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Posts Tagged ‘michael frost’

Moving on in this electronic world is hard.  It’s hard not to listen online, hard not to see people people online either.  We have chosen to leave our former church, but so far the issue hasn’t left us.  When I was overheard, this prompted a call to the pastor and a call to us (I assume it was me as I can think of where I would have been and who I was with…when I was speaking openly in public).  His statement is that the church has denounced emergent and is not headed in an emergent direction.  He says we base our information on a few sermons by a different pastor.  He also says they let go of one youth pastor, but though “we talked about Nooma videos he showed” (which we never did talk about and we weren’t aware) he wanted us to be discreet about that and thought we discussed that discreetness…uhmmmm.  We never had that conversation and thank you for proving our point.  Noomas in the youth is another sign of clear emergent leanings.  Oh, and the pastor says they let several staff members go because of financial reasons, not for the Noomas.  So they may have confronted emergent verbally, but do they see it in their staff?  Pastor claims “emergent” is dying.  Well, the terms may have changed, but the shift of churches is not dying. 

To his credit, his sermons do use scripture very much.  I don’t think Rick Warren is the same as Doug Pagitt.  I do not think Dallas Willard is the same as McLaren.  I do believe they are on a similar path, to change church and to focus on emergent youth OR on self and disciplines from Catholic mystics.  This may not be emergent.  I see other authors label it something else, contemplative something or other…maybe it’s contemplative spiritual disciplines.  To be clear, the church we attended hasn’t come out with contemplative prayer.  It has come out with spiritual formation.  This term alone links back to monks in caves hundreds of years ago.  These monks chanted and used breathing techniques as well as repetition to “meditate.”  Requirements of silence, fasting, and the like for a supposed deeper relationship with God are part of this spiritual discipline thing, as well as spiritual formation.  If the church has a spiritual formation pastor, and plans on lectio divina (as spoken by the pastor’s own mouth) and wants to follow the plans of Dallas Willard, and impliments “moments of silence” often, calls people to fast (not wrong to fast by the way, but it’s part of a larger picture here) then they are part of a movement that is not Biblical.  Focusing on this for spiritual transformation, methods and means not practiced by the disciples themselves.  I would say choosing to be disciplined is not a bad thing.  Saying you need it for deeper relationship with Christ is not accurate.  Discipline can make our Christian lives easier, can make memorization easier, and can help us to start our day in prayer.  Altering breathing, sitting in silence with no activity, these things are strange and unbibical in the context of trying to get closer to God.  Making an effort to give a sacrifice to God in our day is not wrong, as long as we realize our sacrifices are not worthy but God is gracious and merciful and can be pleased by us if we are humble and contrite (which cannot be manufactured).  Service is also a part of the spiritual formation movement.  Service in Christian life in itself is good.  However, service as a way to “get closer to God” is not.  I believe what is wrong with spiritual formation is it’s all flipped.  Service for others flows FROM the compassion we gain in Christ.  We are first made new creatures.  We have to recognize we still have a sin nature.  At any rate, our pastors from our former church were heavy into the spiritual formation books, mostly Dallas Willard. 

The one pastor who was most obvious in his sermons doesn’t make the head pastor bat an eye.  He sees no scary connections when Frost, Miller, and others are quoted.  He doesn’t even ruffle when he’s told about the “christ conciousness” or “christ coursing through my veins” or “you are little christs.”  He even defended the “little christ” comment.  He mentioned lectio divina, he defended Dallas Willard and suggested we read his books.  He defended the teaching by Steve Smith when he visited the church…the teaching that Lazarus had grave clothes and our grave clothes are life’s trials and burdens.  This teaching was strange, and bothered me a great deal and the pastor mentioned lectio divina after these stating, “it’s been around since the reformation.”  

Another pastor we spoke to said if our former church has denounced emergent doctrine and that was our complaint, we couldn’t leave then.  Well, we may not have brought out we don’t agree with following Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and we may have only mentioned Dallas Willard, but our issue is with these things too.  We also feel, and it’s hard to define exactly, but that the lead pastor is manipulative and really makes me personally nervous.  Anyone who knew we were having a meeting with the man said, “good luck.”  He is intimidating.  This alone is a red flag of warning.  In general, people give the impression they don’t really feel safe with him or may feel he’s overbearing.  Don’t know if I can pin it down.  I know I personally have been friendly to him, he’s been friendly back.  He just seems much like a man trying to proove something.  I have met men like him, if I were in single land (before marriage) I would have known two things.  This man would never choose someone like me to date, and I would never choose him.  I feel like he’d be a guy who I would fight with.  I feel like I’d be expected to act a certain way in the home.  He’s not necessarily someone who oppresses women, don’t get me wrong.  I just get that feeling when around some men, that I wouldn’t mix with him.  Usually these guys are driven and goal oriented, intelligent.  However, they seem to be demanding and perfectionistic.  It’s not authority, it’s something else.  Now this is just speculation on my part…please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying he’s a bad man or anything, just most people don’t say he’s sweet. 

Oh, see, I’ve titled this “moving on” and I cannot move on.  That is my problem.  I have got to find a way to get this out of me, let it go.  How do you let go when you think a church is being led in the wrong direction?

