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Archive for the ‘Of The World But Not In It’ Category

Whatever You Do for the Least of These…

Posted by Lex Fear on December 31, 2007

You know, I joke sometimes but I’m actually quite stunned by one of Stef’s latest posts.

We all know that people who sleep on the streets probably haven’t read a John Maxwell book, The Prayer of Jabez or The Purpose Driven Life in their life but the Whited Sepulcher Catholic Truth Bookshop at Westminster Cathedral has found a new low.

No room at the inn

Looking over the pictures again, is that a nativity scene in the shop window..? oh how ironic! No room at the inn? Well you can’t sleep in the entrance to our book shop either!

Read Stef’s full post.

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Posted in Bad Company, Justice & Mercy, Londonland, Morals & Ethics, Of The World But Not In It, Opinion, Pharisees, The Purpose Missing Church | 4 Comments »

What Should Westernised Christians Protest Next?

Posted by Lex Fear on December 9, 2007

Temporarily breaking my self-imposed blog-silence-because-I’m-just-too-busy-right-now for an issue which is close to my heart.

It’s hard to balance you’re Christian faith with civil disobedience and generally outside-of-the-law-but-just causes, especially when faced with the prevalent mindset amongst Westernised Christianity is to ‘submit’ yourself to “governing authorities” that have been “established by God”. Unfortunately this Christian feels that this particular scripture has been misappropriated and become warped into something more akin to “honour thy government, then God” but I digress.

Since it seems that The Golden Compass has effectively ‘bombed‘ on it’s opening weekend in the States, Westernised Christians must now be feeling empty and wondering what next to boycott/protest. Therefore may I suggest they turn their attention to matters of copyright and copyright enforcement?

I’m not talking about making sure Hillsong or Soul Survivor keep their steady stream of income, I’m talking about taking a stand against the principalities and powers at work to give copyright owners and enforcers the power to become despots.

Recently a charity in the UK has been visited by ‘officers’ of the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and told they have fork out a large amount of money for a licence to not only play a radio (which can be heard in the vicinity of the general public) but also to allow the kids to sing Christmas Carols. That’s right folks, songs that were originally created originally as worship for Jesus and generally celebrating the joy of Christ-Mas are owned by artist managing companies who are keen to make a buck from the worship of your Lord and Saviour.

Has anyone considered the ramifications for churches (which are registered charities)? Are there churches out there that already pay these stupid fees? Of course, church leaders may say they are exempt, they sing music from artists such as Matt Redman and Darlene Czech every Sunday. Matt and Darlene may hardly have a problem with this, but their record companies might. For instance: Hillsong is registered with the MAFIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), who have been blitzing file-sharers with legal threats, court summons and out of court settlements. The fact that the file-sharers may be kids, dead people or family pets don’t factor into it, neither does the fact that the file-sharers have not made a single penny from SHARING. All they’ve done is SHARE a digital copy rather than, say, SHARE a physical DVD with a friend. The important part here is that it is the MAFIAA, not the artists that are doing the suing. Darlene and Matt may be happy for churches in America to SHARE and WORSHIP together, but what happens when the MAFIAA has squeezed dry the file-sharers who don’t feel morally obliged to respect copyrightwrong?

We don’t care about this right now because:

1) It doesn’t affect us yet, and
2) It’s only bad people who don’t respect copyright.

But these are both wrong assertions. It’s only a matter of time before the MAFIAA spots the lucrative potential of the tithe. Sounds ridiculous? So does suing a garage for playing a radio.

 

Posted in Bad Company, Copywrong, Justice & Mercy, Morals & Ethics, Of The World But Not In It, Opinion, Predatory Systems, Profiteering, Technology, The Purpose Missing Church | 8 Comments »

[Churchianity] Focus on Issues

Posted by Lex Fear on June 24, 2007

5 Issues the church is too concerned about

CULTURE VULTURE: The Environment. Sure we should be smart and not drop litter, we should do what we can to reduce our individual waste… but this is one of the latest examples of the church jumping on a cultural bandwagon rather than seeking to make a difference in peoples lives. Plus, if more people did their research, they might discover that there’s not much we can do about global warming, it may even be part of God’s design for the planet. Have you noticed how nature is always moving and shifting through various seasons? It’s is only human beings who want to stay in place, prevent change and establish foundations. Not that, that is bad, but we should realise nature does not ask our permission before it changes.

