Posts Tagged ‘church’
I was apprehensive about sharing this, cos I don’t believe as Christians we should be bashing the Church, or other church denominations, but at the same time, not speaking out against something like this says that I agree with it, doesn’t it.
I’m not a member of Mars Hill. I’ve never met Mark Driscoll and don’t know him in person, so this is not a personal attack on him. I’ve read some articles he’s written, and while I disagree with him on some things, I also agree on some points.
But this is just wrong, I think. This sounds more like a cult than a Christian fellowship…in my opinion. Anyway…
MARK DRISCOLL’S ‘GOSPEL SHAME’: THE TRUTH ABOUT DISCIPLINE, EXCOMMUNICATION, AND CULT-LIKE CONTROL AT MARS HILL
Mark Driscoll’s And Mars Hill via JesusNeedsNewPR.net
Part 1: Church Discipline Contract
Leave me your thoughts if you wish.
i miss church. i miss belonging to a church family. i thought i just missed the enGAGE peeps – which i totally do – or that i just missed being involved in a church, but a few weeks ago i hung out with some peeps from JoshGen, which is the church my friend MJ is at, and then 2 days later the young adults from His People, which is the church my mom is at and which i frequently visit when i’m in CT for the weekend, had a dinner and i went with. the two groups were very different…it was quite a different get-together though as one group happened to be friends who happen to go to the same church had a pizza and dvd night, and the other was young people from the same church who wanted to get together and get to know each other vibe.
but yea, being at both those events made me realise how much i missed that. i miss the individuals from enGAGE, but i also just miss being a part of a community.
and the being involved part is a big part of it i think. because i’m only in cape town on the weekends i can’t really be involved in anything at HP cos it mostly all happens during the week. and since moving out of the centre of town i feel like i can’t get involved in any church in stellies cos that would require walking by myself at night vibes – and i’ve sworn that off. so i feel like i can’t be part of a church unless i’m invested in the church, but that takes more than just showing up on sunday mornings so right now i’m feeling very much churchless.
and i think some people are cool with that. and they get along with just sunday morning vibes and are happy living that way, but it’s totally not my vibe. i want to be involved and participate and feel like i have a say in the church and that i’m building into the church and that i belong and am part of it.
anyway, guess i just wanted to share that little bit of mind-junk.
i read a couple of blogs recently on the issue of diversity and unity in the church. basically, if everyone in your church looks like you, you’re doing something wrong. i agree with that statement for the most part. if everyone in your church is of the same social class, education level, and economic status as you, then you’re doing something wrong. it’s probably not intentional, but…
one time, while my family was still living in North Carolina, we were snowed in in Kinston and couldn’t get to our church in Jacksonville. so then we decided to visit one of the churches in Kinston. upon arriving there we noticed that all the cars in the parking lot, excluding ours, were very nice cars – mercedes, bm’s, etc. then we went inside and everyone was so very dressed up. everyone looked so nice and clean and smiling and white. and we just felt like we didn’t belong in this church. and just to clarify, it was not a race thing – we were the only black family in our Jacksonville church as well. it was just that, we felt different, not good enough to be in this pristine church. i’m sure that the people in that church didn’t mean to make us feel that way, but we did. so maybe churches should take a closer look at the message they send out to newcomers.
the one part of it i don’t always agree with is the race thing. martin luther king jr once said “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning…,”…i’m not sure i agree with him on that one. don’t get me wrong, i’m DEFINITELY NOT saying we should have different churches/services based on race. but from my observations, there are very clear and distinct differences between white and black churches.
when we were in reno, we attended a 95% white church. there was this other black church that our church had “partnered” with even though they were baptist and we were nazarene. they had their own church and we had ours, and then once in a while, when they had something big happening at their church (like a revival week, or some kind of special service) we’d cancel our service and join them. and vice versa. so we had our separate churches, but we were still united as the Church. i think that strategy works better than churches actively trying to recruit (is that the right word?) members of different races.
