Mike Cope's blog

Friday, February 25, 2005

On the 17th I blogged about the change in how ministers are trained. When I went through my training, the focus was on S-T-U-D-Y. Now there is a greater focus on practical theology and internships. But now here's my question: Where are we going to send our young, devoted ministers-in-training to do those internships? Where can they go to do grassroots training on how to have a missional impact in those hidden nooks and crannies of society? Most churches are in chaplaincy mode -- taking care of the long-time converted, managing everyone's selfish preferences, reshuffling committees, making sure the nursery is adequately staffed, etc. Most churches are ill-equiped to reach the places that these young ministers are interested in. Most churches seem to have a circle-the-wagons mentality, worried to death about liberals, Democrats, gays, etc. But many of the young ministry students I know are more interested in loving the world and serving the world than in condemning the world. They seem, remarkably enough, to want to follow the lead of Jesus who was in the world but not of the world. They envision churches that minister to people who struggle with same-sex attraction, who drink a bit too much, and sometimes sleep around. They imagine helping those who have lost their way, those who can't grasp any absolutes, those who have failed royally. They don't want people to be known (as I heard Don McGlothlin say this week) for their worst moments. And we want to send them on internships where they learn how to conduct staff meetings and how to calm people who greatly value being "comfortable" with all that's happening in worship? We want them to learn from Abilene churches -- where there is a weekly exchange of members who became uncomfortable someplace else and where "church growth" is defined as a new class that brings in more university students? There are places out there where they can learn a lot. But they may look VERY different! They may look like Central Dallas Ministries. Or the Impact Church. Or any number of places where the majority of our members just wouldn't be comfortable. (Again, our obsession with being comfortable. If I hear one more lecture on helping people become COMFORTABLE with what's happening, I'm going to scream. There's real discipleship: take up your cross, become comfortable, and follow me.) Here's what Randy Harris was asking Wed PM at the ACU lectureship: Are we willing to support them in pursuing these missional dreams -- even when it means they're going to be in a place where WE might not be comfortable? Much is at stake in how we answer that question.

54 Comments:

  • Word, Mike. Word.

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 2/25/2005 06:41:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    In looking and thinking about an internship and even a church to minister/serve with I realize more and more how limited and restricting those churches I have been a part of in my past are. I have truly been blessed by Highland'a approach and willingness to ask itself tougher and more focused questions of itself. Thank you for todays post, as it is something that strikes at the heart of what I have been thinking about for several weeks now. Blessings.

    By Blogger Donald Philip Simpson, at 2/25/2005 06:54:00 AM  

  • "The times, they are a changin.." Many of these guys (my ministy major son being one) do not have the loyalty (partly motivated by fear) to the "denomination" that we had 25 years ago. If there are Churches of Christ who are missional, then they will go there. If not, then the independent Christian churches and community churches will fill the void.

    There are so many voices outside the walls that these missional minded young men and women are listening to -- McClaren, Campolo, Seay and others. There are also those like Mike and Randy who are challenging and inspiring young folks to think outside the box. What a great time to be a young person beginning a "career" in ministry!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 2/25/2005 07:15:00 AM  

  • Please help us launch new churches. We won't see missional churches where young people can see what it looks like to do what you are talking about. We won't see Mars Hill Bible churches (Rob Bell, and we could list 100 others) among us unless we support young visionaries to start them. I am concerned that we don't have churches willing to take the bullet for teams who want to plant these churches. I know of at least 6 couples who are ready, but the established church suppport is VERY slow. Few churches want to the parent of that kind of initiative. We have so many leaders who have left us because they wanted to do something that engaged the culture but couldn't from an established platform. We disowned them. Ask Brad Small, Toby Slough, Bob Herrington what happens when you decide to become missional. It gets lonely. New churches reach new people and new pockets and groups of people. Where are the established church leaders who will provide the support and protection and fellowship to incubate and birth them? Sorry to rant. I am a little frustrated with the talk. Grace.

