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July 13, 2005

Comments

Sunshine

You've become my morning newspaper reading. I hate reading the newspaper, but find what you are saying at the heart of where I am. I work in a megachurch AND I don't belong. Thank you for your honesty on this issue and for the extra reminders of why I am moving on - can't wait for the next adventure.
Resting, Sunshine - aka, Jen

Brandon

You know, Greg, I suffer from the same affliction--responding to pissed off commenters, that is. I think the thing that gets me is the complete inability to deal with any of your critiques of the mega-church. If they're going to criticize, at least they could come up with something better than what esssentially amounts to: "Stop saying mean things or I'm gonna' cry".

I don't know, perhaps, say, address the points you make in some non superficial way.

Brandon

Greg, have you ever fully fleshed out what 'worship that changes people' tangibly looks like. I really like the concept there, I'm just curious if you've spent time on that topic and I just missed it, or if not, if you'd be willing to write about some tanigble manifestations of good worship practices.

jvpastor

Great post, Jesus was abandoned by his friends, and killed by his people, because they refused his message of humility and obedience. They wanted an earthly king in the vein of David. We are still clamoring for the same things, and if Jesus was here today in our churches, we would, as Dallas Willard points out, kill him too.

Brian

Every Church, regardless of size, should be held to the same set of standards, right?

greg

Brian,

Is that supposed to be a trick question? Obviously a church of 12 can't do all those things, but any church of any size can strive toward those things. I happen to attend a church of about 700 that gives about 40% of the budget to missions, has only four full-time staffers, a few part-time, and dozens of volunteers. A church of 10,000 has no excuses.

Lorrie

Standing.

Applauding.

Great post ~

Brian

No, not a trick question. I'm not that smart. :)

I think, however, that each of the points mentioned is something that *every* church should be held accountable to, in some form or fashion. Obviously a church of 10,000 will probably present 'formal' methods (i.e., a prison ministry, a soup kitchen, etc.) to do a lot of the things that are mentioned, but the churches of 7, 70, or 700 members should be encouraging its body to pursue those goals as well.

greg

Brian,

Agreed.

aaron

Even though you probably didn't mean to, I LOVE how you're #3 on a Google search for Lifechurch.tv, and on page 2 for searching "lifechurch".

Nice work and great post.

greg

Aaron,

Oh, I meant to...

DerekB

"I think I've reached the point where I'm willing to say if you want to go to a megachurch, just go."

Well said.

Bubba

Greg, in that extraordinarily long sentence that could have used a few semicolons, you insist on a few things that strike this casual reader of your blog as, well, misguided.

"if your pastor has spoken gracious words about homosexuals (hate the sin, love the sinner doesn't count)"

Pray tell, what does count? Should the church act as if homosexual behavior is not in fact a sin? Even if one limits himself to using "Jesus' actual words and not some mishmash from Paul and the OT," he still must contend with some harsh realities. To wit, Jesus asserted that lust was as immoral as adultery. Jesus told the adulteress who would be stoned to go and sin no more. And, in Matthew 19, Jesus fairly clearly asserts that sexuality can only be morally expressed in lifelong, heterosexual fidelity.

"if your mega has a good representation of different races and both genders, if your staff has the same,"

The question arises unbidden in my mind; what counts as a "good" representation? Must the congregation and staff's racial mix match the national population, or must it merely reflect the local demographics? How in the world does one force this racial mix upon the congregation? (What if the music or preaching style simply doesn't appeal to blacks, whites, and Asians equally?)

And, really, should a quota system be part of the process used to make hiring decisions about a church staff?

"if your mega has not waved the flag and paraded the soldiers the past couple federal holidays,"

Should churches simply ignore the reality that the religious freedom that we enjoy (a freedom which is sadly not universally enjoyed) is at least partially the result of the sacrifices our country's soldiers have been willing to make?

Or should we go further? Should we start burning the American flag in our worship services, and call our soldiers "baby-killers" and refuse to baptize them?


I very much agree that any church -- large or small -- that isolates itself from its community and is not committed to help meet the needs of its most desparate neighbors should be criticized. But you add to that criticism a list of complaints that undermines your credibility as a standard-bearer.

Really, it's not enough if a mega church goes out of its way to feed the poor? It must also excise "God of Our Fathers" from its hymnal and replace Old Glory with a rainbow flag?

Even if you personally think that the Bible (or whatever subsection you think worthwhile) both requires militant pacifism and allows homosexual behavior, you can surely recognize that many very thoughtful, very mature, very scholarly Christians disagree strongly. It makes little sense, then, to make such positions on such controversial subjects as important to the standard as the obvious and uncontroversial command to feed the poor.

