Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three People You're Likely to Meet in Your Church (Which One Are You?)

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While it is agreed you will see people with all sorts of different makeups in your church (socioeconomic backgrounds, races, personalities, jobs/careers, ages, etc.), all people attending can in large part be grouped into three major categories that have very little to do with any of those makeups.
They are:

  • Observer (one who makes an appearance regularly or irregularly, has little to nothing to do with the function of the church and simply shows up for the show, so to speak, and leaves; it's not that they are not interested in the church, but that is their only desired level of involvement; this is usually a temporary phase as they will usually transition into one of the other categories over time or out of the church altogether)
  • Participant/Contributor (one who understands the mission/purpose of the church and Scripture and wishes to be a part of it, both personally and corporately; it is a growing stage - as they learn more their participation evolves to fill needs and be part of the larger goal or vision)
  • Consumer (one who is there to consume anything that means something to them; if they enjoy social work, then they serve at every function; if they love a good sermon, then they go to a church with a dynamic pastor; if music what moves them, then they go where the band is exactly their style; consumers are not big into changing, but would rather see the church evolve to fit their needs and often times assumes that others around them have those exact same needs; when the product well runs dry or stale to them, the consumer leaves and looks for another church able/willing to meet their needs)

While these are not fool-proof categories, they are good for our present conversation.

Of the three categories, churches need Contributors and Observers. They are vital to the life and growth of the church. Observers are people who do not usually understand what church or theology are and are observing as a way of learning and deciding. These are not the seemingly cold individuals who show up every week and leave before the prayer is over so as to avoid any contact. These are the individuals who new or old are showing up, observing the religious practices, rituals and beliefs of the church, weighing them with what they see outside the church (to include what is seen in the lives of the believers), comparing them to their own lives and deciding if there appears to be any merit or truth to God, the Scriptures, the church or its mission. The presence of a large number of observers shows participants/contributors are taking their mission and purpose seriously.

Contributors are the people of the church who at one point in their lives were observers or consumers and came to understand the mission of God the Father ("to seek and save that which is lost", to restore man to Himself, and to make possible a relationship between Himself and man). They then changed categories and sought to become regular participants in His church and His mission. How does such a change take place?

Simply put (harder to actually commit to or follow through with): repentance. They realized the folly of their faith/worship and turned away from self worship and self service and began worshipping God.

Consumers kill churches or, worse yet, breed more consumer-based churches. The idea that man is at the center of the Gospel kills churches. God did not seek to worship man by saving Him; Christ's death on the cross and man's subsequent ability to turn to God was all about God's fame, not man's. If churches place the burden of their mission, resources and efforts in reaching the consumers, they will either: (1) kill their church (in the long run), (2) burn their pastors/lay leaders out, (3) mislead thousands with false theology (because their theology is more anthropology, with theological overtones), or (4) create more consumer churches that will do one or all of #1, #2 and #3. Unless consumers repent, they WILL leave churches or destroy churches.

Which one are you?

A participant? Do you read for yourself in Scripture about God's passion for Himself and mission for mankind (to give them His absolute best - Himself)? Do you show up at church looking for ways to serve the elders, leaders and observers? Do you look for ways to be part of the vision of the church? Is repentance a key part of your life (turning from self centered worship and giving worship back to whom it belongs - God)?

A consumer? Do you read Scripture to help get you through the week or make your day a little bit better? Do you show up at church because it makes you feel better and meets some sort of felt need? Do you expect your pastors/leaders to be available to you around the clock (and compare them to other pastors you hear about in the community)? Do you participate in serving or long-rang vision plans of your church only if you think there is something in it for you or your family? Are you overly critical of the programs or ministries of your church?
If yes: Is it altogether impossible that maybe the centrality of your faith has been placed in the wrong place, and you've become one who worships the created instead of the Creator. If this is you, repentance is necessary and reordering your worship is key to becoming a real contributor/participant in God's mission for mankind.

