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hard questions : church




december 02, 2001 - "why bother with church, isn't if filled with hypocrites?"

Well Linda, that's a great questions, and I think if we look deep we can find an answer.  let's explore what Jesus teachers, and see the difference between that and what humans allow.  If we look at the past, we see a great may points we Christians should admit were wrong based on the teachings of Christ, and very different from what we taught.  for example, the crusades; we teach love and acceptance, yet we kill people who did not believe as we did.  the spanish inquisition; torture people on earth to save their souls so they would not need to be tortured in hell - go figure.  how about this one - catholics burnt protestants, protestants burnt cathlolics - and all in the name of God, who burnt none.  my personal favorite, televangelist who claim to be concerned about your soul, and they need your money to continue to do so, while Jesus taught that money was never the issue - only people relationship with God.  how about church leaders who preach about the importance of family and run off with the married church secretary.  you are so right, the church has a great many people who are hypocrites, though I would not say the church is filled with them.


now, i am not the kind of person who dismisses this question under the pretence that "the world is filled with hypocrites so why not the church?"  Because for me, Jesus called us to NOT BE HYPOCRITES, and if Jesus tells us not to be, WE MUST NOT BE.  I would say, bother - please bother.  people who are believers need to call hypocrites where they are, and need to stand firm on living a life that is connected to their world - jesus calls it, "practicing what you preach"


june 24, 2001 - which is more important, church growth or spiritual growth?

both are equally important.  the reality is this - how can you have spiritual growth without number growth?  you can't.  you need numbers to help people develop in their walk.  the problem, I believe, comes from our desire to do "either/or."  yet my postmodern mind - as twisted as it is - desires to do "both/and."  if we do just one we can get one of two kinds of churches:


the "aquarium church" where growth only comes from other church,  these churches tend to have a "we are right" attitude.  they see their responsibility as one of "growing" only, and they are critical of the churches that are growing.


the "phallic symbol church" where growth is the center.  these churches go around thinking they have all the answers because they are growing.


what we need to remember is that we need a balance between both growths.  when we are truly growing spiritually, we share our faith with others and when we are sharing our faith, we are growing the kingdom.


august 19, 2001 -  is church required? 

my first response is no and yes - confused?  let me explain.  if you are asking if attending church is "required" for salvation the answer is no it is not. if you are asking, are we "required" to attend church, again the answer is no.  if you are asking, is church required for growth, i would say yes - with a long list of exceptions.


you see, all we need to grow is a community of people willing to walk with us and help us in our understanding of God's word, that does not have to be a church - it can be a study group or an accountability group.  with all that said, let me add some facts.


we are called to worship, and we do not have to attend church to worship.  we can worship in a home with friends.


i believe church plays an important part in our lives when we need accountability, structure and assistance in our walk.  when we are new christians church plays a valued role in our development.  when we are mature christians we can help others develop their walk.  church must serve a function - an not just give water to the thirsty,  it needs to be a place that defines community, and a place where people desire to attend.


when you ask me  - is church required - i get the feeling that in your life church is boring.  out where you live are great postmodern church where you will find community, worship and study - the elements of a good church.


august 26, 2001 -  why is it that people in the church want us to change before we are allowed in?

the question of the ages - more so this age then any other.  in short, who knows?  i can give you my thoughts on the matter.  in reality, not all churches are so exclusive - but a great deal are.  here's the catch 22 in church outreach.  most churches today will say that outreach is important, and most will claim that they are a loving welcoming community, yet what they say and how they act are very different.  i call these churches, "dishwasher churches."


when we moved into our first apartment tod (my wife's name is tod) was excited that we had a new dishwasher.  it had all the features one could ever desire in a dishwasher.  in fact, it was the dishwasher that sold her on the apartment.  one night while we were doing the dishes i noticed her washing the dishes before she put them in the dishwasher to get cleaned - and i asked why.  she explained, "the dishes become cleaner if you 'rinse' them before you put them in the dishwasher."  i questioned the logic, and took out the manual for the appliance and started to read.  according to the manual, the dishwasher is designed to clean even the dirtiest of dishes.  it says that there is no need to rinse the dishes off - in fact, it even claimed that there was no need to 'scrape' the dishes.  it had built in some wonderful features:


it had a 'food catch' designed to catch the food particles to big to go down the drain.  it had a pre-rinse cycle that took care of the 'stubborn' food stuff.  it heated the water hotter than any other dishwasher and was guaranteed to clean the dishes cleaner then any other dishwasher - while i was reading all this to my wife, she reminded me that it was all marketing hype, and no dishwasher could do all that, without a good rinsing.  she mentioned that with all the food stuff in the trap, it would be gross to clean up after - "to touch that garbage is gross," she said.


a great many churches are like this.  they do not trust in the guarantee of scripture that God will take care of our sins and bring us to his place, in his time.  many of then desire you be 'rinsed off' before you come in.  they like the idea of people being rinsed before they come in, because they do not want to "clean out the food trap" and they are afraid of the crumb of our life.  they do not believe "God can do all that" without their help.


