Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Real Deal

This week I'm visiting some of our mission locations for the Week of Hope program. Today it's Charleston, South Carolina. I had the privilege of talking to three agencies we serve and each one was so very grateful for the help. One told me how wonderful it is to have such enthusiastic young people who are eager to make a difference.

Most young people are eager to make a difference and truly believe they can. If every church would seize that energy and empower youth to put faith in action it would change the world. I know the 1500 or so churches that go on mission trips with us are committed to changing their kids lives. And there are many more that go with other organizations. It's my heart's desire to see many, many more young people putting faith into action at the invitation of their church.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Holy Discontent

Last Sunday our Pastor wrapped up his series "Comfortably Numb". An awesome challenge for all of us to get out of the seats and into the streets with the love of Jesus. The final message included a video of a talk given by Bill Hybels of Willow Creek. He talked about the passion God gives to us that sometimes comes out as pain at seeing something that needs to be fixed. It might be homelessness or poverty or abortion, etc. Whatever 'it' is when we experience it we're 'wrecked' by it, to use Hybels' words.

What wrecks me is the state of the church in America. A church that has been abundantly blessed but is so turned in on itself as to have become irrelevant to most people. The church has lost it's authority to speak truth into people's lives. Church leaders that hide behind theology and stacks of books only popping out on Sunday morning to philosophize about faith and doctrine to a mostly disinterested audience that forgets 90% of what they say within a day or two. I'm wrecked by people who call themselves Christian then proceed to trash the name of Jesus by their arrogant, prideful, selfish behavior. Particularly those who call themselves Christians and serve in the role of pastor.

The church has lost it's way. This morning a friend and I were sharing our common frustration with this fact. He made a great point about church leaders that, by and large, hang out with other church leaders. It's an insulated community that rarely interacts with the real world. Yet every week they address people living in the real world without ever asking those folks how they can best help them face the reality they live in. My friend made the point that maybe it's time for church leaders to shut up and listen. It's time to engage folks where they are instead of always expecting them to come to them. It was a very convicting conversation for me.

For years I was one of those church leaders with lots of stuff to say and not much ability to listen. I still make the mistake of talking too much and listening too little. So today I launched a new blog that invites everyone who has ever been to church, never been to church, left the church, hates the church to tell me how we can make church better. I hope you'll pop over there and join the conversation. I'm listening.