Following the questions…

For the past two weeks I’ve been in South Carolina listening to the stories of old friends and new friends.   Something is afoot with people all over.  From Hungary to Hawaii, from the Mason-Dixon line to the Bible Belt people are restless and tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol.  In this South Carolina community known for church hopping, friends are giving up even on the hope of finding the missing piece in the church across the way.  They’re asking (at last) questions that could lead us right into a twenty-first century Reformation: “Where are people experiencing grace?”  “Where are broken people sharing their lives in authentic community?”  “Where are weary ones resting in the love of the Father?”  “Where are weak and the poor being cared for?” “Where is the kingdom?”

Religion has set itself up for a fatal blow.  If these questions are left unchecked they’ll lead into something as new as tomorrow and as old as the dance between the Father, Son and Spirit:  If we’re not careful such dangerous questions might lead to the end of religion itself to a wide-open movement that follows Jesus into the radical, unorthodox ways of the kingdom.

4 thoughts on “Following the questions…”

  1. Best-selling author, social activist and megachurch pastor Rick Warren described the social gospel supported by many of the mainline churches as “Marxism in Christian clothing.”

    “[W]e don’t need to care about redemption, the cross, repentance. All we need to do is redeem the social structures of society and if we make those social structures better the world will become a better place,” explained Warren as he described the beliefs behind those who support the “social gospel,” in his interview with Beliefnet.com, which was posted Monday.

    “Really in many ways it was just Marxism in Christian clothing,” he criticized. “[I]t was in vogue at that time that if we redeem society then man will automatically get better. It didn’t deal with the heart.”

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  2. Stop wondering and start living it. Stop engaging in church activities and start pursuing godly relationships. Stop retreating to your fortress of solitude every evening and start seeking to meet with God and fellow believers regularly and often. Above all seek Him, wait for Him, and in all things be obedient to the Lord.

    The early church had no buildings or programs, yet added to there number daily. Grace is experienced where it is needed, not in a building. Community is experienced at home, in your neighborhood, not at a building. Resting in the Father happens on your knees, not at a building. The poor are cared for where they are, not at a building. The Kingdom is wherever you are, because we are joint heirs with Christ! “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strength thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Ps 27:14

    As for me. I believe I will see the good of the Lord in the land of living!

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  3. Don, There is a movement of the Spirit afoot, it might be like Dave says that we are moving back to our homes for Koinonia community, but denominations are scrambling to find out what is happening while also protecting their “turf” from big changes, it is funny and sad to watch and be a part of. You have people running around calling themselves emerging, and yet that is what Jesus said we would all be when we are “born again.”

    I recently graduated from a class in church leadership that focuses on new church development and planting. Every once and a while I run across someone who is actually doing things different, but not too often. Mainly what I see are well meaning people who have taken what they know about church, re-tooled it a little, smacked a cool font on a sign, served some coffee, wear their jeans to preach and try and bring it into the 21st century in its ability to reach out to people disconnected from Christ. In case you’re wondering, I have been guilty of this too, not because it is what I want but because of the church baggage I bring along with me on this journey, so don’t think I am ignoring the log in my eye to reach out and take the speck from a brother or sisters eye. I think that churches today are perfectly poised to reach other Christians, and in fact most church membership books would reflect this in the number of transfers from other churches balanced against the actual new member who was formerly unconnected from Jesus.

    I have heard many people touting the new style, or contemporary worship (and please let’s put that one to rest, contemporary is a word that is already old). Relevant is another one that drives me nuts. Shouldn’t the Church always be relevant to Jesus rather than the becoming relevant to the world? We are a counterculture so let’s start acting like one. We spend too much time copying what we see in the world and trying to make our church aligned to that rather than sensing the new and original movement of the Spirit.

    So, what I see out there more than anything else is a kind of McChurch atmosphere. Like the fast food place, no matter where you are in the world you can get the same hamburger. Now the front of the store might look a little different, but inside is the same comfortable menu you have come to know and love. You can go to a mega church that only uses a screen to tell its people what is happening, or to a small rural church whose bulletin has everything in it for the week, and you know what you will find? Not much difference! Greeting, music, music, music, prayer, scripture, sermon, music, music, music, benediction… there you go, that’s what we call an order of worship… (want fries with that?)

    Here’s what I wonder. If Jesus is constantly telling us that he came to make all things new, why is it that we in the church fight tooth and nail to keep all things the same? If God is a creator at heart, why do we feel compelled to search out other peoples good ideas and use them in church? If we are new creatures in Christ, when will we begin to join with Him in this movement that is something really new?

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