The Supposed Threat of Gay Marriage…

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In the coming days, the Supreme Court will make a decision regarding same sex marriage. I have seen Facebook explode with people saying to “pray for the Supreme Court and that they would be led by God in this decision.” Although vague, I am pretty certain that “being led by God” means to them that homosexuals will not be allowed to get married.

With everything happening around us, I am always surprised that this is the thing that Christians get upset about. I have seen more outrage over the possibility that the Supreme Court ruling will be in favor of same sex marriage than I have over the blatant racist actions in South Carolina this week. Are we missing the point?

I tweeted last week that if Christians spent as much time living the Gospel that they did condemning Caitlyn Jenner, then we might be able to end hunger. I still stand by that mentality. As I look to Jesus, I never see Him spending His time protesting outside of the Supreme Court. I see Him spending His time with those who are hurt and neglected.

We abandon the Gospel for comfort.

And then we parade around with a new definition of the Gospel that is as far away from good news as possible.

I don’t want to bash Christians. I want to rally us together and ask, “is this really the point of what we should be doing?” Stopping people from getting married? We protect the false ideology of a “Christian nation” more than we do the Bride of Christ.

If your faith is built more on your definition of marriage than it is on Christ, then the end of this month might be a difficult time for you.

For those that quote Paul’s epistles, learn context. Paul was speaking to the church. Not to the government. Anytime Paul had the chance to speak to the government, he told the story of what Christ had done in his life…he didn’t use that opportunity to tell gay people that they are going to burn in hell.

It makes me nauseous that out of all the injustices happening, we decide to sign a petition to “defend marriage.” We allow divorce rates to soar, we tell women to remain in a marriage with a pedophile, we help people get married who have no business being together (but in that moment, it’s not our place — only if they have the same set of genitals is it our place) and later on get divorced, we tell women to stay with men who are physically abusive…and yet we want to sign a petition saying to gay people that they aren’t allowed to get married?

If marriage is that important to you, then defend it all the way. I better see outrage at divorce rates. I should see the same violent language used anytime a Christian marries a non-Christian that you would use toward a homosexual couple. Let me see the same “this country is turning away from God” posts used for Christians telling people to stay in abusive relationships that were used when states allowed gay marriage. If you draw that line, then stick with it.

But, if you’re like me, maybe you think it is time to change our tune. Jesus said to make disciples of all nations…not to make all nations disciples. I want to see us get back to what is important to the Gospel…and I don’t see “defending” marriage in that situation.

If we added up all the money that we used to “defend” marriage, I can only imagine all the actual good we could do with it. It’s time we truly began following Christ and hung out with the people he hung out with, ate with the people he ate with, protect the things he protected, and fought the things he fought (which, in this situation, might be the current church).

It’s time we begin to live like Christ and I don’t really see how stopping gay people from getting married fits into that equation. So let’s put down our protest signs and pick up our crosses. Let’s be known for the Church that lived out the Gospel.

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The Church is Not Burger King

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Many times I fear that I come across negative in this blog. I hope that is not the case. It is simply a platform for conversation. I hope to bring up things that deserve discussion. My prayer is that you never view me as a negative individual when it comes to the Church. There is nothing I love more than the Church. It is something to which I have dedicated my life. 

On that note, today’s discussion. Burger King is known for their slogan “Have it your way.” That mindset attracted a lot of people. When we get down to it, we would all love to have it our way. Let’s be real, no one wants to be a part of something that they do not like.

We support missions we like.

We go to a church we like.

We sing songs we like. 

We live in a neighborhood we like.

We do a job we like (well, not all of us).

We marry someone we like (I hope all of us do that…).

We all want to do something we like. We all want to be a part of something we like. And when we don’t like something, we like to transform it into something we like. My dad hates onions. Every time he orders something, he tells them to leave off the onions. If they don’t, he usually won’t eat it. And believe me, we have tried sneaking them into his food – he always finds them. My dad will transform something with onions into something without onions – something he doesn’t like into something he likes.