from personal experience, i tend to prefer the music in black churches and the preaching in white churches. they are very different. and i’m sorry, but a white church singing an african song doesn’t sound quite the same as when a black church does. each one has their strong points. each one caters to a different…culture. for instance, in stellenbosch, most churches preach in afrikaans and english. in kayamandi, they preach in xhosa. i don’t expect a bunch of white people to start attending church in kayamandi where they are not going to understand anything, and i don’t expect a bunch of xhosas from kayamandi to come to stellies for an english service when they don’t understand english. each of those churches are serving the community they are in.
this post might totally make me sound racist, but that is not my intention. i’m not advocating segregation, i think churches should welcome any and everyone who walks through their doors. i’m just saying that maybe churches which are separated by cultural differences are ok as long as they can work together as The Church.
don’t know if any of this makes sense, but i was just thinking about it and thought, as scattered and unclear as they are, i should write my thoughts down.
i think i’m gonna think more on this subject. would be cool if you could leave me your thoughts on it.
…or why i still call myself a christian
“The Church is like Noah’s ark: it stinks, but if you get out you’ll drown” – Shane Claiborne paraphrasing Reinhold Niebuhr.
that explains my feelings on the church on the moment. i really can’t say i love the Church right now. i’m talking about the universal church here, not my congregation – which makes it sound like i think my congregation is the right one or the only one who are trying to do right, but i’m not. i don’t think my congregation is perfect – i know it’s full of broken people, but broken people who are seeking christ and seeking to be christ-like. and i guess that is most chris-followers, right?
but then once in a while i come across a comment from a “christian” or a church who are planning to burn korans or protesting a comic book convention (what?), or church daycares that have fight clubs…for the kids…and i feel embarrassed to say i am one of them – aren’t we supposed to be known for our love? and i cringe to think what God is thinking about all the things people are doing in his name. and in those moments i want to disassociate myself from the religion. i don’t want to be one of them.
i read something a little while ago that said “While I do have many issues with our modern-era, western-style church structures and culture, I still believe that Church is the best idea we have” (Sean Tucker). while i realise that the church is not what’s it’s meant to be, i also realise that i was created with a need for relationships – we all were – and i honestly don’t think i could do this christianity thing on my own. i crave that community, and yes i could find community outside the Church, but it probably wouldn’t be good for my walk with Christ.
the institutionalised church is very much broken, but it is the bride of Christ. within the brokenness and the scars and the uglyness, there is a quiet and beautiful purity waiting to break free. there’s been a lot of publicity (at least in the circles where i roam) around the anne rice facebook updates and the john ellis interview. and i think as long as we have people who are willing to call out the Church when they step out of line like that, i think the church has a chance to show it’s beauty.
Also, what I have found many people have done, is read that because I don’t want to be a Pastor, I have given up on the whole idea of Church. Not so. I have nothing against ‘Church’, how could I? It’s, by definition, a collection of people choosing to band together so they can better connect with God, each other, and then unleash the Kingdom on the rest of the world. That’s good stuff! While I do have many issues with our modern-era, western-style church structures and culture, I still believe that Church is the best idea we have.
this is an excerpt Sean Tucker’s blog this past week…find the rest here.
At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.” What struck me about my friend’s story is that women much like this prostitute fled towards Jesus, not away from him. The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge. Has the church lost that gift? Evidently the down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome among his follwers. What has happened?
In his book guilt and grace, the swiss doctor Paul Tournier, a man of deep personal faith, admits , “I cannot study this very serious problem of guilt with you without raising the very obvious and tragic fact that religion – my own as well as that of all believers – can crush instead of liberate.”
Tthere will be no escape from wars , from hunger, from misery, from racial discrimination, from denial of human rights and not even from missiles if our hears re not changed.
Elton Trueblood notes that the image Jesus used to describe the church’s destiny – the gates of hell will not prevail against it – is a mtaphor of offence, not defence. Christians are storming the gates, and they will prevail. No matter how it looks at any given point in history, the gates guarding the powers of evill will not withstand an assault by grace.
“We’re all bastards but god loves us anyway.”
Some christians say, “yes we should treat gays with compassion but at the same time we must give them a message of judgement.” After these interviews I began to understand that every gay person has heard the message fo judgement from the church – again and again, nothing but judgement. the more theologically inclined gay people I interviewed interpret the biblical passages on homosexuality differently. Some of them told me they had offered to sit down and discuss these differences with conservative scholars, but no one had agreed.
