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Posts Tagged ‘missional’

Because we have many children and homeschool, a midday meeting with a pastor to ask questions is difficult for both my husband and me to attend.  I trust my husband though, so since we didn’t find a sitter, he went on alone.  This pastor is from a “church plant” of our former church.  Some members came from our former church willingly for the plant, and others may have been less than willing to plant.  In fact, a few have returned to our former church after the allotted planting time.  We came to this church despite my fears because one of the couples who fought for two years in our former church goes to this church.  They really have expressed that the pastor is very conservative and handles the word of God rightly and carefully.  We had to at least try this church.  It’s very small at this time.  One benefit of it’s newness and small size is that the children older than 8 are with parents in service.  They don’t have enough people to take the children out.  This church does appear to have a wishy washy music ministry, if you ask me.  I have been trained on this music for at least 8 years…if not more.   I do like some of it, and rightly so.  However, other times I am not so sure as it’s the 7-11 style music (seven words eleven times…).  Also, one day the music pastor randomly said, “let’s have a bit of silence” for no reason.  This has to be addressed if we are to attend this church seriously.

My husband let the pastor know up front our issues with the former church and even shared one email from someone in leadership to us.  He started at the beginning with the “Christ followers vs. Christian” videos and the guest speaker Steven Smith.  He spoke to him about emergent things leaking in, Youth Front connections, Missional, and on and on.  He spilled it all (if you’re newly reading my blog you’d have to go back).  He even talked about why we’re not comfortable with Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose. 

This pastor’s response was so helpful.  He first said that, as a former staff member of the church we recently left, he was having difficulties with what was happening before he left for this new plant.  He talked about discussions of “missional” themes, and revealed to us one of the pastors was also against it from the beginning stating…”what does that mean anyway, it’s not even a word!”  Knowing that pastor, I laugh because I could hear him saying it.  He also shared our concerns about someone using quotes from emergent leaders and then trying to say they weren’t influenced by it.  He says, “I don’t quote even respectable leaders like Martin Luther because there are aspects of his teachings I don’t agree with…so if you disagree with someone I quoted please come to me.”  He also said he didn’t understand why the former church treated us so badly when it comes to being Berean like.  He commented that this is important, we are to test the spirits and listen to preaching critically, and that it’s not bad to be discerning.  He said he hopes we can feel comfortable enough to be able to learn from sermons.  I think he sincerely hopes we are hearing truth at the church he preaches in, and that we will be learning not because we’ve turned off our discernment and are learning bad teaching.  For once, my husband says he felt a preacher was truly hearing him and he wasn’t getting a “company line.” 

I believe that if this church was on the Warren train, my husband couldn’t have opened up about this without the “company line.”  This man is still friends with people and some leadership of the former church.  However, he assured my husband that friendship didn’t mean this church is like our former church.  He says they did seperate themselves rather quickly.  In fact, they have never liked the “marketing” to young marrieds with children.  He says he hopes this church is seen as a welcome place for Christians in all stages of life from birth to elderly.  Really, we did attend a Sunday School Bible study class, and noticed how the older couples who are very conservative were asked questions and were respected in class. 

This pastor also commented that people are still joining who are from our former church (it was big enough that we cannot know everyone).  A couple joined a few weeks ago, they expressed that they have been frustrated with  our former church and should have come when the plant was started.  Very interesting to see the former church is still bleeding out the back door. 

I am still nervous about jumping into a church plant affiliated previously with our former church.  Everything in me wants to run 180 degrees in the other direction.  However, I think it’s worth a look and to really see if this church is different enough to actually still be orthodox/Biblical.  Since we have been visiting another church that appears to be very Biblically focused, Christ centered….it’s really still between two churches.

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I actually believe our former pastor may mention our names at least in an elder meeting.  Because one of us was overheard talking about the church, I just wonder what will come of it?  During the call, my husband shared that he cannot possibly stop telling people who ask why we left the church honestly what he thinks.  The pastor then said something like, “so likewise, I can share about you spreading rumors and saying things we don’t agree with.”  My husband said he didn’t care what they say.   It may have not been that harsh, really, from the pastor.  It was what I thought my husband said, but it was along those lines.  At any rate, I wonder if there will be some sort of larger group that will hear about this?  At any rate, it is what it is. 

