Thursday, June 26, 2008

This might get a comment or two

Oprah: A Catalyst for Kindness
By Steve Sjogren


Have you noticed that on every cover of Oprah’s magazine she is smiling? Think what you want, but I believe her smile is sincere. She does nothing for financial gain—that point in her life passed long ago. For Oprah, it’s about spiritual meaning.

Measuring America’s Spiritual Hunger

If spiritual health is measured according to outward matters, the decline of the Roman, Protestant, or yo- name-it, empire is upon us. But maybe spiritual health is not so one-dimensional as 30-second phone polls can measure.

Attendance, size, the counting of heads is not the sole barometer most “Influentials” in history have relied upon to measure the true state of spiritual affairs.

Jesus did not pay one spit of attention to the fluctuating attendance of the crowds who showed up when He spoke.

If we insist on counting something, Jesus might encourage us to count backward—to measure what we have given away. America has had it with “come and see” spirituality. Now is the day of “go and do.” And Jesus launched that movement some time ago.

Does Oprah Understand Something Church Leaders Don’t?

Oprah's Big GiveWhen Oprah speaks, things happen.

This is no news flash, though. Oprah’s vast influence extends beyond the media scene and into the deepest parts of the spiritual heart of the United States. How? you wonder. She is in touch with non-complex heart leanings in each of us—inclinations that have been placed in us by God.

On her hit prime-time show, Oprah’s Big Give, Oprah has noticed the power generosity has to change lives. Like every reality show, this one has an abundance of adrenaline-filled contestants. Jumping abounds. There is an unnatural amount of smiling going on. But her show is unique as well. The winner is the one who gives away the greatest amount of money over several weeks—in as wise a way as possible.

Oprah has tapped into the depths of all of us. It’s the “if money were no object” dream we talk about—and this dream is becoming viral. Everyone is chatting about it. This virus might just get out of control, in the best sense.

Kindness, Schmindness. So What?

Kindness is a word that has been bandied about in recent years. We confuse it with similar words (like niceness), but it stands head and shoulders above synonyms.

The “God factor” is what distinguishes kindness from niceness or other even less powerful encounters. Any of us can be nice when the mood strikes us, when we are feeling rested, well, etc. Kindness is another matter completely. Kindness, to be clear, is only possible when God shows up.

You and I don’t know each other, but this I suspect about you: Regardless of how broken your upbringing may have been, there were moments when kindness occurred along your journey.

I did not grow up attending church (to be accurate, I was downright skeptical of all things church-ish), but I can now see the seeds of kindness that were scattered into my soul, which led to a profound conversion during college. Those seeds were slow-growing, undetected, but they eventually bore fruit. It was God at work beneath the surface.

When our lives have been touched by authentic kindness, we tend to never forget those moments. They are everlasting, living encounters. Only the God of the universe can orchestrate such.

Friend or Faux?

In recent years, many have begun to notice the latent power of kindness, serving and generosity. More than a small percentage of spiritual organizations have sought to use kindness as a tool—something to promote a message. In that equation, the understanding is: We serve; then people will listen. Kindness is not a tool one can use to gain advantage over others!

Any thinking in this direction attempts to manipulate both God and His people. Neither God nor most people will put up with such nonsense. People are not oblivious when agendas are present. To be kind but not genuine is to destroy the possibility of conveying a positive message.

Indeed, a message will be conveyed—that God's "kindness" ambassadors are giving in order to get.

Breaking Free

When God’s kindness is loosed, a culture begins to build. In my everyday life I connect with many people in simple ways that ease their burdens. One hundred percent of them ask why I am showing them practical kindness (paying for their Starbucks drink, showing them respect by remembering their names at the places I frequent, getting a drink or a bottle of water for the cashier who is serving me.). I wouldn't qualify as a winner on Oprah's Big Give, but in my own way I am tapping in to what God wants to do in the lives of people I encounter. He wants to show them kindness!

Here's a well-kept secret. When I give, when I serve, when I ask God to let his kindness flow through me, I get far more from the experience than the person on the receiving end! How cool is that? Just keep it in mind when you start your day tomorrow, ask God, "Show me a way I can show your kindness to someone I meet today." Let me know what happens.


Funding Missionaries...

Now that I live and operate as a missionary here in St. Louis, I now understand how hard it is to find missionary funding for personal and ministry support.

