One Man’s Opinion


My Easter Message via One Church Ministries
April 5, 2007, 4:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

My Easter Message (From my ministry)

Hello Friends
We are a young ministry that for now is relying on our podcast, which we will have a new one up this week, to tell our story. We desire to reach those who may have given up on Church, still are very active or those who just don’t know. We want to open dialogue, talk about what we think and most of all try and reach some common ground. Our goal is not to get everyone back into church nor is it to tell people to leave. The goal is to come together in unity to be a true body. We are constantly pointing out everything wrong with each other as Christians and yet no one ever wants to see it the others way. We are all members of the same faith and serve the same God.

Yes, everyone will not get along, there is no perfect church and as humans we all want to be right. That is true and very much a reality. The problem with this is despite all of these facts it is no excuse for our division and hurtful behavior towards each other. We wage war on our own brothers and sisters over what? Politics, theology?, doctrine?, Ideals?, Morality? and everything else in-between. The result is a church made up of a million different denominations, sects and branches that all claim to be right and seem to be proud of the fact that they stand alone. This is humanity so it is well understood, our pride is a roadblock to unity. How can we get past this?

This question can not be answered now or maybe ever. The only thing we can do is start loving each other more and also start opening up. Talk about what bothers you but when you are done listen!!!! I for one am a person with a lot of issues with the church, I believe in my own ideas but I have to learn to take a step back and see the whole picture. People are different, it is the beauty of creation, we all have thoughts, fears, hopes and of course pain. Lets stop making God’s people a source of so much of this pain amongst believers, and of course lets stop hurting those who don’t even share our faith.

If we want to show people that Jesus is a God of forgiveness, love, mercy and justice. I suggest we start showing each other this before we do as Paul warns us in Galatians 5:13 – 15 “You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.”

I am not trying to come off as self righteous because I am 100% guilty of bitterness, hatred, and misplaced anger towards my fellow Christians. It is hard sometimes, especially when you feel your danger is justified. I just want this ministry to be an encouragement not a source of more disillusionment. This ministry was started because I felt that my own anger had not only furthered my distance from the body but also from my God. It kept me from joy, from peace and mostly from fellowship. I had no trust in God’s people and therefore doubted my own trust in God. This is a cycle that can eat a person alive and I have seen many a weary soul walk right out the door and never come back. Luckily I believe in a God that is forgiving, merciful and does not break promises. His gift was free and there is no expiration date. He knows that we are flawed and that is why grace is our first source of refuge. Next is our community, those who understand our faith and can encourage, lift us up and help us along our way. We have hurt so many but we can never destroy it all, lets be like St. Francis and pray to become an intrument of peace.

This Easter week is the one time of year that we all can agree is Holy. It is the one thing that crashes down our walls of ignorance and pride. It is the one thing that makes what we beleive so important and also so hard to explain to those that do not share our faith. The death and ressurection of our Lord is where our unity lies. It is in the blood and is a common denominator,we can not call ourselves Christians with out this week. Without this sacrafice our souls would not be saved, we would have no reason to be excited to serve this God we have never seen. It is the events of the final days of Christ and his return that give us hope, bring us peace and make what we do worth while. I challenge you this week to think of those Christians you despise, the ones that get under your skin, the ones that hurt you, that cast you out or that turned their back on you. Think of the ones that walked away and said hurtful things about your church or about you. Think long and hard about all of these people and I am sure we all have a few and before you get dressed up and go to Easter Sunday service with a big ole smile, FORGIVE THEM!!!!!

Lets try and see if we can’t show a little true Christianity this week and may God help us carry that into our lives from now on.