An observer? Are you seeking truth? Looking for answers and trying to reconcile what you understand faith to be with what you read in Scripture or see before you? Trying to distinguish the difference/relationship between morals and faith? Do you have big questions in need of real answers, not just the typical Christian mantra "you just gotta have faith"?
Continue asking questions and seeking answers from true men and women of faith and a Bible-centered church. If there is anything I might be able to do to help you in this endeavor, feel free to email me ( or post a question in the comment section. If you'd like help finding a Bible-based church in your area, email me.

Want to join the conversation? Click here to ask a question or comment!

Photo borrowed from Bilbeny.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trade in Your Bible for Porn

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Students of the Atheist Agenda club (excuse me, organization) at the University of Texas at San Antonio recently led a campaign to get students to trade in their Bibles or Korans for free porn. They called the initiative "Smut for Smut" stating that the violence in the religious texts are the causes of religious fighting and wars.

While I am not an advocate of the Koran (I believe all religions have some sort of truth in them in that they all usually teach Biblically true morals or lifestyles - love others, stand up against injustice, etc.; however, this is not to be confused with the assertion that all religions are True because it is not logically possible... see my explanation on this by clicking here), but I do not believe it to be smut, and I obviously do not consider the sexuality, violence or anything else in the Bible to be smut, either. (That's another conversation for another day)

Contrary to their organization's public statements, this campaign of theirs has very little to do with actually opening the channels of communication and instead is nothing short of a smear campaign against organized religion. Rather than write for pages as to my response, I will instead summarize my response in a few points and leave the door open for real conversation (feel free to speak your heart/mind by commenting on this post):

  • Regarding their initiative and hope for dialogue: Logically and respectfully, if their organization's intention truly was to "talk," wouldn't it seem more polite and sincere to just sit down with Christians/Muslims instead of insult them?

  • A question: Why put porn in people's hands in exchange for their Bibles (is it to be their new "Bible")? Based solely on this initiative, would it be safe to assume that atheist do have a god and authority, but instead of it being a person or entity, it is personal pleasure ("do what feels right")? Since most atheists argue it is possible to have a moral compass and not believe in God, wouldn't this smut for smut initiative speak against such a notion ("let's counter supposedly 'wrong' reading with more 'wrong' reading")? Granted, each of these is its own conversation, but are worthy questions none-the-less.

  • A point for consideration: the reason the atheist agenda would seek to have people turn in their Bibles/Korans is so that those people are supposedly free to live however they want, with no authority over their lives other than themselves. Since the Bible speaks against sin (living against God), people are forced to make a choice when reading it. They can either (1) ignore those parts of the Bible (focusing on the parts they like better), (2) call those parts and morals of the Bible ancient and no longer relative to our culture, (3) turn their back altogether on (their) faith and embrace their new god - pleasure.

While I wholeheartedly stand against everything the Atheist Agenda stands for and speaks against, at least they know where the heart of the discussion is: God's Word. Now all they have to do is get it out of people's hands - and in this case they hope to replace it with other reading material.

NOTE: Having a Bible is not enough. Nor is it enough to just have one and flip it open in times of anguish. God's Word is our source of Truth, hope, love and understanding of life from Him who created it. The further people grow and walk from it the more confusing life gets and the more relative their truth becomes.

What do you think? Join the conversation. Click here to post a comment or question.

NOTE: The image above is not from the Atheist Agenda campaign. It is an atheist bus tour not related to the campaign I wrote about.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change of Plans

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With the reality of my present schedule, ministry life, family life and my work right now in trying to get a small team of teens adults to Kenya, Africa I have decided to extend my hiatus to the summer.

However, this will be a partial hiatus. Instead of publishing daily entries, I will now try to make weekly submissions. Once things begin to subside in the summer I hope to return to daily submissions.

