There is more behind “amen” than intellectual consent or emotional enthusiasm for an abstract concept.
It is almost twenty years since I quit being a pastor. It wasn’t always easy, but I do not regret the decision for a minute. I have been, and currently am, enjoying the best, most fruitful days of my Christian life. Someone recently asked me why I quit being a pastor. This blog will give you seven reasons why.
If you have followed me any length of time, you know I am not shy about critiquing the corruption and short comings in institutional and organized forms of Christian religion. I know many of you, like myself, have experienced not just poor church experiences, but scarring and damaging ones. Many are wary, rightfully so. Many are in extreme forms of reaction, both theologically and emotionally to anything formally structured or organized in terms of following Jesus with others–being the people of God together practically. Frankly, some have lost hope and given up.
That is why this post is so important. I have permission to share it and have blanked-out personal names to maintain privacy.
I believe this real-life, real-time letter from a pastor I know personally embodies the values and the transformative power of what can happen in a local church REGARDLESS of how it is STRUCTURED, when Christ is exalted and central at all times, where the good news of the gospel is relentlessly preached in a simple yet powerful way, and where loving and serving each other is all that matters practically.
I believe it will be worth your time to read.
I have been a Charismatic believer for forty-two years. I was a weekly “worship leader” in Charismatic, “prophetic and apostolic” environments for thirty-five of those years. I get the picture as someone who has been on the inside for a very long time. I thoroughly understand the history, theology, values, beliefs, and practices behind Charismatic praise and worship expression. I also have had serious concerns and uneasiness about the theology and practice for a very long time.
Spiritual covering is a biblically illegitimate, bad idea, that just won’t go away.
Building a culture of honor is a much bandied-about phrase these days in many non-denominational and “apostolic and prophetic” groups. On the one hand, you have our civic culture of rabid individualism and egalitarianism. It’s in the ditch of disregard and disdain for any concept of honor or respect. In the opposite ditch is a reactionary response to this cultural slide: honor that is non-relational, coerced, demanded, and required because of ungodly measures of rank and status. Both ditches are at work in the body of Christ, and both are wrong. The issue is not the legitimacy of honor. The problem is the values and ideals of what constitutes honor in a kingdom context, and why, how, and to whom it is due.
Dr. Bruce Alexander of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC reconsidered a famous lab experiment done in the 1970s involving addiction. He pondered that the presumptions behind the science could be flawed and incomplete. The scientific experiment in the 1970s involved a lone rat in a rat cage with two water bottles. One was laced with cocaine and the other just water. In this well-known experiment, it was allegedly proven that nine out of ten rats in the rat cage will go back, again and again, to the cocaine bottle until they killed themselves. The conclusion taken from this experiment was that the rats were hopelessly chemically addicted to the point of suicide. Not so fast.
It’s obvious that the long-term future belongs to the youngest current generations of adults, The Millennials. The beliefs, values, and giving habits of this generation must be understood if we are going to effectively speak their language, in incarnational love, on the topic of finances and giving.
Recently I have been blessed with the expansion of relationship with brothers and sisters outside my direct church family. Like the gospel will do, and like Jesus will do, those lines become blurred and the family just becomes, well, more family: still the church–still the body–just more connected. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that doctrine can be a relational stumbling block in the “extended” family.
Is there a better way to express a culture of giving and receiving than blindly throwing ten percent into the mouth of a voracious, impersonal, non-relational, religious machine that consumes resources like the Borg assimilating the universe?[i] I think there is.
But there as many opinions on this topic as there are believers!