Saturday, April 10, 2010

The tale of "Boo" and the goober.

Seventeen years ago, on a day very much like today, a young gal known only as "Boo" completely lost her mind and married a goober of monumental proportions. It is said that she chose this fate of her own volition, but many believe something far more sinister was at hand. Some say she wanted his money (but unfortunately, he had none). Some declare it was his irresistible "animal magnetism" (but as I said, he was a goober). Yet, most claim it was his shiny, red truck that she fell in love with. Regardless of her reasoning (or lack thereof), she did indeed marry this poor soul (as I've already money) and attempted to carve out a life with him.

Today, "Boo" is still married to the goober. Throughout the years she discovered that he would probably never end up with very much money, and she has yet to see anything even remotely close to "animal magnetism" (unless you consider a fat belly "magnetic"). She even went as far as to procreate with the goober and bring four additional goobers into the world (trust me....they are goobers!).

BUT, don't feel too sorry for her. She still has the red truck (although it's not very shiny anymore), and more importantly, the love of a goober who is so very glad that seventeen years ago, a young gal completely lost her mind and married a......well, you know.

Love ya "Boo"!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pyramids....belong in Egypt

Who “pastors” the “Pastors”?

Yes, that is indeed a very good question. If indeed it is the role of a “Pastor” to shepherd, teach, and serve as God’s chosen authority for the body of Christ, one might ask the question, “Who exactly is doing this for the “Pastor”? I've heard it said by many that God Himself is the “pastor’s” Pastor. “God is the head of the “Pastor” and the “Pastor” is the head of the church.” While that may sound splendidly spiritual, it unfortunately has little to no biblical support.

For the purpose of clarification, let’s look at an example of the typical hierarchical structure that exists in many of today’s modern churches. As you read through my descriptions, try and view this “structure” as a pyramid. Lots of folks at the bottom, less in the middle, and one lone fella on top. By the way, I have personally seen and been a part of many such structures several times myself. It goes something like this:

First, we start with the laymen or “laity” of the church. This group would represent most of the congregation in a typical church’s body. They come to receive what the leadership has prepared for them. Some may occasionally volunteer in various, menial tasks within the church, but most are happy just to warm a pew a couple of times a week. By the way, if this is representative of where you are in the “church” food chain, you are on the bottom and under everyone else’s authority...pretty much.

Next, we have our “lay leaders”. These would be your Sunday school teachers, committee members, small group leaders, etc. They are not part of the “professional” ministry team, but are responsible for much of the basic ministry that happens within the church. If you’ve ever heard of the old 20/80 analogy (20 percent of the congregation does 80 percent of the work), this group would certainly represent the blessed 20 percent. As a side note, I truly believe these are your real ministers within the body of Christ. Hard working, git-r-done folks!

After that, comes the esteemed “professional” ministers and the church staff. These folks are typically paid, although there are some who work as volunteers. The “professionals” are generally responsible for heading up the “major” ministries within the “church” such as children's, youth, and music ministry. Some are actually regarded as being “pastors” at least within their given areas of ministry, but they are all under the authority of the “Senior Pastor” (use caps for him).

Although the following group does not exist in all churches, most congregations do have something at least similar to a Board of “whatever” in place. The “whatever” could be elders, deacons, or like the ones I’ve been associated with, just plain old board “members”. These guys (not many women ever make it to this level...sorry gals!) are generally responsible for anything and everything having to do with the financial aspects of “church” life. They approve budgets and make the “big” decisions regarding how the money is spent that has been given to the church. Many boards have authority in some respect over the “Pastor”, but only in a business sense. Yeah, they can work to oust the guy if they don’t like him, but when it comes to “spiritual” authority, the “Pastor” is the man!

Finally, we come to the “Pastor”. In larger churches (or if he likes the way it sounds), he may be known as the “Senior Pastor”. It is the “Senior Pastor” who has been called by God and he alone has been given authority (by God) to be the head of the church. This is especially true in regards to spiritual authority. We are asked to “get behind” the “Pastor’s” vision for the church and follow his lead when it comes to ministry and how “church” should be “done”.

With that, let’s take a moment and try to put all this into perspective. If you are one of the following:

The laity
Lay leaders
Church staff
Board members

You are spiritually (and for the poor staff in a business sense...he’s the boss!) under the authority of the “Senior Pastor”.

Only one problem with that. Where exactly do you find such a notion in the bible?

Answer: Nowhere!

You may think I’m being a overly critical in my presentation of the bogus hierarchical structure that exists in today’s churches, know...for the most’s a true representation of the roles that exist!

Now, back to my original question. Who “pastors” the “Pastors”?

Well, that depends. If you buy into the above mentioned church structure. Your answer will most likely be God. God is the authority to which a “Pastor” is subject to.

If that is so, might I pose a different question?

If the “Pastor” is able to reside under the spiritual authority of God and God alone...why can’t the rest of us?

Why do we need a “spiritual CEO”?

Are we stupid, "unspiritual", or just plain lazy? Of course not!

By the way, according to the modern church’s usage of the term “pastor”, the only way a person could ever hope to become a “Pastor” is to be hired by a church……to be a “Pastor”. Cause when you quit, or are fired, you’re obviously no longer a “Pastor” (according to the modern church). You're just another, run of the mill Christian.