I don’t believe we ever said the former church was 100% emergent.  I do believe we said there were emergent phrases and authors popping up in sermons, and that the youth camp was emergent.  The type of prayer has been mentioned as a problem to pastors, one even contacted the youth camp to get the example of prayer off the web site stating it’s not Biblical.  Last time I checked, it’s still there.   The pastor told my husband about Noomas being shown to the youth…and this was not something we’d ever heard.  It was in the context of, “I thought we agreed to be discreed about [minister X] and the Noomas.”  Huh.  So, though it wasn’t my husband who had this discussion, and I don’t recall us talking about minister X, someone has AND at least one Nooma has been shown to youth somewhere, somehow through this church.  Yet there is denial of emergent creeping in?  The pastor still was frustrated that we made connections based on who was quoted in sermons.  Okay, truthfully, it wasn’t just quotes.  A sermon was framed right from Donald Miller’s stuff.  I heard a podcast and the idea came directly from the podcast of Miller’s.  Even if only one pastor on staff was saying this stuff, it shows he is into emergent teaching and he promoted it right from the pulpit.  To NOT address this is wrong.  So, yeah, since that pastor is still on staff, there is an emergent element in our former church. 

One thing that has been true of our former church is they have been on the Warren P.E.A.C.E. plan.  So, I guess we can call them what?  Seeker friendly?  The pastors all read Dallas Willard and many recommended his works to me to read.  So, we can call the church what?  Contemplative/Spiritual Formation influenced?  The church itself uses terms like “Bible based” and “Missional.”  So, it’s an emergent/contemplative/Spirtual Formation/Missional/Bible influence church.  ECSFMBIC

Of course, we’re supposed to never say this church is emergent because that movement is dying, according to what the former pastor said.  Huh.  Bet there was a day when someone thought the Mormon church was dying too when it was in it’s early years.  Of course, renaming yourself or infiltrating churches through the back door, and many times through the front, doesn’t make you a “church” so much as it makes the churches you.  But, no, pastor…it’s not dying.  It’s doing what it has been made to do, it’s evolving.

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Today, I walked my neighborhood for some political campaigning.  One candidate helped me a lot with a bill (it became a law) and I’m happy to help him out (even if it’s hard lugging around my  children while I do it).  I came across a neighbor friend who is also a minister at our old church from the youth side.  We have no beef with him as we don’t really know what he’s preached or taught the teens, we don’t yet have a teen.  We do not know for sure what’s up on the youth side, have heard rumors of Rob Bell and Nooma (not that they played the Noomas, but that the minister/pastor types have read them and maybe promote).  We cannot rely on rumor though.  We know some have left the church based on their experience on the youth side…or what they think about it.  We’re not sure what people really know, what they think they know.  We just know that we like this minister, he’s a great guy, his wife is great.  Still, knowing we recently left the church, knocking on his door did make me wonder how it would go.  I don’t know, I think we were both awkward.  I told him we had a meeting with the lead pastor coming up and he gave me the “good luck” kind of response I’ve gotten from a few, and the comments were that meetings of this sort with him can be interesting.  He did give me a sort of heads up that he had spoken with my husband, and the pastor had listed us as a family who left the church.  He said he gave the pastor one brief comment my husband made which was the problem of not knowing where the ship was going.  We were on a path going somewhere, but there was not a clear indication where and when we had asked about where we got similar answers that people really didn’t know for sure.  That’s a true statement, we did have an issue with the fact that our church seemed to be going somewhere, and we didn’t know where exactly.  I think we’re getting a better picture of where now.  The movement appears to be further away from glorifying God, away from the focus on Christ and his word.  That’s really enough to make us want to go…period.

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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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Family

Shared the Lighthouse Trails article with a cousin, and she and I spoke on the phone.  When I described what has happened in my church, and the characteristics of Warrenite churches, or missional churches of late, she said it sounded just like what happened to her grandparents and aunts and uncles on the other side of the family.  They attend Nazarene churches, and they have noticed a more “seeker” friendly approach, with rock concerts and the like to draw people.  They have seen changes, tried to confront them, and have been told to like it or lump it, basically.  They have left the church and tried to start another Nazarene church in a nearby community.  They were told that the community was too near the other one and would pull members away from the changing Nazarene church (duh).  So many members have left and have no place to go.  I fear they are going to have to meet independently.  Sad.  These are salt of the earth Christians here being ignored and let go by the Nazarene church and the pastor.  They were members of this church for maaaahhhhaaaannnyyyyy years.  This means nothing to the seeker sensitive pastors.  Not sure they are actually Warrenites, but sounds like it.  I feel for these elderly people, who in the later days of their lives have been abandoned by their own church home.  They are not emerging youth, so they mean nothing.  What of their wisdom, and what of all that can be gleaned from them?

