Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Are Christians too dependant on church?

In 2003, Willow Creek Pastor, Bill Hybels, commissioned a 3-year survey on spiritual growth for their 20,000 member church and thirty others. The results are now in.
  1. "The church and its myriad of programs have taken on too much of the responsibility for people's spiritual growth."
  2. "The church is most important in the early stages of spiritual growth. Its role then shifts from being the primary influence to a secondary influence."
  3. "The church is extremely important in the early stages of [spiritual development], but its main activities-like weekend services and small groups-decline in importance as people [grow closer to Christ]."
  4. "We have created an unhealthy dependence and inappropriate levels of expectation."
  5. "[Christians] need to look beyond the church to grow.Our people need to learn to feed themselves through personal spiritual practices that allow them to deepen their relationship with Christ."
Just how important do you feel that church should be in a person's spiritual life?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Worship Without Walls

Circular Reasoning, or Evidence?

When I explore the universe I find that all the heavenly bodies are shaped into orbs or massive spirals. I've yet to see a planet or galaxy shaped like a cube. So I conclude that there are forces inherent to our universe that favor certain shapes over others. I may not completely understand all these forces - apparently no one does - not even Stephen Hawking. But I believe that these forces can be studied and understood to the limits imposed by my finite mind.

Similarly, I observe how the world is, and how we humans are. I've found no better explanation for all this than that expressed by Jesus (whom I believe to be the Christ/Messiah). Again, I believe that God Is but I can never fully understand this - apparently no one on this side of eternity can. After all how could the Eternal be fully contained within the Finite?

Even so, I can know much about God's nature and character within my finite human limits through the life and teaching and character of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament. For Jesus also claimed (and produced evidence to support this claim) to be a fully divine expression of God as well. My mind reels at this, accepting without fully understanding -- just as it does with gravity, electromagnetic force and molecular attraction.

I don't consider my belief system as finished, but rather as a good start to learning more by the actual day-to-day living out of these beliefs. That in itself is a life-long challenge - to live in complete harmony with my avowed beliefs.

I've been accused of circular reasoning in some of my expressions of this belief, but I'm convinced that I'm sincerely following the evidence as I've seen and experienced it.

Am I right? Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Art of Worship

A short excerpt from a thought provoking site regarding church paradigms:

"...You need the poet to teach you new ways to see; “Pay attention to the poet, you need him and you know it,” sings Cockburn. So why, then, do we keep using the arts for little more than glorified sermon illustrations? Music as the emotional tag that gets us opened up for the preacher?

Is it possible to create the kind of Christian communities wherein the poets are listened to, nurtured, and supported? In real ways? What might it look like to take seriously our deprivileged and exiled status, and began to rise to the challenge of retexting our communities not only with the preached word – which is something I’m pretty committed to – but also the word painted, sculpted, sung, chanted, filmed, danced, performed and offered in every way imaginable… literally imaginable! Most churches, including my own, have a full time preacher and a part-time musician, but why don’t we have a poet or a painter on our staff? A writer in residence? A film-maker? A director? A choreographer?

... And the angels peer expectantly because they know how deeply we need to be re-immersed in our foundational story; how badly we need to be fundamentally and imaginatively retexted; how powerfully we need to relearn how to sing the Lord’s song in this strange land."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

U2 clip and comments by Bono

"Where The Streets Have No Name" and a clip from Bono speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is Christianity Logical?

I am currently reading Francis Shaeffer's - "He is There and He is Not Silent."

It is short, but a heavy go as it is close to a university lecture on philosophy and religion and why the Christian worldview is logical given the evidence of the world and the human condition. Often his references to the Greek philosophers and modern philosophers like Kant, Nietzsche, and so on, go over my head -- but I highly recommend Schaeffer for anyone who thinks that the Christianity is illogical. Schaeffer refutes that very convincingly - in language I can (usually!) understand.

Unhappily, most religious folks don't bother reading deeply, and most critics prefer to set up the "religious straw man" represented by shallow, foolish Christians, and so seldom engage the Christian worldview at this much deeper level.

(Which works well for them, but misses the point of why belief in Jesus Christ has been around for over 2,000 years and shows no signs of "going away." i.e. - There actually is substance and Truth behind it.)

So, if you want to know if Christianity can make sense in your head - can satisfy both the heart and head needs of an intelligent person - you have to dig out deep-thinking Christian authors on your own. (i.e. Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, G.K. Chesterton, and so many others).

It is worth it - at least if you reject it, you're rejecting it on a much more intelligent level!

"If there were no God, there would be no atheists." -- Chesterton, G.K.