Posted tagged ‘church’

An Open Serving Policy

July 8, 2014

Greystone Bakery taught me about grace once again.

Anyone that comes to the front door of their bakery is given the chance to work, no questions asked. When a job becomes available they take the next person off the waiting list and give them a job.

keep out

I want to be part of a church that has an “open” serving policy. Anyone who wants to serve, can. This doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want, in whatever way they want.

There are standards and expectations for certain types of service. Elders and deacons are held to higher standards than others. But, graceful churches, like Jesus, can adopt an open serving policy. Think of the band of misfits Jesus used. One of them wasn’t even a believer.

The open hiring policy of Greystone says your past isn’t your future.

Reluctance:

  1. Children need protection from predators.
  2. Financial integrity is essential.
  3. Quality of service needs to be held high.

In other words, open serving doesn’t mean anyone can do anything. But, its incumbent for those who believe in grace to express grace by providing places of service for anyone.

Religious pressure:

Could it be that you are worried about what other believers think? After all, what would “they” think if the person who is passing out bulletins was drunk last night?

I’d rather offend a religious person than belittle an unbeliever by excluding them, unnecessarily.

Bigger issue:

The bigger issue is you feel superior to “them.” Your sins aren’t as bad as their sins. But, you don’t have permission to look down on outsiders, especially when Jesus loves them and died for them.

Low responsibility jobs have low or no standards. For example, the next time you take out the garbage, ask the guy who was drunk last night to help.

Glorify God and Pass the Salt

March 27, 2014

Christians say, “Glorify God,” as easily as, “Pass the salt.” Actually, pass the salt may have more meaning.

salt

We exist to glorify God. The Church exists to glorify God. Even, nature exists to glorify God. But, glorifying God isn’t a mystical experience that happens in isolation.

One behavior best exemplifies what it means to glorify God.

One purpose:

Everything the Church does has one purpose – winning people to Jesus and helping them grow so they can win people to Jesus. We are here to win people.

Paul teaches us that the Church is the body of Christ. Luke tells us that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. So, if we are the body of Christ, we are here to seek and save the lost.

Lets give teeth to religious language and say that everything the Church is here to do one basic thing – win people to Jesus and help them grow so they can win people to Jesus. Nothing less. Nothing more. Nothing else.

Everything:

What the Church does:

  1. Teaching
  2. Fellowship
  3. Worship
  4. Support
  5. Encouragement
  6. Friendship
  7. Social engagement
  8. Meeting needs
  9. You name it ….

Everything we do traces back to one objective, win people to Jesus.

The “edification of the saints,” is so they can win people.

Teaching the Bible loses it’s ultimate purpose if it doesn’t equip us to win people. Furthermore, fellowship isn’t just for our comfort and enjoyment. It’s to enable us to win people.

Winning people gives purpose and meaning to everything believers do. Without the objective of winning people, we’re just going through the motions and God is not glorified, regardless of what you do.

Method:

The method is as clear as the mission. Love people.

Now that I think about it, glorifying God is a bit like passing the salt.

No Outsiders Allowed

January 11, 2014

keep out

Casually read the life of Jesus and you’ll see Him persistently extending grace to outsiders. He’s an outsider-focused individual, living an outsider-focused life. Even the training of the 12 occurs within an outsider focused context.

On the other hand, a casual review of church programs reveals a decidedly insider slant. Churches typically expend their time, energy, and resources on themselves. Frequently these activities don’t enhance believer integration into the community. Rather, they are segregated or limited to a small, comfortable number of outsiders. In brief, these activities are barriers not channels to extending grace to others.

Note on Integration.

I was taught that good Christians lived separated lives. Separation meant isolation. However, Jesus never lived in isolation, nor should we. Graceful living drives us toward integration. In this case, separation is demonstrated by distinctions like love and compassion not isolation.

What if?

What would happen if churches did fewer insider facing programs and decided to integrate into community programs that already exist? Could Christian fellowship occur in an outsider context? Could spiritual growth take place while participating in a YMCA program?

On the other hand.

Jesus spent time alone with His disciples. Churches should have alone time, where shared values dominate conversations and the freedom of sameness is fully embraced and enjoyed.

Now what?

Since it’s comfortable and natural to build programs for ourselves, I suggest grace-oriented Churches resist the drift inward by intentionally limiting exclusive insider-only activities.

*****

What’s hindering believers from living outsider focused lives?

How can graceful believers live outsider focused lives?

Clothes Matter

December 10, 2013

Bow Tie

Getting dressed up for church makes outsiders feel uncomfortable. Fancy clothes exclude.

A few years back I quit dressing up for church. Some said I was trying to be hip. Others didn’t care. I’m glad I made the choice to “dress down.”

Uncomfortable:

What if you dropped into my house and my wife and I were in formal dress clothes, but you were in jeans? How would you feel?

We’d say, “Oh! It doesn’t matter. Make yourself at home.”

Would you feel at home? Probably not.

For you to be comfortable, we’d need to change into casual clothing.

Respect:

One reason people dress up for Church is it shows respect for God. I don’t doubt that some feel that way. But, others get dressed up to impress fellow church members.

If your church is in an upper class suburb, maybe you should dress up. But, if you’re like the rest of us, just wear casual clothes.

