"The church is the only institution in the country that operates with continuity when everything else falls into turmoil during a revolution or a coup d'etat.” (Rhoda Brooks. Barrios Of Manta. Peace Corps worker in Ecudar, pg 99 )
"When you begin to think outside the box, you often become some other "leaders" lousy follower. That usually costs something" (Andy Rayner)
"Our guardian angels are bored." (Mike Foster)
It's where I feel I'm at these days. “In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition” (Falling Upward. Richard Rohr.120).
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
"I’m still in the church, despite lots of scars on my back from the Christian Cannibals out there. I just managed to find a congregation I feel safe with to be me, who are, mostly, not scared of hard questions" (Drew) post comments on a blog post I read somewhere.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
"Let go or be dragged". (Attributed as Old Buddhist Saying)
I have no idea if this is an actually Buddhist saying or not. I came across it in an article one time.
However, I felt it had some implications for believers as well. Not because it is "Biblical truth". Rather, because practically it seems to make some since sometimes.
So many people really want to connect with Jesus, and they never set out to bash the local church (Prescribed more than described, by church folks), I know I didn't. But, anything but "I accept this, it is so helpful" is not welcome.
People are trying to find Jesus, to connect with him and others in him name. Is it happening for most of you?
Busy as "Old Blazes" in the church system, doing all these great programs and ministries that are suppose to help people grow in Christ, and we have come to believe we NEED them to grow in Christ.
However, in the end we look around, WE who are running all this stuff, and confess, "This is not helping me get closer to Jesus". Then we look around and ask others,"Is it working for you?" and the answer in private is usually, "No!". However, that is not the face put forward on Sunday. If we put on the true self, the true face, that face gets slapped by the church saying, "This Does help.... it's just you."
Let me in on the little underground secret. It's not just you. It's most of us.
Church programs were fun in their own way, and I enjoyed the people I met, but this stuff did not get me closer to Jesus, no closer to people. No! In fact, this had so cluttered my life it hindered the process, the program did the opposite of what it was intended to do. It became another thing, hurtle, obstacle, barrier to me connecting with Jesus. Something else I have to pass through to get to Jesus. We are throwing something else second hand in between us and him.
Then we get it one day. I need him... just Him, and other to walk with, in him.
I do not suggest anyone (Never have - not once) leave their local church, personally.
But I would suggest that you drop everything you are doing until you have space and time for Jesus. Spending more time sitting and thinking about Jesus, and get to understand and sense the reality that he is with me all the time. ALL... OF.....THE... TIME..... :-) There are no sacred places, sacred events, sacred times, sacred buildings, sacred land. All of life is lived under the breath of God, and the reality of his Son Jesus. Life is Sacred. Gardening is sacred, Scripture is sacred, time with believers is sacred, time with non Christians is sacred. It's all lived and experienced under the reality of Jesus.
The best advice I ever received was. "Andy, stop trying to promote it or defend it to people, just live it."
Does it mean we should never talk about our journey into real connection with others and with Jesus?
No, but I recommend that you share it with only those who seek you out. People who are looking for answers for their own journey, and they have seen something in you, so they seek you out. Speak to only who God puts in your path, not who you have chosen to put in your cross hairs.
I see no need for you to go explain it to your Pastor, the elders, the church structure, or anyone. All they hear is church bashing. They will not get it, some might, but they can not bless it usually.
- We are your Leaders... we have not lead you to this where is this coming from?... Issues
- Serve More, Attend this Group, It will Help..... I gets in my way, so I'm going to step back.... Issues
- We are growing this church........ I may need to step out for a while ...... Issues
- Why is participation in events decreasing? You need these to grow child...... They exhaust me more than they help........ Issues.
- This is the churches and Leaders vision..... It's not my vision.......... Issues.
- We are the Spiritual Leaders....... Why are you telling people about your simple path?....... They asked me..... Issues..
- Why Are You Supporting the direction of the church?....... I Personally can't do that, But I'm Being silent about it...... Issues.
My experience is that when you talk about what you are running to..... you have to begin with the starting line.
"I left my old life, and moved into this Cabin on this mountain in the Canadian Yukon".
Means something different for the guy who then points saying, See that cabin over there on the other side of the valley? That is my mom and dad over there, I grew up there as the son of a mountain man, and felt it was time to build my own cabin.