Thank you all for your patience. Please pray for this endeavor to lead a team to Kenya. There is much ahead of us (in particular training and raising the support necessary to get us there). This is a big deal for our small church as we have never in our 100+ year history sent a delegation of teens overseas before (the last group of adults we sent overseas was 17 or so years ago), nor have we actually planted/started another church before - in the U.S. or internationally. Our prayer is that in June we will be able to do this with our first ever delegation of teens!

Thank you in advance for your prayers!
Until next time...


Friday, December 11, 2009


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Faithful C2 readers: I will be back soon. The tail end of 2009 has been full of ups and downs (I was sick with pneumonia, had several ministry challenges, commitments and more). With the Christmas season here and my increased level of commitments (family and church) I have decided to take a small break from blogging and plan to return in January 2010 (3 weeks away). Thank you for your understanding.

Merry Christmas to you all. Happy New Year.

Let us never forget to thank God for His Grace and to live lives dedicated to loving God with all of our thoughts, actions, desires and more. And when we fall short of doing that, let us turn back to Him who has already given us life and Grace in abundance!
Philippians 3:1-14


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bud-Bucks? Caribou Cannabis? Green Mountain Hemp? Dunkin Dope? Java Janes? Daily Chronic?

Saturday, November 14, 2009 0

So it turns out that Amsterdam is coming to America. Legalizing marijuana (for "medicinal purposes" - though it is still banned federally) all but ensured this would happen eventually... well that time is now.

In a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" kind of way, the Cannabis Cafe is distributing medical marijuana and providing a room that is out of public sight for users to get toked, er treat their ailments together... over a cup of coffee, a snack and whatever else they need to cure their munchies... er, deal with the effects of their medical treatment. One day in the not too distant future the cafe plans to offer Cannabis Community College (too many jokes, I'll refrain) to educate their "medicated" constituents on the environmental benefits of hemp and how they can grow it themselves.

Seriously, for those that genuinely see the medical benefits of Pot, how does this benefit your cause? Why not have a Pharmacist on site to handout antibiotics, too? This way you can treat sinus infection and glaucoma AND treat your "case of the munchies" all at the same time.

I'm sorry, but for all the "benefits" medical marijuana may (or may not) have, this goes to show that it is nothing short of a step in the wrong direction. People are not as concerned with the science of Pot as they are the High. To guise a harmful drug as helpful (even if it is for certain symptoms or illnesses, it still presents users with other major health issues - not to mention it impairs their judgment) is dangerous and highly irresponsible.

Regarding the "people are going to do it anyway, why not legalize it?" argument (which is the real reason this cafe exists - the hobby of smoking weed), I will not waste much time on this other than to say - "really? That is your argument?" Let's see how that "people are gonna do it and it's fun" logic has worked out for the sexual revolution...

  • Marriages are crumbling at record rates
  • Pornography is everywhere now (and "sex addiction" is actually a real issue)
  • STD's and unplanned pregnancies continue to climb (even with all those helpful "safe sex" school talks)
  • Sexual appetites are such now that healthy, thriving monogamous marriage relationships are boring and inadequate (so they think) to meet their needs
  • Fetishes are now the norm and the only things really out-of-bounds (for now at least) are things that will land you on the news and in jail (which is still not enough to deter most)

So yes, please - let's go ahead and make a harmful drug the next new norm, too and fight those conservative, disconnected, ignorant nut jobs who only want to suppress "natural desires and pleasures." They have no idea what they are talking about.

Want to join the conversation? Click here to comment or ask a question.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The (In)Tolerance of the Movie "2012"

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The movie "2012" opens this week and goes to great lengths to show the end of the world. Based on the idea that the Mayan calendar supposedly predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012 (or December 23, depending on who you talk with), director Roland Emmerich and writer Harald Kloser bring Kennedy back to the White House (that would be the USS John F Kennedy aircraft carrier as it lands on top of the White House in a massive tsunami), crush people praying for salvation with the Vatican in Rome (irony anyone), and otherwise destroy the world as mankind fights for their survival. In terms of film making and carnage it appears to be a brilliant piece of work. In the preview, however, there is a curious theme that struck me (and was recently confirmed in an interview with director Roland Emmerich): it appears that Emmerich is not much of a fan of faith or religion, evidenced by the religious relics or institutions destroyed in the preview (most notably Christian ones).