I have always had a heart for missionaries and their sacrifice. They are wonderful people who give up allot to serve whenever and wherever God calls them to serve. Over and over I have heard the comments from members who said, "I am afraid to give God my all because I don't want Him to ask me to go to Africa". I have always respected those who go whenever and wherever for whatever. Now I find myself in the same situation of being called to go and then having to raise my own support and necessary funds to fuel the movement of making disciples who make disciples who...set captives free. Making disciples is the easy part, the hard part is finding those who want to participate in funding a movement of disciple-making.

I've heard all the comments just to name a few:

"We have to give to our own local church, they need the resources."
"We are giving to missions overseas."
"We just added a new staff person and we have no more resources."
"We are called to give locally not in St. Louis."
"We are in a building campaign or some property expansion project."
"Our budget is tight - we need the resources for our own ministry here."

Making disciples is the easy part, raising funds is often difficult. But it doesn't have to be this way.

At first it was hard to ask people to support us financially until the Lord reminded me that it was more about Him than it was about us. He will prepare the people if I ask Him to prepare them. The Holy Spirit also gently reminded me that I needed to invite people to participate in what He is doing through us in St. Louis and across America through The Disciple Driven Church. So that is now what I now do.

So, if you are a missionary needing to raise financial support why not consider asking those around you, "Would you like to participate in what God is doing in our ministry? This is what God is doing in our ministry. He is doing this and that and this. Would you like to participate in what God is doing? This is how you can participate in the ministry God is doing through us."

Finding Missionary support is ALL about the Holy Spirit preparing people for the invite and also about you inviting them to participate in what God is already doing. You'll encounter the selfish comments and more, as I have received, but you'll also find those with a heart to participate. Don't let the no's get you down. There are the yes's out there waiting to be invited into.

Bill Kinnon's book review

Consuming Jesus - the Book

I began reading Paul Metzger's "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church". I was already convinced it was a good book by reading Darryl Dash's multiple posts on it. Metzger asks this in the introduction,

When Christ returns, will he find faith, the kind of faith that engages suffering and breaks down walls of division between peoples - or not? What he certainly will find is some version of the shopping-mall church, with wonderful sound systems for the praise songs and a latte-to-go. If we think of the latte as a new metaphor for the "opiate of the masses", we can see the evangelical church often functions as an opiate of the consumer masses. An all-consuming house cleaning is in order.

And later, he quotes Dr. John Perkins,

The only purpose of the gospel is to reconcile people to God and to each other. A gospel that doesn't reconcile is not a Christian gospel at all. But in American it seems we don't believe that. We don't really believe that the proof of our discipleship is that we love one another (see John 13:35). No, we think the proof is in numbers - church attendance, decision cards. Even if our "converts" continue to hate each other, even if they will not worship with their brothers and sisters in Christ, we point to their "conversion" as evidence of the gospel's success. We have substituted a gospel of church growth for a gospel of reconciliation.

Metzger responds to Perkins,

We have been seduced by success, and we will downplay confronting race and class barriers to grow churches quickly. Many evangelical leaders believe that the best way to multiply churches quickly is to make members fell comfortable rather than comfort them with with the cross that breaks down the divisions between God, us, and others. Churches cater to people's consumer passions of getting what they want, when they want it, and at the least perceived cost to themselves.

The Introduction alone has enough meat in it to make the book worth purchasing. What Metzger has written strongly resonates with me. I look forward to delving deeper into Consuming Jesus over the next week. (It will be my main read on my flight to Vancouver on Sunday.) I'll make a point of blogging the read.

In light of this book and the recent consumeristic church conversation, I would again point to David Fitch's most recent post - and the conversation taking place in the comments. And Fitch's "The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies" is a must read - and possibly a perfect companion to Metzger's book.

The Planter: Finally someone is talking about and writing about this very important and sinful problem. You can link up with David Fitch & Bill Kinnon on the blogs I read.

5 Reasons Why?

5 Reasons I would claim to leave the church
Submitted by rogermugs on 18 June, 2008 - 17:39.

People keep leaving the “church” to go to house churches (which may be more of the “church” than our buildings in warehouses with pastors wearing cutoff jeans and bleaching their hair to be relevant), and now I understand why.