    By Blogger Tod Brown, at 2/25/2005 07:18:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    My name is Angela. I go to church with Brent & Deshonna Taylor in Kaufman, TX. I have been reading your blog everyday since Brent told us to check it for updates on his nephew and the other children injuried in the accident.
    This morning you have touch something dear to me. For the past two years now my husband and I have been blessed to be a part of a ministry that does what a lot of churches like to say they do (but I have yet to see), that is, meet people where they are. This ministry is called The Road Adventure. It is a series of weekend seminars that help people figure out basicly why they make the decisions and choices that they do. But in the process they realize that the emptiness that they are trying to fill is only a place that God and fill. It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. The transformation of everyday, off the street people. People who don't even know that they need or are looking for a relationship with God. This is what I think a church should be. We have a group from our church who have gone through the seminars and now volunteer two weekends a month at the seminar.
    Loving people where they are; that is true decipleship. And when you do that and they truly get the love that our Father has for us, well it is hard to put into words.
    A note for all of you comfortable pew warmers, if you want to really fell the love of your Father, then find a place, a ministry, or even go out on your own and love, truly love people where they are. You will be the one blessed.
    Sorry for rambling on like this. There are few things that get me real excited, but I am passionate about loving people. Just as Jesus did, down in the trenches.

    By Blogger Angela Marcellus, at 2/25/2005 07:32:00 AM  

  • Funny I was reading Spencer Burke's story from "Stories of Emergence" this morning and he talks about Spiritual McCarthyism.

    Jeff Medders at Dry Bones in Venice (http://www.drybonesdenver.org/index.htm) is doing missional ministry to homeless teens. He is supported by friends and a great local church. I agree with Tod it probably has to be lonely but expected, his grace is sufficient.
    Peace

    By Blogger happytheman, at 2/25/2005 07:51:00 AM  

  • So what would it take? Can we start a fund from donations to start these churches?

    If there is this kind of energy out there, then wouldn't the greatest tragedy of this awakening be that we didn't take advantage of it? Will these "kids" turn into complacent "adults" if we don't channel and encourage and even (gasp) participate in this kind of mission/life?

    By Blogger Phil, at 2/25/2005 08:00:00 AM  

  • What about Rubel Shelly's move to Rochester. Isn't it going to be to set up Urban Ministry program there. Wow hopefully we as churches will be prepared for the students that will be flowing out of there.

    By Blogger happytheman, at 2/25/2005 08:29:00 AM  

  • Uncle Mike, don't think that I am skipping school or anything, I am sitting perfectly well in my computer applications II class right now, thank you VERY much! Right now I am probably in a class room that you were once in, here at the wonderful NHS. Have a great day, love you.

    By Blogger Crista, at 2/25/2005 08:32:00 AM  

  • God is watching and waiting to see what we will do. I so want to be a part of this, and commend the likes of Mike & Randy(and so many others)for continually putting this before all of us. I'm scared that I'm quenching the Holy Spirit in me. Help us Father to leave our cocoons and get down in the trenches--and fight for souls!

    By Blogger annie, at 2/25/2005 08:41:00 AM  

  • AND, Uncle Mike, I am only a junior. So I am still in High School for 3 more months and then some. How could you?!?! No, I understand that both you and Matt don't have that sharp memory like I do. Must be the genes ;)

    By Blogger Crista, at 2/25/2005 09:15:00 AM  

  • This resonates with so many conversations that I'm a part of now, particularly among peers. so, what does it mean for the church's we hve if they don't seem to be places to train leaders for the churches we wish we had?

    By Blogger stevepvc, at 2/25/2005 09:16:00 AM  

  • Mike, thanks for being the prophet that continues to challenge us daily.....because you love us.

    Crista, keep on commenting..PLEASE!
    We cherish your insights on this guy! Sounds like a good time for you to use some black-mail. :)

    By Blogger David U, at 2/25/2005 09:19:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    I think what Rubel is doing is one of the most heroic things I've heard of in our fellowship. For this enterprise to really work, it just might take more folks like Rubel stepping into those places, too.