BIBLE BASHING: Gay Rights. Of course, as a Christian if I was to have sex with man, I would be committing a sin. However this would also be the case if I had sex with a prostitute. And being a married Christian, if I was to have sex with another woman other than my wife, I would also be committing a sin. Why does the church focus on one sexual sin when protesting moral decline? How many Christians are divorced and remarried? Aah but there’s extenuating circumstances… violent spouses etc… we should be sensitive and understanding. Then likewise, we should be sensitive and understanding to homosexuals. It should also be noted that where God is concerned, it is only the church that should be subject to this kind of moral law. But the predominant question is this: Why shouldn’t homosexuals be free from prejudice?

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Posted in Bad Company, Churchianity, Civil Disobedience, Copywrong, Dark Side of the Light, Holding Actions, Laymans Theology, Morals & Ethics, Of The World But Not In It, Open Source, Pharisees, Predatory Systems, Profiteering, Protest, Technology, The Purpose Missing Church, The Religious Wrong, Wealth Creation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[The Christians Nightmare] Ray Comfort Is Bananas

Posted by Lex Fear on April 8, 2007

Why as Christians (and I’m looking at you, youth leaders in particular) do we constantly feel the need to follow the latest cultural trends. Why is it every time a successful brand develops in the world, we can’t resist going ahead and make our own Christianised brand version of it? A “Christian” version which more often than not is an appalling insult to the intelligence of people outside the church. Do we really expect our children to be real leaders and have an impact on the world by protecting them from groups and ideas that are not intrinsically Christian?

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Posted in Analogies, Dark Side of the Light, Dorks, Laymans Theology, Of The World But Not In It, The Purpose Missing Church | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[Churchianity] Name Dropping

Posted by Lex Fear on March 14, 2007

“Prime Minister John Howard recently recognised the Church’s achievements by opening its new childcare facilities, financed with the help of a U.C.I.S loan.” – UCIS Flyer

“MANY Australians will question the priority of churches which have posted signs saying “Jesus loves Osama”, Prime Minister John Howard says.” – Herald Sun

“I just sat there the whole night with my mouth hanging open. To even have the prime minister John Howard want to go to Edge Church just because he wanted to visit – thats huge!” – AnnaTsang

“PRIME Minister John Howard attended an intimate fundraising lunch with a violent Brisbane pornographer, who was facing charges of torture and grievous bodily harm at the time, in the lead-up to the 2004 federal election.” – News.com.au

In October 19, the Assemblies of God NOW magazine headlined its lead story “Deputy P.M. puts Jesus first”. Assistant editor and writer for the magazine, Paul Gallagher, had obtained an exclusive interview with John Anderson on a subject that went deeper than his public office “his personal faith in God… …Prime Minister John Howard officially launched the book in August 2006, declaring to a room full of politicians and media, “I am delighted this book has been written.” – AOG Now Magazine

“Mr Howard said al-Qaeda should be “praying as many times as possible” for an Obama victory in the 2008 elections.” – BBC News

“The Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. John Howard, officially opened the new 3,500 seat Hillsong Church Convention Centre in Sydney’s north-west on Saturday, 19 October 2002.” – AOG Now Magazine

“Back then, of course, he talked a lot about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction; that does not make compelling reading today. Worse, back then Howard said not a word about what would happen after Saddam was gone. Back then he was saying Australian troops would be home in a few months.” – The Age


My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?James, The Message Bible

Posted in Absolute Power, Anti-Terrorists, Bollotics, Churchianity, Dark Side of the Light, Little Hitlers, Morals & Ethics, Of The World But Not In It, Pharisees, Realpolitik, The Purpose Missing Church, The Religious Wrong, Uncircumcised Philistines, Xenophobia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[Churchianity] Successful Christian Leadership

Posted by Lex Fear on March 1, 2007

Why is it that church leaderships, particularly megachurches, act so secretly? PastorJoeRuth links to a news article in the SharperIron blog:

“In the past few months, two Colorado Springs churches New Life Church and Grace Episcopal have struggled to balance transparency and privacy while navigating high-profile crises. Their integrity is at stake, with congregants sitting in judgment.” – Colorado Springs Gazette

The main article discusses finances, but below it references the outing of Ted Haggard, former pastor of New Life Church:

“Congregants don’t know where Haggard went for his counseling or other details of Haggard’s restoration process. They don’t know details of his sexual immorality. They are given periodic updates on the search for a new senior pastor, but they’re not privy to meetings of the pastoral-selection committee.”