Porky Fedwell

1. Do you actually consider Paul's writings to be a mishmash, or to be inspired?
2. In general, it sounds like as long as a megachurch champions the current liberal politically-correct agenda, then they might be admissable as a legitimate church, to you?

greg

Porky,

Did I say Paul's writings were a mishmash? You might try reading that sentence again. And what in the world does the "liberal, politically corect agenda" have to do with anything I wrote? If I mention justice or racism or sexism, it's automatically a liberal agenda speaking? Have you read the Bible? Really? Cause if you had, you'd see that it speaks to these issues. How is it that conservatives can't view a theological argument as theological? Rather than see the Biblical argument behind the statements, they rush to make application from a current political climate. These people are biblically illiterate and theologically uninformed. They trot out arguments made by politicians masquerading as pastors and ministry leaders, never once checking the Bible for themselves to see if that's what it actually says. Since what they're hearing supports their lifestlyes and desires, they wouldn't think to compare what they're hearing with what Scripture says. And you ask me about inspiration? Please.

Porky Fedwell

Yes, I've read the Bible and studied it for many decades. I am responding to your implied assertion that you are the judge of a church's legitimacy. If you are not the puppet of a liberal political agenda masquerading in Christian clothing, then why do you happen to hone in on homosexuality (to pick but one of your church-legitimacy requirements) as "the" example sin that determines whether a church is legitimate or not? Did you come up with this example on your own, or is it merely coincidental that it a)happens to be the focus of the current "hollywood" agenda, and b) is clearly spoken of in scripture, many places, as being a sin? Or, have you not read the Bible without a hollywood-inspired "what's the cool issue now?" playbook in hand? You seem to want to condemn the church for other sins of omission (not mentioning Darfur, etc), but then if they "omit" telling the world that homosexuality is sin, you find that particular capitulation to the pop culture as somehow being excusable. A bit of inconsistency in that position of yours, from what I see.

greg

Porky,

Try not posting your comment four times next time. Once is plenty for me to read and understand it. Or perhaps you just need to be a bit more patient. Ease up on the mouse button.

This almost made me laugh out loud, but then I realized you're serious: "If you are not the puppet of a liberal political agenda masquerading in Christian clothing, then why do you happen to hone in on homosexuality..." So justice and grace are part of the liberal political agenda? Hmm... I hone in on homosexuality because it has become the litmus test by which the conservative evangelical/fundy church determines its legitimacy. We oppose homosexuality, therefore we are orthodox. Strange. Jesus talked about feeding people, giving stuff away, compassion, and other issues as well. Can't imagine most conservative churches preaching, "If you are accumulating stuff while the world starves, you are guilty of a gross sin." Jesus wasn't kidding when he said to the would-be barn builder, "You fool..." In short, I focused on homosexuality because it is the focus of soooo much nonsense from the evang/fundy churches. I guess you could say I didn't focus on it; they did.

Again, I love unintentional humor: "Or, have you not read the Bible without a hollywood-inspired 'what's the cool issue now?'" Homosexuality is cool in Hollywood? I thought it was superheroes right now. If I had written a screed promising salvation to all men in spandex and masks, then you would have a case.

Spoken of "many places" as being a sin? More than not feeding the poor? More than oppressing the debtor? More than condemnation for corrupt governments? More than lying? Yeah, Porky, it's you that has imbibed an agenda that is not Biblical. It's based upon the ability of conservative faux pastors to raise money by scaring people into believing the homosexual agenda is destructive of the American family. Seems like heterosexual divorce ought to be the thing you shoot for first.


Porky Fedwell

Is that all you can come up with? Incredibly enough, you actually believe that Hollywood isn't at the forefront of promoting homosexuality as being a sinless alternative lifestyle - talk about laughing out loud! You must be possessed of amazingly selective perception.

You accuse churches of being all about money, all about somehow defending evil creditors, and so on in perfectly predictable fashion, as if you were free of these ills yourself. All the while you are (no doubt) firmly in favor of establishing the role of the government as the Great Provider, rather than the church, using the power of government to ever-more-intimidate faith into the sphere of the "private," and be increasingly generally hostile to practitioners of the Christian faith. The majority of Christians vote "right" not because they are against compassionate acts, but because the "left" is intolerant of public displays of faith, and wants to eliminate the Christian faith as an obstacle to their agenda. It also wants the government to replace the Church as the vehicle of compassion. Perhaps you are just too naive to know how the left is using you?

Clearly, you are not nearly as interested in justice, as you are in being seen as someone gifted with superior intellect, making you a holier-than-thou authority. Fortunately, most "fundy" churches (that you imply are sooooo far beneath your great understanding of things) know better than to be intimidated into supporting your agenda.

