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Aug

15

Overculturizing Your Church

By pastorbillwalden

Christianity is a subculture among every greater culture in which it finds itself.  Jesus taught that “narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and few find it”.  The implication is that there are more people that haven’t found Jesus than those who have.  In any given city, there will be more unbelievers than there will be Christians.  Therefore, the Church is a subculture of the greater community in which it is found.vanillaicecream

Then within the Church Universal in any given city, there are different churches, with different philosophies of ministry, different doctrinal emphases, and a different flavor in music, dress, etc.  Each individual church is a subculture of a larger subculture.

I am not suggesting that any Church should conform itself to worldly standards to be more relevant or relateable.  Jesus taught us otherwise…that following Him would actually separate family members.  Every Christian knows that or ought to know that.  Following Jesus puts you in a subculture of the great community you live in.

For me, that’s all OK so far.

Here is my concern…

The Church in its purest form is already a smaller piece of the pie in any given culture, but I find that we often “Gospelize” non-Gospel issues, making ourselves even more unrelatable and marginal than we naturally are or are intended to be.

We have strong opinions on lesser issues, and we go soft on major doctrinal issues and commands.  In my opinion, church leaders or congregants sometimes over-emphasize such issues as home schooling, vaccinations, politics, or support for Israel.  We fight over issues like drinking alcohol or church membership. We hang Israeli flags in our foyers, and then wonder why people of Arab ethnicity are uncomfortable in our churches.  We are blind to the fact that our churches aren’t multi-generational, and if we do see that, we hate making changes to welcome people of others age groups. We forget about loving our neighbors as ourselves.

The phrase is true: “like attracts like” and we usually choose to gather together with people that share more preferences than one might imagine.

The negative result with this can sometimes be a silent or spoken disapproval of others that are not like us, even from Christian to Christian.  It’s not wrong to have strong opinions; it is wrong to over-emphasize secondary preferences.

If we insist on living with the idea of “like attracts like”, we inadvertently reduce our approachability and relatability to others that might simply want to worship God and hear a good Bible study.  We chase them away with our silent or spoken disapproval.

We become a subculture of a subculture of a subculture, and then we wonder why “no one wants to come to our church”.

I believe that the solution to the “overculturizing” of our churches is to have increasingly less absolutes both corporately and individually.  I like to use the phrase “vanilla church”.  When you eat vanilla ice cream, it is suited for any kind of topping you might want add.  I want our church to be as vanilla as possible regarding all secondary issues, but I want us to be deep and strong in the main truths of the Bible.

Being more vanilla on secondary issues means that we need to be more flexible with negotiable things.  It means we forsake personal preferences that matter only to us and our friends.  It means allowing people to all scoop from the same bucket of ice cream, but having a wide variety of toppings for individual taste. (Forgive the food analogies.  It’s how I think)

Instead of overculturizing our churches with secondary and tertiary issues, let’s major on the majors, and let people be free to “work out THEIR OWN salvation with fear and trembling”, without the fear of the disapproval of others in the next pew.

Mar

5

The Unconscious Ill-Equipping Of The Saints

By pastorbillwalden

The good Bible teaching that occurs in many churches is not enough to equip Christ following congregants to interact effectively with the world.  In fact, I believe that some pastors are unconsciously hindering their flocks, and are, as a result, “ill-equipping” them for the work of ministry.  

I recently heard a tremendous quote, and I will try to paraphrase.  The speaker spoke of the American Church and said, “We are a subculture of a sub culture.  We read each other’s book,  we sing each other’s songs, and we scratch each other’s backs”.

I completely agree that the Body of Christ is a sub culture, and that each movement or denomination is a further sub culture, and finally, that each individual church within a movement or denomination is a sub, sub, sub culture.  There is nothing wrong with that…to a point.

Each culture and sub culture has its own language.  The lack of awareness that we (the Church) have regarding our sub, sub culture language is the thing that concerns me. What do we sound like to the world?

Read more »

Apr

25

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry

By pastorbillwalden

Years ago, I read those words on an invitation to a church event.

The sponsoring church did everything they could to convince me that I ought to attend their event.

They promised that I would laugh.  There is nothing wrong with laughing.  In fact, the Bible commends a good laugh.  Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine…”.

They promised that I would cry.  I can be an emotional guy, and have been known to cry in public.  Sometimes a good cry is very cleansing to the soul.  Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Crying can release a lot of tension and emotion.  There is nothing wrong with a good cry.

