community

11-28-09 After reading a lot lately about social networks and online church communities,  I’ve been thinking about the term “friend” lately. With all the talk today about Twitter, Facebook and on line church. I think we must really look at the real definition of not only biblical community and relationships, but the very word "friend" and what that means. Today  social, personal relationships are measured in 140 characters, contained and maintained in 140 characters or less.

I hear people say I have 500 or more “friends” on Facebook, I’ve have 3,000 friends who follow me on Twitter, I text with 100 friends a day at school. Really, you thinks those are friends, that you have a real relationship with them. I beg to differ with anyone on those statements.

A resent survey I read showed people admitted that in the last year they spent 33% less time in actual live conversations with people ether via phone or in person. We are a society that is becoming more and more impersonal, and disconcerted from people in real intimate forms of communication. 1994 through 2004 Friends was the number one TV show. Everyone wanted what they had, there own posse of friends to hang out with like that. Today not so much true it seams these days.

Here is a sort list of the difference between a real, true friend and virtual friends:

Virtual Friends vs. True Friends

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Say “hello everyone”

TRUE FRIENDS:
Give you a hug and a kiss.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Know you have parents.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Know your parents.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Never share a meal with you.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Help make dinner and will spend hours there, talking, laughing, playing cards and just being together.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS: 
Know about your favorite places.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Have been to your favorite places with you.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Have never seen you cry.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Cry with you.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Have never heard your laugh.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Recognize your laugh across a crowded room.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Know a few things about you.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Could write a book about who you are on the inside, what makes you tick.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Will leave you behind if that’s what the crowd is doing.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Will track down those who left you and kick their asses.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Will never knock on your door.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Walk right in and make themselves at home

VIRTUAL FRIENDS: 
Do not visit you in the hospital when you’re sick.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Show up at the hospital and spend the night with you in the hospital, and cut your grass and clean your house and cook for you when you come home.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Have you on their friends list.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Have been to where you live, work and play.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Are for a while.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Are for life.

11-17-09 Last week there was quite a buzz around the internet social networks about a statement made by a well known pastor at a church leadership conference. He stated that they should focus on building a online church community rather than a brick and mortar church.

He stated that it is not necessary for people to attend a church, that being part of a “online church” is all that one needs as a Christian. That being part of a body as to in person, gather to gather face to face is not needed. That pastors should be moving from a live congregation to a virtual online congregation, church only. That’s the way to to church now, virtual community via the web, twitter is the way to do church fellowship.

I can not express how much that saddened me, to hear that the leadership, movers and shakers of the church world (the under 35 crowed) adapting that mindset. Seeking to do away with real church, biblical church. The gathering of the body is the heart of church, it’s very essence. Gathering together for fellowship, for each to exercise their Spiritual gifts for the good of the body is why we meet, to build up one another, encourages each other, brake bread, share a meal, lay hands on each other and pray, lest see them do that online, in less than 140 characters.

So for him church is only a 30 min feel good sermon that you pay 10% of your income to listen to on line. This just does not set right with me. I’m a community person, fellowship is a necessity, so I guess people like me, people who believe the scriptures will just have to go elsewhere than “virtual church” in the near future for that.  

discipling All followers of Christ are called to make disciples, not simply believers like so many churches do, Jesus addressed that issue when He stated "Even the demons believe–and shudder!." You see believing who Jesus is has never really been the issue, Satan himself believe who Jesus is, in fact he knows for certain who Jesus is. The Issue has always been following, obeying, that is making Him Lord of you life. And that is where we come in, our call, mission given to us in Mat 28:19 "Go therefore and Make disciples of All the nations." Our job is not to make believers out of people, but rather followers of Jesus.

Every follower of Christ if they are living obedient to Christ, obeying all His commandments, as He state if you love Him then you are obeying All of His commands. The you are fulfilling the great commission as it is called Mat 28:18-20 and are making disciples. Every follower of Christ should have Timothy’s in their life. Everyone should without exception who is a follower of Jesus should have people in their life they are discipling, and doing so the way Jesus modeled for us, doing daily life with them, teaching them by how they live and with their words the life lived in Christ. Teaching them about God and Jesus, the word of God, how to know and use their spiritual gifts, and how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples themselves.

As Jesus showed us this is not an over night task, a Sunday school class you take for six weeks and graduate, it is a life time commitment, too Jesus three years full time to prepare His disciples to Go out on their own. Are you better than Jesus, more able than Him to disciple other, I thinks not. You should be giving years to disciple others, do life with them on a daily bases to teach them, disciple them into their new life in Christ. It is not your pastors job, a Sunday school teachers job, a book to be read, but a life to be lived out.