British readers may not be familiar with Ted Haggard or the scandal that occurred in November. I was in America at the time when the news broke so it is quite vivid in my memory.

On 1st November 2006 a former male prostitute publicly alleged that Haggard had been a frequent client of his over the previous 3 years and had engaged in sex and drug-taking with him.

What interests me is Haggards first response when he was tracked down by new reporters. He flatly denied the allegations and denied ever knowing the male prostitute. It was a day or later that he resigned from his position and went into marriage counseling (still later that the rest of the church leadership came forward to disclose that he had admitted to ‘some’ of the claims).

My point is this: There has to be something wrong when a Christian cannot be the first person to get down on their knees and admit a sin when it is made public. And this was not just a Christian, but a self-proclaimed leader who is supposed to be teaching us how to be humble, how to admit your sin and seek forgiveness.

Now, you can accuse me of judging and you can accuse me of a holier-than-thou attitude, you’d be wrong on both counts. I personally know a Pastor who came clean straight away when confronted about his adultery, and there is no greater example than in the bible of how a ‘man after God’s own heart’ responds:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.

You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” – 2 Sam 12:7-13 NIV

I can’t think of any reason that a Christian would not repent when confronted like this with sin, when it is on display for all to see. It would be foolish, worse, it would be a slight to the Holy Spirit within. Yet no matter how many mega/pioneer/great lifey type churches we visit or attend, we continue to see this same brand of touchy-feely protectionism and almost Mafia like qualities with a twist of Stepford housewives.

Why for example, when a church is being sued, keep the details from the congregation (who tithe and are supposedly part of the ‘family’). Are the congregation too stupid to trust? Why try to cover up sins of a Pastor, or keep the ‘restoration process’ secretive. Surely part of the ‘restoration’ is to the church family?

You may argue that these are people who are entitled to their private lives. May I suggest that it is the desire to keep a private life that causes these sins to be covered up in the first place. May I also suggest that someone attaining to be a pastor, especially of a mega/pioneer church, city on a hill, example to non-Christians, that a private life is the last thing you should seek let alone earn.

When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.” – Matt 14:13-14 The Message

Someone who wants leadership, but wants to maintain a private life or low profile, should not consider becoming a Christian pastor or minister. It is my opinion that they should instead try becoming a CEO, entertainer or politician.

But this is the crux of the matter. In many large, modern, charismatic churches there is no distinction between the pastoral role and the role of a CEO. Many Christian leaders now lecture empower business people and hold leadership conferences. In turn, the church borrows business practices, methods and … *shudder* … buzzwords. I noticed just the other day on a piece of church literature that they hold cell groups for youth, adults and … business people!

Why are cell groups needed for business people? Are they some other species apart from us. Do adults beget children, business people beget business people? Oh it’s all about strategy and wealth creation blah, blah, blahdy-blah. Let me tell you who you’re strategy is- it’s the church- and by that I mean the people! Not some flip chart. Half of these people have not even heard of Herzberg, Maslow or Mintzberg yet they still go on to claim some sort of positional authority without question.

What happens when the lines between the impersonal business world and the church become blurred. Privacy and privilege become the stakes. Pastors begin to act like CEO’s, and risk becoming corrupt politicians.

Don’t admit there are problems until there is substantial evidence… in fact don’t admit problems. Keep information about the churches progress low key or secret, as if to stay ahead of some sort of imaginary competition. Maximise profits (for the Kingdom), focus on PR, Celebrians (Christian celebrities), and releasing worship albums. Repeat the mantra, “Isn’t life great?”

It wasn’t a male prostitute, the devil, or lust that got to Haggard, it was power. Haggard was seduced by power and status, which is why he had not already repented in 3 years. It is why he struggled with the truth even in front of the National media.

In the end Jesus’ words ring true:

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” – Matthew 16:25-26 NLT

UPDATE: 11/03/07

Relevant Magazine features an article by Aaron Van Voorhis on The Commercial Church, worth a read.

