whole messload of codependencies that church people have, specifically their dependence on leadership. Would you further expound on how the institution does that and maybe even give suggestions of things to do that would help?

If I'm hearing DC correctly, and understanding him correctly (DC, feel free to correct me, I seriously won't be offended), he is assuming the position that the church institution was God's idea, not Constantine's. Therefore, all the rules and qualifications we find in the NT about how to run the organization.

So, that is probably why he "accused" you of fighting against the Church. From his vantage point (and mine in many ways), there is only subtle difference between the Church and the church. I've said it myself many times, "church is God's idea." I can't get away from that. We also like to point out that believers should not be in the habbit of forsaking the assembling of the themselves together. So, I would like further clarifications about the differences between Church and church.

I completely see how our methods/styles and policies of church are debateable. But, I struggle badly with seeing the organization/institution of church as being debateable.

JimmyBob said...

Eddie(f) - As the host of this blog, I'm asking you politely to drop your beef with Dorsey and let it go dude. I want to hear from him. Thanks man!

DCMetalJr said...
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BruceD said...
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BruceD said...

Sorry about that... too many typos.

To repeat:

This will be a fruitless debate. A quote from a fellow named Chip Brogden comes to mind.

He says, "if we have revelation of Christ, nothing else will matter. If we don't have that revelation, nothing else will make any difference."

I think the problem some folks might have, is that they think the organized, structured, institution known as "church" is the only way to gather. I assure you, it is not.

There is a movement of the spirit of God to call people into real life, and real relationship with Him... one by one. The artificial, orchestrated, programmed enviroment of the institution seems so pointless once someone has tasted the reality of a spiritual community. But, if someone hasn't experienced that, it is (probably) impossible to compare the two. If organized religion is all we know, then it is all we know.

Most, who have lived within the institution and have been taught, trained, and nutured by the institution... will be loyal to it, and will look the other way when things begin to "not add up". They are not ready for the "real". It is not their time yet. And nothing I can say or show, will make any difference.

dorsey said...

DC, I'm eager to answer your questions because I think that you've jumped to some erroneous conclusions about my beliefs. But you need to understand that my complaints about the current system are general in nature. There are exceptions to almost every point that do not diminish the primary complaint. Also, I have to go to work, so I'll just run down your list.

1. Of course Christians should assemble with some regularity. But we give more heed to "don't forsake the assembly" than we do our obligations to the community. It's not wrong to call that meeting of people Church, but I think allowing ourselves to call our facilities churches has led to inappropriate perceptions and some seriously faulty assumptions. I actually know a pastor who really believes that his building is God's house. Good Lord!

2. Yes, but the leadership model described in scripture does not at all resemble the hierarchical model that presides over most contemporary institutional fellowhips.

3. Absolutely! That's one of the primary functions of the Body. But where the assembly should be equipping believers (better yet, equipping them to equip themselves and others), the institution has become a giant teat that many Christians consider their lifeline. The idea of coming together to "get fed" is a total line of bull. Show me in scripture where that's the case.

4. I suppose so, but my first thought is that the early fellowships were separated by geography, not doctrine.

5. Don't misunderstand me. I have never advocated ecclesial anarchy, nor do I consider all church leaders to be apostate. I know many sincere, loving men and women who are in the church (small c) and are choosing to operate within that framework to bring the institution more in line with scriptural priorities. As I said, there are exceptions everywhere. I just have doubts about their chance of success. I think a more organic, relational expression of the Church, without all the overhead and bells/whistles (and mortgages) could be far more effective in a community, just maybe not as visible (which I consider a plus).

6. When you say "our current Bible," which one do you mean? KJV, NIV, NASB, NLT, The Message? Not being a speaker of ancient languages, I have no basis to read an English-language Bible and say "Every word of this is true, right down to the punctuation." Neither do you. Having said that, Yes, I believe God inspired the Bible and that it is true. But even if I didn't, I don't think that would preclude us from having a discussion.

Laying blame for the current state of affairs is a chicken or the egg argument. Jimmybob very aptly used the word codependency to describe it. I have hope for that guy. HEHE.

I think the institution could take steps that would point it in the right direction, but I don't have much confidence that it will happen. Too many people would have to give up too much control.

BruceD said...

For the record, I don't believe the bible is infallible. But, I believe God is. I think the bible is a valuable resource of inspiration to the family of God, but I do not think it is a rulebook for "doing religion correctly".