Go and Make disciples.

 

Part 8 in the series

girls cheering on

I attended some of my nieces softball games the past two weekend, loved watching those girls play (10 to 12 years olds) , they are so amazing, the sills and abilities they posses at such a young age.

One of the things that caught my attention was that when they make an errors, mess up, strike out, drop a ball their teammates still say good job, you’ll get it next time and high five them, the coaches yell out good try, way to try, sake it off. As well as all of us in the stands, cheered for them just as if they hit a home run even when it was a pop fly out, shout out good hit! Not one of those girls is allowed to feel like they failed, no matter how badly they messed up.

That made me think of the verse Heb 12:1  "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," And how we have our own cheering section in heaven, but we should have one here to. When we mess up, make mistake, the body of Christ should be like my nieces teammates there to high five us, say good try, you’ll get it next time when we strikeout. But I do not see that happening very much at all in the church today, and that saddens me.

We the church, the body of Christ must, need to learn from girls softball, learn to be a team that supports each other no matter what, how bad we mess up. I saw how much it effected those girls, their spirits, them emotionally, made them what to do better next time. It keep them in the game with high spirits no matter the score, because they new they were winners no matter what the scoreboard said, glad to be on the team and in the game with them, and so should every member of the body of Christ.

oprahs big giveHow is it that Oprah is fulfilling Acts 2:34-43, James 2:16-15, Mat 25:31-46 and the church is not, why is she is known as the radical giver, the one who rescues the orphans and needy and not the local church. Why is she known for giving away millions and church as only a taker, the one who only wants your money.

Why instead of building super mega Christian entertainment centers and calling it a church, isn’t the church going out into the neighborhoods looking for needs and filling them. Finding the person who needs a wheelchair and buying it for them. Paying for the operation to save the life of a child, clothing the naked children, feeding the starving children, fixing leaky roofs. Giving away new cars to struggling families. Filling up the pantries of the widows. Building orphanages, schools and hospitals.

Fighting AIDS, malaria, and digging wells? Why isn’t the body the largest adopters of orphans? Why is Madonna and Angelina Jolie are seen as the rescuers of orphans, the adoption queens and not the church? We where commanded to take care of the orphans.

It should not be that people go to Oprah as the one hope for the needy, that the people are hoping that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition answers their prayers and comes to their rescue instead of God through the church. The church and God should be the first source of help on peoples minds not Oprah. Churches in the US spend less than 3% of their income on the poor, the needy and missions combined, Oprah gives away about 43% of her salary to the needy.

Oprah and the likes of her should not be fulfilling and getting the glory of Acts 2, James 2 and Mat 25, the church is to be doing that. The world should be crying over what God is doing through His church not watching Oprah and see her fulfilling Act 2 and crying over her and giving her the glory that should be God’s and His church.

The church needs to get back to the business, mission of being the church we see in Acts, doing what Jesus said in Matthew 25.

There is two churches doing it right, one is Cornerstone Community Church pastored by Francis Chan, read his story here.

In a Idea Session (The Idea Camp ) the question was asked “How can the church
get focused on real relationship? How do we build bridges between the
pulpit?” That is how do we get community in our churches. What I contributed can be summed up in four lines, statements.

1. Community is not something we add to church, community is what church is, church comes out of community.

2. If community did not happen, church did not happen.

3. We have made church a spectator sport in America, we have trained People to come as consumer’s, as if they are going to Vegas to see a show, to come and have church put on for them, then go home. People do Not come to be part of making church happen, to be a community, because that is Not how church is done here in America for the the majority of churches. When church is done in a impersonal way how can we expect the people to be personal about church.

4. It would help if the Pastor would step out from the pulpit and do life with the people, do community with them. Not just show up like Elvis, do a show and leave the building, they must lead people into community by doing community. They must be like Jesus breaking bread and washing feet of their flock, living in community with them. Community will be encouraged to happen when pastors begin to have community with their people, lead the people into it. When he makes church something personal, about community so will others.

I am Looking in 2009 for a Unstoppable church to be part of, the church seen in the book of Acts. I am looking for a church filled with passionate people, a people who are passionate about God. Passionately in love with Jesus, who’s love can not be contained.

A people, a church that says and lives like you can reticule me, imprison me, stone me, torture me, kill me, nail me to a cross, do what ever you want, I will hot stop. Even in the mist of doing these things to me I will praise and worship the Lord, I will still proclaim His word to you, announcing the Kingdom of God, we will not be stopped. Because we found a love greater than life its self and we will not be stopped, for us to live is to live for Christ alone.