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My husband is out there working, and out and about, has run into a few pastors from our old church.  One pastor spoke to him a bit.  We’re attending a church regularly (by no means becoming members because we have to really examine it).  The pastor and my husband spoke about it, and the pastor told us it was a good fit for our family and a healthy place to be.  He then spoke of the letter (he was one on the list we sent it to) and told my husband what is most important is “your perception.”  An elder told us what was important was that our family found a church we were comfortable in, find a church that’s best for our family.  Wow.  So basically, it’s the “if that’s how you see it it’s okay, go ahead and go to another church.”  It’s sort of a nice way of saying what we brought up doesn’t matter, really.  It’s just our perception of things.  So, since our “perception” is not reality to them, are we just plain crazy?  I don’t think it was our perception that heard the pastor quote Donald Miller and Michael Frost, both of whom are pretty deep into either emergent/contemplative or missional programs.  Michael Frost defined missional in a conference I watched on YouTube (got the context this way) and he said a church centered around missional does not think that worship is the organizing principal, nor fellowship, nor evangelism.  No, it’s the mission of God (as defined by what person or person?) that’s the organizing principle in these missional churches.  Okay, how am I to perceive this?

We have a meeting Monday morning with the lead pastor of the old church.  I do not have any idea how we’re to prepare other than to pray.  I do not want to organize a point by point and sit and tell him things that are wrong.  I feel our letter was pretty direct and he didn’t address much in it that we did hear and see and read in transcript of one sermon his co-pastor preached.  He eventually said that the pastors’ sermons were not full of men’s quotes, not emergent in nature, and did not take Christ out of the central focus.  It’s true, this lead pastor does preach less quotes of men, and he uses scripture.  I don’t really know for sure that this pastor’s sermons were off by a lot.  He did talk about the Nephalim, said things like the angels brought the gospel…a few unusual quotes here or there.  He has preached on contending for the faith in the meantime asking people not to be “Bible Police.”  What?  He does use a lot of illustrations like having an actual boat on stage, or other props (not always a problem though, the visual is effective at times).  One previous member has noted that the focus of the sermons is can at times be how we can use the word of God, or other aspects of the Christian life (like prayer) to get something we want.  Usually, that something is a noble thing like we can feel good by serving others, we can grow our church by reaching the emergent youth, we can pass down Christianity by taking this “young adults are leaving” the church seriously.  We can reach the world and change the world if we only plan and have a vision and then follow that vision.  Plan big plans and make big goals, and there you have it, success.  This is interesting, because I’m not sure Moses had big plans and goals.  I think God had the plans, and Moses was just to obey.  In fact, men’s big plans were never what gets success (as defined by God) but what did get across what God wanted was obedience to Him.  Now, if he wanted to show His glory, God also used disobedience in contrast with obedience.  Look at Pharoah, God used his hard heart to bring glory to himself and also to attain His end.  So, really, what causes “success” is God.  Period.  A pastor may end up with an empty church, and somehow (not in human terms but in God’s way) this could actually be success to God.  This is because God is knows what He is doing.  How successful was Noah when the whole world except his family had to be drowned?  Who failed there?  It certainly wasn’t God’s failure.  So, in terms of pointing out problems in the meeting, I can only say we may point out that the references to vision and plan can be misleading.  We have to seek for God’s plan in things…but maybe not in the big picture as He might not share this with us (okay, we have the BIG picture of Christ’s return, but I mean big in terms of what our lifetime has to do with the whole thing).  However, we do have God’s word for our conduct.  When events occur that push us into God’s bigger plans (if He chooses us for that), then we have His word to guide us.  We can pray and we can get counsel from believers.  We trust God, and we press forward.  It may be that we are killed, or have to have church underground.  It may be that we are starving or in prison.  It may be that we’re just in a holding pattern, living a certain way for a long time as the Israelites did in Egypt.  Hundreds of years and several generations before God made a bigger move.  Years before the Egyptians got worried and then made them slaves.  Years more before they were freed to go to the promised land.  Years of wandering in the desert.  Years and years, when it may have seemed no one had any success.  But God was not unsuccessful through all that.  And in our lives, it’s not OUR vision and OUR plans, it’s not even exciting events.  It’s not our testimony, our story, or our anything.  It may be God’s will that I am a mother, and teach my children.  It ma;y be his will that I live long, and not much happens in my lifetime.  I have to be obedient in my life whether I am meant for leadership and large evident changes, or whether I just have laundry to do for my family.

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One of our pastors loves to read.  Evidently, it’s a lot of emergent type folks.  I spent a few hours with just two names from one sermon last evening.  First, I looked up Michael Frost.  I found a video clip of him speaking and discovered he believes a “missional church” is to be organized around a fundamental agenda…mission.  He did say specifically that church is not to be organized around worship or evangelism.  Okay.  Well, I thought church was to be organized around, uhm, oh, I’d like to HOPE it would be organized around Christ and His Word.  Am I off here?  (snark)  He spoke well of people, that’s for sure stating that “every person bears the image of God” or has a trace of God on their souls, buried in their souls…or something like that.  What of “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?”  This is what he called the imagiodeo.  (did I spell it correctly?).  I don’t think those of us created in God’s image actually have a little trace of God in or on our souls.  My pastor quotes this man positively.  He later quotes Don Miller, and basically takes word for word a quote of his from someone else.  I listened to the quote while hearing a “sermon?” Miller gave at Mars Hill on Story.  My pastor used a word for word quote in similar context.   Don’t try to tell me my church isn’t dabbling emergent or whatever little label they are today.  Missional, emergent, whatever, it’s all the same. 

Icing on the cake of the day:  The sermon contained the phrase “God consciousness.”  Lovely.  New Age enough for you?

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