I’m hanging in there because I think the church can sort it out… but these are the five reasons I would cite to leave the church:

5. My pastor hasn’t had a relationship with a non-believer in over 10 years

4. The leaders of my church are workaholics and I find it hard to believe they have a healthy relationship with the Lord when they don’t have the time for their family

3. I’m sick of it being about one man. Be that the pastor, or the musician or whatever, I want to see them raising up other people and sending them out, content to have many small churches instead of one mega church

2. There are 1,000 people who attend my church. I know 50 and only care about 20 of them. I attend a small group to go deeper with those I care about, but I have no reason to remember the name of the guy whose hand I shake between worship and the sermon

1. There is no place to really do ministry, the leaders will not let go of control. I want to pray for people, bless people, watch out for people, be there for people. I want to be invited to do what the Lord has called me to do.

The Planter: I have had more rants about number one than anyone. Control always hinders something. I have had some conversations with leaders about letting go of control and they refuse to do that because they are afraid of not being in control.

What is Missional?

As I post here there are at least 50 authors who have already posted and participated in a Synchroblog attempting to redefine "What is Missional?". They are redefining missional because missional has lost it's meaning. It's just another watered down word that means little to nothing or everything for everything. It has become a catchy phrase. Alan Hirsch suggests we should reclaim the original meaning of "missional" and not come up with another word to describe the Missional Movement.

To use the tongue in cheek approach Bill Kinnon gives us an example of how ineffective the word missional has become.

Missional Sunday Morning as described by Bill Kinnon

"I got up from a good night's missional sleep and ready for a missional day. Missionally showered with missional shampoo and headed out the door. Jumped into the missional SUV and exited the missional neighborhood - heading for the partially-opened missional church doors. Sang missional songs with the gathered missional people, listened to the missional sermon, partook in the Lord's missional Supper, got a missional blessing, grabbed a fair trade missional coffee at the door, picked the SUV up from the missional parking lot and headed missionally home. I just love being missional."

About 2 years ago we opted not to use the term "missional" to describe our Disciple Driven Church movement because we expected this to happen. Now it appears the trendy new word "Missional" has lost it's meaning in the midst of trendy popularity. Now I have read more than a fair share of the articles and it appears that in order to understand "missional" you need to be a good reader with a good mind to think. The scholarly work may make a now complicated issue even more complicated. You can pick up the synchroblog at reclaiming the mission.

So for me, I continue the simple dialogue of making disciples who make disciples. That's what we should all be doing. We make disciples by setting the captives free. That's what it means to join in on the mission of God. We must accept Christ and then lead others to Him who lead others to Him who lead others to Him. It's a 24/7 missionary movement of disciple making that must become multi-generational. We live to fulfill the mission of setting the captives free.

I also believe that when we attempt to become "Missional" in the local established Church then "missional" ceases to become "missional" because the average Christ follower and church attender refuses to personally "make disciples" which is exactly what it means to be missional. Redefining the meaning of "What is Missional?" isn't the answer. Making the making of disciples the priority for the church is. Setting captives free is and always has been the answer.

Now we have to redefine "MISSIONAL" for a church that refuses to be just that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

30 years and counting

Michelle and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary yesterday. Hard to believe. Where did all that time go?

As we had dinner at The Melting Pot - a fondue experience last night one of us raised this question? Does the next 30 years go faster or slower than the first 30 years?

Help us out! What say you?

Discipleship must become "setting the captives free".

Discipleship means more than ministries and programs and special gatherings.

When your definition of discipleship is wrong the whole ministry of discipleship is wrong and ineffective. If you think that everything you do in the church is defined as discipleship than you missed the point of Jesus and His message of redemption.

Every program and every ministry is NOT discipleship. I know that because we are producing a weakened (weekend) brand of Christ following that is grounded in a consumer based approach to ministry and service. The more we feed the consumer the more the consumer wants.

Discipleship means more than ministries and programs and special gatherings.

In our approach to making disciples our focus is not at all on consumer needs, wants, likes and wishes. We are focusing on "setting captives free". This is not done in large crowds with quick fixes of entertainment, this is done one life at a time. We have discovered that Jesus came to set the captives free and when a professing Christ follower is in bondage to the lies and strongholds of Satan they will never experience true freedom in Christ. They need to be set free. They must be set free and we "the Church" must take the time to lead every new (and old)Christ follower into the freedom Jesus brings.