Very different than the man who says, "I lived in Florida, got tired of the city life, traffic jams, an the heat. I had a small business but grew weary of the stresses of business, finances, Long hours doing something that did not satisfy me. I was never home, My wife cheated on me eventually. My daughter had to be treated for depression. I remarried and it was ok, but the rat race of that Florida life was the problem. I knew I needed to simplify my life, so I came here to begin a new life. I built this cabin and have been here since.
Every testimony I ever heard at church. "Life was bad, I was bad, Jesus broke through, got me to the good place.......... I've been in Church ever since." And we say...... Amen!
"You brought me into this church body, I liked the people, they are all good people. But after a few years I was sinking in over my head being busy serving in the programs, I was not home for my family, I was out 3 or 4 nights a week with church stuff. I had absolutely no time to make any nonchristain friends to evangelize, I was tired, I was feeling stressed, I was not growing in Jesus. Had not tie to read my bible, I was never home. Had not time to pray as I was at all the events. So to help me grow, I attended more and more discipleship programs and bible studies designed to help me.... Nothing seemed to help. I was sinking brothers and sisters. Then I realized, I don't need to fill my life with all this stuff to Grow in Jesus, I need time with Jesus, to grow in Jesus. So I stripped most of it away."
Can I hear and Amen Brother! Nope!
"Let go, or be dragged? I think it goes both ways for the Church Institution.
1. I have to let go of you: Or I could be a burden to you doing church that way. Out of love I try to stay with you, but because I have simplified my life, I no longer go that speed, I'm like a dead weight to you, and you find me frustrating.
2. You have to let go of me: I feel it's time to go, but you won't let me go. You keep your hands on me, dragging me back, dragging me away from this silly new path, Draggin me back to this kind of church experience. By doing so you only further damage my body and soul, being dragged hurts me.
Monday, December 16, 2013
"More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence.
Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress.
But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn't be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them."
"Christian culture doesn’t have a category for grief and anger at wrongs done in God’s name. They see it all as cynicism." (Jim Palmer).
I've treated people this way..... Sorry! Sometimes people have been hurt and we focus more on their need to accept it, and get over it, quickly. We do not permit them time to recover from wounds. Wound them more by suggesting they should get over it fast or they are sinning. All the while we do little to address or acknowledge the causing factors.
"When Nicole and I started down the road of beginning an organic church..... we knew in our earliest of conversations with people that the greatest “persecution” we would face would be from those we loved most. From other believers, friends, even family....The reason Nicole asked me to write this was due to my sadness, confusion even, in reading some of the comments she’s received the past few weeks when writing about organic church. They are the same types of remarks we have become accustomed to hearing firsthand. Things like…
- Are you just a group of people who are disenfranchised with the church?
- You clearly have a problem with authority.
- What did the church do wrong to you?
- That’s not church.
"Get out of your head and live your life.... Be careful of a spiritual life that is mostly mental – accumulating more and more information and knowledge, conceptualizing new and improved concepts, analyzing and debating this or that idea, latching on to the latest and greatest spiritual guru. (Jim Palmer)
Sunday, December 15, 2013
MISSIONS IS BROKEN AND NEEDS TO CHANGE
Missions is broken and needs to change
As I have traveled all over the world equipping the church to do mission I have discovered that the way missions has been done for the past 100+ years is broken.
For two decades we helped to get the missional church on track but we found the avenues for international missions were not suitable for this new breed of kingdom minded missionaries. There was a breakdown in the mission. Those trained in organic church struggled in suffocating organizational structures. At the same time, the mission organizations that have been in place were often threatened by the emerging new forms of church and leadership and were also incapable of initiating works with this new paradigm. In fact, their livelihood depended upon them not understanding and accepting the new paradigm.
In just ten years time (ca 47-57 AD) the apostle Paul was able to establish a thriving expression of the kingdom of God in five different provinces of the Roman Empire: Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia, Asia Minor and Illyricum. After that he had nothing more to do there and was off to other places further west. Today we do not see even one people group reached in the same amount of time. We have air travel, mobile phones, the internet, rapid transit, computers, Bible aids, mass communication and a an abundance of publications, none of which was available to Paul. At the same time, we also have the same God, the same empowering presence of the Holy Spirit and the same powerful good news that he had. Nevertheless we are struggling to see even a fraction of the fruitfulness he saw and it is taking us a whole lot longer for what little fruit we see. Surely we are doing something wrong.