And yet, I objected to their flier, and to their promises.  I still do.  This was a Christian outreach, and yet they were promising to deliver these emotions to me.  They presumed to know what I needed.  There appeared to be no room for the Holy Spirit to do something else.  What if what I needed was a fresh dose of somberness in the presence of a perfectly holy God?  It wasn’t on the agenda for the night.

My assumed responses were pre-planned and predicted.  They tutored me about what I would experience.  They planned my responses in advance.  Their goal was to get me to laugh and to cry. They were sure that they could make it happen.

Increasingly, I see Christians confusing emotional experiences at a church, with a God experience in the Holy Spirit.

There are many ways to evoke emotions in “Christian” settings.  The right music or no music.  The right lighting or having only candles.  There are many ways to affect emotions towards a desired goal.

Both true and false messages can evoke an emotional experience.  Some pastors teach the Word of God, and are humorous.  Other pastors read a passage, and then tell funny stories, neglecting to teach or apply God’s word to the listener.  Often, both men can be equally funny, but many Believers can’t tell that there is any difference.  This is extremely alarming to me.

It seems that many in Christendom are lacking the spiritual maturity to discern whether God or man has spoken to them.

I have been walking with Jesus for 30 years.  I have seen true signs and wonders, and false signs and wonders.  I have seen emotionally impacting Spirit led preaching, and I have seen emotionally human inspired preaching.  I have been moved to tears by “boring” preachers who were excellent teachers, and who revealed Jesus to me.  I have been bored to tears by emotional speakers that taught me nothing.

I have seen crowds of people moved by the Holy Spirit.  I have seen other crowds moved by pep rally worship leaders and charismatic, talented speakers.

In many cases, an emotional experience is the goal for a Christian event, rather than a revelation of who Jesus is.

My concern is not about how people express themselves in the presence of God.  There is great latitude concerning that.  My concern is about what causes a certain response.  Is it the incredible Spirit of Perfect Holiness, or is it a church culture where certain behaviors are predicted, arranged and manipulated?  Is it God, or is it man?

Dear Christian brother/sister…is your desire for Christ the great motivation of your life, or do you simply have a desire to laugh and cry at church?  If you prefer somber worship, is it because you are overwhelmed with God’s awesomeness, and words don’t suffice, or is it because you just need some “quiet space to chill out”?  If you prefer emotionally charged worship is it because you need a place to “get crazy” and pump your fist in the air, or is it a demonstrative, Spirit led joy in the presence of our great God?

Christian, beware of pre-programmed emotional experiences that any group or church might insist you need.  Jesus is what you need.  Sometimes, He will take us to the highest heights of ecstatic worship.  The very next day, His Spirit may move you to sit and stay silent.  He knows what you need.  Not you.  Not the preacher.  Not the worship leader. Not me.

Let Jesus decide if you will laugh, or if you will cry.

 

Feb

9

When Jesus Has Something Against You

By pastorbillwalden

Jesus said to the church at Ephesus, “…nevertheless, I have this against you…”. (Revelation 2:4)

Any Christian hearing this ought to take notice.
In fact, they ought to have a sick feeling in their stomach.
Are you comfortable with the fact that Jesus might have something against you, or does that possibility cause you to stop and take inventory of your life?

I know that in my Christian life, I have certainly had seasons where these words were appropriate.
I look back with sadness, but I currently stand in grace and look forward in joy.

The church at Ephesus was a busy and biblically literate church.
They hated evil and kept false teachers away, but they left their first love of Jesus.

A Christian doesn’t LOSE their first love with Jesus, they LEAVE it.
You accidentally lose something.
You purposely leave something.

For these Christians, this wasn’t a matter of an accidental departure from closeness with Jesus.
It was a series of decisions to “be Christian” without loving Jesus.

Jesus loved them and told them the remedy.

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…”. (Revelation 2:5)

All they needed to do was to remember how it had been good before, and then turn back to Jesus.
Not complicated.
Maybe not easy….but not complicated.
They had some serious decisions to make.

Finally, there was a warning and a promise.

The warning…
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent”. (Revelation 2:5)

If they didn’t repent, their witness would be extinguished.
The light would go out.
The church would stay open, but Jesus wouldn’t be there.
They would go through the motions of Christianity, but have no illumination going forth from their lives.
They would hold correct doctrine, but enlighten no one.
They would have an appropriate hatred of wicked things, but make no difference in the world.