We have concluded that early on in a new believers life they should be led through a process of replacing Satan's lies with the Truth of God's Word. Everyone of us have at one time or another believed the lies of Satan. A majority of those who proclaim Christ as Savior are still holding onto those lies of deception. Believing the lies of Satan is the breeding ground for more or greater bondage to more sin. In order to set the captives free those held captive must renounce the lies and announce the truth. All of the open doors of Satan's deception must be closed for captives to be set free. Doors are closed by renouncing the lies of Satan and replacing those lies with the what God says. And then and only then is the Christ follower free to walk in complete obedience.

Discipleship means the way it has been defined. Discipleship is "setting the captives free".

For years and years and in far too many places the American Church has had discipleship wrong. There are far too many captives in and outside of the church who are still not living in freedom. Many profess Christ but remain in bondage to the lies and strongholds of Satan. They have far too many open doors allowing Satan's influence in their lives.

Discipleship should NOT be defined as programs, ministries and services offered. Discipleship must become intentional in "setting the captives free" by renouncing all of Satan's lies (and sin) which in turn closes the open doors of deception and further bondage.

Jesus came and died and rose again to set the captives free. We could easily say that Jesus came to set the church free as well.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An Indiana fall

That's me

We like robots....

In the American Church I have discovered that believers like robots live to be instructed how to live. We look forward to the sermon that tells us what we need to do next. Instead of learning to read the word ourselves and instead of learning to listen to the Holy Spirit we have opted for the easy way out. The pastor will tell me what to do next.

read Matthew 6:33 this week in preparation for next weeks sermon
bring canned goods for our pantry
next Saturday is road cleanup
our budget is short we need more giving
be sure to invite a neighbor for our new series
next month is our annual outreach
we need more sign ups for Vacation Bible School
this week you need to fast on Wednesday and pray for
the sermon: How's your attitude -Your attitude determines your altitude?"

Describe your life outside of what the pastor tells you to do? We have institutionalized what it means to live for Jesus. Our walk with Christ is becoming increasingly corporate and less personally & Holy Spirit driven. Instead of focusing on what the believer personally does for Jesus it's all about what the church corporately does for Jesus. We are fulfilling the Great Commission - no longer means the believer himself/herself is fulfilling the Great Commission or personally investing themselves in the lives of their neighbors, the homeless, the poor, widows and orphans. The corporate work is rapidly replacing the mandate to do it personally.

Are we reproducing the wrong thing?

Lately I have been considering the high cost of following Jesus.

giving up my life
giving up my plans
giving up my stubborn will
giving up my resources
giving up my sin
total surrender
commitment to holiness
commitment to the Great Commission
I must make disciples personally
living each moment for Him
being led by His Holy Spirit
going wherever He leads me
doing whatever He desires of me
being whatever He demands of me
refusing to be silent
being silent
declaring his redemptive glory
investing my life in the homeless
investing my life in the widows and orphans
investing my life in the disabled
caring about and feeding the poor
being incarnational for Jesus

My list is deficient, being a Christ follower is truly breathing the dust of Jesus as I walk in His footsteps down the dusty trails of life.

Isn't the AMERICAN CHURCH in a broad brush stroke producing the wrong thing. Are we breeding and attracting people to a weakened commitment. Haven't we set up a vehicle that enables them to be less than the expectations of Christ? Has following Christ in America become something less than being His disciple? Are we calling people to something that is much less than what Jesus calls us to?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Perspective of Pat Loughery

Things They Tell Church Planters That Are Simply Wrong

May 5, 2008 // Tags: Church, Church Planting, Faith, incarnational, incarnational church, missional church

Next weekend, Mother’s Day, marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of the church that my family planted and that a year ago closed its doors (for the second but final time).

I’ve been thinking lately about the process of starting new churches. A lot of that thinking comes from me knowing that I still have work to do, that clearly I’m not in the retirement home for Christians like some worn out kitchen sponge that still holds water but is full of the stink of overuse.

I think we’ll end up leading a church again, but when or who or how is still up in the air. I have lots of thoughts on this topic, but none I wish to type at the moment. But I do know that the past four years - and the months before that which we spent preparing to launch our church plant were some of the most challenge and yet thrilling of my Christian life.

So here are some of the things we were told along the way that I just don’t agree with anymore, whether or not I did back then. Some were said directly, some just implied. And the folks that I read them from or heard them from - I really respect them, their lives, their churches. But I know these ways are not my way. Not then, and even more so now.

It’s all about Sunday.