I left washington with my head reeling. I had attended packed-out worship services marked by fervent singing, praying , and testifying – all oriented around what the christian church has always tought to be a sin. Also, I could sense my friend Mel edging closer and closer to a choice that I knew would be morally wrong – to divorce his wife and lose his ministry in order to begin a scary new life fraught with temptation. It occured to me that my own life would be much simpler if i had never met Mel White. But he was my friend – how should I treat him? What would grace have me do? What would Jesus do?
Moreover, although Christians have died to sin, in some theoretical way, it keeps popping back to life. A friend of mine who led a bible study on this passage had one college coed come to him afterwards with a puzzled expression. “I know it says we’ve died to sin” she said, “but in my life sin seems very much alive.” Paul a realist, recognized this fact or else he would not have advised us in the same passage “count yourself dead to sin” and “do not let sin reign in your mortal body”.
Jesus did not fault the pharisees for extremism in itself – I doubt he really cared what they ate or how many times they washed their hands. But he did care that they imposed their extemism on others and that they focused on trivialities, neglecting more weighty matters. The same teachers who tithed their kitchen spices had little to say about injustice and oppresion in Palestine. And when Jesus healed a person on the sabbath, his critics seemed far more concerned about protocol than about th esick person…the church i grew up in had much to say about hairstyles, jewelery, and rock music but not a word on racial injustice and the plight of blacks in the south.
By it’s very nature legalism encourages hypocrisy because it defines a set of behaviour that may cloak what is going on inside. At a bible college or christian camp and even a church, everyone learns how to look spiritual. Emphasis on externals makes it easy for a person to fake it, to comform even while suppressing or hiding inner problems. I know of only two alternatives to hypocrisy: perfection or honesty. Since i have never met a person who loves theLlord our God with all her heart, mind, and soul, and loves her neighbor as herself, I do not view perfection as a realistic alternative. Our only option then is honesty that leads to repentance. As the bible shows, God’s grace can cover any sin.
At first glance legalism seems hard, but actually freedom in Christ is the harder way. It is relatively easy not to murder, hard to reach out in love; easy to avoid a neighbour’s bed, hard to keep a marriage alive; easy to pay taxes, hard to serve the poor.
“In the world the christians are a colony of the true home” said Bonhoeffer. Perhaps chrsitians should work harder toward establishing colonies of the kingdom that point to our true home. All too often the church holds a mirror reflecting back the society around it, rather than a window revealing a different way. If the world despises a notorious sinner, the church will love her. If the world cuts off aid to the poor and the suffering, the church will offer food and healing . If the world oppresses, the church will raise up the oppressed. If the world shames a social outcast, the church will proclaim God’s reconciling love. If the world seeks profit and self-fulfilment, the church seeeks sacrifice and service. If the world demands retribution, the church dispences grace. If the world splinters into fractions, the church joins together in unity. If the world destroys its enemies, the church loves them. That at least it the vision of the church in the new testament: a colony of heaven in a hostile world. Dwight L Moody said “on one hundred men, one will read the bible; the ninety-nine will read the christian”…”We are perculiar people” wrote Bonhoeffer, which he defined as extraordinary, unusual, that which is not a matter of course. “Jesus was not crucified for being a good citizen, for being just a little nicer than everyone else. The powers of his day correctly saw him and his followers as subversice because they took orders from a higher power than Rome or Jerusalem.”
As a child, I put on my best behaviour on Sunday mornings, dressed up for God and for the Christians around me. It never occured to me that church was a place to be honest. Now, though, as I seek to look at the world through the lens of grace, I realise that imperfection is the prerequesite for grace. Light only gets in thorugh the cracks. My pride still tempts me to put on the best front, to clean up appearances. “It is easy to acknowledge,” said C. S. Lewis, “but almost impossible to realise for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little – however little – native luminosity? Surely we can’t be quite creatures.” He goes on, “Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our Need, a joy in total dependence. We become ‘jolly beggars.’”
