This is the idea that no church is original, but all churches are mimicking other successful churches that are, in turn, mimicking other churches that have been successful. See the pattern? “What? How can this be? My church is amazing!” Famous words from just about everyone that goes and commits to a church. However, the reality is, we do copy other successful churches. Your church is no different than 1000 others out there. Look around. The music is the same, the sermons are the same, the dress is the same. We copy each other so much that Christianity is a very recognizable sub-culture in our day and age. We even have our own language….that many like to joke about called “christianese”. Interestingly enough, none of these qualities that we see on Sunday mornings are used to describe who a follower of Christ is. Love is the only quality. Loving those around you, including your enemies, are the qualities of the Kingdom of God.
I just finished reading the book “Dying to Control: The 21st Century Dilemma”, by Leon R. Hayduchok, and I must say, this is a very relevant book in our post-modern (or even post -christian) world that we live in. In fact, you can go to Leon’s website and read a post on his blog about how he struggles with embracing the term post-modern within christianity today. It’s worth reading for sure. This book brings to light many great points for one to wrestle with in their spiritual journey, but one question emphatically sticks out that needs to be on everyone’s mind. Within the first couple chapters of his book, he makes you realize that God is asking everyone a simple question that may take a lifetime to answer. The question is “Do you trust me?”. What a simple yet profound question coming from the Creator. Do we trust God? Do we even realize that we can trust God? Do we even see God as trust worthy? This is the main theme that Leon addresses in his book and he claims that this one question is key to understanding what really happened in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve and with God. It all came down to trust and our ability as human beings to handle it, understand it, and then eventually put it into action. Of course, if you have read the story in Genesis, you may already know the outcome, but Dying to Control: The 21st Century Dilemma”, by Leon R. Hayduchok, has a few very relevant points as we answer whether or not we trust God in our own lives and collectively as a community of believers in the here and now.
Are you Pro-Israel? Or Pro-Jewish? Or Pro-Palestinian? Or should we be Pro-Anything at all? This is a big deal in the Apocalyptic, Dispensational, Eschatological, Evangelical paradigm these days. Well, it has been for years. Also, those are all big words that if we took the time to research their origin, we would be reading 875 pages on this post. So we won’t do that, but it would be beneficial for you to see and learn the meanings of these words and how they affect religious beliefs in the present day. Take the time to study them if you feel the need. However, the big question…as followers of Christ, do we support Israel, no matter what, because we see the picture of Israel being restored in the bible? I read an article yesterday “Apocalyptic Israel Worship Will Be The Death Of Us All”, and it has made some great points. Are we picking sides purely because some person behind a pulpit says we need to? Are they using some Old Testament verses to make their point? Have they claimed that “God blesses those that bless Israel”? Well, this may be an evangelical stance to control you out of fear of the unknown. It happens in churches all across the world. Continue reading
“God is so holy that he cannot look upon sin.” This is utter nonsense. Please discard this harmful idea.” – Brian Zahnd
I came across some new data the other day that seems we need to have more and more conversations about organized religion and the dire need to give money to them. If there wasn’t money to be made, would evangelicalism (or any denomination of any kind for that matter) look the way it does today? Getting right to the point, we can see that most churches, according to this survey done by eccu.org for 2013, invest most of their income, that comes from giving, to just a few people and their buildings. Around 58% of all revenue coming into a church goes to pay salaries, pension plans, benefits, and personal expenses. Are we, as the Body of Christ, OK with this? I encourage all to ask themselves to really think about this issue. Add in the cost to operate the building, and administration costs and you are at an average of 82%. So, for every dollar you give to a church, .82 cents goes to pay for the employees and the building. Again, are we OK with this? Or, does this kind of religious business reflect the Kingdom of God? We seriously need to talk about this in a calm and rational way that look at these matters through the lens of Christ. As I see it, the laity is financing the careers and businesses of the religious leaders (which is not supported in the bible, now matter how much people want to think it is).
Uh….we have a problem within Religion. What is it? It’s that most organized religious leaders confuse purpose with recognition. Whether we think it comes from God or from people, we are driven by recognition. And why wouldn’t we? We are all bombarded by the idea of success and we pin the “favor of God” to it when we achieve it. So we go out looking for something to do and when we achieve that goal, or good works, the first thing we do is demand recognition….all in the name of progress. In turn, we see our purpose as being satisfied. We want to be noticed for what we do, not realizing that giving sacrificially with no recognition is what Jesus spoke about. Instead, our left hand brags of our right hand. According to the dictionary, purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”. This speaks to who we are. And who we are is to love. And love is other-centered and self-sacrificial….meaning that we see ourselves as second to others around us. Therefore, if we see our purpose, we will then see that we are not it…..but that we are to make others know that they are the purpose of God’s love and affection. We exist to love others in a relationship centered on God’s definition of love. On the contrary, when we seek recognition, we are using others for our own gain and that is not our purpose.
We are in interesting times here in Christianity. There are more and more people starting to wonder if what they have been doing on Sunday mornings (along with Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and youth nights) is really the point or pinnacle of their walk with God. The lack of relationship and community with others has stirred discontent among many. Along with several reasons, one aspect of why more people are starting to question the traditional organized church is they see that it is just like a worldly business. You know…CEO’s, board members, employees, salaries, retirement funds, vacation time, and so on. So the question is….should churches be run like business’s? I will tell you, that is the million dollar question because evangelicals will respond with….”how else is there to run a church?” Being so ingrained with the American Dream and pastorpreneurs that need to succeed because of “denominational seed money“, we can see why this is attractive. Not to mention that most people see prosperity as “favor” from God (of course the opposite is considered a curse), so whatever model, usually meaning a business, an organized church can use to look prosperous will usually be used to appear as “favor”. With most evangelicals these days being taught that building wealth brings financial peace then I can see why religious leaders want to run their organized churches as business’s and make a profit that can be used to expand the empire. But the real question is…”is this American approach to religion anywhere near the heart of the Father?” ……I would say no. Continue reading