Friday, October 28, 2011
Four Things Missing in Dying Churches
Many years ago as a rookie, I complained to my dad about a fart in the elevator; recalling JP: "When it comes to church, it takes just one. Everyone suffers. No one can escape."
Shrink to our doctoral study group not long after that: "Problem people are usually constipated. That's why they dump on you."
Executive Director of CFP just before joining with PUBC to form PFR: "Just one flea can make a big dog itch."
My dad asked, "How old is he?"
I said, "He's older than mom's dad" (80+).
Dad: "That's your problem. He's just trying to catch your attention; and doesn't know how to do it appropriately. Just sit with him, pretend to pay attention, think about golf or something, and he'll be fine. Some people have too much time on their hands and just need someone to listen to them. He doesn't mean to be a pain; but that's the only way he can get people to pay attention to him anymore."
But I'm reminded of the woman who made an appointment to complain about the doxology being in the wrong part of the service according to her liturgical ignorance.
It made no sense to me; until my secretary said, "Can't you see? She's hot for you! She's just trying to catch your attention so you'll pay attention to her."
I met with her and she hit on me.
But I'm reminded of pastor search committee members and the common experience of many of 'em leaving their churches after discovering their choices wouldn't champion their agenda, be their best friend, go to bed with 'em (gender not important anymore), or...
But my personal prejudices for President have no chance of beating the incumbent.
Because I try not to hide anything - read John 3:19-21 again for a reminder of what this is all about - I like the African-American and former physician.
The GOP ain't gonna nominate a black man or Libertarian to run against BBPBHO.
Any party that picks guys like Dole, McClain, and...
If I have to explain that to you...
The Governor of Texas is a stiff in public and the others, well, uh,...if I have to explain that to you...
So it looks like it's gonna be the former Governor of Massachusetts against the former rapper from Illinois.
Sorry, that's unfair.
We have no idea about the incumbent's theology.
And as far as the fears spreading in the "Christian Right" about the Mormon, I've concluded he's about as close to authentic Mormonism as too many pewsitters/pulpiteers/mainliners are to authentic Christianity.
What, me worry?
2 Chronicles 7:14.
It's a lot bigger than next November.
So what does this have to do with the four things missing in dying churches?
Well, God has established order/authority to keep countries, communities, churches, and families from falling into anarchy, mobocracy, decay, decline, and the like.
Read Romans 13, 1 Thessalonians 5, and parallel texts juxtaposed to Acts 5 which summarizes our primary allegiance/affection.
In short, God predestines leaders over us in the country, community, church, and family; and as long as those leaders acknowledge/affirm God as their ultimate Leader and the focus/filter of their leadership according to Holy Scripture, we must submit to their authority as submitting to His authority.
We disobey 'em only when leaders contradict God as He has revealed Himself.
That's the Biblical way of keeping countries, communities, churches, and families from falling apart.
Conversely, when anybody's word is as good as anybody else's word on any subject and the inmates start running the..., countries, communities, churches, and families fall apart.
Simply, rebellion/defiance against Godly authority brings ruin to countries, communities, churches, and families.
That's the preface to identifying the four things missing in dying churches: trust, humility, guts, and Jesus.
Dying churches don't trust God through their members, staffs, boards, undershepherding leadership, and denominational/franchise hierarchies.
They grumble, banter and moan, undermine, conspire, bark, bite, and...
Living like Father knows best.
Knowing our limitations (check out Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12).
Remembering, as cited so often in Holy Scripture, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble...God lifts up the humble and brings down the proud."
Joshua 24:15; Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16-42; 16:24-28; Romans 1:16-17.
It takes guts to be for Jesus when serving in government, teaching in schools, maneuvering through the marketplace, and all of the below.
Being for Jesus in time means catching lots of hell before heavenly graduation.
Matthew 7:24-27; John 3.
When we're born again as His and directed by all of the above, our trust, humility, and guts grow.
Knowing who to be and what to do as His is so easy.
Practicing who to be and what to do as His is so hard.
Oswald Chambers, better than most, addressed the paradox so clearly, concisely, crisply, and compellingly: "You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing...The Bible has been so many words to us - clouds and darkness - then all of a sudden the words become spirit and life because Jesus re-speaks them to us in a particular condition...When a man gets to God, it is by the most simple way of words."
It all makes sense with increasing trust, humility, and guts because of increasing intimacy with Jesus.
If I have to explain that to you, it's because you haven't...
Blessings and Love!