Ironic Referral: Church Marketing Sucks

Posted in Churchianity, Dark Side of the Light, Morals & Ethics, Of The World But Not In It, Pharisees, The Purpose Missing Church, The Religious Wrong, Wealth Creation, WhatTheyDontWantU2C | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

[Churchianity] Titles You’ll Never See In A Christian Bookshop

Posted by Lex Fear on July 23, 2006

I always judge good books by their titles:

The Uncertain Life
Look Great, Not Feeling Great
How God Wiped Out Almost All Of Creation In His Anger
Closer To Hell
What a Messed-Up World
Living Paycheck To Paycheck
Running With Midgets
Developing The Follower Within You
Greed Is OK
The Life You Never Wanted

Some Titles I would like to see:

No, I’m Not ‘Alright’
Issues That Can’t Be Solved By a 3-5 Point Sermon
How To Stick With People When They Are Experiencing Prolonged Difficulty
Respect Works Both Ways
We Can’t All Get Rich Without Someone Being Poor/Ripped Off

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[Inspiration] Ulterior Verse of the Day – Mark 10:43-44

Posted by Lex Fear on July 13, 2006

“But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to become a leader among you should take leadership classes, go on discipleship courses and read leadership books.” – Mark 10:43-44 NLT

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Posted in Dark Side of the Light, Of The World But Not In It, Pharisees, The Purpose Missing Church | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Filler Words, Buzz-Words and Emotional Appeals

Posted by Lex Fear on December 11, 2005

Lake Superior State University have posted a list of suggested words of 2005 to banish. Mostly referring to American politics, however, I would like to add some of my own.

Something about buzzwords is more annoying to me than scraping fingernails down a chalk-board. My church, always eager to keep up with the corporate world always manages to come up with new ones. It makes me shudder every time I hear a new buzzword, often repeatedly used in the same service.

Take for example one word which they discovered and began implementing a few months ago- “connect”. Used in such cases as, “If you’re a new visitor here, we’d love to ‘connect’ with you” and “We’re just gonna take 2 minutes here, why don’t you get up out of your seat and go and ‘connect’ with someone you don’t know”. Urrrgh. My skin crawls. What’s wrong with the words meet, or greet? ‘Connect’ gives me a picture in my mind of people walking around with a large USB wire sticking out of them, plugging into each other.

Another favourite used by one of our small group leaders is “Download”. As in “I can see you’re having some trouble trying to ‘download’ that” meaning “I can see your having trouble trying to understand that”.. It’s like a new version buzzword replacing the older version buzzword – ‘process’ which wasn’t half as bad. An online resource of buzzwords can be found here.

The only thing that irritates me half as much is the proliferate use of filler words, easier to forgive but just as irritating. I don’t mind filler words if the speaker is genuine, it’s those who are imitators in their preaching styles, they are trying to sound like some well-known preacher who genuinely uses the same fillers. I wish I was making this up but I’m not. Take for example “I just wanna”. The amount of times you will hear “I just wanna”, especially during an evening preaching to the youth group would make you ‘just wanna’ rip off your ears! It’s usually used in a condescending fashion “…And I just wanna say…”, “…I just wanna tell you…” and can be combined to form “…And I just wanna say that what I just wanna tell you is…”. Just bloody tell us then.

One thing that I now really find patronizing, is those musically enhanced emotional appeals at the end of services. At one stage it was every bloody week, no matter what the sermon was about, even if they weren’t giving an appeal at all. It was choreographed perfectly. The preacher will be reaching the end, a gentle nod to the lead musician. As they continue speaking, suddenly slow piano or guitar music will begin to play, the speaker gives his well timed and emotionally charged appeal. It was different and pleasant when they first started doing it years ago. But now it’s just really annoying and absolutely devoid and empty of any real feeling. If people need to respond, they’ll respond, we don’t need the assistance of a few notes from “Relaxing Moods CD Volume 2” to make our life-changing decision. Lately it seems that the church has decided ditch this part of the appeal, in the last couple of months I’ve noticed speakers giving there appeal or finishing off their sermon without any musical accompaniment. It’s much better and much more respectful of people’s intelligence. I hope I’m not speaking too soon.

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Posted in Anecdotes, Churchianity, Dark Side of the Light, Of The World But Not In It, The Purpose Missing Church | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »