Archive for April 11th, 2007

Deborah continues to bring up good points on this blog. She mentioned that several people in her church have come and asked where they can get fed in her particular community of faith. I am always leery when people ask me that question.

First off, most people who know what the word fed implies in the Christian world have probably been following Christ for a while now. They obviously know the lingo that is used by Christians and are looking for a place to spiritually serve them. If they know enough to ask where they can be fed, they are pretty much seasoned believers.

Second, when I am asked that question (because of my first thought) I wonder what exactly they are doing to feed themselves. They should know that the bible is their daily bread, prayer is their connection to God and that fellowship is a good thing. Yet, many people who have been following Christ for years are still asking “who is going to feed me.”

This is such a huge problem in Corporate Christian America. There is supposed to be a natural spiritual growth progression, much like there is in humans. We are born, we are at first spoon fed, but we eventually learn to feed ourselves. Imaging a 30 year-old going to his parents and asking “who is going to feed me?” It sounds ridiculous, yet we still have 30 year believers who are looking to be fed by pastors who find it necessary to feed all of his sheep.

Most people use Jesus’ exchange with Peter in the gospel about “feeding my sheep” to justify this. However, we must note a few things. Scripture was not available for nearly 150 years after that moment, so people were unable to read the word for themselves. Second, Peter didn’t go and start a disciple ship ministry in the upper room. He went out from town to town and evangelized! And, while he did that he wrote some letters to the church concerning doctrine. So, either Peter disobeyed Christ or he knew it meant something more than just make sure that everyone gets fed by you.

Now, I am obviously not saying that discipleship is unimportant or irrelevant. We must have this in our churches, either via small groups or discipleship programs. However, I think it is high time that the church stop looking for where they can be fed and get up to feed themselves. They have EVERYTHING they need to connect and grow on their own, while serving and in an being connected to a local church.

I could get into more about how most pastors enjoy being needed as a feeder, but this is enough for today. It’s just time that mature Christians stop looking for places to be fed and start feeding those whose souls are craving God.

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Ok, Ken actually responded (?) to my open letter. In the interest of fair play I want to reproduce it here in its entirety. 

 

“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves;”

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
(Matthew 23:13-15)

Note for the self-righteous: Looks like Jesus must have missed your
memo. (satire)

P.S. Chris, do you know why Ken’s Comments don’t seem to make it into the side column?

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WatchdoggieJust a few random bits of thoughts from my lunchtime perusal of CRN:

Beatlemainia vs. Hyperlegalism

As I read Ingrid’s article, I got to wondering: Which is more concerning-  A) A Christian college hosting a Beatlemania concert; or B) this quote:

WELS Lutherans are instructed that they should not even pray with someone of another denomination, including fellow conservative Lutherans.

I think I’ll have to go with “B” on this one (which is not to say I would or would not have supported “A”).

Wow

Just when you thought nobody could more incoherently slander Rob Bell than Ken, it seems that Ken dug a guy up who would fill that bill in today’s article on CRN.  [Caution - poor readability and sad "Christian" logic follow that link]

What made the linked article rather sad/humorous just off the top of my head was:

1. The open mocking of another church’s missions program

2. The mocking of the very name of the church (Mars Hill Bible Church)

3. Complaining that the worship music page from the church doesn’t mention using one’s heart in worship, yet the opening words on the linked page are: “Join in with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”

4. The icing on the cake – Finishing the article up with the quote “If it’s true it’s not new”.  Match this with the introduction from Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis:

“If it’s true, it isn’t new. I am learning that what seems brand new is often the discovery of something that has been there all along – it just got lost somewhere and it needs to be picked up, dusted off, and reclaimed.”

What’s in a Word?

OK, so on Monday, Ken wrote a scathing complaint about one of the most conservative ‘emerging’ church pastors out there, in terms of theology, Mark Driscoll.  His problem was twofold: 1) An ad for a church celebration on Cinco de Mayo included a reference to ‘cervesas’, which is a misspelling of the Spanish word for “beer”, ‘cervezas’.  The inferrence was that Mark must be ‘Emergent’ (which both he and Mars Hill do not claim) because the church would had beer at a function; 2) The ad referenced a church New Years Party (which had a champagne toast) called the ‘Red Hot Bash’, which Ken then twisted to imply that it was sexually raunchy (another supposed trait of ‘Emergent-cy’).

So then yesterday, Ken writes a complaint about how the ad from Mars Hill’s Cinco de Mayo changed to remove the word ‘cervesas’ – the implication being there’s something sinister going on here.  Besides the fact that I doubt that Mark does the web-work for Mars Hill and probably had no involvement in this ‘tempest’ (I wouldn’t even call it a ‘tempest in a teapot’, because the ‘tempest’ exists only in Ken’s mind), I can think of dozens of reasons for the change. 

For starters, I know a good number of highly educated folks whose grasp on the meanings of foreign words falls far short of reality.  I had a high school teacher who used a particular yiddish word for years when describing certain types of students.  When she was informed what the word meant, she turned white as a sheet and never used it again.  In this manner, since ‘cervesas’ was misspelled in the first place, I wouldn’t assume that the person was sure of the meaning in the first place.