Put all your energy into a great experience on Sunday, and build community out of Sunday worship services. Greet people who come to the door warmly, have great coffee and donuts, a good band, be welcoming and funny, treat the kids well so they’ll want to bring their parents back. If you’re dead to the world on Monday, or through Wednesday, so be it. Sunday is worth it.

For a church which gathers on Sundays, well, Sunday’s a pretty big day. And there’s a lot to be said for being hospitable and safe for the kids. But nowadays I think that if Sundays leave you - pastor or leader or guest - feeling worn out and drained, perhaps you’re missing the point of celebrating the the life of the Trinity, the risen Christ, in your life and the life of your community. What if the community’s gathering is actually refreshing, invigorating, restorative, re-creational?

If we can’t live an everyday faith, 7×24, because the events of last week crushed us, then our faith is out of balance. If we’re so focused on getting the chairs set up on Sunday that we’re not going to hang out with neighbors on Saturday night, then we’re missing the whole point.

If it’s not working, your signage or location is wrong

I was actually told this, along the way, when my response to “how big is the church now” didn’t satisfy the lady asking me the question.

In our tribe of churches, there used to be a day when you could literally put out an A-board sign and people would flock into the worship gathering. Stories are even told of the early days when people wouldn’t even put up a sign, but God’s Spirit would just divinely guide folks to a house in the suburbs where something was happening, and it would be overflowing.

Now, I think signage and maps and directions are helpful, for those that know they want to go. But I also think that, at least in the Pacific Northwest, those days are long gone. People who want to go to a church can find one in the newspaper or phone book or the local junior high building.

There’s a societal shift happening. The means and ways of the church’s expansion are shifting as well. Or at least they can be, and should be, and in some places are. Perhaps it’s about people, relationships, networks.

If it’s not working, perhaps God’s doing something else.

What counts is attendance, baptisms and signups for membership class

My tribe’s annual health check sent out to church plants asked those three questions: How many in attendance (and what count by racial heritage), how many did you baptize this year, and how many people have gone through your membership class.

In the church growth era and movement, we were told that if the church is a healthy organism, it must grow. Lack of growth was due to an internal restriction - bad programs or bad leadership or bad structures.

I always wanted to be able to write in the margins, to tell the story of the woman who’s doing pretty well with her crack addiction, or the couple who’s not fighting so much these days and their kids feel safe, or the guy who has a kind ear to listen to the crazy stories of the good old days. But they don’t make the margins very big on those forms. Probably because they can see smartalecks like me coming a mile away.

Read the rest of the article

flooding in the midwest

Recent Iowa tornado - picture taken from someone's front door

recent Kansas storms

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An honor and a blessing...

It has been a privilege for Michelle and I to continue to get to know our neighbors. It takes work and allot of intentionality but we are making progress with getting to know our neighbors more deeply. We are constantly looking for opportunities to reach into their lives. As I reflect on this blog post our neighbors feel allot like family to us. There are lots of well wishes and voices of concern for us and what we are trying to do here. Serving them is a real joy.

We were so blessed on Father's Day when our neighbor's (Harold and Mary) invited us to join their rather large family for a Father's Day dinner celebration. It was an honor to be invited into the family for such an important family gathering. We were welcomed, warmly received and they made us feel like we belonged.

It made Father's Day a real special deal for me and for Michelle.

Thanks Harold and Mary for caring about us. Thanks to Jesus for showing us how to love our neighbors.

Is it a business?

Is your church BIG business or is it (are you) really concerned about reaching lost people and making disciples out of them?

Before you answer the question, what do you hear most from the pulpit. Are you hearing that the main thing is making disciples? Are you being told that you are called by God to make disciples yourself? Are you being held accountable to make disciples yourself (personally). It is unfortunate that in many churches we are asked to invite people to church when we should be inviting them to Jesus.

Be careful how you answer the question. Will anyone even bother to answer the question? We'll see.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

Here's an idea. How about doing something for Father-God this Father's Day? How about honoring Father-God with some action that furthers His work of reaching lost people?

I'm asking God to show me how I may honor Him this Father's Day!

Let me know what God leads you to do - should you take up the challenge.

It's high time...

It's high time we quit talking about how great our church is and how great our pastor is and how great the sermon was and begin talking about how Great Jesus is!

Come on folks it's all about Jesus and not about idols who represent Him.

Oh boy!

You were made with the innate ability to share Jesus with others. I mean everyone!

What do you think about the above statement?

