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A Sci-fi Parable March 5, 2014

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In the year 2300, society has been divided into two factions: the Yungins and the Oalfokes. Their governing body, the Delegation Of Orderly Fellowship, has been assembled to do what is in the best interest of both factions. In the early years of this societal structure, the leader of society as a whole, known as Luminary, overwhelmingly favored the Oalfokes in the decision making. A number of citizens assembled, hoping to achieve balanced favor from the Luminary. After a time, a new Luminary was selected, a Luminary who showed equal favor to both factions. For eight years there was balance, as the Yungins achieved more prosperous roles and the Oalfokes saw the same support they’d seen before this Luminary was installed. But after this eight year period, a third Luminary had to be selected, and the Kingdom wasn’t as fortunate. This Luminary revealed itself to be of the same mentality as the first, only favoring the Yungins while disrespecting, and at times, disowning the Oalfokes.

“In another Kingdom,” said the Luminary, “it was only Yungins. We treated the vocabulary of the Oalfokes as if it were swear words.” Within a year, one of the yearly Oalfoke events was turned over to the Yungins, and though that in itself wasn’t a big deal to most as there was a second event that same week, the Luminary made it known that they would only oversee the festivities of the Yungin-led event, and assigned an Emissary to oversee the Oalfoke-led event during the same week.

Some of those who were part of society long enough to remember the first Luminary tended to find themselves supporting this third Luminary despite the common discriminatory leadership, favoring one faction over the other. They’re quick to tell tale of the Luminary who wanted the Yungins’ lights out and wouldn’t attend events put on by the Yungins, but voice their support for the Luminary who wants the lights of the Oalfokes extinguished. Many of these supporters have risen to prominence as a D.O.O.F. While the D.O.O.F.’s state that they exist to do what’s in the best interest of the entirety of society, they continue to support a Luminary who doesn’t. It’s only a matter of time before society sees the discrimination and a new group assembles, hoping for balance to be restored…

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Go Make All February 2, 2014

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A few years ago, I attended a 4 day Christian festival. While in line at the shower house one morning around 6am, the gentleman ahead of me began to tell of a young lady who’d started attending church. When she declared that she was interested in membership, she was informed that she would have to change her ways of clothing and accessorizing. It seems the lady was one of those “biker/leather/dog collar” kind of girls. Distraught at the judgment, the lady hadn’t returned or attended any other church.

 

Matthew 28:19  – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…

Luke 9:31-32  – “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners…

 

GO MAKE ALL. The three keywords of the Great Commission. Not “plan to attract a key demographic.” The only target demographic a church should have is those who know they are sinners. Old or young, rich or poor, married or single, barren or fertile, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, middle-eastern, white collar, blue collar, or dog collar – if they know they are a sinner, they are to be welcomed with open arms.

 

Acts 11:1-3 – Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.

Acts 11:12-18 – The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’ “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with[e] water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’  And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”

 

In the first 10 chapters of Acts, the people believed they were only supposed to preach to and fellowship with each other and their Jewish peers. Acts 11 shows the error of the early church’s ways, ways to which modern church seems to be returning. Many churches are citing “Acts 2” as their model for ministry, but Acts 2 is merely the statistical growth of a community. These churches design services, classes, and events to attract certain types of people, as I’ve noted in earlier entries, according to some pastors, “a thriving church on paper has more christenings than funerals per year. (We have to) attract and incorporate young adults.” Those who don’t mind being considered a second class citizen might stay, but others, like the young lady mentioned above, make a swift and decisive exit. Knowing that you are a sinner does not equal believing you are worth less than others, but churches are treating certain types of people as if that is true. Church isn’t for one type of person. Standing in a crowd of teen sinners, biker sinners, preppy sinners, poor sinners, middle class sinners, hipster sinners, black sinners, white sinners, old sinners, young sinners, and just about any other sinner you can think of, you feel what the Body is. Early Acts doesn’t even begin to cover who can come.

 

Less inclined to “go” they seek to attract, pulling away from “all” in favor of key demographics, at least modern churches haven’t entirely abandoned the Great Commission: there’s still “make disciples.” They are making disciples of some, aren’t they? Or are they?