May you have a blessed week and a wonderful holiday.
Your Friend
Jeremy
One Church Ministries
jeremy@one-church.org



March 30, 2007, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

You can listen to my ministries first podcast here



One Punk Under Fire
January 30, 2007, 6:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I just finished all  six episodes of the Sundance Channels series One Punk Under God about my friend and  former boss  Jay Bakker. The documentary followed  Jay and Revolution through one of the hardest periods of both his and the ministries life. It starts off with Jay dealing not only with ministry, married  life but with his ailing mother, the wonderful Tammy Faye. He also is  desperately trying to reach his father Jim  whom he has been unable to connect with for years.  It shows  the real Jay who is dealing with a very hard situation,  watching his mother slowly pass  away while trying to salvage a relationship with  a father he barley knows. The first episode also takes  us back to Heritage USA where Jay’s  parents built their PTL  empire in the 1980’s.  To look at it now,  in ruins, is like coming across a ghost town,  it was almost post apocalyptic.  The first episode really brings the viewers up to date on who Jay is and where he has come  from.  It also shows the pain that he still carries years after his parents were destroyed by scandal.  It is a testament to how awesome  grace is at restoring people but also the reality of suffering.

In the episodes that follow you are given a look not only into Jay’s  personal life but into that or the ministry. This was  at times hard for  me to watch because of my attachment to the church  and the people involved. Jay makes a  bold stand after visiting a openly gay church. He meets with several gay Christians who touch his heart in a way  that is unique but also very real. Jay comes back feeling that he now sees the homosexuality issue in a new light. He doesn’t see being gay as a sin and wants to make that very known to both his church and the world.  This bold move nearly costs him the ministry and had potential to ruin his relationship with one of Revolutions key staff members. In the end things work out within the church but the backlash is enormous as you could imagine. The funny thing that struck me was in my three years with Revolution I had assumed  that we were a gay friendly ministry. I hadn’t ever even questioned it before I saw this. In my life there have always been gay people,  many of  which are Christians,  so to me I never made this an issue either way. i knew the majority of the church felt differently but I also don’t gauge my convictions on what 99% of the Christian church says. This announcement by jay came  as  no surprise to me I was just a bit taken back because of the ugly response it brought upon the ministry.  They lost their biggest donor which I can say being a minister myself is a huge thing to have taken away. I am proud of Jay for not putting money before what he feels God is telling him to do.

Now the issue I have had with the way the public responded to this show,  especially the gay issue,  is that is minor compared to what the true message is. The show goes on from this issue to deal  with jay’s relationships  with his mom,  his dad, his wife and even an old youth pastor who is now an agnostic. These relationships are real  and very complex. Those who  stayed focused on the gay issue just had a hissy fit missed  out of some of the most beautiful  and painful  pieces of Jays life.  His visit with his father brought me to tears because I saw the friend I  know who desires to please his dad  so  much it is killing him. I saw when Jay is with his mom the loving son that he  has always been and I saw when Jay was preaching the pastor that brought me back from the brink  because of his grasp  of true grace. To me the naysayers just saw one thing and let their judgement and self righteousness over  take them.  This show was not about gay issues  it was about the beauty that is God’s  love.  The encouragement that the Holy Spirit brings into our lives even when all hope seems lost. Jay Bakker may piss you off because of his views but if you can’t see the love in his eyes than you must be blind.  I know him not only as a pastor but as a friend  and there is nothing fake about him. His heart is bigger and more exposed than most in his position. He is a risk  taker but not for personal gain. His goal is not  to get rich or find success,  it is to love as  many people as he can unconditionally.  It is a hard road to travel  and I know it well. 

I back Jay 100% because he is one of a few Christian leaders  I know who do not put on a Christian face just to make peopel feel safe. I have learned from him to stand by your convictions and love people no matter what.  I also have learned in my own ministry that sometimes what the majority feels  is not what God wants, even in his church. We can argue over biblical translations and personal convictions but in the end I have one question. What is your ministry?

