November 22, 2006hen Bill Gates Joins Your Church
What would you do if Bill Gates became a member of your church? Rev magazine asked 1,700 Protestant churchgoers and ministers what their first priority would be if they received an unexpected financial windfall. The results are interesting:
31 percent—Building, expanding, or updating their church buildings
16 percent—Increasing community evangelism activities
12 percent—Paying off debt
18 percent—Paying off debt
18 percent—Increasing social programs
17 percent—Building, expanding, or updating their church buildings
In both groups, church buildings are front and center because the debt churches incur is primarily from church buildings. So, 43 percent of clergy’s and 35 percent of churchgoers’ primary monetary focus is on church buildings.
I’m not totally against church buildings, but I think we need to refocus the efforts of church renovations and new church buildings. Churches tend to be the least utilized buildings in the world. The main focus is the sanctuary, which is used once or maybe twice a week for a few hours. Can we call ourselves good stewards while spending most of our money on a building that is used only a few hours a week, and primarily serves only the members? In addition, the difficult and long-term fund-raising efforts required for building projects lead to an inward focus at the expense of the surrounding community.
I would argue that we need a new brand of church building. Instead of large sanctuaries that can be used only for worship services, we need to move toward multipurpose buildings in which the rooms can be used for worship as well as for a variety of other activities. I think churches should build their facilities to serve as a community center and meet a variety of needs. The church would serve as the community meeting place, and truly minister to the diverse needs of each community. This would also completely change the mind-set of clergy and members, because even building projects would be community centered and focused.
November 13, 2006The Emerging Truth
Ryan Bell just did an excellent four-part series over at Just Pastors. His last post was on Adventism emerging. It got me thinking about how we view and deal with truth. Our traditional understanding and usage of truth is one of the key areas that need to emerge if we are going to be relevant in a postmodern context.
What does the emerging truth look like?
1. Focused and centered in Jesus, who is THE TRUTH (John 14:6).
2. Leads people to love God and humans. We use the primary hermeneutic that Jesus presents in Matthew 22:36-40 in which He declares that all the law and prophets are summarized in the command to love God and your neighbor.
3. Focused on what is true. We spend our time exploring and experiencing what is beautiful, right, and powerful about the truth. We define it in positive terms, and our energy is spent on gaining a deeper understanding of what is true and not attacking nor defending against what is false.
4. Transforming and redemptive. The truth is not a list of abstract ideas with little relevance to a daily experience with God. Instead, it reaches to the inner core of who we are and how we relate to God. It is primarily redemptive and takes no joy or comfort in condemning what is false. While it does expose error, it does not condemn those who believed it but instead seeks to redeem and transform them to a healthier understanding of God.
5. Humble. We realize that we don’t possess all the truth in the world. There is still much to be learned, and we will continually be seeking for a deeper understanding of what is true. There is much we can learn from those outside Adventism. Our primary goal is not to “give” people the truth as much as it is to experience and learn the truth together in community.
What other characteristics am I missing?
October 23, 2006Just Do It
“One of the main barriers to turning knowledge into action is the tendency to treat talking about something as equivalent to doing something about it.”—Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, The Knowing-Doing Gap.
Good conversations give me a lot of energy. I’ll come away with fresh insights and a new excitement about life. I’m truly a nerd because I’m happy talking about concepts without necessarily ever experiencing them. Obviously, the quote above deeply challenges me.
I sense that this is part of the problem with progressive Adventists. We love talking about what’s wrong as well as the way things should be but have a hard time actually doing anything about it. I think part of this problem is that it’s very easy to uphold tradition but difficult to break new ground. It’s one thing to challenge [a supporting, outreach ministry] but totally different to actually try and implement new ways of spreading the gospel.
One of the struggles I know I’m going to face in the next few months is breaking out of the educational mind-set. I’ve defended my love for ideas but lack of implementation on still being in school and focusing on theory. Now, it’s time to get busy actually working in the real world and not just getting excited over discussion but taking decisive action.