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Monday, 22 January 2007
A Very Simple Question...
Topic: Church & Culture

I have been struggling with how church is done.  What's new about that?

In my desire to operate in Christ's Kingdom community (ya know, actually becoming a disciple-following Jesus into his work and will in the earth), I have had some offensive discussions within the church at large.

Everybody seems to have figured out individually different Christs that they follow.

The "teaching church" believes that dispensing information in a classroom setting is who Jesus is; the "worshiping church" thinks that contemporary songs and remaking hymns in a sheltered subculture is what Jesus was building; the "administrative church" thinks that moving money into programs to "minister" from a distance is Jesus' "Way;" and the "Business Model" church encounters Jesus as a CEO, his managers are the clergy, his supervisors are deacons, and his employees are the laity.  (I know this is not thorough, but please let's not get sidetracked.)

The trouble being (I think) that there is only One Jesus... Right?  I think that I have encountered him in the scriptures, and have seen lots of examples of what is important to him, as well as what isn't.  (I am not talking about gifts at this time (different people serving in different ways), although they are important to the total church).

I am a church planter.  I've started a church under, not the most ideal circumstances from a "Church Business" standpoint, and have been told such things as Still Waters is not a church, "[we] only do ministry."  Also things like, "losers don't make for a healthy church."

As we started out, our mission was to follow Christ into his work in the world; connecting with the undesirables in our area in genuine friendship, and helping the more affluent community (church folk) into their lives and service.  As Christ's disciples, we find him doing this throughout the gospels.

There is one thing that I am sure of; that Jesus befriended and identified with those who were struggling on the margins, and had little respect for the comfortable, affluent religious types who thought that they were better, more educated, clever and religiously right.

I've been told to "pastor" building a church.  I sense that the clergy has no room for actually touching the undesirable personally and to the point of inconvenience.  We have heard that we are helping the wrong people, and in the wrong way.  Again, I've been told that this is not a church.

We have applied for a grant within our own fellowship of churches, beginning communication with them in October 2004, and still have had no answers to probably one of the most thorough applications that many professional grant writers have witnessed, let alone unanswered emails, and unanswered questions.  Could it be that they fear that we will waist the funding on helping the wrong people?  I don't know...

I would like some dialog to help me figure this out... 

Beginning with this question:  Is Jesus a pastor?  And, did Jesus plant a church?  Careful now...

Looking forward to hearing your answers.

Peace.


Posted by Pastor Kork at 2:11 PM EST
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Saturday, 27 January 2007 - 9:36 PM EST

Name: "Tanya"

So now...they say that Still Waters is not a church and that we "only" do ministry (?)  Frankly, I get really tired of the popular concept of what it means to be a "church" these days.  I have a lot of friends who have done church all of their lives and they are still looking for the "right" church.  When I ask them what they are looking for in a church, they speak of things like excellent praise bands, preaching that is entertaining yet biblically based, high quality programs, and plenty of opportunities for "fellowshipping."  I don't think that I have ever asked that question of church people and had anyone say that they were looking for a church that would challenge them to serve in the way that Jesus did, OR for that matter, in the way the early church did. 

 

And how does history record the impact of the early church?  I'm reminded of what the Roman Emperor Julian wrote, in frustration, about the church in AD 340:  "Atheism (that is, the Christian faith) has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers and through their care for the burial of the dead.  It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them."

 

The world was not impressed by the church's wealth, buildings, programs, music, or slick preaching, and you know what?  The world still isn't.  If it was, we wouldn't be closing churches right and left.  What the world was and still IS impressed with is a church who loves Christ and believes in Him and His message so much that they selflessly serve and show love to the "losers".  

 

Anyway, in answer to your questions-of course Jesus is a pastor, and of course He planted a church.  And the way that He planted a church was simply by modeling and teaching His ways to the people who chose to follow Him. He poured His life and His entire "DNA" into people who were looking for something real-something completely different from what the religious establishment was offering at the time.  His way was hard and it was not popular, especially with those who knew the "right" way to do things. His way was all about service and humility and looking out for other people instead of serving "self".  His way was, and still is about serving those outside of the church instead of serving the church.  