I often wonder  when people attack  pastors  like Jay  and myself,  what is to be gained?  Also how clean is your house that you feel  the need to come into mine and start telling me to get things straightened up? This is something that makes  me shake my head  anymore. I am to tired  these days to get angry I simply get sad. I am sad because our body, which is made  up of all Christians,  gets torn apart over petty issues that in the end won’t matter. We fight over stupid politics, morality and personal convictions yet rarely are we loving anyone outside of our little bubble.  Our  Christian culture is becoming the worst thing for Christianity because it just keeps devouring those who do not fit its  ever changing requirements. I can not understand why we make such big deals about things like homosexuality when gossip, greed and hatred seem to be the most common problems facing the church today.  The difference is these are issues that we all have so it is not in our interest to face the reality of our sin. We rather single out one thing and make it the be all end all issue of our time.  This is partly why so many of  my generation have left the church or worship  from afar.

I am not bitter my friends but I am concerned. I love my church, the people,  but the institution is breaking apart.  We have chosen to take sides, split camps and separate into little groups instead  of realizing that none of us have it figured out.  We are all ignorant of Gods  truth and we all make mistakes regardless  of how righteous we think we are. I want to  see people  able to worship  together even with our stains and blemishes. We must start loving each other  before  it is too  late. We are the kingdom of God  yet we act like a bunch of children  who are constantly calling each other names. I am just as guilty as the nest guy because I get upset  and want to fight. We can’t keep doing this,  I can’t keep  on going if it means every step  i take is just another argument.  Jay Bakker is a friend, but he is also a man of God.  You may not agree and that is ok none of us will always agree.  The point is to look beyond your initial judgement of people like Jay and see his heart.  See into the soul of a man who is taking risks to bring people to the cross and get hurting Christians back into the fold. that is what I do as well and when the attacks come from those inside of the body,  my brothers and sisters, it hurts more than I can say.  I love my church, I love you all and I hope to God we will one day see each other with out hostility. One day none of these “hot button” issue will matter. It won’t matter if you vote one way or another, because it is not why we are here. Jesus calls us to show  his love to the world not flex  our muscles. I  know what God wants from me and I continue to seek his guidance  in my life, I know Jay does the same but for some reason strangers often feel  they know our hearts better than we do.  Perhaps we  are wrong sometimes, I am sure we are alot, as are most Christians but we keep  seeking God in our lives to correct those  mistakes. I  would  rather love people  and be wrong than hide inside a bubble for the rest of my life and be right. Maybe that is a  reckless  way of living the faith but it is the only way that has worked  for people  like me, to offer critism  is one thing but to tear me down is another.  I will try to be more loving to those that oppose  me but i also hope for  the same from them. 

Paul  wrote in the book of Romans chapter 12 the basic guidlines for Christians live with each other by. I go back to this chapter everyday before  I  do  anything else because I  always find something that needs worked on. I believe it is essential to our being a family in Christ. Please take  a few minutes and reflect on the words that were given to us and are of what is expected of  us.

Rom 12:1 I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship.
Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is-what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.
Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you.
Rom 12:4 For we have many parts in one body, but these parts do not all have the same function.
Rom 12:5 In the same way, even though we are many people, we are one body in Christ and individual parts connected to each other.
Rom 12:6 We have different gifts based on the grace that was given to us. So if your gift is prophecy, use your gift in proportion to your faith.
Rom 12:7 If your gift is serving, devote yourself to serving others. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching others.
Rom 12:8 If it is encouraging, devote yourself to encouraging others. If it is sharing, share generously. If it is leading, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping, help cheerfully.
Rom 12:9 Your love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel in showing respect for each other.
Rom 12:11 Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit. Serve the Lord.
Rom 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in trouble, and persistent in prayer. Rom 12:13 Supply the needs of the saints. Extend hospitality to strangers. Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you. Keep on blessing them, and never curse them.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Cry with those who are crying.
Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with each other. Do not be arrogant, but associate with humble people. Do not think that you are wiser than you really are.
Rom 12:17 Do not pay anyone back evil for evil, but focus your thoughts on what is right in the sight of all people.
Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people.
Rom 12:19 Do not take revenge, dear fiends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.”
Rom 12:20 But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him. For if he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will pile burning coals on his head.”
Rom 12:21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.