My fear with this mindset, is that we do this with the Church, especially within the non-denominational world. If we don’t like the carpeting in the church, we urge the church to change it. If we don’t like the elders in the church, we try to get them out. If we don’t like the preaching, we tell him/her how to do it better. If we don’t like the worship, we tell the worship leaders how to improve. If we don’t like the youth minister, we tell him/her what could be done to make the ministry better. I could go on and on with this list. But I’ll spare the redundancy and state the point: we change that which we don’t like.

This is a great mindset to have in our lives. Change the things we don’t like in ourselves. However, within the Church, is this right? Is it right to try to find a church to “fit our needs?” Is it right to try and change a church to be how we want it? Is it right to sing the songs that we want? Listen to the preaching we want? Pray the prayers we want? Support the missions we want? Where is the line between the will of God and the will of man? What happens when one person says, “God told me we should support this mission in India?” But another person says, “God told me we should support this mission in Mexico?” Who is right? To whom did God speak? Is it possible that both are really just trying to get what they want?

The Church is one place where everyone is an expert. Every person is an expert preacher, teacher, worship leader, youth leader, elder, meditator, children’s leader, etc. We all have input on how everyone can do their job better (and do their job according to how we would want it). I see this in myself. I confuse what I want with what God wants. Our desire is sometimes so strong that we cannot see what God wants.

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The Church is not Burger King. We cannot have it our way. We cannot change things just because “we don’t like them.” I speak to myself when I say this. We cannot change the preacher just because we don’t like his preaching. We cannot change the worship just because we don’t like the songs. We cannot change the view of communion just because we don’t like how uncomfortable it can make some feel. We cannot change things just because we want something different. It is something that has to be of God. We have to trust that the leaders are seeking God’s will for the direction of the church. If they are not, that will be brought to light – it always is.

In the meantime, let’s stop treating the Church like Burger King. Surprisingly enough, we are not all experts in ministry. The Church is not about us having it our way. It is about God having it His way. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we will begin acting like the Church.

Resigning From the Church is the Best Thing I Have Ever Done

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ImageI was a little bit nervous as I handed the senior pastor the letter. It felt like I was walking away from doing what was right. I didn’t want to give up just because I was tired. But I was tired. I was exhausted. As soon as I handed him the letter, I was immediately at peace with my decision. That was a weird feeling. My resignation brought me peace.

Now, almost a week after the decision to resign, I am beginning to see the fulness of what that position had done to me.

It made me cynical toward the Church.

It made me see some of my brothers and sisters in Christ as the enemy.

It made me scan the Bible looking for ways to prove myself right.

It made me wish Johnson would’ve offered Political Science courses.

It made me want to leave the ministry.

It made me see the need for a church in this area.

Most importantly, it made me see what I did not want to become.

During my internship at Central, I remember a leadership talk given (I can’t remember who gave it) that said that sometimes we learn the most out of bad situations because we learn what we don’t want to become. I never thought those words would be so true.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed so much of it. But you can only see the damage when you leave

You can only see the damage done when you leave.

That thought made me think quite a bit. How many of us are in unhealthy situations but do not know it? How many of us are hanging by a thread but do not know it? Is it right to continue in a position that is slowly killing your drive? I fear that many of us are in these unhealthy situations but refuse to walk away because we think we can change things. We cannot change that which is refusing to change.

I tried to change the music. Music is something that causes more problems than it should. But seeing how music directly influences your salvation, we must pay it a great deal of attention. I tried changing something that refused to be changed.

Perhaps you are a minister who is trying to change the mindset of your elders and they refuse to change.

Maybe you are a youth minister who is trying to change the perception of what youth ministry is but people are refusing to accept the new ideas.

Maybe you are a small groups minister who is trying to change the structure but no one wants to do it.

I don’t know your situation, but what I do know is this: one cannot change that which refuses to change.