The promise
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’ (Revelation 2:7)

If they would listen…
If they would repent…
If they would do the first things…
Then they would overcome.
And then they would be with God.

They had quit listening…
They were doing their own thing…
They had quit doing the first things…
They were on the verge of having their light removed.
They were on a path to not overcoming.

Jesus lovingly invaded their world, commended them for good, addressed what was wrong, warned them of the consequences, show them the path back to right relationship with Him, and made them a conditional promise of Paradise…

If they would repent…

Christians don’t earn their salvation…that’s a gift received by faith. (Romans 6:23)
But we must maintain our salvation, lest our light be removed, and we become useless in this world.

Jan

17

Rules That Kill

By pastorbillwalden

It is true that Christianity often misrepresents the heart of God. That can be said of many other religious groups as well, but I will comment on Christianity and its misuse of the commandments of God.

It takes spiritual maturity to understand the heart of God which is behind a commandment of God. When considering the commandments of God, we must try to understand God’s intentions, not just His words. Why does God issue forth commandments for men to live by? What are His motives? Is God capricious in His decisions about how man should live, or is there a Loving Heart behind those Well Known Words. Are we to simply obey the commandments of God, and not be interested in God’s intentions?

In Matthew 12, we see Jesus confronted and spiritually attacked by the Pharisees, who were the religious legalists of the day. They were the so-called experts in what God had said, but they had lost all understanding in why God had said what he said. They had taken the laws of God, and expounded upon them. They had taken the simplicity of God’s Laws, which were intended for man’s good, and had written commentaries on them. They had created ridiculous scenarios about what God did and didn’t mean.

Read more »

Mar

3

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness?

By pastorbillwalden

(Editor’s note) From time to time, I will be posting these funny, fictional stories.  They have an authentic tone to them, because if you have been in church for any amount of time, you recognize that the ridiculous statements contained in these stories have seeds of truths in them from among the congregations we are apart of.  So though these stories are fictional, there is some truth in them that we can learn from.  Let the reader beware, and discern.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Members at Avalon Baptist church were angered to discover that the soap used for years in the church restrooms was replaced by a new, economical foaming soap.

“You get this bubbly mound that disappears once you rub it in your hands,” one man complained as he exited the restroom. “It’s all show, this new soap.”

Others agree.

“What happened to the thick, slimy stuff?” one man asked. “That really worked.”

Last Sunday was supposed to be the kick-off of the church’s annual Missions Week. But the buzz in the foyer was about the soap change. Some suggested taking a special offering to restore the original liquid soap.

“You have to wonder about the leadership’s judgment, if they’re willing to make a poor decision like this,” says one woman. “It signals weakness at the top.”

The pastor and custodian released a joint statement on Monday saying they believe people will get used to “the new foaming action soap, and appreciate its many benefits for our church going forward.”

🙂

Feb

4

Churchianity6. Returning To Body Life.

By pastorbillwalden

Just for review, we have used the following as a definition for “Churchianity”.

“Churchianity” is a pejorative term used to describe practices of Christianity that are viewed as placing a larger emphasis on the habits of church life or the institutional traditions of a specific Christian denomination than on the teachings of Jesus. It can also be used to describe churches across many denominations where the central focus has moved from Christ to the church. Hence the replacement of Christ with church in the word “Churchianity.”

My paraphrase: Churchianity: When God’s people do “church” their way instead of His way. This applies to pastors, elder, deacons, denominations, non-denominations, movements, para-church organizations, and church attendees.

God’s ways are perfect, and ours are obviously not. Sometimes our ways are innocent mistakes with good intentions. We see the error of our ways, and make corrections. Sometimes, good intentions turn into church traditions that are not biblical, and they limit or damage people. Other times, God’s people, from pew to pulpit, decide that they want their way, and do wrong things in the name of God within the “church” setting.

The result is some degree of people getting hurt and leaving “organized religion” for some safer style of relating to other Christians.

Emotionally, I don’t blame them. I have been tempted to do the same thing, but there is this bothersome problem of being called to be a pastor. 🙂

I understand the mentality of wanting to avoid Body Life, but I believe that those dear folks who separate from the greater “Body of Christ” are missing out on the good that IS to be found in the Body, somewhere.

As the human body has many parts, so the Body of Christ has many members. People with different gifts, abilities, tendencies, personalities, callings, offices, etc. As with any metaphor, there are exceptions when making application, and no metaphor is perfect. I hope that you can glean the truths that are here, and not look for the exceptions that don’t match up.

