One of the many things this story tells us is that Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware of those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware of those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign. When chaplains start wearing guns and hanging out at the sheriff’s office, watch out. Someone is about to have no king but Caesar.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition, but has rather substantially morphed into Christianity's misbegotten stepcousin, Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This has happened in the minds and hearts of many individual believers and, it also appears, within the structures of at least some Christian organizations and institutions. The language, and therefore experience, of Trinity, holiness, sin, grace, justification, sanctification, church, Eucharist, and heaven and hell appear, among most Christian teenagers in the United States at the very least, to be supplanted by the language of happiness, niceness, and an earned heavenly reward. It is not so much that U.S. Christianity is being secularized. Rather more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith" (page 171).
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
1) Posting Youth Group attendance numbers in the church newsletter - This may seem like a good idea when you've got a ton of kids coming. But when the number takes an ocassional dip, as it inevitably will do from time to time, you "got some 'splainin' to do." Not to mention, posting these sorts of numbers just communicates that you think it's the size of the ministry, not the quality, that counts.
Friday, November 10, 2006
We are not really promoting a specific church structure or model (house church, simple church etc.). Our passion is to see people come into the freedom, joy and peace of intimate relationship with Jesus and fellow members of His Body. We realize this can happen within literally any of the structures or systems found under the umbrella of Christendom. At the same time, we believe most of the systems and structures create stumbling blocks to this goal of relationship with Christ and His Body – and these are what we hope to draw attention to.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Currently the news is full of stories on the sad turn of events for Rev. Ted Haggard who appears in the new documentary "Jesus Camp" making comments in a sermon -- comments which have taken on new meaning due to recent revelations. Haggard has admitted to being involved with a gay prostitute and using drugs, all while preaching to his church members the dangers of temptations and the evils of homosexuality. In a final letter to his church, Haggard states:
There is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark
that I've been warring against it all of my adult life"
I can only imagine the pain being felt by his wife and children, not to mention the demons that Haggard is dealing with at this time. I also can't help but wonder what is going through the minds of the young people in his church, and you know there must be some, who themselves have struggled with their sexual identity. How are they to understand this turn of events? Here is a religious leader who preaches that homosexuality is a sin while he himself acts on his sexual orientation in destructive ways.
I have to wonder how this whole picture might be different if Rev. Haggard lived in a world where his sexual orientation was simply seen as another expression of human life -- if he had felt free to be the person he truly is, rather than living a lie. It is not Haggard's sexual orientation that led to these unfortunate events. It is the "closet" he felt forced to hide in and a religious viewpoint that deems a part of a person's biological makeup to be sinful and immoral. One of the great sins of the Church today is that many so-called Christians still feel perfectly content to condemn faithful young gay people to the the same damnable "closet" that has destroyed Haggard's ministry and damaged his family life.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early '90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all.
The shift described in the article is encouraging, but the author seems to equate success in youth ministry with how many youth are attracted to your programs. Is not this focus on numbers a by-product of the consumer-culture we are trying to resist? Is a small country church with a five-member youth group necessarily less effective than a 500-member youth group at a mega-church? Years ago I stopped reporting in the church newsletter the number of youth present at our various activities. I realized that it sent the message that we were judging the value of our ministry by the number of youth who walked in the door.