Critiquing the Bride

Over the last year I have received emails from different people suggesting that my critical approach to the organized church arises from my personal experience. In other words, my negative and sometimes traumatic experience with the church as tarnished my perspective. Although I don't want to claim that I see clearly and that my experiences haven't embittered me somewhat, I want to argue that I agree that my experiences have influenced the way I see things.How else do we learn? Not very many … [Read more...]

Community, Friends and Loneliness

I'm thankful for my community that I'm a part of. It is sometimes exciting, sometimes boring, sometimes calm, sometimes tumultuous, sometimes religious, sometimes sinful, sometimes uniform, sometimes incredibly diverse. In any case, it is my community. I'm a part of it. I have friends I love and who love me. We are bound together somehow. And even though we individually go through seasons where we feel disconnected, alienated and isolated, when we come to our senses we know that our friends, who … [Read more...]

Lip Service or Heart Surgery?

So yesterday I made some suggestions that the community shouldn't assume when it has pleased the Lord. Like I said, I think this can be a fatal mistake. This has always been the problem of humanity and the problem with the church. We do something, it seems to work, so we bottle it to use again in the future. We even sell it if we can. Not long ago Willow Creek made the public confession that their high-profile and lucrative approach wasn't working. Read about it here. Back to the drawing board! … [Read more...]

Assumptions Can Be Fatal!

I appreciate everyone's comments on yesterday's post about the Coffee House raising money for Darfur. I am very proud of the young people who put it on and the people who gave towards this important issue. I always try to be cautious though about using language such as, "Now you guys have got it right! You are on the right track! This is what it is all about! Now you are truly living meaningfully!" It is so tempting to think that this is the church at its best. And I am tempted to say such … [Read more...]

Judging and Despising

Tucked away in Romans 14: 10 is an obscure little verse that I feel is absolutely crucial to the understanding of community health. I remember in my younger years arguing vehemently for this or that side of the argument: whether a believer could drink or not, etc... or whether he or she shouldn't if in the company of those who had problems with drinking. Oh yes, how well I remember those debates. Then I remember in more recent years arguing for the sake of freedom and railing against those who … [Read more...]

Everybody Plays or Win!

Children in sports: the whole point is that everyone can play. Is it not? The point isn't that they have to win. In that case, only the best players get to play because the whole point is to win the game. I get the feeling many of our services are a lot like that. We want to win. One of the things that I became aware of pretty early in the ministry was how natural it was to try to create an effect during the services, to achieve a certain goal. It seems to be generally assumed as acceptable … [Read more...]

More on Adolescence

When I wrote yesterday that our community is still in adolescence, I should have been clearer. So today I'll try to clear it up a bit. No... no one called to complain. Yet! I think, generally speaking, the overall attitude of our community right now is adolescence. But we exhibit signs of adulthood too. It is like we are in a transition stage, moving from adolescence to adulthood. As a community. We're kind of like my son one day years ago who was demanding to be respected as an adult and that … [Read more...]

Adolesence or Maturity

My thoughts are that we should not try to be anything special as a community. Lisa and I were talking about this last night. It is adolescent to try to be special, to just do things to be popular, rebel against anything that you don't want to be, to fight for the you who stands where you are. I mean, all this is necessary on the way to maturity, but a sign of maturity is moving out of your uniqueness which you have discovered and embodied to help and serve others. "I got to be me at all costs," … [Read more...]

Just Prowling Around

I didn't feel much like posting today, and the main reason is because I'm so tired. Exhausted! So I'll post about this then. I have been engaged in very intense meetings with people over the past several weeks. There's all kinds of stuff going on in the lives of the people of our community. And lots of it threatens the very life, the very existence of this community. This community always feels like it is on the brink of extinction. It never feels safe. It never feels secure. It never feels like … [Read more...]

We All Fall Down

This is an oil painting I did a couple of years ago. I call it "The Fall". I'm not a pessimist when it comes to the human race. I think I'm a realist. I put no hope in the human race, but I do hope for the human race. There's a difference. After being a person for so long and hanging around them for so long, I know we are marked by a fallenness. There is a tragically broken chord which underscores all of our lives. It is always there. It takes humility to realize this. Pride, when it forgets … [Read more...]