Monday, October 4, 2010

"Halloween" Party?

In keeping with our efforts to reach the unchurched and not other Christians from other churches, we are throwing a "Halloween" Party on Sunday October 31st. We are actually moving our whole church service across the street and renting out Hayes Elementary gym for the morning.

Many Christians would bristle at the use of "Halloween" and not the more church-friendly "Harvest" word. Outside of the church arena, a "Harvest Party" sounds much more weird and spooky than a "Halloween Party." Often we expect the people we are inviting to "get it" before actually giving it to them. Mature Christians understand the need to be cognizant of deeper spiritual truths and respect the fact that most people are messing around with things much more powerful and dangerous than they know. (i.e. demons, death symbols, witches and magic, etc.) However, we must understand that this is knowledge that gets assimilated after a person's spirit is reborn in Christ.

Here's what I mean. This Sunday in our bulletin there was coupled with the announcement about our upcoming party a statement that read "No monster costumes." I stood up and told our people to ignore this. I explained that we are not invited our community to come only if they come on our terms or what we consider spiritually acceptable terms. Imagine a mom or dad who know nothing of Christ and they bought the spookiest costume they could find for their child. They receive our invitation, but feel they cannot come because they would either have to buy another costume or if they showed up with the one they have they would be afraid of being labeled "less than ok" in some way for doing so.

It would certainly be my hope that down the road after their spiritual eyes have been opened to the unseen realities of the spiritual world that they would choose a costume that was not demonic in nature.

As a parent, my wife and I had the discussion years ago about what we would do for Halloween when our kids came of age to either participate or not. We decided that it would be nonsense for us to refuse to allow our kids to participate at all. But we have set parameters. We do the pumpkin carving, and we let the kids pick out or create a costume to go "trick or treating" in. But the costumes are not to be demonic, not to be associated with magic, nor will they have anything to do with death or spirits. We know and respect the spiritual realities that exist and do not want to open any door or create any foothold for the enemy in their lives. However, we will not be governed by fear and create some sort of barricaded approach to life. Our approach allows the kids to fully participate and have fun, but in a way that does not dishonor the Lord.

Soooo.... we are throwing a Halloween party! People are free to dress up however they want. We are going to love them, love the kids and show every one of them that Jesus loves them to the fullest amount possible right now as they are.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Focus: "Why?"

I am going to start blogging more about the "why" of how I am doing things as I continue to lead a church through a turnaround effort. No need to reinvent the wheel if someone is going through a similar effort. Since there are so many churches that need to turn things around, this will either serve as a help for how to do things or else a "Manual of Things to Avoid!" :) So far, so good though. If in reality this serves more as a journaling tool for me to help organize my thoughts, that's good too.


As I finish year three and look back, I see a difference in my preaching. The first two years I was preaching wonderful, rich theological sermons. (in my humble opinion) However, I realized that I was preaching more for the approval of my peers in ministry (who were not present and I'm pretty sure were not listening online either). This was not done intentionally. I only became aware of it through some prayer and introspection. The same things that speak to me, will not speak to the unchurched and those who are young in their faith. I have found that I am putting things more on the "bottom shelf" as one of my mentor's put it. For all my talk about relevance, it needs to be relevant to the real audience more than a perceived audience. Is it not the role of a pastor to meet people where they are at and draw them higher? Kind of sounds like what Jesus does too...

It is still my goal to have something relevant for people at every level of their spiritual journey with Christ. I know that I am constitutionally unable to stand up front and deliver weak moralisms and empty spiritual platitudes. I just can't do it. What I can do is be more intentional about delivering the uncompromising truth of God's Word in a means more easy to digest. We're called to be "fishers of men." I suck at actual fishing and have no interest in getting better...but even I know that fishermen use different lures and bait in different waters based on what the conditions are and what kind of fish they are trying to catch. The objective for every 'fisher of men' is to find the right bait for the right condition they find themselves in.