    By Blogger john alan turner, at 2/25/2005 09:19:00 AM  

  • Mike, I contiue to pray for God to bless your gifts and give you boldness. Preach on!! We need to hear this at Highland. A few weeks ago Jack Reese spoke about the diversity in the church-I wanted to scream. Diversity, where? Randy's comments Wed. were powerful. I pray that Highland can "look" different. That we will get out of our pews and live Christ. I pray for God to change our "comfort zones". Why do our "apartment friends" sit together, seperate from all of us. I'm sure the workers of this ministry are exausted of working so tirelessly. It's time to make Highland look different. Hum, I guess this should start with me. Blessings to you and your family.

    By Blogger elisabeth, at 2/25/2005 09:40:00 AM  

  • Hey, Mike, I just started reading your blog yesterday. I posted a comment on yesterday's blog really late, so I don't know if you saw it. Anyway, I appreciate your insights because I am one of those interested young ministers you talked about, though my dream is to take that ministry overseas. I am glad to know that there are older brothers and sisters in Christ like you who are catching this dream as well. Thank you for not being satisfied with mediocrity and for continuing to challenge us all!

    By Blogger Heather A, at 2/25/2005 09:42:00 AM  

  • This is a tangent, I know, but as a political conservative myself, I find it fascinating that the political leanings of some of the leading edge spiritual sages of our age (McLaren, Campolo, etc) -- many of whom I love to read because they challenge me so) -- are either in the 'other' party, or are consistently critical only of political conservatism. I'm NOT saying they shouldn't be -- I'm just wondering if I or others need to adjust my thinking. Hard to do, that.

    By Blogger Brian, at 2/25/2005 09:45:00 AM  

  • Thats the internship I'm talking about. Sign me up.

    By Blogger Brandon Moore, at 2/25/2005 10:12:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 2/25/2005 10:26:00 AM  

  • I wrote the following column in the Optimist during Lectureship. Please take a look at it if you have time:

    http://harvestboston.blogspot.com My wife and I are moving to Boston in just over 18 months to do our part in expanding the kingdom in that part of the world. We have been dreaming about what it would take "to see a vibrant family of Jesus Christ within reach -- culturally and geographically -- of every person in Boston."

    I think it's funny how many Christians today are speaking of such things like they are the "latest-greatest." (I'm guilty) Taking a closer look, they seem like obedience to me.

    Blessings, fellow missionaries.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 2/25/2005 10:32:00 AM  

  • And while we're at it, could we please stop trying to push our ministry majors into youth ministry? My ACU son is feeling pressure from his professors to major in "youth and family" ministry (which seems to mean "children and teens"). He feels no call to this -- he feels a strong call to pulpit ministry. (Don't get me wrong -- he is great with kids; he just doesn't feel his place is in youth ministry.) I'm assuming the rationale for this push is for the purpose of "apprenticing" young ministers in churches where they can receive mentoring from more seasoned ministers. Are there no other options for those who don't want their main emphasis to be youth? I'd hate to see him in that frustrating, thirty-something position of, "When am I ever going to be able to break out of youth ministry and do what I really feel called to do?" We've seen it happen to others and it's painful to watch. For those who are more familiar than I with today's Christian colleges: is this a relatively recent development? I don't remember any of the Bible majors from my day (late seventies) being pushed in this direction.

    By Blogger ruthie, at 2/25/2005 12:38:00 PM  

  • Amen to what Tod Brown said. Toby Slough and Brad Small are spiritual giants in my life...especially Toby.

    By Blogger SG, at 2/25/2005 12:39:00 PM  

  • Well, Mike, I've been reading your blog for awhile and have considered posting before but never took the time to create my own blog just so I could post on yours...but this one really did it for me...it pushed me over the edge of indecision into the world of blogging. Thanks for your insight!

    You are so right that young people are desperate to live in the trenches, to be missional and "weird," as Randy said on Wed. I think churches have a LOT more to do than just creating internships and more programs for outreach. Young people desperately need older people to teach them the true gospel of Christ, what it means to be hospitable and loving, compassionate and Christ-centered. Not just in Bible class or small groups or to their students or within their own families. Young people need Christians who will say, "I don't know how you're going to reach people with your (fill in the blank--could be art, teaching, business, writing, music, etc.), but I love and support you through it."

