Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finding Your Place in the Story

Well, last week I took a break from blogging to go rock climbing and to rehearse my part in our church's rather unique Easter presentation last weekend. To say it’s not your typical Easter service would be an understatement. The service was based on my book Story: Recapture the Mystery, and I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think. Click here to watch.

P.S. I appear twice. Once in a role that suits me well, another in a role I was assigned when I missed one of the rehearsals. (Isn't that the way it always goes?) See if you can find me both times...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Building the Church

In light of all the thoughtful comments from the last two posts, I thought I’d stir up the pot a little more.

Many churches raise money for building campaigns; the church I attend is doing so right now. And I’m conflicted, because, while I understand the need to minister to the growing needs of a congregation, I’m not convinced church buildings are the way to do that. After all, there’s no command in the New Testament to build a church.

I'm not interested in bashing any pastor, but I remember watching a TV special when Lakewood Church opened and Pastor Joel Osteen announced that they had just spent $90 million renovating the arena (I think it’s the Houston Astrodome) for their weekly services. As I watched, I remember thinking, What would it be like to have a building campaign to do something Jesus actually told us to do, like raising $90 million to care for the poor, or serve the homeless, or minister to those in prison, or clothe the needy, or help to the sick, rather than renovate an arena so that you can worship more comfortably? What would that be like?

Imagine that.

A church holding a development campaign to do something Jesus actually asked us to do. Imagine a church raising $90 million to feed the poor instead of carpeting the aisles and buying more video cameras.

How does that sound?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Countering Culture

The comments from the last post got me thinking about the question that's been gnawing away at me for the last couple years. Here it is: What does a follower of Jesus look like in an affluent society?

Here's what I'm getting at:

• I’m becoming convinced that Christianity is not what it appears to be in mainstream America. We don’t make choices that resemble those of believers throughout the world or in the early Christian church. We look and live pretty much just like the rest of society. Why? What have we lost? How can we regain a true passion for knowing and following God?

• Most people (including Christians) in American society spend their lives working in a job they don’t like, for a boss they don’t respect, with people they don’t get along with, to earn money to buy stuff that they don’t even need. And if they do this long enough we call them a success. Self-indulgence, materialism, greed are giant blind spots in American Christianity. How can we reshape our attitudes and lives, in the midst of a materialistic and consumer-driven culture, to reflect the beauty, truth, modesty, wonder and glory of living as children of the King?


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Secrets to Modern Ministry

OK, I admit I'm feeling a little cynical today, but here goes. Let me know if you think I went a little too far.

To encourage people to give to your church, be sure to put their names on a plaque, or a chair, or a brick in the new building. Forget what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:3-4 when he said, “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” He didn’t really mean that. He really meant: Make sure you get your name on a shiny little gold plate on a wall or a brick so people can feel good about your philanthropy.

Always, always have little blanks to fill in on your church bulletins. Don’t worry, adults won’t feel insulted to have you read them the answers. They enjoyed it in second grade and they'll enjoy it now. Besides, they aren’t really smart enough to come up with their own way of taking notes so it’s much better if you spoon-feed them the answers.