About a decade or so ago, I was sitting in the stands for a Bucs high school football game with my friend and often mentor Ev.
Directing my attention to some of the fans, he said, "Hey, there's...He was a member of the church about 30 years ago...Hey, there's...she was a member about 20 years ago...Hey, there's...He was a member about 15 years ago...Hey, there's someone who left when you came!"
That's never been a problem in the Church where followers of Jesus gather for worship along with discipling for service and evangelism.
It's always been a problem in the church where fans aka posers or those coincidentally related to Jesus hang in and around as long as their navel-gazing religion is reinforced.
Kinda reminds me of pulpit committees.
People are always commenting/gossiping on how it's sooooooo common for PC members - Wink! - to leave a C/church not long after the clergywoman/man "of their choice" has been around.
Acknowledging those clergywomen/men who fall/fail or were never really called to such C/churches as I did/wasn't twice, PCers - Wink! - who leave not long after "their" choices arrive, most often, weren't really looking for a worship leader, discipler, and radical advocate for Jesus.
Here's the dirty dark secret that no one likes to talk about.
Most often, they were looking for a BFF, paramour, or champion for their, uh, whatever.
During a polity class, Dean Adams was asked, "Can you be a Christian without going to church?"
After a selah moment, he answered, "Well, I guess it's possible to be a Christian without going to church; but I have never seen a Christian who did not go to church."
Well, that exchange can fill up those moments in the classroom when the professor's notes have been exhausted.
Harold was a great associate pastor in Pennsylvania.
When a fan complained about him targeting her in a sermon, he said, "Well, that's really, really, really arrogant of you to think that I would preach a sermon just for/about you; but if the shoe fits..."
When another fan said she was leaving the church because we were not meeting her "needs" which included..., he said, "If you find the perfect church, don't join it because it won't be perfect anymore if you do!"
People leave a C/church for many reasons.
You know the list; and, frankly, most of 'em are silly, superficial, stupid, and selfish.
Go ahead, list em.
Which ones aren't silly, superficial, stupid, or selfish?
Which ones don't expose navel-gazing religion only coincidental to Jesus by the book?
Which ones don't insult Matthew 18, John 17, Romans 12, and...?
C'mon, which ones aren't really ideologically, idolatrously, idiosyncratically, or just plain old ignorantly motivated?
Oh, I forgot.
You gotta get out of it because it's part of a baaaaaaad denomination; as if leaving one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination makes sense.
Oh, I forgot.
The new one does not stink as bad as the old one.
Look at the cross!
Read about Luther, Bonhoeffer, King, and...
Check out those "inspired" texts instead of your ideological, idolatrous, idiosyncratic, and ignorant judgments/prejudices about salt-shaking, light-reflecting, and being the good leaven that mixes in to make better.
BTW, how about a little consistency?
If you're gonna dump the denomination, why not dump the country at the same time?
From what I see, and, please, someone help me if my sight's as bad as fidelity in the mainline, America's churches are only a mirror of the country's morality, government, education, media, entertainment, commerce, and...
So, reaaaaaaallllllly, show some intellectual and spiritual consistency.
If you think you'll be better off, leave 'em!
On the other hand, as I've discovered in the family of faith that I'm privileged to undershepherd for the last decade or so and until I'm assassinated by an Islamofascistnutball or denominational jingoist or some fan/poser that left when exposed, sometimes there's addition by subtraction.
When the rotting/rotten apples are removed from the barrel...
Sometimes revival don't mean gettin' people in...but gettin' the people out who don't really love Jesus and all His children by the book.
You can read more about this by scrolling down to Scratching the Surface of Revival (below).
Sooooooo when is it O.K. to leave C/church?
It's never O.K. to leave Church.
Go back to the, uh, top - Wink! - to distinguish Church from church.
Buuuuuuut when the church professionals and their church boards and the church's constituents do not acknowledge and advocate Jesus by the book but rather sport religion only coincidental to Jesus by the book at the altar of some kinda navel-gazing left, right, up, down, inside, outside, or other inverted ideology, it's time to leave.
Indeed, I urge our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main to invite, welcome, include, and agape folks into our family of faith and other Biblically Christocentric parts of the Church in the neighborhood from the fans, posers, and...
It ain't stealin' sheep.
It's savin' 'em from...
Annnnnnnd because parts of the Church unlike churches are always ready/eager to confess and repent for restoration if corrected/disciplined by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense in humility before Him and His, charges of judgmentalism, self-righteousness, and the like are designed darkly and deceptively to continue enabling church apostasies.
Of course, if I have to explain any of the preceding in any more detail, you wouldn't understand anyway because you're already comfortably deceived by your preferred version of churchianity over the Biblically Christocentric Church.
Getting back to PCs, many have asked me how to interview candidates.