    It's not just formal ministers who are ready to go--those who will plant churches and preach, etc. There are so many young people who want to live and work in the world, who want to be a part of churches, who want to bring others to Christ, and they need just as much support as the ministers.

    I think we think sometimes that, in order to support the Lord's mission in the world, we have to give our money to programs or special contributions for missions. By all means, give to those programs! But think about other ways we can financially support the work of the Kingdom. Lots of young people have school loans that they can't afford so they are working multiple jobs to try to survive--help them out! Can you imagine what $500 or $1000 or $10,000 could do in the life of a passionate young adult? Lots of young people can't find a job or a place to live--give them a job or offer your extra bedroom for awhile! Break the mold! Be creative!

    Don't know what you can do to help a young adult (or old adult--no discrimination intended!)? Ask them. Let us help shape the future of the world and of our churches on terms that make sense in our lives, not just in the we've always done it.

    I tell you, as a young adult whose vocation is theatre, I know lots of "weird" people who need Jesus. I have lots of friends who sometimes feel rejected by the church because they don't fit into the mold of typical C of C-brand Christianity. (That's not a slam again the C of C, just the truth as some people see it). I pray we will continue to be knocked out of our comfortable, easy worlds into the shocking Gospel of Jesus Christ. May His Spirit guide us to the truth as we walk with Him.

    Jocelyn

    By Blogger jocelyn, at 2/25/2005 12:41:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    As a minister where these very issues continue to surface, and as the dad of a freshman ministry major there at ACU, I share your concerns.

    I, for one, would love to work with a program such as Let's Start Talking for ministry internships state-side...where churches that are about the Father's business could be enlisted in an organized way to provide opportunities that don't just teach people to be good churchmen performing priestly duties for the people, but rather to provide opportunities to be part of designing outreach events to provide pathways into the Kingdom.

    By Blogger Glenn Drysdale, at 2/25/2005 12:42:00 PM  

  • I agree and am a firm supporter of missional churches and urban ministry. But I don't think it ends there . . .

    I think that those ministers who will work in your average suburban Church of Christ (which is where many, if not the majority, of ministry students at ACU and other places will wind up) need to be trained for how to open the doors of that church to minister to the disenfranchised in their community AND to their middle-class complacent suburban neighbors. Middle-class suburbanites are just as in need of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ as urban populations are.

    We must work for transformation of existing congregations as well as for support for new missional and urban ones. These new churches cannot just become another splinter of the Restoration movement--all the congregations in our movement need to be challenged by them to no longer conform to the patterns of this world (this world, for us, being American pietistic and nationalistic Christianity) and instead be transformed into agents of the saving mercy and grace of Jesus.

    Just my thoughts.
    http://www.xanga.com/apreacheriam

    By Blogger Jared Cramer, at 2/25/2005 12:47:00 PM  

  • Wednesday night I wanted to jump up and do a backflip. I was so excited by what I heard. I could not "amen" enough. This is all great to talk about and get fired up about. Now what?

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 2/25/2005 01:23:00 PM  

  • I think I got excited earlier and didn't really make the point I wanted to make! Oops! I meant to say that, on top of missions programs and internships and church plants, etc., our churches need to be looking for creative ways to expand the Kingdom of God. One way would be to encourage young adults who are not professional "ministers," but who are passionate about the Lord and His work. There are so many ways we can do that...like some of the ways I mentioned above. But our first step has to be to recognize that there are ways of approaching the Kingdom that we haven't thought of yet, there are people who need Jesus that we haven't talked to yet. Then we need to empower those people who can reach the dark places to take the light of Christ there. It's not just young people who can do it. It's single parents and teens and musicians and punks and artists and social workers and computer nerds and survivors of trauma and addicts and...the list goes on and on! But the first step is seeing and understanding. The next step is difficult and unknown and requires creativity, courage, and deep faith that the Lord knows what He's doing in His world.

    By Blogger jocelyn, at 2/25/2005 01:39:00 PM  

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    By Blogger jocelyn, at 2/25/2005 01:39:00 PM  

  • Every church with over 150 people should plant a new church.

