Archive for December, 2012

There is a blog writer out there — we’ll call him Gary.*

Gary started out a recent post by stating that he had great reluctance to write it. It was about the shooting at Sandy Hook and lots of people had already written about it; for a while, he didn’t see value in adding his perspective. But eventually, he came up with some (IMHO) helpful and unique thoughts, and so he wrote them down.

One of the other reasons that he cited for his reluctance was that he was tiring of blogging. While he is a self-deprecating sort (which earns him points in my book), his tiredness was not so much that he did not feel that he was having impact, but more personal reasons and a shifting of priorities. Not surprisingly, several of the comments by his “fans” — and even a close friend — told him that he should not stop blogging.

What was frightening was the fact that — while briefly ascribing to him value in his writings — all such comments focused on the impact that his quitting would have on the reader.

What was disgusting was the fact that — without exception — every such comment used the word “ministry” to describe his blogging. Now, while I have no doubt that his writing ministers to others and could legitimately be called ministry, that word is not some magic talisman. Just because you do an activity that ministers to others does not obligate you to continue to do that activity in perpetuity.  Yet this was exactly how the word was employed every time.

I love my pastor and I hope that I have the opportunity to sit under his teaching and leadership for years to come. But if God told him tomorrow that he was supposed to go back into cabinet-making, and he rejected this idea because he is ministering to a lot of people as a pastor, I would be sorely disappointed in him.

Colossians 3:23-24 tells us:

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

While the context is addressing slaves, the applicability of this truth is universal. The bumper sticker may be a tad cheesy, but it’s true, nonetheless: my boss is a Jewish carpenter. The Christian’s obligation is to the Lord in all of his efforts, including ministry.


* That’s not actually his name, but my post is about an issue, not a person, and (unfortunately) many of Gary’s “fans” are not capable of the distinction. In the event that one of them stumbles across this, I’d prefer that the issue be weighed by its own merits.

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I recently sat in a church that spends more money on its Christmas and Easter programs than it does on its benevolence fund. I know because they are kind enough to post that information publicly.

Five Thousand dollars a year for the poor. Almost twice that for productions. The sermon was full of the easy to hit sins, cute phrases and “rah rah, go team!” rants. Diversity didn’t seem to be a major concern to the congregation or the pastor. It was like being transported back to the early 90’s.  The alliteration of his points was flawless. Seriously, almost every point started with a D, including the sub points. From one perspective, it was simply amazing. Eighteen Christmas trees adorned their stage.

It actually occurred to me that I could be attending a convention of retired CIA agents. Three piece suits, long rain overcoats.

The church was about conservative exclusion. Keep the other kids out of the sandbox so to speak.

I also sat in another church recently. This one went the other way. Invite everyone. Put a ton into the production of the show. Change sharing your faith to inviting people to church. Play with the lights to match the beat of the music. Dim the lights, pump dry ice through the air. Do a rah rah message. By rah rah, I mean read one maybe two verses, and then talk for forty minutes about things that have nothing to do with the verses read.

Lament the fallen state of mankind and the world. The sermon was a mix of self-praise for the preacher, his family and a group therapy session. As a therapist, I know a little bit about group therapy. Just sit in the people’s misery.

Never actually offer real hope. How does one move out of their crap?

I’m afraid we’ve lost our way.

We think we need to protect the message.

We think we need to make the message a show. We need to drum up excitement for it. We offer things that are never promised in the Text. (Those will be a different post).

We have lost our way.

The message is simple. And it’s amazing. Here it is:

God wants to have a personal relationship with you. The God of the universe wants to walk through life with you. He wants to offer you the best way way to live. That’s it. Love God, and love people.

We don’t need to make it better. It doesn’t need to be “made better.” It just needs to be repeated in words and in deeds.

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