 

I don't know.  I've spent my entire life in "the church."  And now I am part of Still Waters, where I feel that I have finally learned what it really means to BE the church.  It is here where I am learning how to love like Jesus loves-without agenda, reason or expectation.  And if that makes me a loser who is part of a "loser church" (or maybe not even a church at all, but "just" part of a ministry), then so be it.  Somehow I'm thinking that when I finally meet Jesus face to face, He's going to say that He saw it very differently...

 

 

Sunday, 28 January 2007 - 2:40 PM EST

Name: "Pam Lloyd"

Well, I took some time before I wrote this, after being warned to "be careful."  As you get to know me better, you will learn that being careful is not always my gift!

Anyway, as an "almost member" of one church, an employee of another, and a member of Stillwaters in my heart, I struggle, too.  I believe with all my heart that God dreamed up the church, and that Jesus was the perfect example of how church is done.  Over and over again in Scripture, the church is called the bride of Christ, and the relationship between Christ and the church is the example set for all of our relationships.  That being said, WE ARE HUMAN, and we messed it up.  Is church today the church that God had in mind?  No, but He certainly wasn't surprised when we took the most amazing outlet for learning, and instructing, and ministering, and feeding, and clothing, and loving people and turned it into something that is suddenly about us!

But that is no reason to believe that the church can't be everything that Jesus told us it should be.  And I believe it is the purpose of churches like Stillwaters (and even some others!) to show unbelievers and the "marginal" among us what the church can be.  And yes, I believe it is even the job of churches like Stillwaters (and even some others) to instruct those who have gone very far astray. 

As I read the church page "blurbs" yesterday, I noticed that today seems to be "annual congregational meeting" day; it is in my church as well.  As I prayed this morning for churches holding their meetings today, I prayed that every decision made will be about bringing Christ to a hurting world, that in the midst of personal agendas and personal preferences and petty arguments, that church people today would see the hand of God in their midst, and that in every decision they would see, and honor, Christ.  Do I believe that will happen in every church in every town today?  No, but I know that God is HUGE and amazingly capable, and I know with every fiber of my being that there will be at least a heart or two in each of those churches that does look for Jesus, and does struggle for ways to see his love lived out in our lives.  Church may not be the way God intended, or the way we think it should be, but when people are hurting and in need, they turn to the church - even the most "un-churchy" person knows that there is supposed to be something different about church people. - Jesus spoke to the church when He said, "the poor you will always have with you."

The other thing I pondered today is that with all the decision-making going on, if something horrible happened tomorrow, and every church and church board and pastor were gone, would anyone notice?  I know that if Stillwaters were gone, there would be people tonight with nowhere to lay their heads, there would be people with nothing to put in their stomachs, there would be people who could no longer get to their doctor's appointments, AND there would be NO ONE talking to them about God's amazing grace.  That, my friend, is church; no one will convince me differently.

Monday, 29 January 2007 - 3:40 PM EST

Name: "Maryann"

I read in the bible that we are to associate with what the world considers the lowly also the first will be last and the last will be first. You never know how God will use a person or a situation for HIS glory.  God looks at the heart of a person not the outside. I associate with people that are incarcerated. Some people think I am nuts but you know what ? I wouldn't trade the friendships I have with them for all the money in the world. You keep on keeping on.     

                                                   God Bless,

                                                    Maryann

 

                                                                                       

                                                           

Monday, 29 January 2007 - 4:32 PM EST

Name: "Tanya"

Just one more thing...

A not-so-trivial bible trivia question:  Finish this verse from the book of Ezekiel:  "Sodom's sins were___" 

I have heard many sermons on the sins of Sodom over the years.  I've heard the usual "Sodom's sins were perversion and homosexuality."  And I've heard that, "Sodom's sins were that they shunned the hospitality rules."  How can it be that I never heard a sermon from Ezekiel 16:49, 50 (NLT), "Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.

It seems to me that God takes the sin of not caring for the poor and needy pretty seriously.  Would it be too harsh of me to suggest that the churches' sins are also "pride, laziness, and gluttony while the poor and needy suffered outside her door?"

 


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