I have come to discover that God made all of us with the ability to effectively share with others. I enjoyed the recipe you gave me. That meal was the best I ever had. The game was awesome. Did you see the movie? The scenery was breathtaking. We all have the ability to share the very things that excite,please us and change us.

When a person finds Jesus, the most wonderful relationship in this world is established. The relationship is exciting, joy filled and inner peace is obtained. When this happens God has given us the innate ability to share with others what we are experiencing through Him. Everyone can share with others what Jesus is doing in their lives personally. It's a God-given ability - given to us all. Even you!

There is only one behind our silence about Jesus and that one is Satan - one filled with trickery and deceit. If you profess to have Jesus and are not sharing Him with others, YOU HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM! Not sharing Jesus is not an option if you really have Him.

Are you??

I have identified 2 types of people in the church.

Sponges & Reflectors

A Sponge does what sponges are made to do, soak it up for their own benefit.

A Reflector does what reflectors are made to do, they reflect what/who they represent.

Jesus created us to reflect His light into a darkened world. Instead many of us have chosen to become sponges of His message and all the cheap substitutes we have created to take His place. We were made to reflect the Glory of God and instead we have chosen a life of soaking up all the light for ourselves.

What are you? A sponge or a reflector of God's glory?


No one should ever be asked, "What are you going to offer or do for me?"

The Sin of CONSUMERISM in the church :(

The heart sin of the church in America is consumerism. The very thing we are using to grow the church (all the betters)is killing the church.

better pastors
better programs
better facilities
better teachers
better offerings
better advertising
better activities
better attraction
better music
better methods
better, better, better is killing the church.

When seekers are seeking a church they ask consumer questions, like:

What does this church have to offer me?
What will this church do for me or my family?
How do I feel when I attend?
Will they take care of me?
Will they be nice to me?
Will they help me when I have a need?
Will I make friends their?
What about my children? Our teens?
Is it cool inside, is their room inside, is the production great?

It's all about me, myself and I. People who are called to church with the consumer hooks that grab and keep (for a season) are also caught into consumerism that leads to more consumerism. While churches grow with consumers who are attracted by consumer attractions those very churches must keep using more and more consumer hooks to keep them and reach more of them. The sin of consumerism is at the heart of the church. It is sin!

I have had leaders in my own denomination try to calm me down in my attempt to call out the "sin of consumerism" in the church today. Attractional Churches are good they say. This is a tool of God to reach more and more people, they say. And they are reaching more and more consumers with their consumer attractions. Even the leaders of said churches are consumer driven. Did you know that larger churches in America are leaving denominations by the droves? Why? Because they are asking the question - "What is the denomination doing for me or us?" They say, "We have given thousands and thousands of dollars and we have nothing to show for it." "We have no reason to belong to an organization that offers us so little in return." "We can do what we are doing and even more without the denomination that gave us birth." "We can become better stewards of our resources without the general church."

All are questions/statements that reveal their own selfish consumer driven mentality. What about the rest of us who strive to attract people to Jesus with Jesus and Jesus alone. We have no resources to pull in the crowds by the droves, we only have Jesus and His powerful Holy Spirit. And, this is all we need. We don't need the consumer stuff to attract people to better and better because Jesus is the better and BEST!

THIS IS ALL ABOUT CONSUMERISM! Hear me well when I say that leaders who use the consumer hook end up in the consumer trap of their own demise. One consumer longing for another consumer who longs for another and yet another and another. One attraction must lead to a better attraction. Next Christmas and Easter must be better than the last. We need more people next year, now what must we do to get more? You get the point, I'm sure!

I have come to discover that when Jesus is all we have, Jesus truly is all we need. People are hungry for Jesus and not for the cheap substitutes we often call church.

What we call people with is what we call people to. Call them "into" with a consumer hook and you have called them "into" consumerism. Consumerism is the greatest sin of the church in America. May God help us. As pastors and leaders and as consumers ourselves, we must repent.

Could it be that what made Jesus really mad in the temple was the very thing we have become? Consumers just doing what consumers do! It's a good thing Jesus (in the flesh) isn't walking through our churches. Jesus wants us to be attracted to Him with Him and by Him ALONE!

2008 - The Year of the RIPOFF

My friend put it well when he said that 2008 is "The Year of the Ripoff"

How do you feel you are being ripped off?

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Church that also cares about single moms

Newspring does it big this past Mother's Day 2008.

The video

The Church

This story like the one below moved me to tears.

