Thursday, February 21, 2008

Building a church that doesn't suck...

the life out of people. Church shouldn't be about heaping rules and regulations upon people. Shouldn't be about adding more guilt on top of people and breaking their backs.

We are building a church that is looking forward to what's ahead. We feel we have real answers for the real problems of life. We embrace the issues that everyone deals with, but you never seem to hear addressed in churches. Doesn't God have anything to say regarding our sexual practices besides "don't do this" and "don't do that"? What about our relationships? What about our constant struggle and worry over finances? What about when that loved one hears the "C" word from the doctor? "It's cancer."

Growing up I went to church almost every Sunday. Later I was on staff as a youth pastor for many years, and most Sundays I was bored out of my ever-lovin' mind! I wanted to know God better. I wanted to be able to worship Him passionately like how I felt in my heart toward Him. I wanted to be equipped to handle life with a faith that was real and relevant, but all I heard most of the time was the "should do's" and the "shouldn't do's," but never any "how's" or any thing that made me wonderfully uncomfortable and challenged me in a real way to be different; to live different.

I would love to hear your church stories.

And think about joining us sometime as we build a church that doesn't suck. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"What Does Your Church Have To Offer?"

I have been interviewed a few times lately about the church and the vision for who and what we are. I have also had several questions from regular people asking "well, what does your church have to offer?" Though I hate it I often feel sheepish in my response when I talk about the fact that we don't have a lot of programs. What we have right now is vision, and a place to belong, and a chance for someone who wants to make a difference with something that truly matters.

An unavoidable and inescapable fact is that we live in a consumer culture today. This has most certainly made its way into the Church. It is a fact that every church must deal with. People want to know "If I go to your church, what will I get out of it?" If a church is not prepared to answer this question or deal with this reality, it will find itself quickly ignored. I certainly understand this mentality and in some ways agree with it. There are most definitely churches out there that I do NOT want to be a part of.

But here's the dilemma. Most people don't really know what they want...and certainly have a hard time discerning what they really need. As people shop around you here questions like "What kind of music do you have?"
"Do you have stuff for my kids?"
"What kind of activities do you do?"

Again...all good questions, but is that really what "church" has been boiled down to is a menu of selections for the finicky shopper?

What if I was to answer,
"We love Jesus passionately."
"We encourage everyone to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord and listen for how He wants you to minister."
"We are looking for ways to embrace social issues so we can bring God's justice closer to people."
"We are trusting Jesus to build His church, so we can impact the entire West Shore area for the Kingdom of God."

Would that sound foolish? Would it sound naive, perhaps?

What is church for? What should the church look like?

Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic Church in L.A. recently said in an article in Christianity Today, “my primary assessment would be because American Christians tend to be incredibly self-indulgent so they see the church as a place there for them to meet their needs and to express faith in a way that is meaningful for them."

What if church became about Jesus and others? What if we trusted God with our "needs" and simply focused on being a servant? We might just find our "needs" were being met as we were serving alongside our brothers and sisters, and we might find true fulfillment that all of us who have our shopping lists seem to be lacking so often.