I want to be part of a people who are striving side by side to proclaim the gospel. Nothing can cause them to shut up, keep them from talking about Jesus, they do not care if they get beat up, thrown in prison, fired, or killed. Like Paul they are unstoppable, like the first church they are a unstoppable force. A people who are striving together for the gospel, for the kingdom of God, for Jesus. A people that says I would rather be tortured and put to death for the cause of Christ, spreading the gospel than retire at an old age with a fat 401K.

A people who says I must be like, live like Jesus. I must be in a church like the one in the book of Acts, have church like they did, live like they did, turn the world upside down like they did.

A people who believe Jesus when He said unless you are willing to pick up a cross and be crucified together, if you can do that then you can follow me. If you are not willing to do that you are not worthy to be my disciples.( Mat 10:38, Mat 16:24, Luke 14:27 )

I burn to be part of a unstoppable church like the first century church, the underground china church today. I want to be part of something like that, a people like that.

A church that knows what Paul said is true that it has been granted, given to us that we are to suffer just as Jesus did, live with the same conflict Paul did. (Php 1:29-30)

Frances Chan has the same passion for this kind of church, life, he explains it very well, listen to his message, download it here .

I so desire to find such a church this year, be part of a people like that.

My end of the month summery:

1. The last month God has been speaking to me about the importance of being an overcomer“.

Several times this month He has brought up the scriptures on it several times from many sources, through my daily study of the word as well as message I heard though out the month. He has been hammering “being an overcomer” I do not know the why, only the take note and learn what He means by being an overcomer and that it is key, important for me.

2. God has also been speaking to me all month about being a man who walks with God

“Enoch walked with God. Noah walked with God” This was the main theme of the month, learning what it means to be a man who walks with God as did Enoch and Noah. This has been at the core of my prayer the last month. To become a man who walks with God, what ever that means, what God wants it to be for me.

Bottom line, Be a man who walks with God as His friend in the same faith that Abraham had.

3. God reformatted my prayer life, gave me a new format to use as to how and what to pray. And it has revolutionized my prayer life the last two weeks. Thus effecting both my walk with God and my attitude in life.  It started by listening to Pastor Perry Noble podcast and a teaching on prayer, it was very challenge, caused me to change my prayer life that week. The Revelation from the Spirit about my prayer life and the need for change was continued, emphazised when I was introduce to Pastor Niles McPherson and started listening to his podcast and listened to his teaching on prayer also. Through those two teachings the Lord caused me to change my prayer life complete, it is on a whole new path now, and that has had a dramatic effect on my attitude and spiritual life, put me on a new course.

4. That I’m still trying to find my place in this world. And I thinking Shouldn’t I know by now what I want to be when I grow up? But it’s bigger than simply what I want to do in the future, It’s also about the right now, today, tomorrow, next week as well as ten years from now. I want to be relevant to God, to impact the world everywhere I intersect with it and maybe even transform it. But I have no clue, not even an inclination of what my place is in life, the world, the church, what my career is to be, or even reason for being here on this planet.

On a lighter note, I started Twittering two weeks ago, and it has been fun and has changed my world in some ways. No really! (I am still trying to get the hang of it) I am linked up with some awsome people and have enjoyed getting into their life and mind, and sharing some of mine with them.

I recently read about a book called Purple Cow by Seth Godin. The book revolves around this metaphor: if you’ve seen one brown cow you’ve seen them all. But a purple cow, now that would catch your attention. One statement in the book has profound implications: “If you aren’t remarkable you’re invisible.”

While this truth could be applied to a persons life in so many ways, it also applies to churches in every way. Every church needs to paint itself purple. I’m not talking about gimmicks or being weird or braking from the truths of God and what church is suppose to be, like the ones that are leaving out the gospel and Jesus like the emergent movement has done. I’m not talking about braking from the biblical church the one we see in scripture.

Brown churches sit on the sideline and invite the community to come to them. Do every thing they can to look like, sound like, be like the world around them. Purple churches are always going, compelling, and are an agent of transformation in the world. They seek to not look anything like the world, but to look like Jesus and the Kingdom of God. To stand out as something different, be an alternative to the world and its ways. And they are making such a big difference that they become a highly visible part of their community, everyone takes notice in a good way.  People drive by the brown churches, the churches that are invisible on their way to go to the purple church the ones that stand out from the world and its ways.