One More about Christianity and Politics
December 6, 2006, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

 

I recently saw a Nightline segment about Rev. Joel C. Hunter who was recently elected to head the Christian Coalition.  He has stepped down before he even served one day. There is no scandal, no deceit, and no real bad behavior going with him. He simply wanted to broaden the right wing Christian group’s focus. He felt just focusing on gay marriage and abortion was not only polarizing but there are other issues the group could focus on.  He wanted to take the group in a compassionate direction with more focus on the poor and other social issues. This seemed to scare the board members who felt it would scare off supporters and cost them money. Rev. Hunter said about his stepping down “just a basic philosophical difference …. I saw an opportunity to really broaden the conversation and broaden the constituency. I’m really over this whole polarization thing.” 

I believe he is right; it is time that Christians, conservative and liberal start looking at what they are doing. Being political and separating into groups of right and left is causing many to feel disillusioned with the state of the Christian church. As far as I can tell Jesus was not aligned with a political party nor was he friendly with the powerful Church leaders. I was happy to hear someone within the dirty realm of Christian politics was pushing for a more Jesus model of dealing with issues. The unfortunate truth is these groups care more about hot issues than actual people and spreading the Gospel. I understand politics is a big part of people’s lives but sometimes it does a lot more harm than good. I am not a supporter of the Christian Coalition, nor have I ever been. I honestly didn’t pay a lot of attention to them until this latest story. I felt finally someone in that world was trying to get things back to where they should be. Gay marriage and abortion are hot issues that play on peoples emotions and are generally seen as the be all end all issue of the political right, The problem is they aren’t the biggest issues facing Christians and should not be presented as such.  

Finally I am sick of people calling someone liberal if they are in support of peace and compassion. If that is the case Jesus Christ was a flaming liberal. I also think it is dumb to see someone as a conservative if the feel abortion is something they have strong convictions about. We are Christians not members of parties. You can be left or right politically but when it comes to our faith we need to stop separating into groups because we are to be one body. Call it idealism, which is likely is, but I feel Jesus didn’t want to see his people hurting each other, name calling and putting label son people who see differently on political viewpoints.  

I am not a Republican, Democrat or anyone else because I feel they are not representatives of who I am. I certainly do not believe the represent the Christian faith in anyway. Politics are a man made thing that is naturally corrupted by the power that comes with the job. I feel that I need to look at all sides and be able to choose based on my convictions. I first and foremost rely on my faith and the teachings of Christ. It would be nice to see the preachers preach and leave the politics to the politicians. I doubt that will happen but at least if the preachers are in
Washington maybe they should present Christ in a way that is representative of who is really is. Whether left or right if these Christian men and women believe that God needs to be in politics then show them who Jesus really is.



Ted Haggard, Forgiveness & Politics
December 6, 2006, 7:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

*Originally written on Nov 7th 2006*

This week the Evangelical movement in
America was dealt another big blow when Pastor Ted Haggard was outed for having a gay affair. Haggard who was a huge leader in the Evangelical church as well as a big player in the conservative political arena was taken down quickly by his own poor judgment. Though this was an obviously well timed confession by his accuser it doesn’t excuse the behavior of Haggard. I felt for him as I watched these events unfold, I can’t imagine the pain his family is going through. The doubts his wife must have and the internal battle that is going on inside this man. It is obvious that there are a lot of questions going through many people’s heads right now.  People want to know why he lied. Why he acted on his urges and how could someone so opposed to homosexuality be involved in a relationship with a man?  The hypocrisy is blatant and has sent waves throughout the church.