Sometimes I think many of us have more faith in the bible, or the church, than we do in God.

Karen said...

Hi Jimmy Bob...found you through Bruce's YBMT.
I'm an "ordained" elder....I've seen what you've seen many times. Heck, Paul saw it, right? It's just human behavior, and even if you leave the church it will still exist. But, churches are a business now. People's income rely on their job, so decisions made can make or break a career or family. I've found that even in house churches, the human tendency is to grab onto "leadership" even though a house church should exist with all members contributing their gifts equally (as should a building church, right?) But humans want power, grab it, hold it...and they want control. I used to be a real control freak, til I saw what you're seeing and the Holy Spirit freed me from that. Praise GOD! When my church closed, the ministry the Lord led me to did not...we are still a "group" 4 years later.
I see it all the time, so the answer in my mind to your question of "What makes the church a stupid institution" is not "stupid people" but "humans behaving badly." You seem like a great guy, one who looks beyond, and I encourage you in your job. To get through this season of your life, just pray, ask the Holy Spirit to BE with your church, to enter hearts and minds and meetings. Let Him be YOUR guide and follow His lead. Doing this completely changed my life. It will for you, too, I know.
You're a prime candidate for role model for everyone. I don't want to take up any more of your space. You can email me if you want. ntkikidee@aol.com
The stories I could tell! We had a ruckus once over COFFEE!!! :-D

DCMetalJr said...
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JimmyBob said...

Eddies, in case you're reading this. Don't ever come onto my blog again and attack my friends with that kind of filthy mouth. I'll delete your foul comments every time. (Everyone: I deleted a comment that was recently posted by Eddie(O) that was very aggessive and profane. I don't like that. What you do on your blogs is none of my business and I don't hold that against you, but this is where I stand).

Eddies, you're welcome here anytime if you have something to say and are willing to say it with decency.

For guys that are so against war, you are so ready to fight all the time. You're like the scrawny bully with a big mouth that I beat up in 4th grade. Ironically his name was Eddie too. Funny, after I took care of him, his mother came to the school and scolded me saying, "Pick on someone your own size." Me, pick on him? LOL! Eddie quit bullying after his beating and embarassment.

What's it gonna take for you to realize your MOUTH wins you no friends and generates enemies?

You know what, don't answer that. I don't want a response. Just think about it. You don't care right now anyway.

BruceD said...

I hope you're able to "enter in through the straight gate." Personally, I don't have that much confidence in my ability to measure up to God's expectations, nor am I smart enough to decifer the bible properly to figure out what constitutes the "straight gate". So I guess I'll just have to believe that Christ did it for me, and that's what the work of the cross is all about. He is everything I am not, and he freely gave me all that he is. I have faith in that, otherwise I am doomed.

He is the straight gate, and because of Him, now I am too.

BruceD said...

JB, to me... following Christ means loving the unlovable. Count it as persecution, my friend. And be joyful that your love is being tested.

DCMetalJr said...
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JimmyBob said...

Bruce, thanks again man. I am human after all and need Jesus to help me out. I just can't stand seeing friends trashed that way. I don't know anyone who enjoys it. I will defend my faith, my family, my friends, and my country.

My love is being tested, but I think other things are being tested too.

eddie{F} said...

JimmyBob

Please get your eddie’s straight and direct you “righteous” rebuke to the correct person. I am not that dense, and I generally treat people with the same amount of respect and courtesy they show me. You have not given me any reason not to be respectful to you on your blog. It’s just that I have lost all my respect for the hypocrite. I have said what I needed to say to him and it’s over. From here on out he is a non entity in my life, and it doesn’t matter any more, because he is too much of a coward to give his reasons in any event.

But if you have a beef with either of us, then please address the right person instead of treating us like conjoined twins. Fair?

JimmyBob said...

Eddie(f), that's fair.

DCMetalJr said...
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BruceD said...

So, DC... have you found the straight gate? Will you make it through?

Sorry to get off topic JB. Have you had a chance to read any of those resources I mentioned earlier?

DCMetalJr said...
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JimmyBob said...

DC, I'll be posting there soon.

Bruce, honestly I haven't yet, but I do plan on it soon so that we can discuss that more. I want to take my findings and share them. Also, I have got to get over to your blog again. Did you fix how tiny the writing was? It was very hard for me to read the last time.