If that’s so, who’s authority would a former “Pastor” be under? See the logic? It’s foolishness to say that this man “chosen by God” only possesses authority over the “church” while holding an exalted position within the “church”. Lose the job, no authority. Did God strip it away?

Truth is, he NEVER had any more "God given" authority than you, me, or any other “run of the mill” Christian.

It’s time we dropped the middle man friends. The veil was torn into. Through Christ, we all have equal access to the Holy one. He alone is our ultimate authority and He alone is our Chief Shepherd. Yes, I'm quite aware the bible speaks of the elders as shepherds and of their "shepherding" the people, but it DOES NOT speak of a hired gun, one man show "Pastor". If your "church" doesn't have multiple "elders" leading the people, you don't have a biblical leg to stand on, so don't waste your time on pointless, feel good arguments. Our Father has given us His spirit to “bring us into all truth” and we are all called to live as brothers not “lording” power over each other.

As a side note: If you think I’m being a little harsh in using the term “lording”, try working for a “church”. The “Pastor” is the “boss” and most don’t waste any time in letting you know it! BUT don't blame the "Pastors". All the blame goes to the "church members" for allowing non biblical leadership structures to remain in place.

Does God use leaders and allow for leadership to exist within the body of Christ? Absolutely!

Does this leadership look anything like the man-contrived positions of authority that exist in the modern church? Absolutely...not!

Bottom line: Leave the false “pyramids” of “church” structure where they Egypt!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sunday Morning: Time to go

A wise friend of mine reminded me to share the following thoughts with you before I share my blog post....with you.

Everything that I've written below slapped me around for a good long time before I had the courage to write about it. Please know I don't share it "looking down my nose", but rather "looking up to see the ground". you can read it.

The other day, I ran into an acquaintance of mine of whom I had not seen in quite a while. After the initial, "Hey, how ya been" stuff, he proceeded to ask me the one question I find to be most peculiar among Christians here in the good ole US of A. That of course being, "So, where you guys going to church these days?" Now, in the past I would have responded to that question with the expected response of, "Oh, we have been going to __________". But, over the last few months I have come to realize just how strange that question really is. I mean I just don't get how I can "go"….to what I "am".

Confused? Well, let me elaborate.

The bible clearly states that WE (that means all Christians together) are God's holy church, the body of Christ. Now I’m no genius, nor have I been to seminary, but I’m fairly sure that when the bible uses the term “church”, it is speaking of God’s kids. Yes people, not buildings. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to be all that difficult to assume that “going to church” is....well impossible! Yet for some reason, modern day Christians continue to spout this nonsense about “going” to something that in reality is simply....”themselves” (that may be grammatically improper, but true none the less)!

In fact, nowhere (at least as far as I can find) do you find anyone in the bible ever talking about "going to church". They might have visited “the church” in a certain city or province. It even speaks of “the church meeting at" so and so's house. But, nowhere have I found this idea of "going to church" in the bible. I mean it's not as if we don't understand what it means to "go" somewhere. We "go" places all the time. We "go" to Wal-Mart. We “go” to the movies. We even “go” to school. Yes "going" is a concept that even a young child can understand. We “go” to a “place” not to a “person”. Yet, why do we persist in using religious jargon that not only makes no sense, but more importantly has no biblical basis?

Here’s a thought for you (and me).

Could it be that somewhere along the way Christians have found that attending a “service” of some type a couple of times a week is far easier and far more convenient than actually having to "be" what God has called them to be?

You see folks, it’s a heck of a lot easier to commit to “going to church” a few times a week than actually having to embrace the idea that we are called to BE “the church” 24/7. I mean “going to church” is easy. Why? Well, if you “go” to church, the good news is that you eventually get to leave “the church”! Not so if you “ARE” ”the church”. Bottom line: Bigger commitment with far bigger responsibilities that you just can’t drive off and wave bye-bye to!

By the way, I'm still working on the 24/7 part. I'm up to about 1 1/2 hours twice a week!

Yes, we live in society that loves labels, traditions, and convenience. We live in a day in which the "status quo" rules and reigns supreme. It's true of the world and unfortunately very much true of the church of Jesus Christ. By the way, if you dare challenge that "status quo", be prepared for some angry looks and hostile words. People don't mind you "rocking the boat" as long as it's not the one their in!

So let’s end this, shall we?

If you're reading this, (you obviously must be bored out of your mind) you must certainly have an opinion on this particular subject one way or the other. Please allow me to state the obvious.

You either:

Agree with me that using the religious jargon such as "go to church" is foolishness and does nothing but confuse unbelievers and believers alike.

Disagree with me and believe that using the phrase "go to church" is not a problem whatsoever and think I'm being critical, cynical, and generally a pain in the butt.


You are a BIG pansy and just want to keep everyone happy (I have played this role many times myself). “Let’s all just hold hands, skip through the daisies, and be friendly”. "I mean what’s a few words between friends?” “Can't we all just agree to disagree even if it means clinging to unbiblical bologna?”

The answer by the way is no.

Yes my friends, join me won’t you? Let’s all quit “going to church”!

You’ll be much happier and happily I’ll have other folks out there to take some of the “heat” I get for being so very.....mean spirited and cynical”.

PS....I’m not.