Friday, June 10, 2011

Examples of unanswered questions

I thought I should clarify the last few sentences of my previous post.  "There is no platform to make concerns known. There is no platform for dialogue and debate. There is no platform to share new ideas gleaned from scripture. There is no fellowship in the Word only the dissemination of information and the acceptance of it by the masses."
In these sentences, I am referring to dialogue, debate, fellowship between the masses and the leaders.  In a church of 5000 people with about 50 leaders (elders, ministers, etc.), I realize that they can't all sit down and listen to each persons complaint, question, or concern as a group.  And I realize that on a one on one basis they are generally willing to listen to and study with individual members.  Our leaders are caring, god-fearing people as far as I can tell by my limited exposure to them.  The only one I have any kind of relationship with is the Missions Minister because I see him almost weekly as I'm on the missions committee. 

I have been thinking/praying about what would be a viable solution to this longing for open and frank discussion.  So far my best thought has been a congregational convention.  I know that several denominations have conventions.  Ours doesn't, but I thought that a congregational convention would be a breath of fresh air to me and would deepen the sense of body and community.  I would especially enjoy an open mic session where everyone could ask questions of all the elders/ministers and everyone could hear the response and follow up with questions of their own.  I think that this would increase the transparency of our church 100 fold.  It would allow members with similar questions to know that they are not alone. 

Here are some of the questions I would ask:

Why are we not allowed to actively promote 40 Days for Life as part of our pro-life ministry?  (I help found the ministry and I am still fuzzy on the answer to this question.)

How much of our $10,000,000 auditorium renovation is repair and how much of it is upgrade?  (In a financial responsibility small group study that was sponsored by the church in the run up to the fund-raising drive, this was one of the guidelines for spending in your family.  For example, are we getting a new TV because ours broke or because we want a trendy upgrade?)

How will the Christian university we are starting in Africa be different than a secular university in the areas of science, economics, history, government, etc.?

In the missions committee, we often discuss the "felt need" of a people group as a springboard to a ministry that gives our missionaries an easier tie to the people.  I think that one of the "felt needs" of Americans is weight loss.  Are we willing to look into being of service to our community in this way?
What are other felt needs of the residents of Tarrant County and how do you see us reaching out to people who feel these needs?

Why is the biggest celebration that goes on at this building on Halloween and called "Fall Festival" instead of at Christmas or Easter?  Why are the decorations at Christmas entirely secular with 6 trees and no nativity scene?

When the Wednesday night kids classes were moved to the chapel so the teachers could get their rooms decorated for Summer Spectacular (our VBS), why was Evan Almighty chosen as the movie for elementary students?   Is playing a movie that doesn't uphold the Bible as accurate really a wise thing to show impressionable kids?  Does this church uphold that a literal world-wide flood happened 4500 years ago?  (Our Summer Spectacular theme this year is Noah.)

Why doesn't our church take a stand against evolution by hosting creation science speakers especially when the Institute for Creation Research is only a few miles away?

In a recent sermon, the new minister mentioned that it was a Christian's responsibility to fight global warming, eat organic, recycle, etc.  This seems a dangerous road to be going down.  Much of the green movement is more concerned about "Mother Earth" than about people especially the poor.  Global warming (if it is occurring at all) is not likely caused by people.  Can you please explain further what this church's view is of these issues?  Would some of the leaders be willing to watch the DVD series Resisting the Green Dragon by the Cornwall Alliance and give your collective opinion in a future meeting? 

What are common lies taught to our kids by the public school system and what are some ways that parents can combat them?

I am sure I would have more as the answer to these came in.  Some of these questions are recent, but others I have been trying to get a solid answer on for months or years. 

Thanks again for your input.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How important are beliefs?

I am not sure how to go about describing my dilemma so you may have to be patient with me as you read.  In  the churches I attended growing up, there was much emphasis on believing biblical truth especially when it came to how assemblies are conducted and the basics of turning to Jesus for salvation.  But there was little emphasis on reaching out beyond the walls of the building.  There was little emphasis on life transformation.  Someone was considered a "faithful Christian" (as opposed to someone who had fallen away) if they attended the assembly regularly (preferably 3 times a week) and if they agreed with the aforementioned truths.

Of course, there was much fighting over some of the "truths".  The most ridiculous one I can remember was when we lived in a small town in Iowa.  One tiny congregation refused to meet with the bigger (but still small) congregation because the bigger congregation refused to agree to stop wearing gold based on I Peter 3:3.  "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes."

Then a shift occurred.  A movement started that was in many ways a breath of fresh air.  It started emphasizing "salvation issues" as the truths and basically shucked all others in an attempt to create more unity.  With this movement there came a realization that some verses (truths) could be interpreted different ways by rational people (like I Peter 3:3) and there could still be unity among them (you don't have to agree  on everything in the Bible to get along). Without common belief in other truths (Jesus died a literal death and rose again in 3 days), unity would be pointless.

Yet, to most people that I know, unity simply means sitting in the same auditorium listening to the same sermons, giving money to the same collection, and possibly supporting the same missionaries.  If I start talking about unity, I will get off the main point of this post, but I believe there is more to it than that.

 The church I currently attend is the best church I have ever been to.  There is an emphasis on letting God transform your life.  The congregants are encouraged to get out of the church building and go on mission trips or help tutor kids in low income neighborhoods.  These things are sadly missing from most churches I am familiar with.  This church also tries to allow for freedom in the small truths.  They call it being grace centered.  I do not think you would be ridiculed for not wearing gold, but insisting that everyone do so would not be tolerated.

When we first started attending (5 years ago), I had little knowledge and gave little thought to world views.  I had never thought about what the Bible had to say about economics or civil government.  I never thought much about the dangers of the postmodern idea that people get to decide what is true.  I never realized the depth of evil that springs from replacing God the Creator with billions of years of evolution.  My own worldview has become stronger over the years.  I can see more clearly the destructive fruit of an unbiblical worldview. 

So now I am growing more and more concerned that the leaders of my congregation do not share my worldview on many issues (evolution, economics, civil government, etc.).  Now my dilemma is:  How much does their worldview on these issues matter?  How far should one go along to get along?  And what about other issues.  There is no platform to make concerns known.  There is no platform for dialogue and debate.  There is no platform to share new ideas gleaned from scripture.  There is no fellowship in the Word only the dissemination of information and the acceptance of it by the masses. 

So I would love to hear your thoughts (and the scriptures to back them up).  Thanks so much.