However, rather than just assume anything, I decided to use this brand new, modern invention called a “telephone” and I called Mars Hill and asked.  Their receptionist was in (it’s lunch time out there), and told me to send him and email and he’d get an answer back to me.  If they are OK with me publishing the answer, I will…

I wonder if Ken wrote/called Mars Hill to inquire about this function, or if he is just making assumptions, with the assumption being that their motives were somehow deceptive or impure?  Or is this just another case of looking to be offended and finding what you sought in whatever you found…

To his credit, though, at least Ken posted the following quote from Driscoll’s book, The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out:

“Why does all of this matter?” It matters because alcohol is a very real example of the pitfalls of syncretism and sectarianism. Prohibition began as a syncretistic liberalism that took away alcohol and the Christian freedom to drink. This happened because churches aligned themselves with a non-Christian feminism that attempted to eliminate the pub as a gathering place for men to do theology, politics, and business. This syncretism undermined the clear teachings of Scripture in an effort to fabricate a theology that supported its cultural form of morality.

Over time the prohibitionist mindset became so entrenched in evangelical and fundamentalist thinking that it is now a sectarian belief intended to keep God’s people out of the pubs, clubs, and dinner parties where sinners gather to make friendships and memories–the very places where Jesus was often found… Confusion about the gospel is truly at the root of this issue.

Does this mean, though, that Ken has changed his stance on alcohol, or that he expected this to prove his point (in which case, it didn’t).  Ken, can you answer?

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I am finding that many of these watchdog sites are basing a lot of their information on what goes on during a Sunday morning service.  Posts like this one from Christian Research Network show that these men and women judge a church primarily by what happens from 8am – 1pm on Sundays.

Most of us know that a church is not a Sunday morning service.  But for some reason, that magic hour on Sunday has become the most pivotal for many people.  For those of us who are actively participating in a local body, we know that the Sunday morning experience is a very small part to what “church” is.  In fact, for those of us serving, we know that most “ministry” usually takes place outside of the large group corporate setting.

Because of this, I believe that it is ok for a Sunday morning service to be seeker sensitive or geared towards evangelism when the church is healthy as a whole.  Healthy churches have deep and impacting relational dynamics that take hold within their communities.  What is rarely looked at by these watchdog blogs are the small groups, discipleship classes and community that happens apart from what is described on a website or in a pastor’s book.

At Mosaic, our gatherings are designed to appeal to everyone in any walk of life.  The believer can come and receive something as well as the non-believing, homosexual post moderns who attend the gatherings on Sunday nights in the Mayan Nightclub in Downtown Los Angeles.  Looking at just that, one might see our community as shallow and unhealthy.  However, we have tons of small groups that meet literally all over Southern California and “disciple” people in the word of God.  And, we actively get people into these groups.  In fact, in order to be on our volunteer staff (our version of membership), you must be in a small group!

Tonight I will be going to a small group where we have been going verse by verse through James.  Next month we are starting in on Ecclesiastes.  We have seen three people come to Christ here and are being “fed.”  These are not just “hang-out” groups, but a place to learn, grow and experience biblical community.

I think this is my biggest problem with most of the criticism I have seen from those attacking PD ministries, seeker-sensitive, postmodern ministries.  In order to attack a church you must look at the WHOLE, not just what takes place on Sunday.  In order to understand the dynamics of a family you must live with them and experience what happens on a day to day basis, nit just sit outside with binoculars.  And yes, there are a few out there who are unhealthy, but that can be said for any church “group”.

Don’t get me wrong, Sundays are an important part of what we do, and we are not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together.  But the church is much more than a few hours on one day of the week.

More thoughts, I would love to hear them….

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“It seems like their entire mission in life is to listen to everything that I say, Ken Silva says, other people like Mike Ratliff, John Cardwell… and to dissect every word we say and even sometimes twist it around”

This was Mike Corley’s quote from today’s show concerning our website.  I would like to rephrase this and send it back.

“It seems like their [Mike Corley, Ken Silva, etc.] entire mission in life is to listen to everything that Bell says, Erwin McManus says, other people like Rick Warren, Dan Kimball… and to dissect every word they say and even sometimes twist it around”

He then goes on to say that the difference between his site and ours is simply that “he contends for the faith.”  Have you been on CRN.com?  I see very little of contending for the faith and heaps of “dissecting words” and “twisting them around.”

Corley then goes on to challenge us to prove him wrong with scripture and verse.  This coming from a man who in the same broadcast did a whole critique piece on Northeast Church’s methodology without using a single word from scripture.  In fact, in the whole one hour, show he had A verse.  The problem is that when someone makes a critique of someone without any biblical backing, it is hard to give a biblical rebuttal using scripture.  When someone makes blanket statements about someone or some ministry, we have to return with simple evidence that these accusations are not true, using scripture and scripture usage when possible.

I found it comical that Mike used this example:  please give me chapter and verse when you argue against me that Jesus is the only way or that Mormonism, Hinduism or Buddhism is wrong.  Does anyone remember any “mock site” having a problem with these issues?  No, we all agree on these.  It is the painting of anything that looks different than you as emergent and attacking methods rather than the message preached that we take offense.  It is when people are trying to give the message of Christ and you try to hinder it, that we take action.

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