Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Contemporary and Relevant Church Battle

It's hard to watch this without having a pretty strong reaction.  You'll either see it and cringe or become defensive.  Check it out.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer

This is actually the worship team at this mega-church satirically looking at themselves.  But the problem is that many think this has become the standard by which church is measured, and they don't think it's funny at all...even when done satirically.  What was seen just a few years ago seen as edgy and cutting edge is now seen by many to be a form of church that is great at developing crowds of spectators waiting to be entertained each week, but is lousy at creating participants in the worship of Christ.

These people say the central mission of the church is to make disciples and the "contemporary/relevant" church might be good at making converts and gathering crowds, but not making disciples.  Central in this criticism is that the contemporary/relevant form of church develops a very shallow, experience driven spirituality that requires another dose the next week to sustain it.  People are left more and more dependent upon the pastor and the service instead of living a life that is characterized by discipleship and the development of spiritually mature Christian character.

On the other side, the practitioners of the contemporary/relevant church model defend themselves by saying it's the church's job to meet people where they are at spiritually.  This requires the church to carefully plan a marketing strategy to best meet the felt-needs of the community and demonstrating to non-believers that Christians are not religious nuts and the church is relevant to daily life.  These churches have a contemporary feel to them usually meaning the music played during church is the same stuff you'd hear on any contemporary Christian music station.  They also seek to be contemporary in removing what they call "barriers" (traditional Christian church items such as crosses, pulpits, organs, etc) from the church building.  The resulting new construction has typically been nice, but utilitarian, with an emphasis on creating as many seat as possible for the lowest cost per seat.

There are many issues involved in this debate and this is what I'll be writing on for the next few weeks.  I would love to get your feedback on the video.  The blogs responses have been really polarized with many being incredibly defensive of the contemporary/relevant movement.  The basic response is how dare anyone criticize what is obviously a movement of God.  On the other side, there are many that believe the problems of this movement are so dire, they just can't believe this mega-church would sarcastically poke fun at themselves. They feel deeply and passionately that this isn't funny at all and the fact this video was made as a sarcastic parody proves how far off the mark these churches have become.

I would love to get your feedback.  What do you all think?  Please give me your reactions to the video.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day...Reflections about my Dad

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! Here's to all the things you do to be a good father.  Here's an example gone all wrong.  I love this commercial!  You have to give this guy credit...at least he tried.  Some of these poor kids probably developed Coulrophobia!  (fear of clowns)

Reflections about my dad:  The more I experience in life, the more I appreciate my dad. He loved us through good-times and times of heartache.  It's a rare person who truly selflessly loves others.  I see a lot of dad's who seem to use their kids to make up for something they lack.  They experience the life they wished they had through their kids lives, whether or not it's best for their kids.  Sometimes dads are so proud of their kids that it becomes really becomes pride in themselves about what a great parent they are.  I know that sometimes I worried more with what others thought of me than I did making sure I was using these moments to teach my kids things about life.  I struggled when these moments weren't convenient for me or if they were too public.  My dad seemed to be able to really do things for me.  This is a good lesson for me and I really appreciate it.

This ability he had was very costly.  Their oldest son died at 19 years of age.  Anyone who's lost a child knows how terribly difficult it is.  But through the heartache, I think what emerged was a father who gained the wisdom of what is really important in life. The wisdom to know the difference between things that really matter, and things we seem to care so much but are really just trivial.  A mentor of mine told me this, "typically wisdom comes from experience, and experience is usually painful."  

The clown video made me think back and smile about the story of the time when my dad was going to show the neighborhood kids how to do a standing back flip.  He used to tell me how he could do all kinds of things in his youth!  He got about half way over and then landed on his head! He injured his neck and had trouble with that for years!  It happened when I was so young I can't remember it.  But my family remembered it and repeated it to him often!  :-)  While it happened before I have memories, I did see the results of it often.  He had this crazy contraption that would pull on his head while he was laying flat on his back.  Sometimes he'd even sleep with this thing on!!!  All I remember is how crazy it looked and how much I liked to play with the metal weight that created the tension.  I pretended it was a shot put!  Of course, later I pretended I was Bruce Jenner.  

My dad tried lots of different things for me.  He never dressed up like a clown, but he spent countless hours with me doing my stuff and he helped me learn and develop as a man of God. He's been gone about two years now.  

I miss being with my dad.  I miss talking to him.  I wish he could see my family now.  I treasure all the lessons he shared with me about life and love.  

Happy Father's Day Dad.  I love you.  See you again someday...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Prayer to Start the Day, by Mel Lawrenz

Lord, I’m going to work now.
It seems like it was just an hour ago I was waking up and getting ready to do my work. One day seems to run into the next. So I pray that today you would show me something new, teach me something new, and let me do something new that will be constructive, will help someone else, and will glorify you.
Lord, I’m going to sweat now.
It isn’t like living in the Garden of Eden. But I know that in “the field” of this world I can honor you in my work. I know that today I will face challenges and probably some frustrations. Help me know how to respond to any bad attitudes or influences I may encounter. Let me see how I can be a positive influence where I work. Sanctify my own attitude, raise me above my own fallen nature, empower me to uphold righteous values, and help me to persevere, especially when the work is hard.
Lord, I’m going to serve now.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else today in the work I do. You have created this world and everybody and everything in it. Help me see how I can bring your light and life to someone else today. Grant me wisdom to make good choices throughout the day. Prompt me to be compassionate toward the unemployed and the underemployed. I want to conduct myself according to the character of Jesus. And whatever I do, I want to do it in his name and for his sake.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:17, 23 NIV)

Friday, June 4, 2010

God of Second Chances

We all have hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families.  Sometimes, we get so caught up in all the accomplishing and striving to make these dreams a reality, we forget to enjoy what's going on all around us.  We don't live in the present because the present isn't much more than accomplishing the things for the future.  We forget that many times the journey is more important than the destination.  

Carlos Whittaker was going out with a video production crew to shoot some video for his song "God of Second Chances." And then Danny came along.  Check it out...

At the end of the song, Carlos says he told Danny to "keep trying to make it man."  Carlos says that Danny was looking kind of confused, and then looked him straight in the eyes and said "trying to make it?  I'm not trying to make it, I am making it.  [God] puts his soldiers everywhere.  [God] says 'Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,' and so he puts some of us there, in that valley." 

I needed to hear this today.  And without getting into the intricacies of Rastafarian theology I can learn from Danny, a homeless man who tearfully sat down and enjoyed the worship of God together with a stranger.  Sure, there are things that Danny should do.  But while he's where he is, his outlook says that God put me here and I am in the valley of the shadow of death for a reason. Sometimes I need God to save me from myself, and He usually does with good friends...

View the trials in life as valuable opportunities to become more Christlike...

Do not trust in yourself, but trust in God because He is good...

We must see our financial wealth as a trial and be responsible stewards of it for God...

Learn the truth and integrate it into your experiences...

Live a life of wisdom...Live a life of worship...Live a life of courage...

Thanks Danny