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It’s been an odd 8 months.  We didn’t know anything about contemplative prayer, and the concerted effort by a diverse group of people to shift American (and possibly world) churches toward disciplines, missional focus, and contemplative/lectio divina and other forms of prayer.  Now that we know more, we still have more to learn.  People want to make distinctions between emerging, emergent, emergence etc.  Just read Christianity Today’s blog, and saw a video by Doug Paggitt talking about these words.  The blogger said this:

“In this video, Doug Pagitt explains the relationships between the terms emerging, Emergent, and “emergence.” It strikes me as trying to decide which layer of the Incredible Gobstopper is the actual Gobstopper. But you should decide for yourself.”

Link to the youtube…and blog here… (scroll down as the titles aren’t clickable…) It’ s the Sept.22 2008 entry

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/

I really like the gobstopper picture of it all.  Our church was maybe into layer three of the gobstopper.  The center is the focus on shift/missional (mission of god as defined by some team somewhere).  If your church has been shifting, then they are a part of this gobstopper.  I think it’s better to be in a church with Christ and the gospel as the center…with the focus on the Solas.  The layers are all part of it.  I don’ t know though if Christianity should be described as a layered thing, because it’s not like some secret society where you get higher and higher levels and deeper and deeper secret knowledge.  I think with Christianity either you are or you aren’t, either you believe or you don’t.  Anything beyond that is maturity.  But, for this emerge (merge with something out there) phemomenon, it’s a multilayered thing.  Your church may just be on the very outside, and can probably detatch pretty easily.  The closer to the center, the harder it is not to have been changed (have missional in you…be a part of it).  It’s harder to get out of the whole thing when you have been wrapped in layer upon layer of beliefs and requirements. 

As a person once on the inside of this, then on the outside, it’s an education to see what each layer is abou, and see the connectedness between them.  The outside layer appears to be the inspirational/feel good side.  You can read it and not really get hooked.  The next may be the seeker friendly movement.  Your church may do the 40 days of purpose, but not really change the whole church based upon it.  Small groups pop up, but really they are Bible studies and not just small groups.  Deeper in, your church really means 40 Days and you have small groups, Bible focus is shifted.  No Paggitt (who is he?) no Bell (what) and you still have pews or seats.  Next is the artsy thing, church is more into creativity and more and more pastors mention authors you’ve never heard of.  You have gone from popular/Christianity lite to a deeper “spirituality” with people talking about going on a journey or their story in God’s story, or God’s dream.  This is really where my church was.  We’d have preaching with Bible passages, but beyond that, the pastors used many theories of men to push a mindset about church, our mission (which someone defined for us out there), and what was valuable.  I think the youth in our church were actually on a different level.  At least one pastor was into Rob Bell and that stuff.  Youth were sent to a camp where they taught outright contemplative prayer, praying on a prayer rope, the Jesus prayer, and the like.  The leader of these camps has photos of kids in a pose where they are flat on their backs with feet and arms relaxed…eyes closed.  Supposed to have been a great moment of great closeness to God.  Okay.  We weren’t at that layer in our church, but our teens would have been exposed to it.  I believe the pastors deny our involvement with emergent or whatever it’s called, but our youth were involved.  Because it was an outside source, we weren’t a part of it.  Yeah, right.

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Another sign that Ravi Zacharias has gone to the contemplatives/missional/disciplines side of things…

I read an article today linking a youtube video.  In the video, Ravi refers to Henri Nouwen very positively (about 6 minutes in).  So, what are Christians to do about the leaders of the church, many loved and respected, who show themselves influenced by these contemplatives and/or downright New Age change agent authors?  I know we must pray, check ourselves to see if we are sinning.  This is for sure.  We need to also pray and ask God about our situation.  Are we to confront, speak out, or something else?  I think we need to be very wise, and rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Anyone have an opportunity to ask Ravi questions in a forum?  I say someone needs to ask him about prayer or something in a pointed and careful way just as Christ would.  He’s one who might see the error of what he has been promoting, maybe?  I personally want to get in to the Bible Answer Man and call with a prayer question, and ask specifically about his opinion of some of these authors while on line.  I think we should be kind and loving, but also wise…as serpents…gentle as doves (please site the verse for me and make sure I’m not misquoting or taking out of context here…). 

I truly love Ravi Zacharias though I’ve never met him.  I pray for him and his family, and his ministry.  Maybe God will put someone in his path that he can listen to on this issue.

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