Karen, thanks for the kind words and for sharing your experiences. I will drop you an email soon.

eddieO said...

Eddies, you're welcome here anytime if you have something to say and are willing to say it with decency.

i'm sorry, i forgot that your jesus only welcomes and embraces people jimmybob considers to be decent :)

For guys that are so against war, you are so ready to fight all the time.

sorry but just because you are so easily offended by the things i say doesn't mean i'm trying to pick a fight.

You're like the scrawny bully with a big mouth that I beat up in 4th grade. Ironically his name was Eddie too. Funny, after I took care of him, his mother came to the school and scolded me saying, "Pick on someone your own size." Me, pick on him? LOL! Eddie quit bullying after his beating and embarassment

wow, was that some kind of a passive agressive threat? you want to beat me up now? oh, jimmybob is a big tough guy now :)

What's it gonna take for you to realize your MOUTH wins you no friends and generates enemies?

is that what i am to you now... an enemy? You know what, don't answer that. I don't want a response. Just think about it. You don't care right now anyway :)

JimmyBob said...

Eddie(O), NO, I don't want to beat you up. It was a comparrison. I have matured much since the fourth grade.

To answer your question about being an enemy, I'm not sure where you stand right now. Either way, I am called to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me.

How old are you? That's just a simple question, not to be taken for anything other than that.

Wheww! I'm glad this never happens at church. Or does it?

JimmyBob said...

I just finished reading this article and it gave some very good points about the topic of my blog post. I am interested in receiving a list of ways that Christians can congregate without becoming like the institution. This article certainly explained where the focus needs to be (Christ centered, not program-driven, or driven by loyalty to leadership), but did not give solutions beyond that.

How do we balance our loyalties to Christ with our submission to earthly authorities? Is it ever appropriate to follow the vision of a Godly leader?

I know that many people are tired of pastors or church leaders who love power and control. But, how can they share a vision without being seen as power-hungry? Joseph had this problem in the book of Genesis.

Furthermore, I know many Christians who are tired of pastors and church leaders that have absolutely NO vision.

How do we balance?

Karen said...

}}sigh{{{
Yes, it is a fruitless debate, and we see human behavior in all its glory....um...here?
;-)
BruceD is right...
"the quote of a fellow named Chip Brogden comes to mind.
He says, 'if we have revelation of Christ, nothing else will matter. If we don't have that revelation, nothing else will make any difference.'"
Gatherings of humans will always produce similar behavior, in or out of the church "building."
No, you can't change others' behavior.
That's why you change yours.

JimmyBob said...

Good word Karen. The last part anyway. For me, the debate part about my "topic" isn't fruitless. I am actually gaining much from this thanks to everyone who has addressed the topic seriously. Bruce gave me some really good places to look.

BruceD said...

Yeah, "fruitless" probably isn't the right word. But, what I've learned is that if someone seeks to know these things, they will find it out one way or another. If they're not open to knowing, then it won't matter what's discussed. I've quit trying to persuade people to my point of view, but I'll tell them what I know if I'm asked. But, debating isn't of interest to me. I know it can go on and on forever with no real outcome, except that everyone is exhausted. hehehe

Lori said...

Hey JB

Great blog you have here..

Well so much to read on the comments

Ultimately God loves all of us and I think that is the message that should be shouted.

from one who loves to sit at the feet of Jesus

Lori said...

Hey JB

I was just thinking. The other night I watched Kingdom of Heaven for the second time as it was on TV. They were fighting over stupid things when people are what matter.

A saying I once heard "When one's first commitment is to something or someone other than God. If one's loyalty is ot a movement, one can despair when it's attacked or hate those who attack it. A human loyalty produces a human response.

JB .. I don't know you but I am sure you love God and God's people. When we Love from Fathers eyes all is changed. I know your question is sincere but ultimately just love the people no matter where they are at as Jesus did and He was the example of the Father.

In Him
Lori

Cliff said...

JimmyBob,
I am a pastor of a small church in Indiana. I don't have any profound answers to your question but I will say this to you: Don't try to fix the church. Be true to preaching the gospel of Grace. I preach a Gospel that says "GOD LOVES YOU PERIOD". I concentrate on this message and I determine in my every thought to know nothing but Christ and him crucifed. He (Christ) has already fixed everything. The organized church keeps trying to tell people they need fixing, but what they need told is they are already fixed. Why are we calling unclean or stupid what God has said is clean. If you want peace in your work give up trying to fix people or the church and start telling them the good news that Christ has already fixed it all.