 

I have my own take on all this.  What I see is a man who struggles with his own sexuality despite speaking against it. He is a man who has been blessed with power and abused it. He is a man who was looked at as a leader, a pastor and a servant of God and now is being humbled before that God. I am not angry with Ted Haggard, I feel for him and his family. This is not the first time we have seen this happen, a prominent preacher makes some bad choices and is taken down in a very public manner. My friend’s father was probably one of the most well known preachers to fall from grace in front of a national audience. He has since been restored and God is blessing him more and more now then probably ever. I pray that this situation will find Pastor Haggard repenting and asking forgiveness. I believe in the grace of God and that through that grace he can be restored.  Maybe not to the height of popularity but in a way that could have an even greater impact. These situations make me sad because it is something that could hurt others who already have a bad view of the church. It is also sad because of how Christians who are strong in their faith will handle this. Many times when these things happen the mentality is to bury the person, kick him when he is down and write them off as never being true. The fact is none of us are perfect, none of us are without secrets and none of us are without sin. If you are angry with Pastor Haggard that is ok right now.  If you are feeling hurt by this again it is ok but if you feel the urge to hate this man, you are wrong. If you are a believer but are not aligned with his politics, do not delight in his demise.  If you are thrilled to see him fall you are wrong because of something as petty as politics you are wrong. Forgiveness is the hardest thing sometimes but as Christians WE MUST FORGIVE!!!!!  No exceptions and no excuses. He is a brother who has fallen from grace and it is our job to help him recover. Pray for him and his family. Pray for the accuser that he does not view all Christians as hypocrites.  This was a horrible thing for Ted haggard, for the church he served, for his family and for the organization he led. It showed us flaws that are ugly, it showed us a lack of accountability among these large Christian groups and churches that they never saw this going or stayed silent. In the end it was another example of how sin and pride can destroy everything we have. The important message though in all of this is the grace of Jesus Christ that can and will forgive this man. That is the key.

 

I wanted to address one other problem I see in all of this. One of the major reasons this information came forward when it did was political. It was brought to attention because of Pastor Haggard’s stance and push to prevent gay marriage.  This is not going to be a paragraph about my views on the subject of same sex relationships this is about politics and the church. I have always been vocal about my politics, but I have also always felt they have no place inside of the church. Clergy should not be involved in the political process no matter what the cause. Though many of the prominent political pastors are of right wing political affiliation there are also those on the left.  Everyone from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are in my opinion abusing their calling. These are ministers who were ordained and lead or led churches. They have preached the gospel and served their congregations. Unfortunately they also have aligned themselves with political parties, candidates and issues that polarize, confuse and inflame people. This is not what a Pastor should be doing. The church is a place to worship, to be fed spiritually and to focus on Christ not on elections. I saw on Nightline a story about Rod Parsley who is a huge TV preacher based in
Columbus Ohio, he is actively campaigning for certain candidates. He even was holding a campaign sign while preaching!!!!! This is a gross abuse of Gods house in my opinion. Jesus was not political, he was not aligned with a certain form of government, he was God incarnate. He was not here to change policy and back candidates.  He wasn’t here to sway fellow believers to a certain way of thinking about political issues.  He was here to die for our sins and bring us to the foot of his father, our God. I am disgusted by politics invading our churches, and our Christian faith. Jesus was not a republican or democrat, he was God.  He never taught that we should pick a party and support a certain political view. He taught us to love each other, preach the gospel, heal the sick, feed the hungry and take care of the poor. He never said this is the ordained Political party of my kingdom that is because politics don’t matter in the end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

