Ten Jobs I Don’t Want

I’ve learned the hard way that God has a sense of humor that I don’t always find funny. It seems that when I say I will never do something or go someplace God winks and smiles as he leads me to do that thing or go to that place. (I’m not joking about this!). So, it’s with fear, trembling, and holy reverence that I write this post. I got the idea from Tony Morgan, one of my favorite bloggers.

Until recently, Tony was on staff at NewSpring Church. Currently he is unemployed. On April 21 he announced that he and Perry Noble (NewSpring’s Sr. Pastor) decided their philosophies of ministry didn’t match so they were parting company. The cool thing is that they did this on friendly terms. Tony will continue attending NewSpring until he finds his next adventure.

Now that he’s unemployed Tony is thinking about what jobs he might want to take (or not take). The other day he posted a list of the ten jobs he wouldn’t ever do. That got me to thinking about the ten jobs I would never do. So, for what it’s worth, here’s the list I came up with (no particular order):

  1. Proctologist (Tony listed this one too)
  2. Youth Pastor
  3. Worship Pastor (I’d love to do this, but my singing is so bad I’d be fired before the opening song is over)
  4. Skid-O-Can Vacuum Truck Driver
  5. Bouncer at a bar
  6. Nanny
  7. Shamwow Spokesperson
  8. Barber
  9. Hallmark Salesperson
  10. Driver’s Ed Instructor

Narrowing the Search, Part 4

After almost two weeks of flu and two out-of-town trips I’m finally getting back to my blog.

If you read my last post you know that I think church ought to be more than just a bunch of people getting together because they like each other. There has to be something bigger than friendship bringing people together. This is where another aspect of the New Testament concept of church comes in to play: kingdom.

Church is part of the kingdom of God. To serve the king is to put your own interests aside. It is to make the king’s agenda your agenda. To be part of the kingdom is to live the kingdom agenda.

What is the kingdom agenda?

Just look at Jesus. He lived the kingdom agenda. Family and friends took a backseat to the kingdom agenda. His personal comfort was not a priority. (Apparently he didn’t even own a pillow!). Kingdom life means death. . . death of one’s comfort, one’s personal preferences, one’s daily desires. The kingdom agenda requires that we take up our crosses each and every day of our lives and follow Jesus. Unfortunately. . . .

Pot lucks are the priority of too many churches.

Power is the desire of too many clergy.

Song selection is the concern of too many members.

How sad it is, then, that as we look for a new church home I find myself wandering, “What’s here for me? How comfortable am I here? What do I like/dislike about this church?”

I’m so weak.

Wouldn’t it be better if I asked, “Where can I best serve my king?”

Narrowing the Search, Part 3

As we continue to zero in on a church to call home it’s time for us to move beyond first impressions.

[Warning: Soapbox Ahead]

Music preferences, building styles, and preaching outlines are only a small part of what matters. How ironic, though, that those things are what often split a church. The sign at a local church reads, “We’re not fighting each other”. While I’m glad they aren’t fighting each other I can’t help but wonder why they thought that was the most important message they could communicate.  Have churches gotten such bad reputations that we need to advertise we aren’t fighting?

How sad.

So, what am I looking for in a church that moves beyond first impressions?

First, I’m looking for a church. . . . Kinda obvious, I know. . . But I’m looking for a church in the New Testament sense.

I know that seems fundamental. After all, isn’t that what I’ve been blathering about for the past couple of months?. . . Looking for a church?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “church”.

We use the word “church” so easily. It fits our vocabulary nicely. “Did you enjoy church today?” Isn’t that a nice church building?” “What kind of church do you attend?” But the New Testament rarely uses the word “church” in such a way. It has taken a word that was common and made it extraordinary.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery has this to say about the word “church”:

The Bible provides a rich kaleidoscope of imagery about the church composed of around one hundred metaphors and statements. The thread on which all other jewels are hung is the idea of the church as an ekklēsia (“assembly,” “gathering”). This word, taken from common usage where it applied to the “calling out” of citizens for a civic meeting or of soldiers for battle, is used extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments to refer to the people of God (e.g., Deut 4:10; 9:10; 31:30; Mt 16:18; 18:17; Acts 5:11; Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 1:22; 3:10; Heb 12:23).

The word that first century Christians adapted was originally used to talk about any gathering of people. It was a common word. It didn’t have any spiritual connotations.