Peace,

Cliff

JimmyBob said...

Lori, I love that movie, and thanks for that thought. I will always do my best to love people like Jesus did. I fall short so many times. I've been wearing a WWJD bracelet since October, 1997 on my right hand. I haven't taken it off, even for a shower. There's nothing magic about it. Sometimes I even forget it's there. But, every now and then I look at it and am reminded of His ways.

Blessings!

Oh, and Cliff, I just saw your post. Yeah, I'm becoming convinced more and more that the idea of "fixing" people isn't good. I have been challenged to see how I attempt that, even unintentionally. Thanks for reminding me of that again. Iron sharpens iron!

Lori said...

Hi JB

To answer the question:

What makes the church a stupid institution?

When one's first commitment is to something or someone other than God. If one's loyalty is to a movement, on can despair when it's attacked, or hate those who attack it. A human loyalty produces a human loyalty.

Selah

Lori

JimmyBob said...

Lori, what you say is true. I suppose then that it would have negative effects when our human loyalties replace our loyalties to God.

For example: A family feels led to start a ministry to feed the homeless in their community. First, they feel the need to get permission from their local pastor, then they wonder who they should invite to join them based on who they might "take" from some church ministry, then they must consider how much money it will cost vs. the "return" for their efforts. The list could go on. So, their being led to start the feeding ministry will not begin until they sift through all of their human loyalties. They may not even feed one homeless person after all the "considerations" and arguments during the process.

Now, this is not to say that a person should neglect the wisdom of council. However, when the Holy Spirit leads us, we must remain loyal to His direction if we are sure of it, beyond the wisdom of men (or women). In fact, God has been known to confound human wisdom. He just might ask us to do something that makes no "sense" at all to us.

And Lori, your statement, which you repeated from an earlier posting, was surely not a coincidence to me, for I gleaned even more from it because I had to read it again.

Excellent.

BruceD said...

JB said, "feels led to start a ministry"...

That's one of the attitudes that helped push me out of institutional religion. Everything has to be a "program". No longer are we permitted to engage in the sharing of God's love, as needed. The joy we have in "doing good" is replaced by task of operating correctly within a "thing" called ministry. Organized religion has indoctrinated us into believing everything we do must be structured, sanctioned, overseen, orchestrated, led, approved, managed, reported, and funded. Gone, is the spontaneity of following the Spirit of God as He works all around us.

To me, "ministry" is not a noun. It is a verb. It is the act of "administering" God's love wherever it is needed. To administer (to smooth on) the calming balm that is so needed.

Inside the institution, ministry is a program. Outside, it is a way of life.

JimmyBob said...

Exactly Bruce. I think ministry is a verb, just like love is. It is not a program.

But, let me ask you for the sake of clarity, do you feel that no ministry can take place within a program?

Lori said...

"Inside the institution, ministry is a program. Outside, it is a way of life."

Bruce I really think either inside or outside it is a matter of the heart. God sees the heart.

As we begin to fall more and more in love and trust Him more and more we begin to emanat Him more and more in our lives. He begins to live and move and has His being in and through us. This can occur inside a church building or wherever.

Take JB for example being a youth pastor and having a pure heart to help kids grow in God. This is a way of Life for Him. He is finding life and God's life in it. Things may change for him but until the spirit quickens, I have to believe he is at where he is at and this is Life for him. When/if it becomes dead and he chooses to believe it is God to stay then it may become a program/job.

I believe that I went to church for a season and time with no regret. I tithed and gave it my all with no remorse. I believed and had faith.

Today the wind has blown and more scales have been removed and revelations have been imparted to further my walk with Him. Any regrets, none. As my only hope and trust is in Him.

from one who loves to sit at His feet but like Martha gets choked with the cares of things....
Lori

BruceD said...

It's been my experience, and I realize that I have not experience all that there is, that "ministry" within the institution is shallow and bordering on lifelessness. I know that sounds harsh, but it is what I believe. I didn't see any of this until I departed those hallowed halls, but when reality hit me, it was like I'd been run over by a truck. Looking back on it, I see that most of what happened "inside" was simply going through the motions, to fulfill an obligation. It sickens me now.