We argue so much about wars, policies, and taxes. We fight amongst ourselves about issues that in the end aren’t going to condemn or save our souls. Politics do not determine who gets to heaven and who doesn’t. To stand up in a church and endorse a candidate or say this is how you should vote is wrong. I will stand by that and I believe it is. The church is not a place for campaigning, though it has been used as such. Christians are to be involved with society, they should vote and hold their own political views. They should be able to make decisions based on their own feelings and thoughts. To say that a political party represents the Christian faith is not only offensive but it is completely false. The media has latched onto the growing political presence that Christians have made in this country. They paint a picture that is one sided, very conservative and very negative. The fact is the Christian faith is full of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and even some Communists. It is also full of Conservatives, Liberals and everything in-between. Jesus would most likely be ashamed of how we have used him in politics as an angle to get votes or as a way to make people look bad. I believe we are called to fight for justice and social issues but not with in the political arena, especially our clergy. I am a pastor, not ordained, but I preach the gospel and have worked in ministry long enough. I do not bring my politics into my ministry; it is my own personal beliefs. I share them in certain situations and I will speak out when I feel it is necessary but never in a church or during a speaking engagement.  We can still fight for justice without mixing it up with political figures, without shaking hands with politicians and with out selling our churches out. I will never agree with pastors who are constantly plugging candidates, making appearances with them or telling people how to vote. It is wrong and is not part of the work of a pastor. If they want to be a politician then go into politics but leave your pulpit. Christians can be in politics, they can run for office but if you are called to serve as a minister then serve as a minister. Do not abuse that by bringing corruption into the body of Christ that is not what the vocation entails.



Apology Expected?
October 26, 2006, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This week conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh raised questions about actor Michael J Fox’s physical shaking due to Parkinson’s disease. Obviously his remarks caused an immediate backlash from almost everywhere. The thing the always strikes me about people like Rush is they then apologize. He said “Well if he wasn’t acting then I am sorry” which wasn’t much of an apology but none the less. This is a trend among celebrities, politicians and other public figures. They hold press conferences, release statements, and go on air to say sorry. The problem is have the time the general public can clearly see that this person is not in the least sorry for their actions. Take Limbaugh, a man who is very clear about his beliefs, he stands firm in what he says and pretty much makes no excuses for what he does. That is until he says the wrong thing and gets himself in hot water. This is a trend among public figures in our society. Stand up for what you believe, speak your mind with conviction and then apologize for your actions after they aren’t taken as you had hoped. We have seen televangelists like Jerry falwell and Pat Robertson claim that events happen because God is angry and then they make excuses for their words. These are men who believe in Christ and believe that he is the way, the truth and the life. They then go off and claim that God has told them these things or that it is clear that God is angry. They speak this with conviction and look you in the eye when they say it that is until the backlash comes. When people stop and say “what did he just say?” and here comes the apology, the back peddle or the outright denial of such statements. I tend to not agree with Rev. Falwell or Rev. Robertson but I feel that if they are going to make a statement that is full of conviction then they should not apologize when people get mad. Our country has become a place where we exercise free speech because we know that no matter what we say in the end if we release an “I am sorry” statement we are off the hook. I could name several people that have made ridiculous claims like that of Falwell, Robertson, & Limbaugh. In Hollywood you have movie stars committing crimes, making hateful remarks and all they have to do is say “I’m sorry” to remain forever in our hearts. President Clinton, who I voted for, even when caught in a lie denied it until he could no longer and then said sorry for that. The nation might have been shocked but they moved on, some wanted a punishment but overall it was all good after that. In sports every year there seems to be a player who commits an act of violence, gets arrested for drug related charges or says something just insane and as long as they say sorry seemingly nothing happens. It is like a simple “My bad” can make everything right again, I wish it were true in real life. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could tell your boss what you thought of him and not be fired? It would be nice to just get caught in an illegal act, say sorry and go home the next day. Apologies are becoming so common among famous people that we just assume they are going to do bad and then ask us for forgiveness. The question is do they get forgiveness, do they deserve it for a half-hearted apology. Are they even sorry in the first place? Is Rush Limbaugh really sorry for comments he makes on his show? Is Rev. Falwell truly sorry if he offends by stating what he feels God has instructed him to do? Is Mel Gibson really sorry for the things he said while in a drunken state? Are they sorry or are they simply saving their own behind. Are they more worried about their careers, some of which are reliant on speaking with conviction, or do they just not want to lose their job? The apologies keep coming but are we forgiving them? If we are is it out of true acceptance of their heartfelt plea or is it because we really don’t care anyway. Perhaps the moment we heard it we were outraged but after looking at it again we just chalked it up as an opinion and moved on? Maybe even we just realized who was saying or doing it so we felt that is expected. Do we expect our public figured to not only make mistakes but actually make fools of them? Perhaps we delight in seeing those in these positions on the hot seat because they seem so untouchable. They float live in a place where laws and consequences do not matter. It seems the more we hear about these statements, actions or crimes the less they seem to surprise us. They outrage us for a few seconds but in the end we don’t really have much respect for these figures. Maybe we just see it all as entertainment, even when it is not meant to be. Either way our nation is overflowing with media coverage, breaking news and of course heart felt apologies from our favorite stars. It would be nice to think that these people are truly sorry but we all know that is not always the case. Further they would like to think that the general public truly cares about all these things and at the end of the day we generally don’t. So are we a forgiving nation of people who understand that everyone makes mistakes or are we just so cynical now it is just what we expect?



