If you’ve spent any time in my house over the past 3 months you’ve noticed one thing above all others. We watch the Disney movie “Moana” at least once a day!
That’s because (for some reason) my 2-year-old LOVES the music and something about the water, beach, little girl, a big adventure – captures her heart. I love to watch her watch it… but the movie is wearing me out!
However, there is a 3 min song near the beginning of the movie that has been speaking to me for the past month as I’ve thought about the words over and over again.
It’s the song that Moana’s dad sings to her about the village. Here are some of the first few lyrics.
“The dancers are practicing. They dance to an ancient song (Who needs a new song? This old one’s all we need) This tradition is our mission…”
I know I’m a pastor, but these lyrics hit me right between the eyes as the state of the western church for the past 50-100 years.
We (the Church) are the people on an island to ourselves and are SO SATISFIED with keeping things as they are. Our traditions have become our mission! We’ve lost sight of who we are and who we were meant to be as followers of God. Here’s some additional lyrics.
“We’re safe and we’re well provided. And when we look to the future There you are, you’ll be okay. In time you’ll learn just as I did You must find happiness right where you are”
There is something to be said for contentment. I believe that is a peace that comes from God. However, there is also a danger in becoming so stuck in a rut that, simply because our needs are provided for… we have been CALLED FOR MORE!
For those that don’t know me, I’m not a country music fan. However, when I let Amazon Prime Music play random selections, about 1 out of every 4 songs is a popular country song. I heard this one the other morning that got my mind turning. It’s called “My Church” by Maren Morris. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:
“Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church”
It’s not really a song about church (the way I understand it), but it does shine a light on something interesting. It might not actually have any theological foundation about “washing my sins” away… but in terms of how most people view church, it’s an honest assessment of where this person’s heart is and what stirs them.
Too many people attend a service simply going through the motions with very little passion or heart connection. The song is about listening to people that connect with the driver of the car – “When Hank (Williams) preaches the sermon, and Cash (Johnny) leads the choir” – the song says THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. This is MY CHURCH.
It’s the end of the year, so why not talk about the thing that NO ONE enjoys talking about. Churches and Money! I love that part in Jerry Maguire when he’s so desperate – he gives into unabashedly yelling “Show Me The Money!!!”
There is often a considerable amount of TENSION that exists when it comes to this subject. Some feel it because they don’t understand WHY the church wants their money. Some feel it because they religiously give to their local church and struggle with those “free-loaders” who are enjoying the benefits that their local church offers, but are refusing to invest in it. Some just struggle personally with how much to give (before tax, after tax, what percentage, what fixed amount), and some simply struggle with HOW many churches try to manipulate people into giving more (and more, and more).
I understand this tension from a different perspective. I’m a pastor. I literally see people’s entire body clench up when I bring up the topic of money. It’s actually quite a sight to see.
I lead an amazing church. I manage a large budget that is 100% dependent on God using the obedience and generosity of folks within the church to fund that budget (staff, ministry, missions, etc). It’s a challenge. I LOVE talking about the blessing of stewardship… when the church is doing fine. I really struggle to talk about giving when the church is behind in it’s budget.
So the tension is real, no matter who you are in a church.
I’m not exactly sure that we are “destroying America”, but I do believe that we are setting up the next generation for failure, in turn harming our future by NOT setting them up for success.
Let me start with a definition:
Participation Awards – showing up for a sport, activity, or event and receiving an award without merit, achievement, or success of any kind.
Let me further clarify that there is no spiritual foundation for this post. I’m a Dad, and I do lead a church of some AMAZING kids and teenagers! So, I care about this issue on a deep level. Our church believes that we partner with parents to help raise the next generation to love and honor God, so how they are raised matters.
A year or so ago when we were forced to remove our signs from our church building and property (during the week), we began to set more yard signs out in the community. These can only be put out on the weekend now and the city has made it perfectly clear we cannot make people aware (through signs) about our building that sits on Brookway Dr.
Two weeks ago, all of signs we put out on the weekend were taken by the city of Cornelius. We were informed we could not put them out at ANY TIME in Cornelius. We thought the weekend was okay, but they said no yard signs, ever.
“The future of the church is not going to be built on implementing Best Practices, but on our willingness to attempt Better Experiments” – Will Mancini
I love this quote and it has stuck with me for over the past 2 years. As a matter of fact, I even added “Better Experiments” to a list of CORE VALUES we have in our church organization. It’s not printed on the wall or stuck on the back of any bulletin – it’s just a core value that guides the WHY WE DO decisions of our organization. I encourage our staff to step out into new directions and take risks as we move ministry forward.
However, this blog post is about the early lessons of adopting this value as an organization. I’ve spoken many times to our church about the freedom of being able to say “We don’t know” and walking into the unknown future with God leading the way – but it takes a certain mindset to be okay with tripping, falling, or even being launched into something bigger than you could possibly imagine with nothing but faith that God knows what He’s doing. For most folks, the loss of control (good or bad) is the loss of stability in an organization. If we live by fear and make decisions that limit our risk in life – then we are not really living.
This is a picture of the text I sent out around 2pm on Saturday to my staff & advisory team (auto correct in full effect!). I also sent a Facebook message to a few folks as well. I very rarely send this kind of message out – but the weight of my thoughts and emotions were overwhelming, and I knew that I needed folks to intercede in prayer for this past weekend – if we wanted to experience what God had in store for us.
For those that may have missed one of our service this past weekend, I’ll give you the brief recap. I was speaking on sex & sexuality in our series “Boy Meets Girl”. I was focused on the Oneness God created through sex in the Garden, the brokenness we experience because of sin and the fall, and the hope that Oneness can be found and redeemed in God’s Love. I really felt that God had something in store for us, but also felt the weight of spiritual opposition of this kind of message reaching our church. I called for prayer. Services went great… until the last one on Sunday morning…
It’s impossible to solve problem when we don’t know what is wrong to begin with. It’s impossible to experience freedom, if you don’t know where you are stuck. We usually have a theory about what the problem may be in our lives and many of us have been working on “us” for a long time. We spend money working on us, time in therapy, new toys, gyms, diet plans, vacations, and we think that if we just make better decisions or better choices – we can experience a different outcome in our lives. However, this doesn’t seem to be working that well. Self-Help publication is still on the rise and folks around every turn promise happiness is just a small tweak away – but the problems usually remain.
OUTCOMES (we all desire Freedom, but cannot seem to achieve it in every area of our lives)
I want to suggest a radical idea!!! READY… The problem may be, that we don’t know what the problem may be.
It’s been a while since my last post (sounds like a Catholic confession…)
I’ve just returned from an amazing, life changing trip to Kilgoris Kenya. The Kilgoris Project has been something that my church has supported over the past 2 years and some families in my church made it financially possible for me to take my first trip to Africa this January. I was excited about all the great things that I would see and the great things that TKP is doing, but God had some additional things in mind for me on this trip. So as I share stories about my journey – I thought I would start with the most significant one.
My heart beats water. The moment I knew I was going to Kenya, I began to have some interesting conversations about water in Africa. Most people immediately think of drilling wells and finding areas that have no water and making it happen. An example of this has always been the work that CharityWater and LivingWater is doing around the world. I am thankful for these ministries – HOWEVER, I was interested in a concept that is far less popular… Protected Springs.