Friday, March 21, 2014

3 Reasons the death of the Presbyterian Church is a good thing.

To be clear, I am referring particularly to the Presbyterian Church USA, to which I am an ordained minister in.  And to qualify my comments, let me start by saying I have no desire to leave the denomination...I am simply tired of hearing how it "grieves the Lord" that churches are leaving the denomination.  So in a humble attempt to respond to like statements, here are 3 reasons I actually think it's a good thing our denomination is dying;

1. "There are no denominations in heaven."

I remember hearing this statement as a new follower of Christ and even in my years of studying Greek and Hebrew at seminary...this statements seems to hold true biblically.  I have yet to find the denominational idea in the scriptures.  While there are many good reasons for denominations (polity, theology and accountability to name a few), arguing for the survival of a denomination is not a biblical's a theological one at best, but in many cases it has become a sentimental one ("I have been Presbyterian all my life")...that is frightening to me, and telling.

2. Because the Presbyterian church is not the same as the Kingdom of God.

I am actively involved in my Presbytery (or at least I was until my Committee on Ministry reads this post), I sit on two committees (I can just hear the excitement exuding as both the people who read this think about what it means to be on a committee) and I am a Synod Commissioner (which is about as popular as David Hasselhoff's music career in the U.S...important to a few but not to most).  Let's just stop for a second and realize our arrogance when we argue for the survival of our denomination and demonize our brothers and sisters who are seeking dismissal.  Our denomination IS dying...let's be more excited about the kingdom of God than trying to penalize our friends for trying to leave.  Do we really want our epitath to read, "The smallest denomination with the largest endowment!" (To my non Presbyterian friends reading this...the statement has to do with churches leaving the denomination and being financially penalized, sometimes for millions of dollars in order to do so).  So, let's be excited for them in their desire to live out what they see as a more biblically accurate picture of what it means to be the church...every church and every denomination has to make a decision on how they interpret and live out their understanding of the scriptures.  This is done corporately and individually and for 2 millennium the Church (Big C church not little c church/denomination) has been articulating these interpretations through confessions (see Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster, etc....) so that the Church's witness might be lived out in orthopraxis and orthodoxy. (sorry if I lost you there)  My point is this...if churches want to attempt that "correct practice" and "correct theology" in a denomination other than the PC USA...let's be excited for that to happen because if it's really from God, then we will not be able to stop it, we will only be fighting against God (that's in the bible).  When the Son of Man comes in glory it appears he won't be separating sheep and goats by checking our membership certificates.

3.  So we can get back to Mission.

Our denomination is not dying because churches are leaving...our denomination is dying because we have forgotten our ecclesial be the sent people of God, because our witness to the world matters.  We are spending more time arguing for why people should stay, and how much money churches should pay in order to leave, than we are trying to equip congregations to live out our vocation as the Church.  Let's focus on witness and mission to the world around us...your church won't die because of where your brother or sister in Christ decides to transfer his/her membership.  Your church will die, if you don't start building relationships with your neighbors.

In our last Presbytery meeting someone said, "We need to figure out how to stop churches from leaving!" Sir, no we do not...we need to start figuring out how to be the Church.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why pornography is NOT harmless...

In the 20 years I've been working with youth and families, I have had countless conversations about internet pornography and it's hold on people's lives.  One of the biggest problems seems to be the fact that we aren't talking about it with our kids or each other and that scares the hell out of me.

Especially as a father of four young kids, who I know are just clicks away from entering  a world I pray they will never enter...but I know better.  Even if in the slight chance they are able to navigate their adolescents without ever clicking on to a pornographic website (which is about the same likelihood they have of catching a fart in the wind), I know they will be exposed by the seemingly innocent pornographic pictures circulating their friends smartphones who will say, "Hey, look at this!" or by mistakenly (or purposefully) clicking on a Vines video (or any myriad of other online "harmless" sites) of said nature.

Don't believe me that it's an issue?  PLEASE READ the article that I've attached to this wife and I just read it and I am now praying for ways I can talk about it well with my kids.  Which, drum-roll perhaps a start...just having the conversation.

It's more than the idea that boys and men are merely perverted in our thought is doing more each year to reveal the fact that pornography is truly the drug of the new millennium.  "The Drug of the New Millennium." by Mark B. Kastleman.

PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE and then get ready to talk about it with your kids...ask questions, know what they are looking at online...until there is no more demand, the supply of pornography will continue.  Perhaps in our lifetime, we can begin to take action...because pornography is NOT harmless.