Essentially, I say, "You should ask them anything that you want to ask them; because it's too late after the installation. Yeah, I know some PC - Wink! - church bureaucrats will say you can't ask some questions. Buuuuuuullloney! You can ask anything that you'd like to ask. Sure, they don't have to answer; but even if they don't answer all of your questions, you'll have received important answers. Lots of unpleasant surprises are averted by asking everything/anything up front."
Continuing/concluding, "Of course, you can save yourselves lots of time by just asking two questions. Who is Jesus by the book? Do you acknowledge and advocate Jesus by the book with enthusiasm and without equivocation?"
If she/he gets those two questions right according to Jesus by the book, you may not be on the same page for all things but you will be on the same page for Who's/what's really, really, really most important right now and then.
The problem is churches never really, really, really address those two questions before addressing life and ministry's opportunities, challenges, and...
That's why so many of today's churches have no focus or filter for life and ministry.
That's why churches are sooooooo fanatical, silly, superficial, stupid, and selfish.
Conversely, parts of the Church, imperfect as they will always be, are closer to the truth because they are, uh, closer to the truth by acknowledging and advocating Jesus by the book.
It's never right to leave if Jesus by the book is acknowledged and advocated with enthusiasm and without equivocation.
It's never right to stay if Jesus by the book is not acknowledged and advocated with enthusiasm and without equivocation.
Whether it's staying in the Church or leaving a church, it's all about Jesus by the book.
Blessings and Love!
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Revival’s Recipe/Results)
While there are many exemplary examinations/explanations of revival’s recipe and results – how it happens and what happens when churches really get it/Him and the trickles turn into rivers of living water – with Bob Griffin’s Firestorms of Revival among the most comprehensive, I’ve been observing the accelerating revival on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois and see seven ingredients that have enabled/encouraged Actsual results of increasing reconciliations with Him and His along with increasing emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical signs, wonders, and miracles:
1. Worship – We’ve thrown away stopwatches/clocks and ignored people who wanna limit our praise, proclamation, prayers, sacraments, and ordinances to 59 minutes and 59 seconds. We’re increasingly Selahed about worship – pausing and pondering and taking the time for Him to sink in as we soak in His glory. Whoa! Sounds Pentecostal! Absolutely! We want to worship! We want to experience/express Him! We’ve abandoned the hypocrisies and insults to God of going through the motions of meaningless liturgies for something/Someone who really wants our existential and eternal wholeness, happiness, health, joy, and security. Of course, it’s more than that; and if you haven’t already experienced/expressed it/Him, ain’t no way for me to…
2. Word – It’s all about Jesus by the book!!! We pray and labor to honor the Father and move with the Holy Spirit as personified in Jesus and prescribed in the Bible. Our highest goal, greatest ambition, and most fervent prayer is to let go of the church and let Him have it; or as we like to say, “We’ve gotta get out of the way so we can go with His flow!”
3. Witness – We talk about Jesus by name with enthusiasm and without equivocation as our Lord and Savior and have an increasing passion to invite, welcome, include, and agape everyone to get it/Him!
4. Rebirths – Regardless of age or gender or who or what or when or why, more and more and more folks – longstanding members who knew something about Him but didn’t know Him in a personal kinda way and newcomers and whoevers – are experiencing an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual regeneration that feels like being born all over again in a John 3 kinda way.
5. Renewals – There’s a refreshing and restoring passion for Jesus enabled/encouraged by worship and Word mentioned above sweeping through the family on the corner of Lincoln and Main. It’s contagious!
6. Recruits – Along with family members who’ve come alive in Jesus for the first time or have experienced a reinvigorated relationship with Him, we’re welcoming, including, and agapeing new family members who are hungry and thirsty for Jesus by the book from churches that don’t know Him by the book along with sisters and brothers getting to know Him for the first time or again or…
7. Removals – Simply, some folks in some churches gotta go before they can grow! Additions often follow subtractions in churches with unchecked miscreants, control freaks, idolaters, apostates, contradictions to 1 Corinthians 13, and the like. Go to Matthew 15, 16, 18, 23, Luke 18:9-14, Romans 16:17ff., Titus 3:10-11, and other related texts for more on that.
Getting back to letting go and letting Him lead the family of faith by His Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus as explained in Holy Scripture, it’s time for dying/troubled churches to recognize they have exhausted all of the wrong answers in addressing their problems, confusions, and decline.
Maybe that’s why our Lord is driving so many of ‘em to their knees.
That’s how every revival begins.
Checking email at library in Searsmont, Maine.
1. When we moved to Loganville 11/07, we started attending a local UMC where pastor was retirement age but preaching at this small church. It was a nice little fellowship [30 people] and the pastor preached well. THEN, he got cancer and died and the next guy was a horrendous preacher [actually new to ministry at age 55+] as was the next guy, so finally [after checking out 2 huge non-denominational churches for a time each] Harmony & I moved to another local church [200+ attendance], where we have stayed for the last 5+ years.
2. Reminds me of the comment by a Forks trustee [think I've told you]:
"What this church needs is a bunch of first class funerals!"
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