    They should plant a church that is intentionally "weird" so that they will be unlikely to attract "normal" people.

    Their worship should be weird. Their customs should be weird.

    WE HAVE ENOUGH NORMAL CHURCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By Blogger Fajita, at 2/25/2005 01:48:00 PM  

  • Interesting comment, Fajita. I just finished a one-hour conversation with a music minister at a church for what he calls "dysfunctional" folks--really they are just reaching out to different/diverse groups in the attempt NOT to be a cookie cutter church--and he says all the normal people are ignored. It rubs him the wrong way. I know from reading your stuff that is not what you are talking about, (you are talking group, he is speaking of individual members) but I would be wary of being different just for different's sake. What's the point? It's just as bad as being the same just for congruity's sake.

    I'm not disagreeing with the sentiments most have voiced here--I'm one of those who wishes for the same things you do. However, I'm wondering lately if we have just found another thing to be "against", instead of just being about serving others, that's all. It's a fine line......

    By Blogger don, at 2/25/2005 02:18:00 PM  

  • Mike
    I'm glad you don't deal with the tough stuff...can't imagine!
    This really resonantes with me - when David and I graduated from ACU, Bible degrees in hand we had no real idea (and we were 10 years older than our school peers).
    I don't think this topic is just relevant for new ministry graduates but also for those of us who have been doing this thing for a while. Now, after these years of doing "maintenance church" we both have a longing - it remains unnamed. But, we both know it is for what you are talking about. This need, passion or longing surfaces in us at different times and we don't really talk about it much because the cost is too great. Funny how the practical aspects of living and the day to day reality of paying bills etc. slams us up against the wall. If it is God's desire for us to have the courage to be planters of a church that brings a message of Jesus to a post-modern people in a post-modern way - may He have His way.

    Side note: we saw Jeremy Camp, Monk and Neagle (home town boys here in Amarillo), The Afters and MercyMe in concert last night. Wow - it was a time of intense worship and intimacy with God. One common thread with all these performers is that they have lost one or more close family members to cancer and they testified about worshipping in the midst of pain - you know the "Blessed Be Your Name principle". I thought of the Highland Family.

    By Blogger Arlene Kasselman, at 2/25/2005 02:24:00 PM  

  • Thanks for your words, Mike. They encourage those of us who feel the strong desires on our hearts to minister, yet often become frustrated by so many obstacles and people who don't always believe with what we are trying to do.

    And it is funny that you mention that, Fajita-because that is exactly what Randy was talking about on Wed. night-being wierd and the vision of community...I wish every church could get a copy of his talk in their hands!!

    I've said it a few times the last couple of days, and I will say it again: "Here Am I-Send Me!"

    By Blogger Katherine, at 2/25/2005 02:27:00 PM  

  • by the way, Fajita, I pass your burg every once in a while on the way to points north of here, and would like to take you to lunch sometime, if you're up for it.

    By Blogger don, at 2/25/2005 02:30:00 PM  

  • Our language betrays us, doesn't it?

    Fajita said, "...so that they will be unlikely to attract 'normal' people."

    don said, "...really they are just reaching out to different/diverse groups..."

    Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.Is our commission to "attract" (or not attract) people to what we're doing? (or is it to go...and be Christ...)

    Are we "reaching out" from behind tall, thick, stained-glass walls?

    Do we really believe that our hearts are now God's home, His Temple?

    Consider this passage from a splendidly simple little book, Jesus With Dirty Feet, by Don Everts:

    Jesus walked.
    Jesus was a man with dirty feet.
    He spent most of those three years walking around with people.
    He invited folks to become his intimate followers.
    Everywhere he went great crowds gathered around to listen to him, to be with him, to see what he would do next.
    As Jesus led his twelve closest followers they would walk along the dirt roads together.
    They went to parties together.
    They ate meals together.
    They worked together.
    Jesus walked as a human among humans, brushed elbows with politicians and outcasts, went to parties with sinners and criminals, and embraced as his own family those he met on the street.
    Jesus floated on no pristine clouds.
    Jesus was no aloof elitest.
    Jesus was no odd hermit.
    He preferred the world of dirt and friends and handshakes.
    He embraced this relational life on earth more passionately than anyone ever had.
    How does the church today, as it stands, measure up to this?