Excerpts from the book “What’s so amazing about grace?” by Phillip Yancey.
I am in participating in the one word at a time blog carnival, which is being hosted by Bridget Chumbley this week. Today’s word is Church, and as I’ve written quite a few blogs on that topic, I’ve decided to just to a repost. One of the topics we wrote on about a month back was community, and that was also a repost…it was original the post that followed this one in “my thoughts on the church and the Church” series…
the role of the church, the way i see it…and once again, by church i mean the congragational gathering…is for community. we were made for relationships…God is relational, we were created in God’s image, therefore we are relational beings…we were not created to go through life as loners, and we are not meant to walk this Christian walk alone. Side note a bit: I’m not saying you can’t be friends and have relationships with people who aren’t Christian, but I think there’s something powerful and build-up-ness about having friends/accoutability partners who have the same basic beliefs/morals/world-view as you do.
Ok, back to our regularly scheduled blogpost: Joshua Davidson chose Peter to be the rock that His church would be built upon, but he didn’t send Peter out alone, he had 11 other guys doing it with him (yea, I remember what happened to Judas, they replaced him with Matthius remember?)…and they garnered more and more people to walk with them along the way…even Paul when he went on his many mission trips wasn’t travelling alone…he often went with Barnabas and then there was John Mark and there were times during the travels when Dr Luke would pop in for a spell…and even when he was travelling alone he would always stay with other Christians in the area.
So, as I see it the church (congregation) isn’t there to play babysitter and make sure you do your homework and eat your vegetables…we do the gathering thing for the community – to love one other, share with each other, encourage one another, rejoice with those who rejoice, and cry with those who cry.
As I said in part 1, I don’t think it’s the church’s job to come up with “witnessing/outreach” things for us to do, I think it’s up to me, when I see a need to fulfil that need and then when we meet on Sunday I share with my family what happened the past week, we either celebrate together or mourn together. We share in each other’s lives, pains, etc. We praise God together, we seek Him together and on behalf of each other, we encourage each other to live a life worthy of the calling we’ve recieved, we have the enGAGE pizza together at Gino’s, then we go out into the world and live out that calling by being a witness to those who haven’t seen the light yet. That is your ministry/calling/witnessing…being a light to those who haven’t seen it yet…and it is not necessarily going to happen in mission trips and in street evangelisms and organised outreach things, it might just happen through you living out your everyday life in a way that in “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, [you] do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the father through him”.
which leads me to thoughts on the church in Acts…that will be part 3
Do stop by the blog carnival and read the other posts…
Please do stop by FredMcKinnon.com for more setlists and sermon recaps from around the world…
Come now is the time to worship (Brian Doerkson)
Alles vir my (Afrikaans) (Retief Burger)
Dula le rona (Sotho) (Paul Mpete)
Desert song (Brooke Fraser)
Give us clean hands (Chris Tomlin)
All who are thirsty (Brenton Brown/Glenn Robertson)
How deep the father’s love for us (Stuart Townend)
Firstly let me start by saying how much I love the fact that I live in a country with 11 official language…and how much I love going to a church that realises that and attempts to worship in different languages!
Ronel led worship this morning – was cool having the evening guys leading in the morning service…well, i thought it was cool. Morning service crowd has quite a different vibe from the evening service crowd so it’s very cool for me whenever we do stuff in the morning or when the morning service people visit the evening service.
Speaking of different people doing stuff together, Chris (the pastor) spoke on the church of Acts (chapter 2) in his series of church being community. He talked on unity in diversity…so basically people who are different coming together as one. The term used in the old testament for the trinity is also the term used in the whole the man shall leave his mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one…how cool is that. As the church that is the picture we are supposed to present…different people from different backrounds/ethinicities/tribes/tongues/etc coming together to praise and worship him in our togetherness…living together, sharing together, praying together, showing the world real unity/peace/love…
The vineyard church is very big on the theme of “everyone gets to play”…basically, we have pastors and leaders and etc but everyone is gifted in some way and everyone has a role to play in the church…the pastor has his part and each congregant has their part…if one person doesn’t do his part, we all hurt as the church.
