Next to death of a loved one or a divorce, fewer things are more emotionally and psychologically challenging than changing a “church” association. Often when people begin to question their church experience and consider “leaving,” they feel alone, misunderstood, accused, disoriented, and perhaps even crazy or thinking they are losing their mind. They often feel unloved and unsupported. In this first session of an eleven-part series called the Church Refugee Sanity Guide, I introduce the topic and provide a frame of reference for understanding that you are not alone.
I often get asked: “Where should I go to church?” It is the wrong question to ask. Lurking in it are likely inappropriate and unrecognized presuppositions and motives. We need to ask a “who” question, not a what and where question. The correct answer to that question will be found in understanding God-assigned relationships. Relational reality in God-assignments is where you will find your “church,” no other way.
Church growth is a phenomenally popular topic of interest. Follow these ten simple steps and you can quickly plant a successful church in your community!
The eye-catching headline read, “Which Professions Have The Most Psychopaths?” (The Week, October 30, 2013) What ensued was quite a dialogue on the internet, as everyone seemed to have their own favorite picks or a personal horror story. The article stimulated debate, but unfortunately did not add clarity to a worthy subject. And that subject is: Why would a so-called “psychopath” be found in greater numbers in one profession versus another?
A guest blog by John and Katherine Matthews.
Unfortunately we missed National Coming Out day on Sunday, October 11. Better late than never though, so in honor of that special day, it’s time to officially confirm that we are out of the IRS, aka the Institutional Religious System. Yes, it’s true.
The expression of pastoral ministry in the church can tend to aggregate at extremes in the Body of Christ. On the one hand you can have pastors who are oppressed by domineering and controlling board members and elders, whose mission in life seems to be to be to break pastors down and keep them in poverty. On the other hand, you can have pastors who think themselves as demi-gods at the top of a pyramid hierarchy who think people are little more than resources given by God to them to fulfill carnal ambition rooted in insecurity and thinly veiled as “corporate vision.” In Part One here, by my friend, Nick Vasiliades, explains why fundamental values and ideas in most western churches of how pastors are expected to function are the underlying reasons for so many misconceptions and malpractice of one of the necessary, precious, and legitimate gifts of the resurrected and ascended Lord to His church. Is it possible to be a supernaturally gifted “carer of souls” and avoid reactionary expressions? Yes, but not as long as we cling to biblically baseless definitions, values, and expressions of pastoral ministry.
Recently, I had the privilege of spending an hour and a half in the manifest presence of God. What made the experience so unique is all the things that many of those reading this have been conditioned to believe are necessary for such a thing to occur in a meeting (a good crowd, prolonged praise and worship, sermon/ministry of the “word,” prayer, altar call, heart wrenching repentance, whatever, were all absent. How can that be possible?
An agnostic and his Hindu wife walked into a church meeting, saw how much the community loved one another, and said: “What do you people have? We want it!” They got gloriously and transformatively saved–regenerated–as new creations, not as a result of the preaching, or a manipulative altar call with the lights turned down low and soft music playing. Rather, they experienced a tangible quality of agape love that they could not understand. Would you like to be in a church like that? Does that sound like “revival” to you? Well, it is a true story of a family and church I personally know. If this interests you, read on, there’s more!