another major problem my wife mentioned was the fear that someone would get a glass with 'stuff' on it.  she felt that would show we had a messy house, and were unclean people.  the church has the same impression.  they fear that if another believer comes and sees people who are 'still dirty' they might think the church is not 'a true church' because not all people in the church are spotless.  they fear other believers questioning the status of their church.


why are people required to clean up before entering the church?  i would say, because the church fears what they do not understand.  and most churches do not understand those outside the church.  it is easy to exclude, and hard to include.  when you exclude you live protected, when you include to live exposed - but it more fun to be exposed


september 02, 2001 -i have a friend who goes to church on saturday nights, is that wrong?

no, it does not matter when your friend attends church.  if the tradition of the church is to meet on saturday nights, so be it.  most christian churches meet on sunday mornings because that is the day jesus rose from the tomb.  sunday morning was a time to honor that event, but it is not written in stone.  i know of church that meet during the week, on mondays, fridays - almost any day of the week.  in fact, it seems to be the current thing, to meet at another time other then sundays to say "we are different" come to us, and it works.


sunday mornings are based more on tradition.  after the resurrection (luke 24:1; john 20:1), which happened on the first day of the week, the disciple took to meeting on that day to celebrate the event.  some theologians believe that jesus "endorsed" their choice of days by appearing on sundays - but that is too far off course to even be considered theologically sound.  paul, in 1 corinthians 16:2, does mention meeting on the "first day of the week" but he does not make it a requirement.  in fact, it was not until around 150 a.d. that the practice of meeting on sundays was accepted by most christians.  i believe the scriptures do not tell us when to meet, and i do not believe God cares when we worship - as long as we meet and worship


april 01, 2002 - I have heard allot of different views on if it's right to listen to "secular" or "worldly" music.  Some people try to say it is wrong to listen to any "secular" music.  If you were to write a position or give a statement on this based on the word what would you say?

Let us first lay some groundwork.  We find it hard to compartmentalize “secular” and “worldly” because we believe both are God’s.  The compartmentalizing of life in this fashion is a human invention, and a modern human invention at that, designed to make life easier – which it never does.


The following are arguments given for not listening to contemporary music:


1.  It leads to sex.  We love this one, because nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone say that when they wanted to get romantic they listen to U2, Creed or Blink 182.  What we have heard is when people want to get romantic they listen to Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby.  So, which music leads to sex?


2.  Worldly music removes us from a relationship with God.  Can this truly happen?  Paul tells us nothing can do that, nothing (Romans 8:38-39).  So, if someone tells us that listening to “worldly” music will separate us from God can that be true? 


3.  Worldly music is filled with bad influences.  People, who say this, do not listen to all worldly music.  They are simply repeating what others may have said.  The people in this postmodern age are the most spiritual people ever – they may not be the most Christian, but they are seeking to find God in their lives and it comes out in their music.  If you listen to music and hear “bad” lyrics I wonder where the heart of the person who is hearing comes from – “Everything is clean to the clean-minded; nothing is clean to dirty-minded unbelievers.” (Titus 1:15)


Our findings,

First, there is no such thing as “christian music.”  While this may come as a shock to many, no music can be called “Christian.”  What makes a song Christian is not the music it is the words.


We have found that people are never against the music of their generation, just the music of other generations.  I have heard Pastor say that “contemporary” music is wrong, yet they forget the “hymns” were all “contemporary” at one time.  Historically, Charles Wesley wrote many a hymn to contemporary music.  In fact, most of the songs he used were bar songs designed for drinking – go figure. 


At ginkworld, and at "praxis" (the church plant in Las Vegas lead by Pastor John) we have a definite understanding of music in the church. At praxis we use creed, u2 and others as worship songs – we believe that God speaks to us via the music of this generation.  With that in mind, we openly use all genres of music.


june 15, 2002  - do you think there is room for repentance in the postmodern church, as it relates to the sins of our fathers?

I come to the question of repentance from two points of view.  My first view is that “we have nothing to repent for.”  After all, they are not “our” sins; they are the sins of those who came before.  But the second view, and the one I will stand on, is that we must repent for the sins of our fathers. 


When we look at the possibility that we need to repent for the past sins of others, we need to remember the collective and communal concepts of Christianity.  If we inherit the church of those who came before, we take that garbage with it – and that needs to go.  But to rid ourselves of all the sins that comes from the modern church, we truly need to be in repentance.  We need to repent of racism, sexism, capitalism and about 30 other “isms” that influence out theology and our direction in ministry.  No “ism” has a place in the church and to truly move past where we are, we need to repent.


The two main Greek words in the NT that have been translated as “repent” are metanioa, which means to “change the mind,” and metameleia, which means to “change the soul.”  Repentance is, “the divine conviction of sin in the heart and soul before God” and is designed to “get us right, so we can move-on.”  For the postmodern church to truly move forward and to truly reach the people who the moderns see as “unreachable” we need to regenerate our faith and invite in the Holy Spirit (acts 4:31) to see that repentance takes place.


I have always found it to be a core to our faith that repentance is central to our salvation (matt 3:2-8; 4:17, acts 20:21; II peter 3:9).  We are called to “confess our sins” not to confess we are sinners – God know we are sinners.  It is in that confession of “our sins” (not the sins of others) that we come to God and seek His forgiveness for all past actions, and move forward in forgiveness, grace and mercy.