I am convinced that we can save billions of dollars and accomplish 10 times the results if we have the courage to do missions differently. Mission agency dysfunction has been a well-known secret that can no longer be denied or contained, yet is unpopular to speak about. We are sending too many people, the wrong kind of people, who are staying too long, costing too much, and not leaving behind a healthy, well-rounded and indigenous movement that is strong enough to endure let alone send missionaries to other places. This must change. The past 20 years God called me to give mission back to the church. Now God is calling me to bring the healthy church back into missions.
We simply cannot expect current mission agencies to correct a problem that they are contributing to and not designed to fix...and one that they actually benefit from maintaining. More of the same will only produce more of the same. So I, and a few others, feel called to start something new, something more organic, movemental and indigenously empowering. And we need to start something that does not produce a dependence upon US dollars, leadership and models of ministry. This is why we are starting Starling Initiatives.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
When I first read that staff members before being hired at Mars Hill Church must sign a "Non Disclosure: Agreement to be hired, and are threatened to be sued - if they reveal things about their job, the church or the staff environment or the nature of their dismissal. Bottom line there is one Head of the wolf pack, and anyone who does not do as told, is eliminated. And when you are eliminated "Shut the Hell up".
These underlined words below do not surprise me. I am in no way speaking about Mark Driscoll.... However, I think his predicament, and the reaction of those involved to to it, show us how the machine works. The church Institution always wins. I mean... no matter how corrupt, or twisted the institution becomes, it preserves itself. The machine will crush, question, malign, and destroy you simply because you dared to ask ,Why? Power baby.... don't question mine. This is what I am running from.
Over the Mark Driscoll Plagiarism conflict
"I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex........I’ve read much speculation online, which is understandable given the confusing situation, most of it dead wrong. Being limited in what I can share, let me just say that truth tellers face multiple pressure sources these days. I hosted a radio show for 23 years and know from experience how Big Publishing protects its celebrities. Anything but fawning adulation for those who come on your show (a gift of free air time for the author/publisher by the way) is not taken well. Like Dr. Carl Trueman so aptly asked yesterday in his column at Reformation 21, does honest journalism have any role to play in evangelicalism now? (It was rhetorical.) My own take on that question is, no, it does not. The moment hard questions are asked, the negative focus goes on the questioner, - See more at: See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/12/06/mefferd-producer-resigns-driscoll-controversy/#sthash.J6DOvfin.dpuf"
Monday, December 9, 2013
People continually post these posts about the only thing you regret on your deathbed being what you did not do. As in, you should have done a lot of stupid shit and taken a bunch of risks that, I dunno, could have gotten you eaten by a bear or impregnated by a stripper or dead leaping out of a plane.
I think those people are full of shit......
Most of the things I regret in my life are things I did that were unwise or in some way cost or injured me.......
There are things you do not do in this life because of a sense of overbearing caution or fear. Sometimes that overbearing caution or fear is justified. Like, you know, don’t shake hands with the Grizzly. He is not a cartoon. He will rip your arm off, watch you bleed out, and then floss his teeth with your tendons while he eats your liver.
But that is a bit extreme.
Sometimes you do not do something because you are living in a brain box of your own making that is cauterizing your life and cutting you off from any opportunity.
And sometimes it is maybe hard to tell the difference.
I think maybe that is who that statement, “You’ll regret what you did not do more than what you did do,” is meant for. (Celluloid Blonde - Regret whut?)
Sunday, December 8, 2013
The words of an ancient father of faith comes to mind.
"....the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church....... The more you mow us down, the more numerous we grow; the blood of Christians is seed." - Tertullian
"Without these sacrifices Gcinisizwe would have been jailed or murdered for being found in the presence of white people, and I would have been deported back to Canada for fraternizing with black people. Thank you for sacrificing your life for our freedom."