 

Luke 8:11-14  The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

 

Are these churches truly the body of Christ, or demons stripping the Word’s truth from the hearts of those desiring discipleship? Will their members, in the long run, be shown as rootless, so worried by statistical and worldly successes that they never conquer the flaws of Acts 2 and the early church? Or will they become those in the crown of life, blessed for enduring great trials, unconditional disciples whose strength comes from their love for God. Will they take up the full force of the Great Commission and go make all?

The Greatest Gift We Have January 13, 2014

Posted by worshipconvergence in Christianity, Church, devotional, Leadership, ministry.
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This is not the result of some divine vision, where I was lifted to Heaven or shifted to another realm. This is not the result of a voice, plain as day, calling out of a bush or thin air. No, this comes from a tug at the heart of a worshiper, a heart that thought worship services were a collective display of approval, commendation, love, and adoration to God from His believers, not just His children, His believers; and that heart’s  experiences as a church staff member.

What’s odd, and by odd I mean disturbing, is how many Christians don’t see the problem, don’t see it as a problem, or deny it exists because it supposedly “works.” What is the problem? For one thing, “true and proper worship” is discipleship (Romans 12:1.) Worship and discipleship are supposed to happen within the believer regardless of circumstance or setting. Worship, as a gathered community, has certain Biblically inherent principles, such as returning the Word to God, singing praise to Him with gladness and bowing down in worship (2 Chronicles 29:30.) I’m sure people who make it through this reading and disagree will argue that I must also wish to include sacrifices and burnt offerings too, because that was also part of that 2 Chronicles passage. So I’ll state right now that no, those were made obsolete by Christ’s death on the cross. The new offering and sacrifice is your time and skill, heart, mind, soul, and strength: your love. Returning to the Romans 12 passage, self is the offering which is Holy and pleasing to God.

Problem- part 2: When did “go forth,” or as modern church calls it, “outreach,” become about how effectively you can get people to come to you? Many Church leaders claim a heart for seeking the lost, yet preach it from the pulpit (stage, to the modern church folk) on Sunday mornings and talk of it in meeting after meeting, leaving themselves little if any time to set the example. They spend their lives in havens of the found, where they know those they seek are not flocking. So, rather than meet them where they are, the example they set is to turn the church property and worship services in to magnets to attract the lost to them. This makes the non-believer and those new to the faith leaders in the church, whose opinions shape what is or is not worship (not that veteran Christians never make it about themselves.) It is written in 1 Timothy 3:6,

“They (church leaders) must not be new followers of the Lord. If they are, they might become proud and be doomed along with the devil.“

The leadership resource churchleaders.com has this to say of pride in the church,

“Unfortunately, many Christians and churches view their “brand” of Christianity as the only true or most true type of Christianity. They may not think they are the only Christians, but they do think they are the best or most right ones. This is a prideful and sinful attitude that grieves Jesus and dismembers His body.”

To segregate the Body, even just within the local assembly, because veteran Christians and/or new converts demand it be about them before they’ll attend the collective display to God from His believers, drips with pride like a tomato freshly cut with a butter knife. There are a whole lot of individuals in the assembly, but few members of His body.

If there’s one thing I believe the Church needs to be told, its found in Galatians 5:7-9,

“You were doing so well until someone made you turn from the truth. And that person was certainly not sent by the one who chose you. A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough.”

These days, the Church is so pridefully leavened, so fluffy and puffed up from the yeast of personal satisfaction and business-defined successes, that one can look through one side of the loaf to the other without obstruction – there’s so little Bread anymore, so many air holes like the space between a spider’s webbing. Its time for outreach ministers to GO forth, let go of the worship services, and seek those who know they are sick (Mark 2:17.) Instruct these people in the meaning of true worship, so when they come, they do so not as consumers, but as those who brought gifts to Emmanuel.

All it takes is the generations proclaiming through words or action, “Its about me, my pleasure, my satisfaction, my professional resume, and my sub-culture,” for the whole loaf to need started from scratch. Sadly, church leaders around the world who aren’t causing it are letting it happen.

Our selves: lovingly, unconditionally, and collectively offered, may well be the greatest gift His believers can commission. Who is willing to go in on that gift?