Are We Marketing Our Faith?
October 19, 2006, 9:02 am
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Evangelism in the American Christian culture is big business these days. Marketing Jesus to targeted consumer groups has become a norm covering just about every aspect of culture. Anything thing that is secular you can find the Christian alternative. Music, clothing, TV, movies and just about any other product that is available has a Christian counterpart. The media has grabbed on to the uprising of Christian marketing by doing national news stories on various companies that are targeting the Evangelical market. There is even a video game that is targeting fans of the Grand Theft Auto series. Though all this is to be almost expected in a capitalistic society the one thing that has got me a little concerned is the fact that our churches have become part of the game. We now have arena like sanctuaries complete with stadium seating, state of the art lighting & sound and professionally put together stage productions that serve as weekly worship. There are churches that have coffee shops, gift stores and ATM’s in the lobbies. I am hesitant to judge these places as I am sure they mean well by providing attractive ways to draw people back into church. The problem that I am seeing is that under all the bells and whistles what exactly is the real message? Is it a message of Christ-like love and grace, of living a life based on that of our savior or is it one of consumerism, materialism and comfort? I see both honestly, I see many of these mega church’s preaching the gospel and challenging their congregations but I also see people using church as a status simple. Going to the right church that has the latest and greatest show on earth can boost peoples standing in the bubble like culture that is evangelical America.

The other issues I see are when it comes to worship. I myself am not a modern praise and worship kind’s guy, so this maybe biased, I still like the old hymns. The problem I have is that worship can become more about performance and entertainment instead of praising God together. Many churches have professional bands that put on concert like performances every Sunday. Complete with lights, huge sound and attractive people singing these services seem to become more about the ones performing than the reason that the songs were written. I don’t mind praise and worship music when the leader makes an effort to be just the leader and not the show. To me worship is just that, giving praise to our God not to a band of musicians. It seems in an effort to stay relevant sometimes we make having fun and being comfortable come before basic worship. I am a person who has been disenfranchised and has not belonged to a church in over 10 years. I have attended several different churches and seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. All in all I believe all of these gimmicky ideas are done for the right reasons, to build the body of Christ. The problem is we forget that Jesus doesn’t need all this to be relevant. Simply giving people the message of Jesus is a powerful enough thing that in some cases could see more results than offering a latte during church. I for one have enjoyed churches that have a strong teaching and basic worship. No frills just singing to God and giving sermons that point us to the Grace of God.

Maybe I am getting older and my idealistic ways are giving way to a more practical approach or perhaps I am still too idealistic about where I would like to see the church. I can’t say but I do believe that the message and teachings of Jesus have never been changed nor have they ever needed anything else but what they are to stay relevant. I like to have fun and I believe there is a need to bring the Gospel to people in ways that makes it attractive. I just feel when you present it in the way Christ did, through honest relational ministry it is more powerful then using marketing