Lori, your certainly entitled to your opinion, but I can't disagree more. I've come to know that it is not about "things" and "events", but about life, and sharing of love with all. I'm so tired of the orchestrated, manipulated, and insincere programs known as "ministry". It is fantasy for people who desire to be religious. "Look at me, look at what I've done in the name of the Lord! Aren't I something?"

I know this sounds harsh, especially for those who make a living from "ministry." I tend to talk louder than the subject requires, otherwise no one hears.

Lori said...

Bruce

I hear what your saying about "institutional church". It certaintly is a breeding ground for egos, rulers, for people who want to be ruled over etc. I ran into all sorts of twisted scenerios in the "church". I have wounds from its false judgment. I have seen it try to puff people up. I have seen it in full action.

What I am trying to convey is that it is a condition of your heart. It is not where you go or don't go. Its a journey for all.

My ears are open to hear what the Lord has to say
Lori

DCMetalJr said...
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BruceD said...

It's so hard to explain to the "well indoctrinated" that the Gospel of Christ is NOT a convoluted story full of complexities and incomprehensible mystery. It is simple. God loves us, and He proved it on the cross. Now live you life knowing that you are solidly connected to your creator, and there's nothing you can do about it.

The problem is, most christians DON'T BELIEVE THAT! No wonder it takes years, even lifetimes of rigid discipleship to produce a "correct" believer. Jesus said to go into the world and create disciples. Yes, go out and tell them the Good News, so that they can tell someone else. Let them become "discipled" in the simplicity of the one great fact... God loves us! It takes about 2 minutes!

But, no... we want to spend nearly an eternity teaching people how to follow a bunch of inane rules that, at best, fly in the face of Christ, and negate the purpose of Grace. You don't have to "teach" someone how to love, you only need to tell them the Good News, and the Spirit of God will teach them how to love.

Why to we want to CONTROL everything? I'll tell you why - we don't trust God. We beat ourselves up trying to settle on what the CORRECT belief system is, when all along there is no system... there is only Christ crucified! Shout for joy in the glory that is Christ on our behalf, and live with the knowledge that the One who created us... loves us unconditionally!

Like Geo says, "it's no wonder the Jews don't believe Jesus is the Savior, the Christians don't even believe it." We're still waiting for MORE! Well, IT is finished! So, enjoy it. Let the knowledge of the finished work of the Cross soak into your mind, body, and soul. Love His presence as He experiences life with you! Anticipate the wonderful things He will be doing all around you, and squeal with delight as He touches people in your life! Don't worry about "what's next", just enjoy each moment with your Father!

The church has robbed people of Life. It has taken the simple message of the gospel of Christ and turned it into a religion to be practiced and obeyed. It tells you what to do and when to do it. It takes what should be "real" and replaces it with symbolism, ceremony, ritual, and artificial love.

Escape while you can! Life the life you were meant to live! Enjoy your connectedness to God!

Or don't... it's up to you.

DCMetalJr said...
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BruceD said...

they hear what I say,
but they don't understand...

Lori said...

I hear what you say Bruce...

:)

Lori

JimmyBob said...

Bruced, if I am hearing you correctly, you are in all sincerity saying I should abandon the church I'm at while I have the chance?

Lori said...

Bruce,

I can't agree more Bruce, escape whatever hinders your walk with Him. Live and move and have your being in Him. Simply declare the simple message of God loves everyone and he died for everyone and that is the goodnews, it is finished.


Lori

JimmyBob said...

"escape whatever hinders your walk with Him."

Lori, I agree with that, but for probably different reasons than Bruce. Bruce, I don't want to assume anything about your beliefs, but based on comments I have read from you, I think you believe that it doesn't ultimately matter what your walk looks like, because Christ paid for your sins and you can consciously continue in them, even rejecting Christ, and still be fine on Judgment Day (although I don't think you believe in that day either).

Please hear me out, I am in no way putting your beliefs down or anything of the sort. I consider you a friend and wouldn't want to jeopardize that. I just want to give my view and make sure everyone understands where others are truly coming from.

I cannot reasonably believe that anyone could live their life without moral dilemnas. Even unbelievers face the same kinds of "temptations" and must make choices. Even though you believe that teaching a bunch of "inane" rules is a waste of discipleship, would you agree that moral teaching is useful in society? Would it be a good thing to learn manners and proper behaviors, etc?

