Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Would you like a little cheese?...

with your whine? Joe at Evangelical Outpost linked us to a blog that is, evidently, an em-church blog. Or it's, at least, an example of post-moderns verbalizing their thoughts on church shopping (wasn't it called a "steeplechase" by Steve Taylor?). I've got to tell you... I haven't read the blog and its comments in depth, but from what I have read I'm not impressed. My hopes that we're dealing with just another fad are just about dashed after reading the whining, self-centered, don't-preach-at-me, musings at this site. From what I gather, the site is run by someone named Iphy. She and her husband and child went looking for a church to call home and she describes the disappointment they had. Joe at Evangelical Outpost gives a good rundown of that aspect of the blog on his site. I decided to read some of the comments and was struck by the arrogance that permeated the site. If you think I'm being too harsh then read it for yourself. A pastor, named David, attempted to add his views and console the poor distressed Iphy back to try his church out. One reader comments on one of the pastor's posts with, "David, Good grief, man, I'm tryin' to be on your side - are ya tryin' to make yourself indefensible? Can you not see that you've gone and made the same mistake that kicked off this whole thing? Based on your own personal experience, you're making assumptions about other churches based on the something trivial like the length of their sermons. Can God not move through a 20-minute sermon? I s'pose not - that'd be as ridiculous as God talking through an ass or something. What if I start a church movement that consistently preaches 12-hour sermons? Does that mean your piddly 67-minute sermon contains less spirit and truth than mine? Does that mean that you and your just need more discipline, that your level of "sacrifice" ain't enough? You begin by saying we ought not base our church gatherings on our own expectations, then proceed to outline your own personal expectations for church, and, worse, to say that if some other church isn't doing things your way, it's "usually" an indicator that they're not "God glorying." I don't want to make assumptions based on these posts of yours, because I know that this internet thing ain't the best method of communication, but you ought to know that you're sending out seriously arrogant vibes. I'm no pomo, but the scripture is very clear that God deals with different people in different ways. He is absolute Truth, yes, but He works however he likes, not according to your (or my) plan." What was David's crime? Here's his arrogant post, "If we are gathering as a people of God with expectations as to what is expectable to "me" and not to God, then we certainly have our priorities inverted. Our attendance of church is for the worship and glory of God. Not for us to get back in enough time to catch the game, or any other "scheduled" conflict. The problem is this; many churches are catering to the "felt needs" of the people instead of giving the people what they really need, which is the washing of the water of the word in conviction, truth, and power as it is carried along by the Holy Spirit. Those that I am familiar with that only have 20 minute sermons, usually are not able to hold the attention span of individuals for longer than that, or they simply don't want to "rock the boat" for people that don't agree with a longer sermon length. The problem is, we need to rock the boat! People are by nature selfish, self-serving, lazy and frankly apathetic. If I were to feed my 6-year-old little girl what she wanted to eat, she would have a staple of Twinkies, ho-ho's, and coke. Not very healthy for a growing child. It is my responsibility to be a good father to her and give her what I know to be food that will strengthen and grow her into a healthy woman. The same can be said for the people of God..often they want milk when they need meat, they want candy when they need good old spinach (though I hate spinach and realize now that example is simply gross!). A pastor is charged with the responsibility of assessing the health of the church and preaching and teaching and worshipping to equip and strengthen them, not sit around with open Q and A and ask, what do you want to eat today? Now, I am not saying that this laziness is the case for all those that preach 20-minute sermons, but it is usually an indicator of some greater issue, that is, the issue of being seeker sensitive instead God glorying. Christ did not come to make bad men good; He came to make dead men live, to teach us to die to ourselves, to live sacrificially, to point to the Father and His glory. It would be wise for all of us to follow His lead, sit down, stop whining, open your bibles, learn of Him in truth, and live by that truth as we are led by the Spirit. John 4:23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Not just spirit, not just truth, but spirit and truth. Just some thoughts...off to a meeting." Here's a pastor telling it like it is... giving out what is needed rather