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 2/25/2005 02:51:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 2/25/2005 02:51:00 PM  

  • One thing I forgot to add...

    If we were in the trenches, "dirty feet" and all, living out the Christ-life on this earth, would we be analyzing who we are targeting (or who we aren't targeting) with our ministry? (as if the our gospel is only for some people)

    Nit-picky? Maybe.
    But mostly true.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 2/25/2005 03:09:00 PM  

  • These are fighting words to people afraid of change. There are alot of us out here who are tired of "envisioning reaching the people who..." and we're ready to move! Why is it the word "relevant" is a battle cry for this generation, and yet the older generations treat it like we're falling away and selling out to the world? There are so many different ministries out there that are RELEVANT, but there's always room for more. I heard it said once, "Quit looking for a leader and step up and be one!" My question is how do we do this without splitting churches in two?

    By Blogger Niki, at 2/25/2005 04:07:00 PM  

  • I once prayed, "Lord, bless what we're doing."

    Now it's "Lord, let us be apart in what you're blessing."

    By Blogger Larry, at 2/25/2005 05:39:00 PM  

  • If anyone is interested in an internship thats focus is on missional work with those who have slipped through the cracks of society, and you are willing to venture outside "our little tribe" you might want to check out this site
    http://www.missionwaco.org
    or talk to the director Jimmy Dorrell jdorrell@missionwaco.org

    Youth ministers: Mission Waco has a poverty simulation program for youths that is AMAZING!!

    By Blogger SG, at 2/26/2005 08:52:00 AM  

  • i was struck with the sentence "they don't want people to be known for their worst moments," or words to that effect. good luck with that one. that's not how human nature works, even in the church. and please don't quote me something like "we have the mind of Christ" to try to prove that christians aren't thoroughly human. we all take people's worst moments into account in how we think of them and how we interact with them.

    By Blogger ed, at 2/26/2005 11:05:00 AM  

  • I don't understand Ed's comment. No one wants to be known for their worst moments. Including you Ed. Don't we want people to look at us and see a person who is doing their best to walk in faith, and daily bring themselves to the foot of the cross for healing and forgiveness? We have to remember that God doesn't see sin in degrees from not so bad to horribly offensive. In our culture, and in our churches, we tend to do just that. I do know church folk who know others by their worst moments and don't want to be in the same assembly as them, yet will sit in my pew even though I told a white lie to keep myself out of trouble, or something equally dumb like that. They'll worship with me as long as my sexual preference is correct for my gender, and I'm in right standing with whatever the current christian politically correct issues of the day happen to be. What Mike said makes sense, and I'm one of many who are struggling to do what God would have me do and yet reamain a part of the traditional church I grew up in. We all have our worst moments, some are just better at concealing them from others.

    By Blogger Niki, at 2/26/2005 12:42:00 PM  

  • Hey Mike
    I am hooked on your blogs. I have to read it everyday. It has become a little highlight in my day. Your Friday blog is something that so many people I love are struggling with right now. Many of my friends feel like they are faking their christianity, can't share struggles with fellow christians at church, much less confess any sins. So many people I love are struggling and doing it alone. How do we break out? But, at the same time, I don't want to just throw up my hands and forget the people who seem "scared" or "uncomfortable" with change. These people do love God and have helped shape who I am. Where do we go from here?

    By Blogger Mary-Margaret, at 2/26/2005 12:53:00 PM  

  • "There's real discipleship: take up your cross, become comfortable, and follow me."Stepping out of our "comfort zone" makes us experience anxiety. The natural human response to anxiety is avoidance of the object causing anxiety and then if avoidance is not a possibility hostility towards that object. I think you see this phenomenon portrayed in today's churches relatively well. Either churches try to avoid "the world" or they condemn "the world." without ever getting close to touching or changing it!