Lori said...

Hey JB

Yes we all make choices. But what affects our choice making? Alot of things do, but ultimately it is trusting Him that allows us to make better choices.

I have to agree with Bruce about teaching rules. The commandments were meant to serve us, we were not meant to serve them. They serve us by showing us the way. Ultimately Jesus summed up the commandments Love the Lord God with all your heart and Love others.

Tell a man what is right about him, he already knows what is wrong.

In Him
Lori

BruceD said...

Sable, I'm sorry that you can't believe. But, that's OK. The work of the cross redeemed you to the Father, just as it redeemed us all!

Believing correctly is not a requirement for redemption. It's too bad that you don't think God is big enough to include His entire creation in reconciliation.

You see, I think God IS big enough to love even the most unlovable. And since coming to that conclusion, I am finding myself loving the least of us. That, is changing my life in the most incredible ways. Please don't underestimate the incredible power of love, and the effect it has on us all.

On the surface, it seems that you have more faith in your bible than you have in God. But, if you will trust that God's love is complete and all-inclusive, and you too might begin to see the world through new, fresh eyes!

Come on in, the water's fine! Or are you afraid of what people will say about you? "There goes that nut who believes God is great enough to redeem all of mankind! What a wacko!"

BruceD said...

Lori, I love this:

Tell a man what is right about him, he already knows what is wrong.

Love and acceptance will melt even the hardest heart, every time! Intimidation and rejection will back them further into their hopelessness, every time!

JimmyBob said...

Tell a man what is right about him, he already knows what is wrong.

I'm not sure that law enforcement would agree with that statement completely, or psychologists, or vice principals, ha, ha. But, it sounds real good.

But, I do agree in general that it is better sociologically to point out the good in others, instead of the bad. I agree that unconditional love and understanding carries great power. That is why I posted about the movie "Tristan & Isolde."

Let me ask any of you then, would you spend time teaching morals from the Sermon of the Mount or use parables? Would this be a waste of discipleship?

I keep asking these questions because I am trying to formulate what Christianity should look like outside of the church institution.

We all have different theological views that affect our comments, but on this question, try to wade through those and get to practics.

I would like to know what used to take place in church (or what still does) that now does not, and for what reasons.

Steve said...

All of this talk and no one even referenced my site (that I have read).... how sad.

People either get my site or they don't. We used to say something similar all the time, but it went more like this..."I love church work, it's the stupid church people I can't stand" or something to that effect. Hence the name of my website.

What your pastor described is a reason churches are stupid... power struggles come from within sick organizations that are driven by egos and performance driven agendas. People in old traditional churches feel a high sense of ownership and fight the seven deadly letters of C-H-A-N-G-E.

I think it's funny that you used the example of the "church business meeting"... what an oxymoron. Churches don't know what they are.... are they businesses, are they ministries.... what are they really about.

Churches have an identity crisis and most churches suffer because most successful pastors have an ego problem.

dorsey said...

Steven,
It's no longer necessary to explicitly reference Stupid Church People. You guys have become an underlying assumption in the blog-cultural landscape. So quit your whining.

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Steve's right, and has also noted over at his site that the pastor problem is very much a chicken or egg argument. How easy is it for a pastor to keep a right attitude when the people are constantly putting him up on a pedestal? And too often, they're not doing it out of love, so much as an an unconscious suckup to keep him motivated to do all the "spiritual" stuff, so they don't have to.

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It's this symbiotic, codependent relationship that makes this such a difficult problem to fix. Rev. Pastor says something like "We're all ministers of Jesus Christ," but when it comes time to visit the sick, Bro. Board Member says, "That's what we pay you for." And, at salary review time, Rev. Pastor's standard of living hinges on how much outward activity Bro. Board Member has observed. By now, Rev. Pastor has somehow become conditioned to believe that his place is on that pedestal, so he busts his ass to try to keep everyone happy while he tries to convince himself that this is the reason he went into ministry.

I think it would be more compassionate to just shoot the guy. But then who would be responsible for our spiritual welfare? US??? God forbid.

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Lori said...

Hey JB

You said "would you spend time teaching morals from the Sermon of the Mount or use parables? Would this be a waste of discipleship? and what Christianity should look like outside of the church institution."