A Church than refused to give up on Alan

Since I blogged recently about a church that kicked a mother and her disabled son out of church I thought I'd show you what another church did with a different mother and disabled son. Which one do you see Jesus in? You will have to read, The church can be so ridiculous as you scroll.

This is a must watch video about a Church who embraced a mother and her son with disabilities on Mother's Day 2008

the video

The Church

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The lesson of the puppy

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of little boy 'Mister,' he said, 'I want to buy one of your puppies.'

'Well,' said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, 'These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.'

The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. 'I've got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?'

'Sure,' said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. 'Here, Dolly!' he called.

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.

The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up. . . .

'I want that one,' the little boy said, pointing to the runt.

The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said, 'Son, you don't wan't that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.'

With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, 'You see sir, I don't run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.'

With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup. Holding it carefully he handed it to the little boy.

'How much?' asked the little boy.

'No charge,' answered the farmer, 'There's no charge for love.'

The world is full of people who need someone who understands.

The Church can be sooo rediculous at times...

Autistic boy's mother pleads not guilty in dispute with church

By CURT BROWN, Star Tribune
June 2, 2008
Hoping some good will come from her widely publicized dispute with her small-town church, the mother of an autistic child has started a new website to help special-needs families feel more welcome where they worship.
"If I couldn't help families come to church as a result of what's happening in Bertha, Minnesota, I would never have gone to the media," Carol Race said Monday, after a brief court hearing in Long Prairie.
Race pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a restraining order. A pretrial settlement hearing was set for July 14 in Todd County District Court.
Last month, the Rev. Daniel Walz at Bertha's Church of St. Joseph took the unusual step of obtaining a restraining order, barring Carol and her husband from bringing their severely autistic 13-year-old son, Adam, to the central Minnesota Roman Catholic church.
In what church officials called a last resort, Walz alleged that Adam -- at 6 feet, 225 pounds -- has become more of a danger than a distraction to parishioners. Walz alleged Adam has struck a child during mass, urinated and spit in church and nearly knocked over people.
Race initially ignored the order and was ticketed after attending church with Adam on Mother's Day. Lately, she's been attending a neighboring church, while friends with autistic children have taken her family's pew in St. Joseph's to show support.
The case sparked a national media blitz, including a spot on ABC's "Good Morning America," which was set in motion by Race and her support group of families with special-needs children.
Race hopes the new website,, will prompt churches across the country to reserve a pew "for families that might need a special welcome."
"There are thousands of families not going to church who don't feel welcome because they're afraid they look or act different," Race said. "They came to church, someone turned around and gave them a dirty look and they walked out and haven't come back."
The website includes references to help families with special needs. If the project catches on, Race said, congregations would be instructed that anyone in the designated pew should be welcomed by parishioners, and the pastor would meet with them to see what kinds of accommodations they might need.
She said mediation with church leaders to settle her dispute is scheduled to start this week. Todd County Attorney Chuck Rasmussen said he hopes the case can be worked out before trial.
"It's a no-brainer to prove," Rasmussen said. "She was served on a Friday and went to church on Sunday in blatant violation. So are we really trying the facts here? Or are we trying the morality of the issue?"
Curt Brown 612-673-4767

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This article says it all...

Anthony Marks is a leader of leaders and while I was catching up on his blog articles I came across this post. Anthony is not the only one accused of hating the Church. Put me in the same category and I must say that accusation hurts deeply more deeply than any accusation ever could. I'm with Anthony, I speak what I do because I love the Church, but I have found that many of her leaders have become to defensive to see beyond the surface.

Here the post I'm talking about by Anthony Marks

on "hating" the church

I have been accused of hating the church.

My discipler has been accused of hating the church.

My disciple has been accused of hating the church.

This is an accusation that stings. I live and breathe for the health of the church. I wake up every morning and go to bed at night with the church on my mind. I celebrate when the church is victorious and ache when the church is sick.

Unfortunately, in general, the American church is sick.

My discipler drew up this analogy -- a man who loves his wife very much is confronted with a situation: she wants to wear a hideous, revealing dress to a wedding. He knows that she will be embarrassed by the stares of the congregation. He knows that when dressed appropriately, his wife will be the most attractive woman in the room. He knows that even if she wears that dress despite his best efforts, he will walk alongside her the entire way. He will do all of this because he loves her.

Should this love not compel him to warn and protect her?