What is true with the human body is also true of the Body of Christ. The strength of a human body is the sum of the parts all working together in a healthy fashion. Health is when all the parts of the body are present and working together as they were designed to do.

The human body can exist without many of its parts. Life goes on if you are missing a hand or a foot. Life continues though one is blind or deaf. Paralysis of a limb doesn’t bring death. But with any of those scenarios, life isn’t what it should or could be, either for the non-functioning part, or for the body that exists without that part’s contribution. The design is for all the parts to be gathered together and working in conjunction with each other. That is physical health.

The spiritual application is obvious. The Body of Christ is healthiest when every part is working with every other part, or at least present, available, and healthy enough to do so.

Ephesians 4:15, 16 “…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Believers who separate from “Body Life” are absolutely on their way to Heaven. They are not second-class citizens in God’s Kingdom. Christians can gather with two or three, and Jesus IS there among them. Those truths cannot be argued, and I won’t even try. It’s true. That is fellowship, and it can be edifying and fulfilling.

But I suggest that God has more for us than a minimalist approach of carefully managed fellowship. Jesus spoke of “abundant life”. (John 10:10) Surely, this must include the fullness of God’s design for Body Life.

Why would God design His church to have many parts, and then be O.K. with those parts not directly interacting with each other? I think He wants more for us than a purposed segregation of the Body.

The question is this: If you are a Christian, are you experiencing Body Life? I am not even talking the traditional idea of the “church setting”, though that seems to illustrate it well. Are you part of something that resembles a functioning spiritual Body?

Think of the different gifts and offices that God has established within His Body. Prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, people with gifts of mercy, administration, helps, word of knowledge and wisdom, etc. When the Body gathers together with all of its parts in attendance, the potential to be used is exponentially increased. People show up and, in essence say, “I am here, and I am committed to this Body. If there are needs that I can help with, I am right here, and you don’t have to go looking for me”.

Commitment to a local Body allows for personal relationships to be established, for love and trust to be established between people. You can help people who are strangers, but it is so much more meaningful for them if they know you love them, and they trust you. They are more willing to receive help from a loving friend.

Being part of a local Body means that you are present, and available to be loved. You discover people that you can begin to trust, and that can minister to you. Though we can exist alone, we thrive when we are a part of a community, a Body, a group that can fill in that which is lacking in our own life.

Dear saints, if you are one of the victims of Churchianity, I am sorry. I encourage you to re-consider God’s design, and all the potential of that design. Body Life positions you to use your gifts in a greater way, which is so rewarding for us as Believers. Body Life also positions you to be better ministered to, and loved on.

I haven’t mentioned it, but church attendees are not the only victims of Churchianity. There are many pastors and church leaders that have been hurt by the flock. Betrayal and failure goes in both directions. Many times church leaders have been horribly maligned by a mob mentality that is moved more by emotion and gossip than by maturity and love. Pastors and church leaders need Body Life too. Pray for pastors and church leaders to return to their callings. Love them back, and encourage them back.

If you return to Body Life, is there a chance you might get hurt again? Yes. In fact, at some point, you will get hurt. Part of Body Life is that there are sick members in the Body. There always will be, at least here on Earth. And remember this: all of us are sick to some degree, but amputation or paralysis is not the answer.

Find some way to re-enter into the fullness of Body Life, where you are available to all the other parts of the Body, and where you are easily accessible to them as well. There are people that need your gift to be exercised. Find a gathering of Believers, show up late, slip in the back door, watch and listen and pray, leave early, don’t look too many people in the eyes, smile and don’t linger, play it “safe” to some degree, but take the step of faith that is necessary to re-enter Body Life.

I suggest that we ever hold the high view of what God has for us a Body, as a community. It takes more work, but the blessings are exponentially returned to us.

That’s His design for us. That’s the design that best brings Him glory. Isn’t that what we want? I think it is.

Lord, we pray for your church, your Body, your children. Bring us back to esteeming and embracing your design for our community living, and then bring us back to the practical engagement of all your ways and plans, for Your glory.

Amen.

Feb

2

Churchianity5. Emotional Decisions.

By pastorbillwalden

The highest and greatest organization on Earth is Jesus’ Church. That is true because it is designed and built by Him, and shall go on into eternity. Microsoft can’t make that claim, nor can any other great organization you might think of.