    By Blogger Martin, at 2/26/2005 05:18:00 PM  

  • Don, on my blog there is a way to e-mail me. I'd love to hook up for lunch.

    Also, how many churches of Christ are very much the same? Most of them. So, if every "normal" church of Christ gave birth to a "weird" church of some kind, I think that we would do a lot better job of connecting with more people.

    And when I say give birth, I mean fund it and let it go so far as restrictions, but remain connected in meaningful mentoring.

    Diversity in church is kind of like diversity in a mutual fund. Over the long haul, it's the best way to do things. RIght now we are having a hard time diversifying even the kinds of churches there are let alone the make up of who is in any given church. (I'm on a tangent) If I hear a person from a pulpit say they are "pleased to be part of such a diverse church" speaking to a bunch of white suburbians I am going to puke!

    By Blogger Fajita, at 2/26/2005 07:12:00 PM  

  • Ed - may I suggest that what was meant by "why would anyone want to be known by their worst moment" refers to our penchant for calling believers/Christians addicts, alcoholics, etc. albeit recovering ones. My former pastor/teacher used to say this from the pulpit, reminding those with these horrible problems that all of us have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and are now His redeemed - some of us coming out of addicitions, or alcholism, but as His co-heirs, we are no longer "addicts" etc. we are His saints. We are children of the Almighty Creator, God of the Universe with sin problems.

    We need to be reminded that it is in that cleansing we become indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and we no longer have to rely on ourselves. We also now have an enormous, world-wide family that loves us and supports us in our walk with God and our daily struggles.

    We in our churcnes should be the first to encourage each other as we all try to overcome our own personal addictions. Not all of them are to alcohol or drugs. Each of us knows what our own addicition is and where we need prayers, support and accountability from our fellow believers.

    Let the world continue to besmirch someone struggling with an addiction, but let us in the churches be the ones that lift up and stand by all of us that are struggling. Btw-I know of no one that isn't struggling, so it remains a mystery how any of us can look down our judgmental noses at anyone with sin problems in their lives. None of us is exempt. It's just that we've learned how to keep our sin undercover as we present our squeaky clean image to the church and the world. right? :o)

    My fervent and repeated prayer is that one day anyone with any problem can walk into a church building, announce their sin addicition and be welcomed immediately with loving, open hearts by everyone - be ministered to immediately and continually.

    When we learn how to minister to our own, we should then have a better understanding and have developed the heart skills to help those out in the world.

    Personally, I'm so thankful there was such a church family, in fact more than one, in my life. Without their love, teaching, encouragement truly only God knows where I'd be today. But He DID redeem me - He grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and lifted me up into His loving arms - He forgave me, showed me what true love is all about, His love, then He freed me from the prison of my own personal sin addictions.

    My grateful heart wants only to spend the rest of my life hugging others in their struggles, aiming them at the Cross where they too can rejoice in His love for them. Praise Him!!!!

    [forgive the rant, but just can't help it. There are so many hurting out there - we really need to look people in the eye, try to see what the expression is - to see if they're sad, hurting, or whatever, and ask the LORD to give us of His words to ask them if there's something we can do to help, starting with prayer, if they say it's okay (I always ask if it's okay if I pray for them. No one to date has said no. It always seems to bring a sigh of relief and a smile to their face when I ask that question). Again, sorry this got so long and drawn out. Mea Culpa.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/26/2005 07:27:00 PM  

  • Fajita!! "If I hear a person from a pulpit say they are "pleased to be part of such a diverse church" speaking to a bunch of white suburbians I am going to puke!"

    Amen!!!!!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/26/2005 07:30:00 PM  

  • Niki -
    i'm not sure how well you read my comment. i didn't say i think people WANT to be known for their worst moment. i certainly didn't say I want to be known for MY worst moment. but i must say, the rest of your comment pretty much made my point for me.
    Kathy -
    you're right - we all have sin in our lives. i didn't say or imply that we don't. and i didn't say or imply that people don't need forgiveness and acceptance. of course we all do, whether it's for a "little white lie" or the "worst" sin imaginable (please note the intentional inclusion of quotation marks). i simply stated that it is human nature (whether a person is a Christian or not) to take into account people's worst moments, including their own. i didn't say it was the right thing to do or the Christian thing to do. but it is human nature. and becoming a Christian doesn't obliterate our human nature. it gives us ultimate victory over sin and death, but it doesn't obliterate our human nature.

