Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maybe We're Not Christians Anyway

You know him as the mega-church-pastor who sinned with a gay prostitute and tried drugs. But he's the same Ted Haggard who wrote this article below, three years before he got so famously busted. See what you think...


Maybe we’re not Christians. Maybe we’re just the most popular religion of the day, using the power of persuasion, the force of our numbers, and the strength of our money to advance our ideology. Maybe we just believe whatever makes sense to us by default, and we don’t truly—as individuals and as communities of Christians—seek to be genuine disciples and to do God’s work of caring for the fatherless and the widow of our day. The Scriptures say that we are known as followers of Jesus by our love for one another. But, undisputably, we are not (see John 13:35). The Scriptures say that we are not to boast about what we have or what we have done, but we do (see Jer. 9:23-24). The Scriptures say that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves and lovers of money. And we are (see 2 Tim. 3:5, NKJV).

Could we be Pharisees? Our own books, television programs and prophecies should make us wonder. I believe that we all know and love the Word, but we live in earthly vessels with a fallen nature. We feel and see the hopes of the Spirit within, but we also end up doing the very things we do not want to do. When we preach, write, lobby, raise money, build, broadcast, threaten, sue and spin, we present conflicting images that don’t stand up very well against the tests of time and scrutiny. We are confusing the world, other Christians, and our selves. This isn’t something that can be changed with a list of practical exercises. This is something that has to be dealt with deep within us by exposing ourselves to the wisdom of the Scriptures, to one another, and to God.

We have to get this right. Even though the global church is stronger than we’ve ever been, we in the American church are showing its signs of impotence. We are on a global stage now, so our words, actions, investments and thoughts have greater impact. We have the opportunity to do unprecedented good, but also the dangerous ability to do unparalleled damage. Let’s make the right choice. If you are like me, you are conflicted. I don’t like this article. Granted, there is a part of me that does, but most of me doesn't.

Most of me likes the comforts of the church I serve. I like the way I travel; I like being a VIP guest; I like being a headline speaker. I like the way I’m treated by both the public and the body of Christ. I enjoy the political platform we Christians are given.

But at the same time, there is a dark cloud in the back of my mind wondering if God isn’t stirring another Martin Luther to nail his theses to our church doors. I would rather have us return to our foundations of integrity by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the illumination of the Scriptures, rather than have us defending our lifestyles, edifices and power to future generations as they read history books recounting about our demise, a demise brought about by our own hypocrisy. We need to ensure that we are not the whitewashed tombs and snakes of our day (see Matt. 23:27, 33).

We need to be sure.

Cut and pasted the umpteenth time, and I have NO idea who owns the rights to this article written by Ted Haggard. Good article, Ted.
Joe B

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seven Shifts

The unChurch is about living the faith in the power of God's spirit. It is not about debating "How to Do Church Correctly".

But occasionally we see an article that combines the two. The "Seven Shifts" below are swiped from a fine article by Eric Swanson on the "Ten Shifts Churches Must Make" to be effective. That's right, I axed the three that pick at the "technology of Church", leaving only Seven Shifts.

These 7 grabbed me because they go to the heart of what it is to follow Jesus.

To Succeed in the Missio Dei, Churches (People) Must Shift From...

1. From Building Walls to Building Bridges
“nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all... (Mt 5:15)

2. From Measuring Attendance to Measuring Impact
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast...mixed
into a large amount of flour until it’s worked
all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33)

3. From "Attracting Saints to Services" to "Sending Servants"
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve and to give…” (Mark 10:45)

4. From Competitive Duplication to Partnering
“'Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers hands?' And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same." (Luke 10:36, 37)

5. From "Social Fellowship" to "Functional Fellowship"
"From Jesus, his whole body, fit and held together by
what every connection supplies, according to the proper
working of each individual part, causes body to
grow and build itself up by love." (Ephesians 4:16)

6. From Condemning the City to Blessing the City
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which
I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord
for it, because if it prospers, you too will
prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7)

7. From Ministering in a Congregation to Ministering in a community.
“As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city,
he wept over it…” (Luke 19:41)

Which of these shifts make you think how you and your crew can
better bring the life of God crashing into Planet Earth?

Go do it.