Though the Church is the greatest entity on Earth, it has been guilty of many sins. The sins that have most captured my attention are the ones closest to me. I have learned much about the hurts brought on by the Church, even from within the Calvary Chapel movement, of which I am (still) gratefully a part.

I am saddened for those victimized by the Church. I am equally saddened by the decision of many Believers to never return to “organized religion”. It is to those dear saints that I wish to write.

To those still not wanting any part of “organized religion”, I ask that you would bear with me. I know that me being a pastor probably brings a gag reflex to your body, but please, consider what I have to say.

I have tried to show in these previous articles that I at least have a clue of what some of you have been through. I don’t claim to know first hand, and I will not say, “I know how you feel”, because I don’t. I do understand what God’s word says to all who bear the name “Christian”. I come to you based on His words, not mine. I also come because I see what happens when we go our own way, based on our emotions. Been there and done that myself. 🙁

None of us can live by our emotions, whether that emotion is pain, happiness, lust, hate, or kindness. Pain will paralyze us and cause us to sequester ourselves away. Happiness can cause us to throw caution to the wind. Lust that rules us also destroys us. Hate is poison to our souls. Kindness can make us vulnerable to dangerous situations, if not balanced with wisdom.

Those with teenagers understand what an emotionally driven life looks like. Hormones are the tools of Satan. 🙂 Come on Mom and Dad, you know what I am talking about. Teenagers are scary creatures, driven by emotions and positive that they are correct about everything.

We warn our kids about not living by their emotions, but we fall victim to the same snares. Whatever negative consequences we warn our kids about will also come to us. We cannot be emotionally ruled people. We cannot. It’s dangerous. It doesn’t make sense. We would caution everyone we know not to live by their emotions. You know it’s true.

If society were ruled by emotions, we wouldn’t have enough law enforcement to control the chaos. We couldn’t trust anyone to keep his or her word. People would change their minds about everything, simply because they felt like it. Common sense restrains us from stupidity. Laws restrain us from crimes. The Holy Spirit seeks to restrain Christians from foolish decisions.

Emotions can be great, or they can be deadly. We need a higher standard for our decision making.

If church leaders or a pastor has hurt you, you should be mad. You should be very mad. I’m sure that you are mad. I am mad with you, and for you. That is righteous anger.

Chances are that the church leader that hurt you made a bunch of emotional decisions and claimed to be led by God. It doesn’t go well when that happens, does it?

But can you, I, or we, live by the emotions of hurt, anger, a sense of injustice, bitterness, or fear of getting hurt again? No, we can’t. I want to sometimes, but I can’t.

I need to keep coming back to church too, and not just because it’s my paycheck. It is because Christians belong with all God’s people. That’s His idea. You may be meeting with other Believers in a casual setting, and feel that is enough. That you don’t need to come to “Church”.

Chances are good that your group is a hand picked group that thinks and feels just like you do. That is not Body Life; that is simply hands meeting with hands, feet with feet, etc. That might be fellowship, but it’s not Body Life.

You need to be with the Body, the big picture, the whole church. You need to be with people you don’t like, and that bother you. They need you, and you need them. The Body must have ALL the parts present.

Every country song that sings about “looking for love in all the wrong places” illustrates what I am saying. We are fairly intelligent and reasonable creatures UNTIL our emotions take over. We do stuff based on emotions, crash and burn, and then do it again. Someone has rightly said that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

I’ll write again soon. I am a pastor, and your brother. Come back and join the family of God. The entire family of God. We need what you have to offer, and you….believe it or not….need us too.

I’ll write again soon…

NOTE- I am presently teaching a series on the Church. Check the sermon notes and look under “Topical”.

Jan

29

Churchianity4. Talk To The Hand.

By pastorbillwalden

This little story is not directed towards any one church, but is a compilation of the stories of many people I have talked to and read about. May we love His Body, the Church.

Talk To The Hand
“Talk to the hand”. Hand liked the sound of that.

The phrase described Hand as a “go to” guy; the guy people would ask to help them get things done. Hand was a problem solver. Hand was selfless. Hand was happy to help Body with any need. He liked being a “go to” guy. If there was a need, Body would direct others to Hand. Hand thought the phrase had a good ring to it. “Talk To The Hand”. It was a compliment.

But as time passed, the phrase took on a new meaning for Hand. Hand had somewhere heard the phrase used in a negative way. When someone didn’t want to discuss something, he would hold up his hand and say, “talk to the hand”, meaning that the discussion had ended. For Hand, that eventually became the meaning of the phrase in his life.