Friday, December 6, 2013
"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his
background, or his religion. People must learn to hate,and if they can learn to hate,they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally the human heart than its
opposite." (Nelson Mandela)
Calvinists probably doubt it. But I don't. I've seen it everywhere, and in many a remote place
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in such a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." (Nelson Mandela)
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
"I grew up going to church and though church can be beautiful, I’ve noticed religious communities are especially adept at getting people to carry buckets of guilt and shame around. After the horse experience, I decided to leave the guilt and shame with the church and walk off with Jesus."(Donald Miller Does Attending Church Mean You Must Carry “Buckets of Shame?” Dec 2, 2013)Full Article here
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
"The elections have one great benefit for Hotel Djenne Djenno: the International Election Observers are staying at the hotel and eating here too. There are two nice young European men staying: one Hungarian and one Romanian, sent here by the European Union. And then there are two Africans: one from Liberia and one from Sierra Leone. Keita giggled about this: ‘ Those two great bastions of Democracy and Human Rights are overseeing our elections!’ Malians, inspite of their two year crisis, still feel that they lie well over the West African average when it comes to progress, civilization and democracy" (djenneDjenno.blogspot com)
"Expressions of sharp and even violent criticism of religion and the church have been welcomed [in this collection], for they usually imply sincerity of thought. If caustic criticism of religious institutions and practices is irreligious, then Amos, Isaiah, and Jesus were very it religious men. In fact, that is exactly what many of their contemporaries took them to be."
(Halford E. Luccock (1885-1960) & Frances Brentano, The Questing Spirit)
Like..... da!..... That dirty little secret we can't talk about.... Church attendance does not actually help grow many people.
Jesus has this job......
"More and more researchis disclosing something the Christian churchwould rather deny. Church activity does not
necessarily result in spiritual growth.
We do a lot of good things, but we aren't doinga very good job carrying out our core mission,which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
After five years studying 1200 churches andexamining the results of 280,000 in-depthresponses, Willow Creek's seminal "RevealStudy" concluded, "Church activity IS NOT ablueprint for spiritual growth." In fact, theydiscovered that the longer someone attendschurch without significant spiritual growth theless likely they are to ever experiencesignificant spiritual transformation."
"One of the greatest challenges which the organic church movement comes up against in the West, is the refined, efficient and effective culture of fundraising which is so often associated with full time ministry / church leadership ... clergy roles. As one who excelled in these in the past, it has taken me years to reframe the legitimate (and limited) role these truly have in the big picture." (Pathfinders Fellowships Canada FB Page)
"If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity
as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins
of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of
all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely
spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in
the wrong, of bossing and patronising and
spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of
power, of hatred. For there are two things inside
me, competing with the human self which I must
try to become. They are the Animal self, and the
Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of
the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig
who goes regularly to church may be far nearer
to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better
to be neither."
Nowhere in the New Testament are we told to
"build the Kingdom." It is already built "from the
foundation of the world," built into the nature of
reality. You "see," "enter," "proclaim," "suffer for"
the Kingdom, but never "build" it. For the
Kingdom is not a relativism to be built, but an absolute to be accepted, submitted to, obeyed. (E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973), The Christ of the American Road)
"Although by our standards these were among the poorest people in the world, each of them would give free fish to those families most in need. Many centuries ago these people learned to share in both good and bad times; it is now their heritage.” (living Poor PCS )
Describes the life of international workers well.
"Their’s will be a story of what they gain, and what they lose. Their’s will be a tale of the things they take with them, and the things they leave behind. Their’s will be a song that sings the names of the places they belong, and the places they never will.
And I feel like all I write is about how things are hard but good, but this is the experience that is constant: that nothing is constant. It is the tension of this fluid life."
"THERE ARE FAR, FAR BETTER
THINGS AHEAD THAN
ANY WE LEAVE BEHIND."
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Amen Pope Francis from a non Catholic....
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” the Pope said in a major new statement.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"The secret of Christian quietness is not indifference, but the knowledge that God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, and worry becomes an impossibility.