One reason to dress casually for church is it shows respect for guests. Wear normal cloths to church so that normal people will feel comfortable.

Adapt to the people around you just like Jesus adapted to us when He arrived. Fit into culture just like you expect missionaries to fit into the cultures where they serve.

Adapt and fit in:

Jesus adapted to us when He arrived. Feel free to follow His example. Adapt to the people around you. Just wear what normal people wear. We aren’t in a culture war. We’re here to bring Jesus into any culture.

Diversity:

Some people will never dress casually for Church. It doesn’t matter as long as your church has diversity.

We’ve come to the place in the Church where I lead, that clothes really don’t matter. (As long as you’re wearing some.) We have some young people who have fun dressing up with ties or dresses. We even have an occasional suit. It’s fun. Diversity and variety take all the pressure off Christian fashion. Diversity is inviting. It shows we can adapt.

Free to Dance with Elephants

October 14, 2013

elephants

Churches who dance around the feelings of people who are easily upset are run by people who are easily upset.

Grace ends the need to pretend. Grace says, “I accept you. Now let’s move forward.” Jesus was full of grace and confronted hard issues at the same time. He accepted Peter and also looked him in the eye and called him the devil.

Being easily upset is a manipulators way of controlling others. Dancing around drama queens/kings plays into their strategy.

You can tell when drama runs your church when people are afraid to bring up certain “taboo” topics. People say things like, “I don’t want to bring that up because it might upset Betty or Bob.” This means Betty and Bob are the cap on the church.

Pastors use drama as much as others. They get indignant, for example, when they are confronted. In the end they are saying, “I’m above being corrected. I’m right.”

Any pastor who can’t be confronted is the lid on the Church.

Grace frees us from dancing around elephants. Taboo topics can be addressed when:

  1. We’re all in this together.
  2. We’re committed to do what’s best for others.
  3. We acknowledge our own frailties.
  4. Candor is exercised with kindness.
  5. The focus remains more on the future than the past. Bringing up the past only adds to drama. Grace frees us from the past and makes a future possible.
  6. The mission of spreading the gospel is bigger than individuals.

Grace frees us from drama, hidden agendas, and easily hurt feelings. Grace frees us to dance with elephants.

Pony Express Churches

August 18, 2012

The Pony Express was the brainchild of William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell. It operated for only eighteen months from 1860 to 1861.

The Pony Express died because it defined itself too narrowly and failed to adapt. Technology – the telegraph – killed the Pony Express.

If the Pony Express defined itself as a communications company rather than a letter carrying company it might still exist, only in a different form.

Churches can give artificial respiration to dying ponies or learn to define themselves in ways that align with transcendent Biblical truths; truths that don’t change even though the way they are expressed must.

God adapted himself to our context when he became man. Yet, he didn’t lose himself. His appearance changed but he didn’t. He never changes.

Transcendent Truths include:

  1. Grace alone.  We always freely receive provision from God. That’s how we become believers and that’s how we live, by grace. Christianity isn’t a self-help program. It’s a grace enabling program.
  2. Faith alone. We never work our way to God. He worked his way to us. Our responsibility is to believe. All commitments in our walk are expressions of learning to trust him alone.
  3. Jesus alone. He’s not one of many ways to rich relationship with God. He’s the only way.
  4. Response alone. All expressions of Christian living are response to God’s love and grace, that includes, service, worship, obedience, evangelism, and everything else we do.
  5. Love alone. Love is the only thing that makes life meaningful. Without it, life is empty, like clanging cymbals. The only way to love is to be loved. “We love because he loved.” (Back to #1) Even confrontation expresses love or it’s wasted, useless effort.

Most of the things Churches do in their gatherings are completely adaptable, consider music. There are no Christian notes or rythmns, only Christian lyrics.

What would you add or modify on my list of transcendent truths?

What is adaptable when it comes to Church gatherings and ministry?

7 Reasons I Don’t Have to Serve You

May 29, 2012

Top 7 reasons I’m free from serving you:

  1. Your preferences are wrong, meaning they aren’t mine.
  2. You have sin in your life.
  3. I’m smarter than you. You’re making dumb decisions.
  4. You need to grow up.
  5. You’re self-centered.
  6. I don’t like you. Christians are allowed to not like some people aren’t they, as long as they love them?
  7. I’ve already served you and you didn’t serve me back. The serving scales tip in my direction. Get busy!

When serving becomes about others
we find excuses not to.

Ultimately, serving is about us not them. When serving is about who we are grace takes center stage.

Jesus served people we reject because
serving was about Him not them.

Strength to serve:

Grace gives strength for free service. Strength for service comes from being served by Jesus. If you don’t let him serve you, you can’t serve others.

Believe Jesus serves you for no good reason except love, then share what you’ve received.

Serving is about grateful response. Ungrateful people may go through the motions of service. However, they need a deeper touch of grace before real serving begins. They may be good and moral but they aren’t Christian.  (Note: I didn’t say they aren’t Christians. You can be a Christian and not act like one.)

Calling people to serve isn’t about brow-beating, crying about needs, or bribing; it’s about grace. When we aren’t serving we need more grace not less.

We’re free to serve as we realize we’ve been served. Serving is the overflow of
gratitude for grace.

If you’re nodding your head but not engaging in meaningful service, you don’t know what I’m talking about.