I’m afraid when we talk of church what we really are talking about is a group of fellow citizens gathering for a meeting. It could be ANY meeting for ANY purpose. We could gather for a meal. We could gather for philately reasons. We could gather to be entertained. We could gather for group therapy.

It seems to me (in my very judgmental–but mostly accurate opinion) that MOST churches are little more than gatherings of people who simply like being together. We enjoy the same kind of music. We have similar political views. We want someone to entertain our teenagers. We may even have a somewhat Christian worldview. But really the main reason we get together is little more than to be together.

We get upset if someone sings a song we don’t know or like. We complain if the preacher calls for too big of sacrifice from us. We don’t like someone else sitting in our seat or parking in our spot. We don’t want too many new people around because it will change things. And we certainly don’t want people around who haven’t learned the same morals we profess; after all, they may be a bad influence on our kids.

The New Testament came to use the word church in a much deeper, more significant way. Yes, it still used the word at times to talk of a gathering of people. But the heart of what the New Testament meant by church is probably far different than what most churches look like today.

I’ll have more to say about that in my next post. But suffice it to say for now, most of the places I see today that call themselves churches, really aren’t.

And those are NOT the kind of places I’m looking for in a church home.

Glen Kelly’s Long Lost Identical Twin

This morning I meet Glen Kelly’s long lost identical twin. Actually, Glen doesn’t have a long lost identical twin, but if he did, this guy would be it. (My apologies to those who don’t know Glen. You’re missing out on something great).

The guy walked into Keva with a huge grin, long hair, and a friendly greeting for me and the customers. (I know Glen cut his hair, but he needs to grow it back-IMHO). Judging from his clothes he is a painter by trade; but judging from the encounter he is an encourager by spiritual gift.

In the short time he was in the store not only did he make me feel like Keva Juice was the coolest place he had ever been in, but that our smoothies are the best tasting things in the world, and that the  recession is just God’s way of  preparing us for a new blessing. While he wasn’t some sort of Jesus-freak (in the worst kind of way), it was easy to tell that he was a Jesus-freak (in the best kind of way). God’s love just oozed from this guy.

We shook hands before he left but I suspect had he thought it wouldn’t totally freak me out he would have jumped behind the counter and hugged me.

Lord, help me be that kind of encouragement to others.

Church Search 6: Narrowing the Search, Part 2

Yesterday we returned to Real Life Fellowship.

We hadn’t planned to return to Real Life. We thought we had narrowed our search to two other churches, but that changed with the flip of a coin. Some friends, who are also looking for a new church home, were at the house Saturday night. As we talked, it was obvious that no church had totally captured any of our hearts. We couldn’t decide where to go, so we flipped a coin and Real Life won. (Is that how Matthias became an apostle?).

As we look for a new church home, this church continues to impress me. We were very blessed by the service. My daughter loved her class. And my wife and I liked the music and sermon.

But as I reflect on why no church has really captured our hearts, I can’t help but think that church has less to do with the building, the preacher, the music, or the children’s programs and more to do with the people we love. It would be one thing if we were looking for a church in a new city; but it’s quite another thing to be looking for a new church in our own city where so many of our friends are.

As Mimi and I left Real Life yesterday, we talked through the pros and cons of the church. Eventually, however, I said, “You know, I almost don’t care where we go, I just want all our friends to go to the same place.”

Mimi agreed.

Best Compliment Ever

Not long ago someone sent me an email that I have re-read countless times. It blesses me again and again. It is from a self-proclaimed Christian  turned atheist turned Christian again. In this email he blesses me with one of the best compliments I’ve ever received when he said, “I believe you are one hell of a preacher and a great person overall.”

That’s not something a (former) preacher hears every Sunday as he’s shaking hands by the door on the way out of the church!

Church Search

I just found this unfinished post from a couple of months ago. I don’t know why I never finished it.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here it is:

Last Sunday emotions were running too high for us to attend church so we decided to stay home for a family devotional.

We gathered around our kitchen table to read scripture, pray, and commune together. We took turns reading Matthew’s account of the last supper. As we read, we prayed and shared communion. It was a simple and powerful service.

I couldn’t help but think about how many thousands (millions?) of other believers around the world were doing the same thing. It’s amazing to think we actually have a choice of churches. (Whether that is a blessing or a curse is another matter).