When I graduated college, I had this idea that I was going to change the world, one church at a time. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize that I can’t change something that refused to be changed. Whenever we try to change something that refuses to be changed, we destroy ourselves.

I don’t know what to do in these situations. I don’t know if what I did was completely right. But what I do know is this: resigning is the best thing I have ever done.

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation. Remember these 2 things:

1.) You cannot change that which refuses to change.

2.) You can only see the fulness of the damage when you walk away from the situation.

Calling for a Church of Anarchy

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Sometimes I over think ideas. Other times, I don’t think about ideas enough.

For the past week or so, I have been thinking about the future of the Church. Obviously, there is a decent ending. However, at the moment, we are entrusted with being the Church…to everyone. This has got me thinking two different things (part 2 will be shared next week — and it is the complete opposite of part 1):

1.) I would rather live with regret of actions than regret of thoughts. 

I think that many times we stop ourselves from doing something because we fear regret. We don’t say what we think we should say because we would rather conform than stand up to the cultural norm in the Church. As young ministers, we fear what we really think may disqualify us from a job at the current popular church. So instead of doing or saying what we think, we keep it stored up in the back of our mind and say it is “youthful immaturity.”

I have done this a lot. I have been told this a lot as well. In some aspects, it is true. We, as young people, will many times have a youthful idea that is obviously idiotic. We will say things that we regret and do things that we regret. Our elders will tell us to not say or do particular things because “we will understand when we are older.” So instead of doing, we just sit and think…and then we stop doing completely.

I have heard a lot of ideas from youth about what they would love to see the Church become.

They want to see the Church give more money than it spends on the interior decorations.

They want to see the Church stop worrying about expanding to a bigger size and focus on expanding the Kingdom at large.

They want to see the Church to become more transparent.

They want to see the Church move away from feeling like there always has to be a sermon every Sunday.

They want to see the Church change.

They think the Church should change.

And we call them “youthful,” “immature,”and “unrealistic.” Instead of pushing them toward working on a solution, we squelch their drive.

Why do we do that? I think it is fear. We fear what change would do to the Church.

So this might mean we stop spending millions of dollars on ourselves to buy iPads, lighting equipment, or a new facility, and instead give that money away.

Instead of a traditional sermon, it is just an hour of silence with a Scripture projected on the screen.

Instead of speaking from an elevated platform, we speak from the floor, because we are not higher than others.

Instead of keeping “normal office hours,” we go into the community and voluntarily give our time to different organizations.

Instead of having 3 hour meetings about what to call a new sermon series or youth program, we meet with 3 different people for an hour each.

What would happen if we lost the structure of the Church? Chaos…right? Chaos is bad. Nothing happens in chaos. Creation definitely doesn’t happen in chaos…or at least we like to tell ourselves that.

I would rather regret actions than thoughts. I would rather do than wish I did. I would rather regret what I did than compliment myself for not doing (of course, all of this has to do with the direction of the Church — please do not interpret it to give into your carnal urges).

The more and more I look at things, the better chaos sounds. God moves in chaos. Perhaps the Church is so structured that chaos can’t occur. Even the most cutting edge Church works within structure. Perhaps the best thing would be to shake things up…give into the “youthful immaturity.”

I want to see a church of anarchy (okay…not really). I am asking that we converse about new ideas for the Church. We have beat the structure into the ground. We have beat the dead horse enough. Stop fearing that your bubble will burst. Stop fearing that what you are comfortable with will be no more. Maybe there won’t be a service that begins with worship, moves to communion, moves to offering, moves to sermon, moves to invitation, and then ends. Would it be so bad if we changed things a bit? Is faith so shaky that you will fall if part of the structure is removed?

I wish we could stop fearing what the youth propose: chaos. Chaos because it is outside of what we call “normal.” Stop squelching the youth because you fear what they may say/do. Live a life that regrets actions rather than thoughts.