No I wouldn't spend time teaching morals from the Sermon on the mount etc. I don't think it is wrong or a waste of time to do that.

Here is how I see that:

The struggle is not when we are walking in God's commandments, as it is a wonderful life, there is a rest. The hard part is getting your mind to really believe that Gods way is the best way, and it is the way that is going to benefit your life the most. There is a war of ideas that goes on in everyones head.

So John 15:12-14
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

When we are obeying his commands we are friends with Him. That is relationship. If your a friend you have a relationship. Christianity was never meant to be slavish, it was meant to be a response to an instruction of a friend. Jesus is our friend. There is a relationship involved here. It is not just reading a book or trying to follow moral codes. Jesus is Life and and he is instructing us in the best way of life. If we respond to His instructions adn through that friendship, we gain th love that gives us security, and the courage that we need to do what he instructs.

If we focus on trying to obey, it doesn't work. It is hard. If we focus on our FRIENDSHIP with the Lord, the natural result will be the ability to obey his commands.

More than anything, we need to know the security of knowing he loves us. Perfect love casts our fear. The enemy motivates through fear and self preservation, selfishness, pride, ambition ect.

So I encourage people and myself to focus on a relationship with Him, as He loves us and wants friendship with us. It is through His love that I change and have seen others change.

In Him
Lori

Steve said...

My own personal experience has been that, once I overcame all of the insecurity and fear of following the Lord, apart from a conventional church to provide what many teach as the need for “covering”, I actually began hearing the voice of the Spirit of God more clearly that at anytime during my thirty plus years of church attendance.

I have discovered that what many regard as essential, relating to traditional institutional involvement, was, at least for me, hindering me from maturing. Church had, for me, become an over protective mother, afraid to let her child grow up and go out on his own and actually preventing me from thinking that I could hear the Father for myself. I had been taught that it was more important that I fear my Father than dare to simply trust Him. I do not claim that the traditional institutions do this knowingly but never the less, they are frequently, I believe, doing it.

There is but ONE mediator between God and man. The sooner we teach all believers to believe that truth and trust Him to lead us, the quicker they will mature. Are we truly being taught to trust His words that nothing can separate us from Him and His love or aren’t we? Is He now in us, not just with us? Is the Comforter and Helper equipped to do His work or is He incapable of keeping us safe and sealing us safely in the Father’s care?

I might add, that because of all that I had been taught, making the decision to leave the church to renew a real walk with my Lord was one of the toughest decisions that I have ever made and it took me months of agonizing before I decided to do so. Since then I have discovered that His perfect Love really has cast out all of my fear. I am living a life filled with His righteousness, peace and joy as I have never before experienced since a very lonely day in the early seventies when my Father found me, confused, guilt ridden and with little hope. He changed me in an instant by revealing His love for me. Religious requirements almost stole that sense of His love from me and it took me thirty years to sort through it all so that I could simply return to my first love. For me, I can now say with full confidence, because of the cross and my Savior who redeemed me there, “it is finished”.

SteveW

Karen said...

"I keep asking these questions because I am trying to formulate what Christianity should look like outside of the church institution."

I guess Christianity should look the same inside or outside of the church institution.
So it should never matter whether we are "in" church or "out" of church.

JimmyBob said...

Wow, I am overwhelmed by the real answers I'm hearing. Thank you everyone. Keep serving the Lord whether you're "in" or "out" of traditional church attendance.

Steve C - I am a little skiddish right now about referencing other people's stuff. I wasn't sure how you'd feel about that or I definitely would have (in a good way). Thanks for your comments.

Steve said...

JB - as the saying goes (or so I think) - "any press is good press"... even the bad stuff. And we've had our fair share of that. But I don't think we're the villians some would like us to be... I don't even think we're the villians we'd like to be. :-)

Oh and thanks to everyone who has so far overlooked (or just not mentioned to save my embarassment) the fact that I can't count.... there are six letters (not seven) in the word "change". I think what I was referencing was the "Seven Words" that kill a church... "We've never done it that way before." (with kudos to Ralph Neighbour for that phrase)... now that's old school stuff.

dorsey said...

" But I don't think we're the villians some would like us to be... I don't even think we're the villians we'd like to be."

You just have to try harder, man. Faith may be about grace, but villainy is a totally works-based vocation. ;-)