Perhaps you should humble yourself a bit and seek God on how you could help the church, rather than tear it down? No, on second thought, just keep swallowing the "government as agent of God" gospel of Jim Wallis & Co. I'm sure it helps you feel very superior.

greg

Porky,

Yeah, I'm the one who is brainwashed. You sound like Sean Hannity's and Bill O'Reilly's love child. Maybe you should turn off Fox News and read the Bible. Done with you now.

Jennifer

Ummm...Porky? Do you think you just persuaded anyone?

greg

Jenn,

Porky isn't trying to convince us. He just calls us all liberal, despite my constant refrain that I am a moderate, and that way he doesn't have to hear what we're saying.

Jennifer

I know and yet it still amazes me that so many keystrokes are wasted when there is no point at name calling that a. isn't accurate and b. isn't insulting.

Resident Atheist

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that, with the exception of a handful of directors, writers, producers and actors, I don't like the Hollywood establishment much at all these days because it's more preoccupied with box office ticket sales than with quality storytelling. CGI doesn't count as quality storytelling.

Does it occur to people that it's possible for someone whose thoughts aren't influenced by Entertainment Weekly to still think a lot of progressive political ideas are desirable, even if they are terribly difficult to implement?

Screw this. I'm not liberal or progressive or moderate anymore, I'm apolitical. I just happen to talk about politics a lot.

Ben

Hi Greg,
I imagine you're fairly annoyed by these trolls (and if any of them are reading this, a "troll" is a legitimate term in cyberspace: See here for troll def.). Please don't get frustrated with them. They're called trolls for a reason.

If someone's taking a shot at you for having a dim view of "fundy's", you're talking to someone who's too far to the other end of the [political and/or religious] spectrum to convince. Perhaps if everyone were a little closer to the middle of the spectrum, there wouldn't be so much shouting and we could actually get somewhere instead of bickering loudly.

I've been saying some time now that in examining scripture (and many other things) it is important to have both a close up view (to figure out what's really going on) and a zoomed out view (to see how it fits into context). Perhaps someone will read this and take that to heart, or at the very least stop and try to figure out what I'm really saying.

Porky Fedwell

Yes, I see. "Troll" is a term for someone who disagrees with your position. From one troll to another, I suppose. Thanks for the great learning and high intellectual discourse here.

greg

Porky,

Face it. You started off acting like a dick. People called you on it, and now you're mad. If you start with a different attitude, you get a different result. I think anyone older than 12 knows that. If I came by your house and started calling you a conservative whore without introducing myself or hearing your arguments or listening to you, you wouldn't treat me with a great deal of hospitality. Act like a troll, get called a troll. There are people around here who disagree all the time, but we do so without being dicks.

Porky Fedwell

Greg, you're right - they don't act like dicks. But you do. You were the one who first came out with both guns blazing at any church that doesn't see their role as talking about Darfur, and your other set of PC topics. You dismissively referred to whole categories of believers as "fundy" and other bigoted, prejudicial, derisive terms, knowing nothing about them, then accuse others of not knowing the Bible if they don't happen to see your list of "world issues" as the Church's main goal, rather than preaching salvation first and foremost, and otherwise helping those around them. I've been to "fundy" churches where we we constantly prayed for each other, and ministering to others in the community. Perhaps we weren't focused on what is happening in Darfur, but does that give you the right to brush others off as being deficient? Jesus said he came to seek and to save the lost. He came to give his life a ransom for many. If he had come for some other mission, then he could have saved himself the trouble of sacrificing himself.

I don't attend a mega, because I have by this time grown beyond it. But the megas may be used by God to reach out to people who may know nothing about Him - no family church background at all, for instance. It is a starting point, not an ending point. Also, I think there is a bit more to what they demand of people than you are aware of or acknowledge in your gross generalizations, in many cases.

In short, I think you had better come down off your high horse and stop being so judgemental of other Christians, and perhaps take the log out of your own eye, first.

greg

Porky,

All I can say is you've probably read a couple posts of mine and made some conclusions that aren't warranted. For example, I call them fundy because it's shorter than typing fundamentalist. I don't think of it as a derisive term. Every issue you mentioned I've talked about on several occasions. If you want to join in the conversation, read enough about what I think not to sound like a complete jerk when you start posting. I've given more than sufficient theological reasons to dislike megas on many occasions in various posts. Read them first, then talk to me about how judgmental I am. And for God's sake, lose the PC vocabulary crap. It has no place in a theological discussion.

Joe

This is better than reality TV!