One might argue "it's an end of the world movie - churches and statues and such are going to be destroyed." I agree and have no issue with that, however, I do have an issue with the fact that, once again, Christianity is the primary target and one faith group in particular is spared (on screen, at least) - Muslims. The Kaaba in Mecca (the most sacred site in Islam) is intentionally spared by the director (and his co-writer) so as to avoid any death threats similar to those received by the cartoonist in the Danish newspaper for portraying a caricature of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. It is not that he did not want to destroy the site, but fear for his life led him to consider otherwise. From his interview...

"We have to the Western world... think about this," Emmerich says at one point, regarding his choice to destroy Catholic symbols rather than Muslim ones. "You can actually...let..Christian symbols fall apart"-- actually, the director destroys them, but that's a quibble -- "but if you would do this with [a Muslim] symbol, you would have...a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it's just something which I kind of didn't [think] was [an] important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out."

I'm sorry, but this is plain cowardice. If the director is so bold so as to mock God, His people, and their faith then it would only seem logical that he follow through and finish his product. It was important to destroy Christian symbols, Christian worshippers and mock them for praying, why not extend that same courtesy to our Muslim neighbors, too?

As I've said before - this is the new tolerance: tolerate all, but Christianity. Mock them, loathe them, and destroy them cinematically... there are no problems. Talk bad about a Muslim, mock a Buddhist, loathe a spiritualist and you are nothing but a bigot. See my blog post on the Playstation 3 game "Little Big Planet" and this topic of "tolerance": Offensively Offensive.

Note: Outside of one Tibetan Buddhist monk being annihilated by a giant wave in the preview, I have no idea if Emmerich demonstrates his disdain for religion with any other faiths other than Christianity. The interview does not shed any light on this either as it speaks extensively about Christianity and Islam. One thing is clear, though - he has no problem slamming Christianity and some level of worry or issue with misrepresenting Islam.

PARENTS: This is another example of a director wrapping his personal thoughts, philosophies and beliefs of the world into a nice, tidy blockbuster package. The message this time: "even your faith can't save you" (or "your God is a sham and a stupid crutch"). The major problem we face as parents, however, is not the message but the subtlety (or not so subtletly) in which it is portrayed. As I've said before, the world's loudest philosophers today are movie directors and musicians and they sell a pretty tempting message to the novice listener - namely our children and teens. Use this movie as a way of talking about the communication of worldview. Take your teen (if they're capable of handling the mature subject matter and content) and following the film ask: "What do you think the director thought about religion?" or "How do you think this movies' portrayal of the end of the world compares to the Biblical account?"

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Still Out (Hopefully Back Soon)

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As you can probably tell, I am still out. It turns out the chest congestion is actually pneumonia. I am up and about, but still coughing quite a bit and lethargic. I pray I will be back by Monday with regular updates and posts. There has been some crazy stuff happening in the world of "pop culture" that I have tons of thoughts on (some of which may not get their own blog post, depending on other cultural developments):

- Devout, Mormon moms making sexy calendars
- The movie 2012 and religious discrimination, er tolerance
- Education's (Mis)education
- Inmates rescuing a prison guard
- The New/Old Mickey Mouse
- ABC's FlashForward and Predestination

My mind has been racing, but due to health limitations have had no outlet! I look forward to returning soon. Until then...


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blog Readers

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I am sorry for the delay in posts. I have been battling severe congestion in my chest for the last week and half or more. I'm hoping to be back regularly soon, but until I'm at full health, my posts are going to be a little less "regular". Sorry for the delay in posts... gonna try to post something by tomorrow regarding the Mormon faith, families, culture and morality.

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