heading out

tina and i will be heading to the faith forward forum in la in the morning - we get up early and take a long fight :) we are looking forward to blogging about what is happening - specner from the ooze will be joining us as we take this little adventure and it will be fun to hang with spencer again - i have not seen him in over a year - sure, we talk but it is so much nicer to share a beer and just shoot the bull with old friends :)

this should be fun - and it feels good to get back into the mix :)


sbc lost touch with reality

the sbc amazes me - no, let me rephrase that.... the sbc confounds me. there, that's better and more to the truth of how i feel.

president carter is trying to unite a faction of the sbc that has been pushed aside for years. he is offering a hand out to those who do not have the "republican sbc views" and fall more in line with other points of view - but, the sbc just can't have that - so they strive to slap carter around and call him names. here is a funny out take of a letter written by some of the "sbc elite:"

"In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the ‘Jewish Lobby.’ In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support of Israel. Is any interest group to be penalized for participating in the free and open political process in America? Your book and recent comments suggest you seem to think so." [full story]

for a group claiming the "freedom of expression is a basic bedrock" they sure are trying to shut carter up. seems that they see "freedom of expression" to mean, "as long as you are saying what we want to here."

for me, i have never been very good at politics, on the whole i find politics to just be filled with lies and double talk. but carter has always impressed me. i mean, i am not seeing many other presidents out their swinging hammer, lifting board, talking with the average person and using a port-a-john to do his business. yea, carter impresses me, the sbc does not.

well, jimmy if you are looking for a emerging/evolving guy to fill any of those 14 positions left by those who "left" the cater center i would be happy to toss my name in the hat - and i might even read the book :)


the evolution of a church

what brings about change? what causes one community of faith to look deep into what it is and causes it to change? what causes one community of faith to change, while another closes its doors forever? one thing i have noticed is that churches are much like people in how they face the idea they may die - let me explain.

if, after a long life the doctor looked at you and said, "you are dying and you have but a few years left." what would you do? well, i think you would be like a great many people who finds themselves in that standing - you start to change your life style. you walk more, eat better, exercise and even start to take the meds the doc gave you some time back; you start thinking that if you take care of your body now, you might get some extra time. you start to make the changes in your life, because you desire to live longer - you think to yourself, "i am too young to die, i have so much more to give and so much more to do." well, that's what happens with many churches today when faced with the reality they are dying. they are being faced with the cold reality that they are one bad flu season away from closing. so, they start to change, and in that they hope and pray that the change is not too late, or too little. but, for many churches the change is too little, to late - and they die.
while one might morn the death of a church, i am not sure God does. you see, i believe God wants many churches to close their doors, because God is desiring to do some very cool things and many churches are in the way. recently, the church i am the lead pastor at [247THECHURCH.com] had the opportunity to do some "changing" long before we went to visit the doctor.

we were approached by a night club in the area and asked if we would be willing to trade buildings. we did not take long to say yes, because the area we would move to is a better area for the people we wanted to reach and the night club owners gave us a commitment of paying our full rent for one year and paying part of the rent for the next two years. some of the people outside our community of faith were confused on why we would change buildings with a bar, we reminded them that we did it before. we are the only community of faith in our area that renovated two bars and made them into worship places, and we are the only church i know of who would willing trade buildings with a bar. anyway, this experience brought to life some very important things churches need to remember when they seek change.

first, change comes from God and it can come in ways you never think possible. too many churches would have found some obscure theological reason not to trade buildings with a "evil bar." but we felt that God was doing this. it came at a time when we were praying over our needing to find a better place, and our desire to move to another section of the town. if we looked at it as "that evil bar" we would have never changed buildings, but instead we did change buildings and got to know the owners of the night club and found them to be some very nice people. for a church to truly be doing what God is wanting, think outside the box and get creative. stop thinking like "church" and start thinking of what God is wanting from you as a community of faith.

second, move fast. from the time the bar owners approached us with the idea and we agreed to the move, to the time we opened the doors of the new place it was just shy of a month, and we did not miss a single worship service. we acted fast, we focused and we jumped into the water. we did not worry about who could swim and who could not, because we knew we would be there to help those in need no matter what. too many churches die in the planning stages. too many churches think that planning will move them to the next level, that they forget that God works outside human plans. God works at God speed. be open to moving fast, even if it seems "reckless" to do so. once you are moving ahead, people will catch the momentum of how fast you are going.
don's share everything, with everyone. too many churches seem to think that to move ahead everyone in the church needs to know every single detail and that a vote needs to be taken on each step. this is so not the case. share with the people the big picture and you and the other servants worry about the small details. i have found that for many pastors "voting" is simply a way to pass the buck on making an unpopular decision; and for many people in the church "voting" is a way of "having power" when the rest of their life is filled with "powerless" moments. too many in "church leadership" pass the buck and when things fall apart they say, "well the people voted to do it that way." if you are not careful, in the process of "voting" you will open up more issues then you or anyone can deal with.
celebrate the victories, celebrate the failures as well. don't ignore the failures in the process. when we renovated the old church building we learned a great deal that we carried over to this building. if all you do is ignore the failures you simply never learn. during our time together as a servant team we would always talk in terms of what we are doing based on what we learned. but first and foremost, party. break out the food, and just have fellowship and proclaim even the smallest of victories for the move forward.
listen to your heart and not your head. logic has very little to do with moving in the direction God is pointing. look throughout scripture people are moving in ways that do not seem logical, but they are moving because they believe God is moving them. abraham, moses, joshua, caleb, peter, paul, timothy, james, john and so many more where not driven by the "logic" of their lives, but they were moved by a passion for God and a desire to see the kingdom grow.

realize this is not about you or your family, this is about God. it matters little how many years your family has been at the church; what matters is how long will that church be around to meet the coming generations; it matters little how much money you give to the church; it matters little what family member did what in the church; it matters little how long you have been a member of the church - because none of those things matter much to God, service to the past is wonderful, but it must never take over the reality of our call to serve the future. i have seen too many churches close their doors because some old pompous and pious jerks do not desire to see their little corner of the world change, so they fight at every turn any change that comes their way. that may sound harsh, but it is something we all know and we have all seen. i remember being the pastor of a church that refused to do anything to the building because some of the rooms were named after some "important" people in the church, and they did not want to offend anyone. i say, offend away. the idea of moving past and staying in touch with God is so very important when we think in terms of change in the church. the idea is to move ahead and not be afraid of where God is leading, and never second guess God in His desires for His church - remember, we are but short timers here to help the church reach a current generation, down the road a few will come a new generation and a new people with a desire to reach that current generation, and we need to be willing to help them in their changes.

change is a part of life, and we have to get past this silly idea that "people fear change" because it is not true. people fear the unknown, not change. if what one is doing is shared with others, and people are doing the change in a positive light there is nothing bad about change. because the reality is that churches either change or die.