It is not so true that "prayer changes things" as that prayer changes us, and then we change things. Consequently we must not ask God to do what he has created us to do. For instance, Jesus Christ is not a social reformer, He came to alter us first, and if there is any social reform to be done on earth, we must do it. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of redemption alters the way we look at things. Prayer is not altering things externally, but working wonders within our disposition." - Oswald Chambers 2 Corinthians 5:17
Sunday, November 24, 2013
"When I seriously thought about what I was going to do in this unrewarding spot for eighteen more months, it sent me spinning into a real depression. I locked myself in my room for three days and read Ian Fleming novels and drank about five gallons of coffee. In the afternoons when the little kids knocked at the door, I held my breath until they went away. I had thought that I could move into a completely different culture and, if not love it, at least accept it enough that I could do the job I had been trained for. It came as an ego-shriveling shock to discover after the first month that I wasn't doing much of anything but reacting naively and emotionally to the poverty around me. Then little by little I began, however superficially, to become involved with the life of the town."(Living Poor. A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen. Pg 35-36)
Sunday, November 17, 2013
"Similarly, if we resort to techniques in our churches - or once we resort to them - it is very hard to get rid of them. Worship gimmicks create superficial Christians. Once we condition our congregation to Twinkles in worship, it is hard to help people appreciate good vegetables.12 As spiritual leaders, we must be constantly on the alert against methods, gimmicks, marketing strategies."
(The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call. by Marva J. Dawn, Peter Santucci, Eugene H. Peterson)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
”A physical church building is not important and is sometimes a liability
more than an asset because anyone who enters it will be branded as an
apostate from Islam. There is no such negative stigma against joining a church meeting in someone's home. Newcomers, seekers, those not so
strong in their faith can more easily attend a meeting in a home without
facing the wrath of their community." (SIM Now Magazine. Pg 8. October 2013)
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Here is what he wrote:
"The idea of churchmanship was to be wholly unattractive. I was not in the least anticlerical, but I was deeply antiecclesiastical.
…But though I liked clergymen as I liked bears, I had as little wish to be in the Church as in the zoo.
It was, to begin with, a kind of collective; a wearisome “get-together” affair. I couldn’t yet see how a concern of that sort should have anything to do with one’s spiritual life. To me, religion ought to have been a matter of good men praying alone and meeting by twos and threes to talk of spiritual matters.
And then the fussy, time-wasting botheration of it all! The bells, the crowds, the umbrellas, the notices, the bustle, the perpetual arranging and organizing. Hymns were (and are) extremely disagreeable to me. Of all musical instruments I liked (and like) the organ least. I have, too, a sort of spiritual gaucherie which makes me unapt to participate in any rite."
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
"Why did God create us? There is only one answer: for relationships. God
decided not to have a life of God's own but to share the divine life with us.
God gets lonely when God has no one to walk with in the dew of the day. This
is one of the greatest self-disclosures in all of history. Amazing, vulnerable,
divine self-disclosure. God created us for companionship."
(Leonard Sweet. What Matters Most. Pg 16)
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
"I came to a decision. Whatever anyone said they believed, including myself, if it didn’t produce love, freedom and beauty, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it." (Jim Palmer. On Being Off The Grid of Christendom.)
"I found that most people don’t really want to know the truth. There are plenty of people who want to know the truth on their terms or require that the truth be contained within certain boundaries of comfort. But truth can never be known this way. You have to seek truth from a place of not knowing, and that can be a very threatening place because we think we already know the truth or we are afraid of what the truth might be."
Saturday, November 2, 2013
"When I Googled “women cannot,” the popular searches (each search page has eight of the most popular searches for each term towards the bottom of the page) include “be priests, speak in church, teach the Bible, be pastors.” In this search, 50 percent of the issues mentioned were church related. In contrast, the corresponding search for “men cannot” had only one that is church related–man cannot live on bread alone; that is hardly gender specific." (Felicity Dale)
Popular Google Search Terms to Show How the World Really Feels About Women
A campaign from UN Women places popular search terms about women in front of portraits
Sunday, October 27, 2013
12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening
1. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
2. Frequent attacks of smiling.
3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
7. A loss of ability to worry.
8. A loss of interest in conflict.
9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
10. A loss of interest in judging others.
11. A loss of interest in judging self.
12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything.
Expressions of sharp and even violent criticism of religion and the church have been welcomed [in this collection], for they usually imply sincerity of thought. If caustic criticism of religious institutions and practices is irreligious, then Amos, Isaiah, and Jesus were very irreligious men. In fact, that is exactly what many of their contemporaries took them to be.
(Halford E. Luccock (1885 1960) & Frances Brentano, The Questing Spirit.)
"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away." (George Eliot)