Purple churches are not a mirror of the world, but rather a window into the Kingdom of God. A refection of Jesus high and lifted up in a community of Christ like followers who live in community that is a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. When a church looks like Jesus, it stands out from the rest of the churches and the world because it is a purple cow in a brown herd.

A brown church look like the world, it’s a church that looks just like the society that surrounds it, it blends in with the same music, teachings, way of life, so no one notices the brown cow in a heard of brown cows.

After all isn’t the purpose of camouflaging something to make it fit in, go unnoticed, so that it will not stand out as different from the world around it. Well pastors have done a good job, they have made the church look, sound and function just like the world, made them brown cows, and well it worked no one notices them, sees church as different from the world.

So how do we paint ourselves purple? For starters, dare to be different from the world and look like Jesus and the Kingdom of God, make the good news, the Gospel the news.

Purple churches are where people can go to see God, get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, see the transforming effect of the gospel in the lives of real people, changed lives. See that God is alive and His power at work in the lives of people, see it demonstrated in the lives of God’s people. See a people of faith living in oneness with God. See Gods love in action, in the love God’s people have for Him, and each other. It’s a church of a different color, it stand out from the rest of the churches today, and from the world around it.

What color is your church.

A note for church planter, I read a post that got me thinking about the definition of Church, as it should be key for church planting, so I am doing my own rendition the other post, of what the word church means, my own tweak, lets start he did with how that Miriam-Webster defines Church:

1: a building for public and especially Christian worship

The number one usage Webster is listing is simply defining church according to how the word church is used by people, defined, by churches themselves. Just ask the typical Christian to define church and you will here things like, A building, A place you go to on Sunday, and institution you belong to, something you attend. And ask the people what part do they have in church and they will tell you, attend. And sadly the leader put more importance on, money, time, planing, care and into the buildings than the do the people, really giving even more credence to the fact the definition is right, the church is a building.

But, when Jesus used the term “church” He had a very different meaning in mind. The word in the Greek text is ???????? (ekklesia) a word that is defined as “those called out” or “a called out assembly of people”, this is the original definition of the word used in the Greek text, quite different from Websters. But even more different is Jesus’ usage of the word though implied something much more, He described “church” as those people walking in allegiance to him, living a certain way, people who were following Him, living with a Kingdom purpose. A people that would ultimately be known by their love for one another, as His followers called out for a purpose, His purpose. Not as a building, nor was it in His definition of church that it is something that you simply only attended, especially not a country club you come to be entertained at.

Although Jesus did not really say much about how it was to be organized or how to do meetings. But rather His focus was on a lifestyle of loving others and obeying Him: saying things like “Go into all the world…” ” Heal others…. “Let your light shine…” “Wash the feet of others…. “Do what you see the Father doing…” “Love one another…” “Make disciples….”My house shall be a house of prayer… “Preach the Gospel… Church, as defined by Jesus, was simply His followers living life for and with Him. “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:15 The things that obvesly were core to what church was about, what matted most to Him.

I believe this is why the Apostle Paul chose not to use the word “synagogue” a word he was most familiar with, and had used his whole life. Synagogue was the word used by Jews at the time to define where they gathered for study and worship outside of the Temple. But the word by definition referred to a building used for an assembling together. Synagogue (1) always was used to refer to the place, building where they gather together, not the people themselves or even what went on inside because the building was used for so many other things. So I can see very well why Paul used a different word, because church to Jesus, to the disciples and Paul was never to be a building or a place, it was a people so he used a new name for it, based on the what the real definition of church was according to Jesus. A called out people with a purpose, to follow the Life of Jesus on God’s mission.

But today only a minuscule number of churches embrace Jesus’ definition of Church, with the these things I list above as the core of what they are about, why they exist. This I do not get it, one can simply read the scriptures as to how both Jesus and the Apostle Paul define church, pick up a Greek dictionary and lookup the word ekklesia and read the definition, and find Church is not a building or an institute or even a set place or time. Because the place and time are fluid, it can be anyplace and any time two or more gather together, and it does not require a building or paid staff or set of programs to happen ether.  We must read everything Jesus said and did, read the description of the first church gatherings and read what they where doing. Read all of Paul’s instructions to the church and body telling us what it is all about. And get our definition from Jesus, the scriptures Not Websters or even the American Christian church for that matter.

So how did we ended up with this thing we have and are trying to pass off as church? Why can’t church planters simply pick up the owners manual, the blueprint of what church is, that is the Bible and do, plant what it says church is.

1. Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, Macmillan

My post inspired by a post in the simplechurchjournal titled: Defining Church Websters has it wrong.