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Posts Tagged ‘mergent’

This comment comes up when we run into friends from church.  We’re honest, and we say we’ve left.  Usually that is followed by the awkward, “uhmmmm, can I ask why?”  I personally now have a faster answer that is not so…whispered.  I simply say, “the pastor’s sermons have gotten to the point where they are using strange new age terms.  Also, if you research what transformation, spiritual formation, and other terms they use mean you might find some things that aren’t Biblical involved.”  That says enough.  I usually get a blank stare.   One friend the other day said, “well, I’ll be listening carefully then.”  That’s the answer I hope for.  Not the “we’ll leave right away” but “I’ll pay attention.”  It’s much better not to follow someone blindly trusting, but to look and listen for yourself and see if the person is saying something correct and true.

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Visited a local church this Sunday.  We’ve gone there before, they are a church “plant” of our old church.  I was assured they are independent of the old church.  We’ve gone before and not had too many issues with the sermons.  Since this church is closer to our home by twenty minutes, and services start later, we had an easy morning getting there on time.   It’s a smaller congregation, smaller town, so there’s less materialism in dress.  People do dress up, others are casual, but it’s not the same as the larger church we attended.  Not many had grey hair at the old church, not everyone is like this at this local church.  Songs were a mix of modern and hymn.  I’d say they are a comfortable place to worship, and the pastor is humble.  They do have some signs of having the same themes, but not nearly as strong as the old church.

Today was not good, however.  There was a guest speaker.  His sermon was essentially the Ortberg book.  He told the story of Peter, and yet focused on the other disciples saying they were “boat potatoes” and at least Peter got out of the boat.   Peter’s gift to Jesus was getting out of the boat.  He talked about how we need to reach this generation and they are leaving church because they’re bored, bored, bored.  And, wouldn’t it be awful if all we did every day was take care of our lawn, work, and die?  We need to not be afraid and take risks.  He used a the scripture with the parable of the talents from Matthew 25.  The man who didn’t reproduce the talents was afraid.  He said, he feared the world, life’s problems.    He began to talk excitedly saying something like this, “the man was afraid, this life has many problems, it’s risky out there…the economy’s bad, the gas prices are down…I’m safer at home.”  Okay, look that one up.  The man says he is afraid not because of what’s out in the world, not hiding at home doing nothing.  He hides what his master gave to him because of his fear of the master who was a hard man.  He was afraid of the risk because of the master’s reaction if he lost the talent all together.  The master sees him as lazy and wicked, which may also give insight that the man may have just wasted the time away, wasted the talent because he didn’t want to go and work. 

In the course of the sermon, this man mentioned Ortberg by using his book title (and I bet the perspective from the book, anyone know?).  He also knew Max Lucado, dropped that name right away.  He also mentioned a quote by Tony Campolo. 

My problems with the sermon were that the text was obviously twisted, if even slightly.  This man has obviously been paid to speak and should have his stories fit well with the text of scripture.  The call was partly to energize the youth because they are bored.  If youth are bored in churches that preach the truth, our job is NOT to entertain them, it’s to continue to teach the truth.  This theme was drilled into us by our old chruch, not at all interested in seeing that theme run it’s course again.  The basic message was that we need to get out and do something.  This man doesn’t want any one of us to regret our lives, we should have interesting stories to tell in our old age.  We should do something like go on missions trips, take risks.  Okay, but what if our entire lives are to be JUST raising our family, or being a school janitor?  There are plenty of people who do serve God but their lives aren’t full of large risks.  What of all the families and individuals throughout history that just did ordinary things like taught a Sunday school class?  What of the people who work meals on wheels or become a nurse?  What of those who are faithful to take their children to church and teach them well?  What if they don’t do anything out of the ordinary, but their grandchildren do because of their influence and faithful life?  I’m sure every life will have a human interest story to it, whether good or bad.  That is NOT the point of our lives.  I would rather be a nobody with a nothing story at the end of my life if my God is pleased with me, and says, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  A boring old life with menial labor and ordinary tasks is not a shame.  We are to do what God calls us to do, and if someone shares the gospel where they are planted, serves and gives when they can, and sees fruit from that, who is to say they are not doing it right?  These guys make it seem like we all have to be out doing something extraordinary to please God.  Usually, it’s a story good enough for a sermon or to quote in a book.  Who does this please?  God or men,  hmmm? 

So now the dilemma.  Do we return, do we share our concerns?   I say we meet with the pastor and bring up the concerns we have with the guest speaker. 

On another note, many people have contacted us from the old church wanting to meet…most are in leadership. They want to know why we left.  My husband has a meeting upcoming already.  We shall see what this accomplishes.  For a family the elder said would not be noticed if we left by the pastor in question, we sure are being noticed by several others.  What is wrong with this one pastor?  I believe he will know we’re gone.  Either way, it only matters if God wants him to notice.  Each meeting is another chance to tell someone the truth.  Hopefully something good will come from all these opportunities.  God willing.

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I’ve written my letter, mostly.  I’m having a few friends I trust look it over.  So now what? 

I’m a bit confused now, really.  I do not know how to trust any longer when it comes to hearing a sermon.  It’s like when I was younger and read “Late Great Planet Earth” and everything around me I saw was pointing to scary events.  I was hyper focused on the stuff I read, and was walking in fear.  I now feel unraveled, that I need to go back to basics so to speak, to get my bearings. 