I love the church, but I often despise what it is wearing. The church is the representation of Christ, the body of believers that desire to serve the Father. However, today's church is clothed in a hideous, revealing dress. This blessed facility that was purposed to make known the "manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3), spends it's time, energy, and resources trying to impress the world. We use worship bands, multimedia demonstrations, children's programs, dietary plans, etc. to accomplish the work of the Holy Spirit. And what I desire to proclaim is this: the church is beautiful not because of what it wears, but rather because of what it is.

Would we notice on any given Sunday whether or not the Spirit of God was present? Is our "show" so streamlined that we can accomplish it out of our own strength? What would happen if we listened and responded to his move? Would we be willing to get out and serve our community on a Sunday morning? Would we be willing to worship past lunchtime? Would we allow the revelation of the Word to supercede the trained skills of its presenter?

I love the church. I love it so much, I'm pleading for it to go back and change.

Check out other articles

The Planter: What do you think about this one?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Can a Believer vote democrat

I was taught that believers must be a Republican.

Can you be a Democrat and still be a believer?

What say you?

Politics, Jesus Style versus Ours

In "UnChristian" we see Christian politics and Jesus Politics compared.

"unChristian: Christians rely too heavily on political influence.
Christian: We are cautious not to place too much emphasis on politics.

unChristian: Christians get enamored with politics.
Christlike: There is nothing gained by winning elections if we lose our soul in the process.

unChristian: Christians drown out and demonize the voices of others.
Christlike: Respect our enemies and be aware of our capacity for myopia.

unChristian: Christians do not respect leaders whose political view-point is different from their own.
Christlike: Respect and listen to our leaders and pray for them.

unChristian: Christians are hypocrites when it comes to politics.
Christlike: In trying to solve problems in society, be vigilant about our own capacity for hypocrisy."

Is the Church too political?

In the book, "UnChristian" by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons it appears that young adults think so.

"Twenty two years ago, when I was looking at evangelical Christianity from the inside, it seemed like a movement bursting with energy to spread good news to people. Looking at it from the outside today, this message seems to have been lost in exchange for an aggressive political strategy that demonizes segments of society." Brandon, 32

In UnChristian we see that there is a perception among young adults that "Christians are primarily motivated by a political agenda and promote right-wing politics." The authors also say that young adults see the need for a new perception, "Christians are characterized by respecting people, thinking biblically, and finding solutions to complex issues."

"Young adults are less likely than preceding generations to start their political explorations as Republicans. As people get older, they usually become more politically conservative. Yet the up-and-coming generation is less likely to rally around Republicans and politically conservative banners than we the people of the same age just twenty years ago. American young adults under age twenty six, connection to the Republican Party is at its lowest point in two decades."

THE PLANTER SPEAKS: Well, I know there is a tendency to write these young ones off as being way out there. But before you do that, remember there are really valid reasons that these young ones have come to these conclusions. And they are valid reasons. We have left the emerging generations with a hodgepodge of conflicting examples regarding politics and Scriptural truth. They see our hypocritical positions and presentations for our political causes and through it all Jesus was not even present.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Thots on Apostolic Ministry Among Denominations

Alan Hirsch posted the following comments from Steve Addison
“The apostolic role within established churches and denominations requires the reinterpreting the denomination’s foundational values in the light of the demands of its mission today. The ultimate goal of these apostolic leaders is to call the denomination away from maintenance, back to mission. The apostolic denominational leader needs to be a visionary, who can outlast significant opposition from within the denominational structures and can build alliances with those who desire change. Furthermore, the strategy of the apostolic leader could involve, casting vision and winning approval for a shift from maintenance to mission. In addition the leader has to encourage signs of life within the existing structures and raise up a new generation of leaders and churches from the old. The apostolic denominational leader needs to ensure the new generation is not “frozen out” by those who resist change. Finally, such a leader must restructure the denominations institutions so that they serve mission purposes.” - Steve Addison

The Planter: I believe Steve Addison is right on here. For those with Apostolic (Ephesians 4) Leadership Gifts we tend to be misunderstood and often labeled when we speak against maintenance in favor of intentional and personal Great Commission disciple making. Often in the denominational structures there is no advocate for those who raise the flag so to speak. I believe this is why so many apostolic leaders have left their denomination in search of a way to fulfill their God given dreams of a better way.

Do you know what it feels like to be frozen out? What are your thoughts?

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