Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here's a Model

Check this church out! It's a new church plant doing what I've been saying churches should be doing. The actual name of the church is The Point is to Serve. What a cool name! I think this is where the church is...or should be...heading. Signs of hope are everywhere.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Declining Church

The latest issue of Rev! Magazine, published by the company where I work, has a cover story on the American Church in crisis. Here is yet more evidence of the changes that are happening in the church. Yesterday our pastor's sermon included some discussion about the difference between following Christ and getting involved in "organized religion". For years I've made no secret of my disdain for organized religion and the damage it's done to the good name of Jesus Christ. In fact, this entire blog has been dedicated to pointing out where the organized church has missed the mark when it comes to faithfully presenting Jesus to the world.

It's in our nature to organize. It could even be argued that it's Biblical that church happen in an orderly fashion. It's no surprise that when people start to organize we start to sort ourselves and, eventually, everyone get's assigned a position. Next thing you know there are desirable and less desirable positions within the organization. The Church is not immune to this very human proclivity. Over time, almost every individual church will turn in on itself and begin existing just for the sake of existing having lost all sense of it's original purpose. There will be leaders bent on protecting the church and it's rules, standards, doctrines and history. These are not bad people...usually...just people who've lost sight of what it means to be a follower of Christ. It doesn't take much from there for the larger church denomination to follow suit. Pretty soon local churches and whole denominations become inbred hotbeds of self-perpetuating dysfunction.

This process seems to take anywhere from 400 to 500 years. From the exile in Babylon to the coming of Christ it was between 400 and 500 years. Jesus confronted a religious system so entrenched and self-protective that they were blind to the fact that he was the chosen Messiah. About 500 years later the church had become entrenched with government. By the 1500's the church, primarily represented by the Roman Catholic denomination once again needed to be confronted with the truth of Jesus and went through a painful reformation.

So, here we are another 500 years into the story and organized religion is in crisis. Once again there are those pointing to the words of Christ and the truth of his ministry to offer correction to the official church...in all it's denominational forms. Those offering alternative thoughts on following Christ are, once again, being demonized and disregarded by the organized, corporate, church. It's not as bloody a battle as the last reformation...at least not yet. But, based on my study and observation, we are in the early days of the new epoch and what is challenging, new, even heretical is most likely laying the foundation for the church that will need reformation 400 years from now, should Christ delay his return. Thanks to Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Rob Bell and others who are blazing a difficult but necessary trail into the future.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


This morning I woke up in Jamaica and tonight I'm in Puerto Rico where I went to the circus and sat right behind Sigfreid! Yes, that Sigfreid. Anyway, that's not what disturbed me. I just finished Brian McLaren's book "A New Kind of Christian". I love what he's writing and I find myself agreeing with most of it. But it is making me think long and hard about what's happening to the church. It confirms a lot of what I've been seeing and calling the "new reformation". This won't be easy, but there's nothing that will stop the changes that are coming.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another Perspective

I'm in Costa Rica. It's business and I'm only here for a few days. Last month it was Ecuador and Guatemala. Next week it's Jamaica and Puerto Rico. I have to admit I love my job. Part of what I'm doing is developing future trips for Christians who want to do some volunteer work while on vacation. That means that I'm meeting some wonderful people who are doing incredible things in all these countries. I guess when the need is so glaringly obvious it's hard not to respond to it. It does my heart good to spend time with people who are rescuing children from a life spent on a garbage pile or breaking the cycle of violence and abuse or bringing food, water, electricity and hope to entire neighborhoods. All this good work is being done by Christians and Christian churches. I've noticed something interesting.

Today I met a wonderful group of people from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. They're renovating a house where at risk kids can live in a family setting. It's the fifth year this church has sent teams to Costa Rica. It's the same everywhere I go. There are wonderful American Christians helping provide for those in need in other countries. Because I spent so much time in U.S. churches I can pretty much say that there isn't the same amount of effort going into finding and helping similar kids within blocks of the churches these wonderful people attend. Why is it that, for most U.S. Christians, they need to go outside their own country...at great expense, I might add...to find people to help? Don't get me wrong, I think everyone should get out of the U.S. and experience another perspective on the world. I also think we should put just as much effort and resources into the needs right around our churches and stop pretending that everyone in the U.S. has had the chance to know the love of Jesus first hand and in person.