Chris also touched on the church of acts vs the church in Paul’s letters. He talked about how the church in Acts was how it was the intended model (Acts 2: 42ff) and the church in Paul’s letters was the remedial model…the one that God allows because we live in a falled world and get things wrong and etc…and there’s a place for both…but sometimes we get so comfortable and dependent on the remedy that we can’t get back to normal…let’s leave the remedy and get back to health…to realising that church is not the building…we are the church…we are all part of the priesthood…we all have a part to play.
For the evening service we had planned to go to the beach and have a jam sesion picnic there but the wind forced us to change our plans. We ended up going to play bingo at a local pub/bar/place and then after that we went to Brett and Val’s place and had game night with crumpets…and lots and lots of laughs…
Love my church family!
I’m taking part in a blog carnival over at “One Word at a Time“…and today’s topic is community. I’ve written about community before, so I decided to just do a repost of that post…enjoy…
[my thoughts are a bit scattered at the moment, so this one will be very reflective of my scatter-brain-ness...i mean more than my other posts have been]
So the early church…Brett’s favorite verse ever is Acts 2:42ff and as he said this past Sunday, all the enGAGE people have probably got it memorised by now cos he reads it so often in our services.
The early church was great at doing the whole community thing. They pretty much lived together and shared everything and everybody got along and sang kum-ba-ya together all night…ok, maybe i just made that last part up. All this to say, the church grew in thousands…people were joining the Church on a daily basis because of what they saw.
I think though today, there are more people talking about community but we’ve misunderstood it. Community is a big christian buzz word – the next new thing – at the moment (that and fighting injustice…think i already wrote on this one), everybody is wanting to live in community and they are throwing the word around like it’s going out of fashion (irony: it probably will be as soon as the next hypeworthy thing comes along)…but the concept of community isn’t new and buzzworthy…communities have been around as long as people have been around.
Community isn’t about a bunch of people living in a house together…that’s MTV’s “The Real World”, community is about people sharing their lives together. Community isn’t about excluding those outside your “culture” (including race, social class, education, etc), it’s about including them into your circle. Community is not about meeting once a week in a church building, it’s about BEING Church together…everyday.
[Point of clarification, I don't have a problem with getting a house with a bunch of people and living together a la SimpleWay style...in fact I would really dig to do that...what I am saying is that community is so much more than that]
The early church didn’t just meet once a week and discuss the bible, sing a few songs and then go back to their normal lives. They lived together, they lived on the word, they followed the Way, the gave their lives for the Way, they lived a life that made those on the outside go “hey, there is something different there, and I want me a piece of that”. They gave up their “normal lives” and chose to live Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-filled lives to the glory of the Father…and He blessed them, and multiplied them. We sit in our wonderfully comfortable pews and wonder why the world is not turning to the Father, it’s because they don’t see it in those who claim to be following Him. The name “christians” was first used in Acts and was used to describe the followers of the way because they were “little christs”…his mini-me’s…imitators of christ…reflections of Him…that’s what the word means. And that’s why the early church was blessed…that’s why their community grew…because they were following the Way…they were living for the way…it wasn’t about them believing a bunch of stuff, it was about them living out what they said they believed.
That’s what we as the church are missing today: the DAILY taking up our cross and following him part. We need to be Christ-followers. The world needs to see Christ in us. The world needs to see the God who is love through us. The world needs to see the broken being restored…the needy having their needs met…the lonely being loved…the untouchables feeling the comfort of human touch…and as we do that, as we display His love and His character to the world, they will inevitably be drawn to Him.
I’ve mentioned before that I think the church I am currently a part of (VCF/enGAGE) is really good at doing the whole community thing…so in part 4 I’m gonna expand a bit on that.
who/what is enGAGE
a bunch of people who believe in and are aiming to be:
 Fully devoted Followers of Christ
 Growing in Community
 Giving Generously
 Witnessing Unashamedly
 Worshipping Passionately
 Serving Purposefully
The name enGAGE reminds us that church is not that meeting that takes place on a Sunday but it is a body of believers and the four focus points of enGAGE are to:
Engage with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Engage with the Bible – reading, knowing and doing
Engage with each other – the community of believers, building and living in authentic relationship with each other
Engage with society – people outside of the church, showing them God’s love and grace and pointing them to Him.