    By Blogger ed, at 2/26/2005 09:57:00 PM  

  • missional churches and internships?

    i am starting a missional church in auburn, al called mosaic family church.

    like many missionaries before me, i have asked churches and individuals for finacial support. the silence has been deafening. we need those who think it is a great idea to put some "money" behind these missions.

    as far as i'm concerned, i'd love to have interns. however, would they be willing to raise their own support or would they work part-time while they are here? would they want to work with established missional churches or would they be willing to work on the cutting edge of helping start new outreaches from scratch?

    email me if you'd like to know more.

    By Blogger jeremy, at 2/26/2005 11:43:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Sunnie Rhys, at 2/27/2005 02:48:00 AM  

  • Excellent thoughts, Mike. One tiny criticism: If you are going to quote Don McLaughlin, please at least spell his name properly. :-)

    I'd like to add another group of people that may or may not be included in "diversity": people with special needs. My son has autism. I attend North Atlanta Church of Christ and the people there have been wonderful in reaching out to him. He goes to Bible class with the rest of the kids and his teachers are always happy to see him.

    This may not be true in other churches. A while back, I listened to a tape from Focus on the Family about ministering to those with special needs. A survey was mentioned in which over 50% of parents didn't feel comfortable in the church they were in because of the way their special-needs children were treated.

    This past week, NBC did an extensive look at autism. One of the statistics cites was that 1 in 166 people have it. I'm not sure how accurate that statistic is; but I do know that autism is definitely on the rise. These children have parents who are discouraged and exhausted at times.
    Who better to reach out to with a helping hand than to those who are weary and burdened?

    I've mused some about my son and about a trend towards "spiritual correctness" that I see. I admit this is a shamless plug for my own blog (see http://tinaallyn.blogspot.com).

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    By Blogger Blogging by Tina, at 2/27/2005 05:48:00 AM  

  • We need more "Messy Spirituality" churches.

    By Blogger Big Mike Lewis, at 2/27/2005 07:28:00 AM  

  • Chris, your statement that "Diversity in church is kind of like diversity in a mutual fund. Over the long haul, it's the best way to do things." illustrates better what you are trying to say, I think. Good point made.

    The music minister I mentioned in my earlier post (who said the "normal" people were ignored) is a young black guy, ministering in a truly diverse congregation, trying to minister to those people we normally miss (ignore/aren't in our neighborhoods/however you want to say it), and what I was saying rubbed him the wrong way was that the people who were from "normal"
    families or church backgrounds were being ignored (in his observation). Anyway, his experience kind of turns our sentiment about our mostly homogenous nature on its' head, and is the basis for my question about "is this just another thing we have found to be against".

    We all simply need to be Jesus to everyone who needs him, which includes everyone, period. What Steve Jr. was saying when he referenced your comment and mine in his blog.

    By Blogger don, at 2/28/2005 07:55:00 AM  

  • This talk about diversity and normalcy reminds me of Leonard Sweet's book, Jesus Drives Me Crazy, where he describes the church as a mixed nuthouse, and calls non-Christians "normies." Christians are supposed to be the abnormal ones!

    Glenn Drysdale

    By Blogger Glenn Drysdale, at 3/01/2005 09:43:00 AM  

  • Happytheman, Jeff & Kama Medders of Dry Bones have left Venice for Arkansas (I think that's right). The road for them has been lonely indeed this last year.

    Finding support for their vision has been really hard on them. It does seem hardest sometimes on those who feel drawn to serve those most unlike us. Jeff is headed to a "traditional" ministry job (I wonder if he'll keep the earrings...). I hope he doesn't chafe in that environment.

    Allan White
    PUMP Church of Christ, Portland, OR

    By Blogger Allan W., at 7/17/2005 12:01:00 AM  

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