Zach

i'd be really bitter too if my wittiness thought me up a sweet blog name like "porky fedwell". very clever. it almost sounds like a real name, amazing. oh yeah, remember Phil McCrack or Jacque Strap? genius.

bill

What if Jesus never intentioned nor even hinted at “church” as we define it today? What if the NT canon was chosen specifically for the institutional support one could argue for from the various books that it includes? What if some (or many) of the books were not even written by “apostles” but by “bishops” ?

What if the teaching of Jesus was to love God and others, and had nothing whatsoever to do with loyalty to church? What if Jesus was, in actuality, teaching individual responsibility and freedom that precludes an institutional church and, especially, the theocracy so wanted by the zealots among his followers?

I agree with you Greg, that those who want a megachurch should find one or go and build themselves one. But they should withhold the baloney because an increasing number of us are seeking real meat.

The Krow

Greg,

I'm refreshed by your views of the megachurch and willingness to call them into accountability to be modeled after Jesus and not after the corporate westernized faith that has been feed to us for decades. Stand, speak loud, challenge the mega church to review their processes, review their budget... to show Jesus to the world, not the western Jesus but the real Jesus. I too am very frustrated with the quaint rebuttals used... thanks for the post!

Suzanne

"We" are the church. We either trust God is in control, or we don't.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding."

Your understanding can never be complete truth until you have relationship with those you speak of...until you do...It's just 'your own understanding.'

Suzanne

Dear Permalink??


"We" are the church. We either trust God is in control, or we don't.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding."

Your understanding can never be complete truth until you have relationship with those you speak of...until you do...It's just 'your own understanding.'

greg

Gee, Suzanne, thanks for the platitudes. Glad you had a well-thought out response there. You could have saved me and you some time and not posted.

And by the way, I don't...at least not the way you do.

zalm

I think she was hoping to hear from Permalink.

Leighton

Wow, she mistook the persistent link to the post itself for the name of the post author? I can honestly say I've never seen that before.

Suzanne

Where is your grace Greg? What is your purpose with all of this? And yes...this is a 'thought out' question. Are you able to reply back to anyone with a Christ-like response?

Leighton, I'm glad that I've given you something to write about! :) I wasn't sure how that worked, but thanks for clarifying. I won't be putting that on my resume.

greg

Where is my grace? I'm not even sure what that means. If by Christ-like response you mean, why aren't you nice, I wasn't unkind. I simply responded to you in the same sort of pious tone you took with us.

Your position seems to be, don't put any thought into a service or church, just trust God. Don't have complex theological or ecclesiological discussions or reflections, just trust God. Suzanne, without being too unkind, that's just silly, naive, and unworkable. I trust God in the areas where I'm supposed to, but God, I think, expects us to apply some thought and reflection in the ways we do life and church.

You offered me two choices: God is in control or he isn't. If left with only those two choices, I'll choose the latter, thanks. You might want to think through things and not offer false choices based on simplistic readings of verses ripped from context.

Suzanne

Greg,

I assure you there was no pious tone in my email. I will admitt at first read my defenses came up...I am only human. I immediately thought of all these sarcastic replies...but in the end...That would not be what Christ would want me to do. What good does that really do? That's where the grace comes in. It's going against our natural response when offended. If you aren't sure what grace is there is an excellent book written by Phillip Yancey called "What's So Amazing About Grace."

No, my position is not to "not put any thought into service or church." It's quite the opposite really.

Again, what is your purpose with all of this? I'm genuinely curious.

greg

Suzanne,

Perhaps I assume piety when people start quoting Bible veses at me. I've read Yancey. I like Yancey. My question wasn't for a definition of grace; rather, I wanted to know what grace had to do with your point. Was I acting ungraciously in critiquing the church? I hope not. Jacquel Ellul liked to talk about criticism as helping people see more clearly. All criticism isn't bad, especially if it helps us see something we didn't see before. I'm as certain of the deleterious effects of multi-site churches to the health of the church as I'm certain of anything else. For that reason, I try to approach things in ways that ask questions that haven't been asked and look at things from angles that haven't been examined. I hope I'm successful. This will necessarily upset some of the folks who'd just as soon be left to attend church without thinking too much about what church actually means.

Julia

What magazines do you write for greg? This is so insanely awesome for you to be addressing this subject, I can't even verbalize my ... what's a really big word for "crazyawesomehappytotallycool"? I have a friend who is researching pastor Craig's sermon-stealing shenanigans and I'd like to talk to you (off the blog) at some point, if at all possible..?

BenS

You know so much about our awesome LC.tv that you really should just come, & be apart of us ~ GBY.

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