(from the enGAGE website)
why the capital GAGE in enGAGE?
American spelling of gauge…as in to measure…so the name reminds us that “we are constantly needing to Gauge/measure where we are in life compared to where we should be and continually trying to narrow that gap”…we should constantly be measuring ourselves against Joshua Davidson, cos as his followers we are supposed to be trying to be more and more like him daily. “This is a journey we are on, together in community”.
(quotations from website).
what sets us apart?
the “broken, but beautiful bride”
Brett loves the saying “Jesus is coming back for his bride, not a harem”. There is no such thing as Churches, it’s all one Church. Anyway, he’s really passionate about bringing together the bride…and he’s somehow managed to rub off that passion on to our congregation. We are all about bringing together the whole church, not just our denomination. We love doing the stuff with other congregations in Stell/Cape Town/Somer Set West…like worship events and camps and stuff like that where we bring together the whole church and just celebrate and rejoice and be the bride together.
We have come across opposition of course, as Jon Acuff said, “only ordinary things ever get full consensus from people. Doing something extraordinary should never make complete sense to everyone in your life”, but we are slowly building bridges, maybe not as the congregation per se, but as individuals from our congregation who see the need to fellowship with other followers outside our little circle…the church is being A Church!
one of the dudes from our church once said that the thing that sets us apart is that we are the “earthy church”…meaning we are down-to-earth. Vineyard (the international denomination one) has a thing against titles…i mean we have pastors and leadership people but we don’t have titles for them like deacons and bishops etc…we are all members of the church and each member is called to take part and minister and lead and stuff.
for instance we encourage people to share verses or messages or whatever that they feel God is laying on their hearts during worship or whatever and as Brett often says, we are all part of the priesthood so therefore we should all be praying for each other, laying hands on each other, baptising each other, ministering to each other, etc.
In fact, during the preaches there’s often inside jokes and back-chatting and adding on and questionning and aswering each other…interesting services I tell you.
we are also very much about being real…like really real…like confess your sins to each other real…from the pulpit if you feel it’s necessary (and by pulpit I mean the stool that Brett sits on during the preach…hee hee). We hang out together a lot…like outside of church…so it goes without saying that we will turn to each other for accountability and prayer and holding-each-other-up-ness, so it’s very important that we are real with each other and talk to each other and share real stuff.
we believe Christ calls you as you are…not a fake, seemingly perfect version of you…but the raw, broken, failed you. Come to the cross broken – no dressing up, no band-aids – he can’t heal you if you pretend you don’t need healing.
why i love my church
we believe in prayer
there’s been a couple of times where i’ve been in the car with friends and someone tells us of a need or prayer request or whatever and we just pull the car off to the side and pray for them and minister to them right there and then.
one of my youth peoples got stabbed this past week and he came through to church on sunday evening so at the end of the service a bunch of us gathered around him to pray for healing
we believe in living out the stuff
a friend was telling us of financial troubles and another friend said “well we’ll keep you in prayer, but in the meantime is there anything we can help with practically right now?”
we read a book in our cell about getting out of the pews and actually doing stuff which led to things like starting up “kinetic love” – an outreach group which also started up the 24-7 prayer room – and selling of hotdogs to the homeless…
we are a super funny bunch of crazies
some of my favorite enGAGE quotes:
“i don’t want to be controlled by my scarves”
“shut up christian and go read your bible”
“every time i have a conversation with a girl i think she’s either going to laugh or fall in love with me”
one last thing for those who live in Stellies
wednesday nights 9:30 pm we meet in the prayer room (Neelsie, room T-29 i think, 4th floor in between the loos and TBT and across from the habitat for humanity Shack) and we have a time of prayer then we go out onto the streets and talk to/pray for/minister to people we meet. Great time of kingdom-come type stuff…please join us if you can/want to.
speaking of prayer room…for those who haven’t been there…it’s a room dedicated to 24-7 prayer…it’s open all the time and you can just pop in there and say a prayer if you wanted to.