than what is wanted, and he's accused of being arrogant. If you scan the site it's easy to see why comments such as this pastor's are unwelcomed... "david - your long, long answers on this topic are indicative of some things about your personality that cause people like iphy to feel uncomfortable around you." "iphy needs healing. she needs to find a place where she can trust people again. the institutional church (which is part of what she means when she refers to 'another evangelical' sermon, or whatever that comment was exactly) needs to learn a new way of interacting with people like her. and me." "we should talk less and listen more. i believe you have a good heart, david. but one of the biggest problems with communication between modern people and postmodern people, is that the postmoderns don't feel as if anyone has heard them. they feel lectured to." "it would good at some point to ask iphy why she feels so hurt by the church. ask her exactly what she is looking for in a church. accept that she may not choose your church, and give her permission to do so without your disapproval. " "But as much as I love a good theological hair-splitting, I have learned through much pain, that above all, I am human. And being so, all the theology in the world doesn't hold a candle to how I _feel_ about my relationship with God. Nor does it change it in any way." "good question about conversation and argument, i don't know.... for me, i can tell it gets into argument when i start to feel completely overwhelmed by it, when it becomes so personal i completely lose my objectivity." "First impressions do mean something dont they? I am kind of troubled by the dialogue. " "wow, iphy, what an experience. I pray you are recieving peace and strength from God, who loves you so much, just as you are... " "Ok, What I dont get is why Iphy cant have an opinion of a church. I mean if she doesn't like it, and feels its not for her , than big friggin deal. Where God wants her is between her and God , not between her and every Pastor that she might come in contact with." "There has to be an environment for us to feel comfortable in in order for our faith to be nurtured and exposed. People are reached in a variety of different ways. For me-it is music. If the church doesn't have good music, I won't go back. Music is a defining factor of who I am. The sermons often times to very little for me. Does that make me selfish? I don't think so. I don't think it makes me self worshipping either to desire a Church with good Praise and Worship music. I want to see worship in action. I don't like being lectured on how one individual thinks I should go about doing it. Our relationships with God are uniquely individual, and I think Iphy has the right to pursue one under whatever circumstances she feels create a longing and desire in her to go deeper in her own." "thank you all for being a part of my life. this has been a wonderful, poignant, exhaustion, emotional experience for me." "I refuse to apologise for my feelings. I refuse to believe that God does not have a sensitivity towards people and their feelings. Whatever that makes me, it makes me." "I am only recently learning that God accepts me where I am. Certainly God doesn't accept sin in my life, nor does God justify my wrongs, but God still loves me and God still accepts me and God is okay with where I'm at. I have never heard that until a few weeks ago. I'm 34 physical year old and I have always believed that in order for God to love me or accept me I just had to do a little more or try a little harder or read the Bible a little more often. I am only now learning that where I am, in this moment, in this breath, in this moment of existence, is still within God's love, still within God's acceptance." "David, As one who defended your original actions as being well intended, I have to admit you are starting to sound terribly arrogant. It is hard for you to sit in judgement of so many other churches and faiths when you have only peripheral knowledge of their practices." "i have reached my ability to continue this conversation. i wrote in detail about this on another post in this blog. you are all completely invited to continue the discussion here, but for my safety, i'm no longer going to read it." These people need our prayers. They have immersed themselves within a bankrupt philosophy that rips at their, at our, need for relationship. It promises that if they forego knowledge and logic and reason, they will attain the elusive relational experience to fill the empty void in their lives. We can't really blame them... we've pushed a form of that philosophy for years - "God has a Plan for You!" In their immaturity, they are sincerely yearning for something to give their lives meaning... but they've ended up in a room full of mirrors - continuously gazing at themselves. "I want, I need, you have no right to judge, how arrogant you are, my experience, I'm tired, I have the right, God loves me just how I am, etc., etc., etc." I fear that they aren't our church... they are our mission field.

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