Thursday, April 16, 2009
Rants...Easter Circus...rant...regenerate membership
You know I've been concerned about the state of the church for a long time. I've written about it very vaguely and not specifically because there are a lot of places you can read about statistics and churchy stuff and if you look at what is happening to some of our denominations, you might be surprised. I don't get into theology and doctrine here because there are so many others out there doing a great job of it. Trust me, while I love this stuff, I'm not qualified to be a "theology" blogger. I'm a "question-asking-tell-it-like-it-is, strong-warrior-woman, stream-of-consciousness-blogger for Jesus." I don't think this makes me worthless to the kingdom. I am about as conservative in my understanding on women in ministry as you can get, or so I thought. More on that a little later.
***Note: I'm going to talk to the church here. If you're not a member of "the body" I'm going to politely ask you to close your eyes and hit the X . Thank you. I'm talking about the "SBC church universal" not necessarily my local church, so if you are reading this and getting huffy, ask yourself if your local body could be a bit guilty. The SBC is all I know, so I can only speak on it and not other denominations. Some of them go too far the other way. There is also much more good than bad, I believe, but this isn't a post about the good. But I defend them, ask anyone.***
Mr.Perfect is constantly telling me that just because I have something to say doesn't mean anyone wants to hear it. He's right 99.3% of the time (the other .7% is when he disagrees with me.) So I've been making a concerted effort to keep the majority of my concerns to myself. I think this is giving me an ulcer, and making me cranky and frowny. I never know who reads this so I have in the past been very careful what I say so as not to offend anyone. If you know me well, you know that offending people is one of my spiritual gifts (I'm kidding, don't get offended.) It is never my intention to offend anyone but sometimes being "plain-spoken" is offensive. I think being purposely offensive and mean is wrong. So I am truly not trying to offend you but I think the following needs to be said. I was hoping someone else would say it for me, but it looks like it's gonna be me. (Of course.)
CHURCH, FOR REALS? WAKE UP!
1) We seem to be mostly concerned with how many butts are in the seats and on the rolls. The Southern Baptist Church (my people) are very proud that they are a body of churches with a regenerate membership, yet many of those believers can't be found. We keep them on the rolls forever, whether we've seen them in 20 years or not. Some of them we see the day we dunk 'em and not again until we plant 'em. This keeps our numbers up. Does Jesus care if we are the largest denomination? We like to make mega-churches that are full of pastor worshipping people. Because some of our churches are personality driven, not Word driven, we can have a dunk 'em and ditch 'em mentality. The thought at those churches is that there is no need for discipleship other than the preaching because a) only the pastor can be trusted to know the Word well enough to teach it and b) we can't ask people to give their time to come to church and learn the Word, they are too busy these days. I call foul!
2) We call ourselves New Testament churches. The New Testament church (correct me if I'm wrong) was a church of believers. It was a tough time for believers, but the church (body not fabulous building) was their home. We've become more concerned with being sure that the unbeliever is at home and comfortable in our buildings than making a home of any kind for believers. The unbeliever should always be welcome (not in leadership...I can't believe I have to mention that) but never comfortable! If I hear one more time that the church is "a haven (or hospital) for sinners NOT a home for saints" my head just might explode!!
3) The Holy Spirit doesn't need us to throw a circus for Him to be able to do His job. Did your church have a (figurative) circus for Easter? Did you hire (figurative) clowns and(figurative) tight rope walkers to come? Did you have the Easter bunny come out and hide eggs so that the "lost" will come and bring their children... so then you can sneak up behind them with a pool of water and dunk em? OK, admittedly that's a little extreme. But how far is too far? Is paying $100 to the church member who brings the most visitors going too far? Is giving a gift to everyone who comes to your church going to far? Is paying people $10 per hour to attend your church going too far? I wonder how churches survived before they discovered the "seeker" model?
4) Women are precious to Jesus. They seem to be less precious as leaders to the SBC. I don't believe women should be pastors. I feel the Word is clear about that. I struggled with having a woman as worship leader and one of my dearest friends is one...kind of. Because she's in a SBC church, she does all the work of a worship leader. She has more musical talent than the rest of her church all combined, but she isn't allowed to be called staff or even have the title "Worship Leader." Her ministry has no input when plans are being shaped. She has a whole lot of responsibility but no authority. Men in her position are staff.
5) No one ministers to women like another woman. I believe that it is a very specific and God-called ministry. In the past 14 years this is where I spent the majority of my time. I've noticed a trend. If you feel God has called you to be a Women's Ministry Leader and your husband is not in ministry you will likely have a hard time. I suppose God only calls people to ministry in pairs. I've witnessed this several times now personally and so I did a little research. There is a feeling among some Pastors that only women who have a "quiet and gentle spirit" are fit to serve. I wonder if this is because if you're a meek and mild mouse you will just do as told and not make any waves or ask any questions? If you are a "question-asking-tell-it-like-it-is, strong-warrior woman for Jesus" you may be feeling like a heathen headed for hell because of your personality. This has been true for me, but it's also true for many others. Jesus sure seemed to have a different attitude toward women than many churches.
I have more to say, but this seems like a good stopping point. If you're offended, please leave me a comment and give me some insight. I'd love to have some understanding of the "why" or some scriptural backup for any of it. I'm that cranky old man and I'm tired of all this junk on my lawn! And, reluctantly, because of all this and the fact that being frowny makes wrinkles, I must put my beloved SBC ON NOTICE! (I'm sure other denominations are on notice too, but I don't have first hand knowledge and this was family business.)