I believe the emergent/seeker friendly/new spirituality/new age church is wide spread.   Because it is so widespread, I’m afraid I’ll just church shop my way into the same problem again.  Also, and this is very difficult, I now wonder how much of what I believe has been colored and touched by false teaching.  I do not want to throw away the good and true things I have learned because it seems like what mergent churches might teach.  I want to hold fast to what is good even if Rick Warren said it once.  You see, the lie is so close to the truth that there is some truth there.  It would be easy to loose faith after realizing the lies we were rubbing up against.  It’s hard to wonder how much of my “good will” feelings were my own or what was prompted by the suggestions of my church leaders.  Sometimes I look at the good things our church was doing (in terms of service and missions projects) and I begin to wonder what was wrong with that?  The only thing wrong, really, was that it wasn’t coming from God but coming from man’s plans.  To top it off, the message was distorted only slightly (more so now than then), and so what we were doing was not for God.  Is is an accurate thing to say our church was like Cain?  Abel brought the true sacrifice God required, and we were bringing something else.  That made everything we did not quite good enough, not quite right.  We were missing the mark.  So now, I live in this little world where I question so much of what I’m doing.  What do I do next? 

I also don’t want to judge people wrongly.  If there is a tie in to mergent, fine, I’ll avoid or try to redirect.  I don’t want to shy away from going out and walking around and praying for my neighbors.  Though “prayer walks” come from contemplative style churches, this doesn’t mean that praying for my neighbors should stop.  I don’t want to avoid going out by myself and praying just because contemplatives talk about solitude.  I also don’t want to avoid trying to find a quiet place to have a “quiet time” or spend time reading and praying because contemplatives talk of being still.  There is nothing wrong with going to the Father in prayer and finding a quiet place to pray.  It’s whether or not that is requried for “a closer relationship” to Him that’s questionable.  I will not be meditating with repetative phrases, I will not be opening myself up or centering in prayer.  So, being quiet for a while is not evil.  It’s just the distortion of the requirements and the mimicking eastern meditation methods that is wrong.  It’s not wrong to expect to be changed because I am a Christian, it’s just wrong to transform into something of this world.

So, I guess the “now what” is to just “do the next thing.”  I need to take time to be with my family, to study the Bible, to pray, and to find a place we can worship the only wise God, the true God.

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I spoke with one carefully selected pastor today.  He was amazing.  He first prayed, and asked God that I would speak in “truth” with “clarity” and “boldly.”  I cried before I started, but got it together so that I could speak at all.  He agreed with me that the “emergent” themes are popping up in our church.  He agreed that the youth organization camp (YF) outside of our church is emergent and that the emergent is linked with the New Age.  He also feels that our church pastors have historically been focused on Christ and are saved, but that they are trying to replace language with new language and it’s not just the language that’s the problem but the meaning behind it, and the focus.  He believes this church’s focus is now just off enough that they are no longer focusing on Christ, on the Word of God, and it’s subtle, but it’s truly there.  He says he’s spoken to pastors about his concerns.  One pastor even brought a book from lighthouse trails research to him and asked him to read it.  He said he did, but he’s also reading another book much more technical and looking at theology and emergent.  I am facinated to hear this.  He really almost begged us to stay, that we would share our concerns carefully in love.  He did say he understands though if we really feel called to leave because our children are important.  He was glad I came to him and am honest, and he feels our family is rooted in the faith and loosing families like ours is bad for our congregation.  Many have already left, he’s spoken to them.  He suggests before we make our final exit, we write to a few of the pastors and outline our struggle specifically, telling them truthfully what we are seeing and where the message has gotten off.  He says to wait for their response.  He says he prays they will admit their mistake, and that they will put their focus back on Christ, the gospel, and reaching people for Christ. 

I feel for him, I really do.  He says he is not “a warrior” in this church trying to be on a high horse and change them back.  He does feel he’s welcome to speak the truth here (and I’ve never heard any of this stuff from him).  This is very good to hear.  He says he doesn’t feel he needs to leave and then he added, “yet.”  He wants to stay in contact with us, and really is concerned with things I brought up, and made it clear he has seen it too.  His hope is that the church will get off of man centered focus and back to focus on glorifying God.

I believe him.  I don’t think he’s playing any games.  He might be let go if he does push forward, and may have to find another job someday.  However, it’s possible, maybe, the church will be brought back.  Now we are back to square one, almost.  Actually, my husband has released himself from the area of ministry he was involved in.  He let the pastor of that area know we were leaving.  Of course, if we do decide to stay, we will not hide anything at all.  We will stay with the hope that our church does change back.  We can still participate in missions, service, and arts worship.  We just have to START with the focus on God.  The works can flow from this.  Oh, I believe there needs to be a humility, repentance, call for forgiveness, and then maybe a pruning, and then we’ll see what God will do.  Of course, I only spoke with someone who “got” what I was saying.  I think we’re going to come upon resistance like we’ve never seen if we really push forward.  At least we’re not in any positions of power, we don’t have anything to loose.  I am nobody.  I am not worth anything.  I am just a sinner who is saved by the mercy, grace, and faith given me by Christ Jesus.  Period.  That’s what I got. 

 

So now it’s to prayer, and talk with my husband to see what we should do.

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