Hand had been with Body since the beginning. He had served Body well. Because of Hand’s efforts, Body had grown and become strong. Maybe a little too strong, Hand thought. Hand had never imagined that he would ever separate from Body, but eventually he saw no other option. Body had become sick and dangerous.

It wasn’t that Hand had never talked about the problems that Body was having, but some very painful experiences had brought Hand to this point in life. Over time and much agonizing, Hand had made up his mind to separate from Body.

He didn’t want to talk about it. He was sick of talking about it. It hurt too much to talk about it. He saw no other option. After many words, prayers, and tears, Hand separated from Body. Hand was devastated, but such was life. Some didn’t understand. Others understood far too well.

In the beginning, the relationship between Hand and Mouth had been good. He enjoyed being Hand, and was happy to fulfill his part in helping Mouth with his ministry.

But things changed as time passed. Hand noticed that as Body grew, Mouth was saying a lot of pompous things, and was bossing people around horribly. As Hand objected to Mouth’s words and actions, Mouth insinuated that Body needed Mouth, but that Mouth didn’t need Body, or Hand, for that matter.

Hand also noticed that others were discussing Mouth. He hated hearing these guarded conversations. Body was dividing. Hand could see it.

Ear was too eager to hear gossip and pass it on. Mouth used the pulpit to remind Body that Mouth was in control. Mouth had forgotten that Body belonged to Head, and that Head was the real leader of Body. Mouth was getting mouthier. Foot got nervous, and left. Ear was too eager to hear gossip. Heart got hardened, and was unforgiving.

And everyone was asking, “Where is Head?”

All of this happened as Hand continued to serve, struggling with how to rectify the problems with Body. Hand loved Body, but he was torn over what he saw and felt. Hand had trusted Mouth for years, but he was now disillusioned.

Hand watched Body lose members. He felt lost in the midst of this dying Body. Hand tried to talk to Mouth, but Mouth felt threatened, and turned on Hand. Hand and his family were seen as the enemy of Mouth. Mouth made sure that Body knew Hand was a troublemaker.

Finally, Hand and his family left Body. Body suffered, because individuals were suffering. Like many of his fellow members, Hand wondered why Head seemed absent. Didn’t Head love Body? Where was He?

Invisibly and seemingly absent, Head suffered even more.

Fast forward some years.

Head proved Himself to be the faithful leader of Body. Head removed Mouth and some others, and brought NewMouth to speak His words. Members began to return to the blessings of Body.

Slowly, hope returned to Body. NewMouth spoke of grace, and others began to speak of grace too. Foot returned, Ear listened with love, and Heart became soft again.

Head was healing Body.

As Body healed, people began to ask about Hand. They missed him. Hand had been such an integral part of Body. Where was Hand? Had anybody seen him? Had anybody heard from him?

Questions became discussions, and discussions were finally recognized as promptings from Head.

Head was prompting Body to reach out to Hand.

“Someone needs to talk to Hand.” Prayers began to go up for Hand.

Spirit began to move, and Hand started feeling something inside.

Jan

25

Churchianity3. No Sound Bites

By pastorbillwalden

One aspect of the modern media that I believe to be dangerous is the sound bite.

Regarding sound bites, Wikipedia tells us:

In film and broadcasting, a sound bite is a very short piece of footage taken from a longer speech or an interview in which someone with authority or the average “man on the street” says something which is considered by those who edit the speech or interview to be the most important point. As the context of what is being said is missing, the insertion of sound bites into news broadcasts or documentaries is open to manipulation and thus requires a very high degree of journalistic ethics. Politicians of the new generation are carefully coached by their spin doctors to produce on-demand sound bites which are clear and to the point.

Sound bites are designed to give us a very quick view of something, and then have us make up our mind based upon that very limited information. As Wikipedia rightly says, the sound bite is open to manipulation and must be presented with a high degree of ethics.

We like sound bites because they give us a little information that we don’t have to work hard to attain. They make life easy, but in the end, they can make us shallow.

Avoiding the sound bite mentality must be practiced when speaking of Churchianity (problems in the church) , and then also when we speak about the “Church” the way Jesus designed it to be.

Part of the problem of Churchianity is that leadership sometimes gives “sound bite” instructions to their congregations. People are told what to believe, how to live, and who to like, love or avoid. When questioned “why” such things are so, leadership sometimes responds with “sound bite” answers which can be intimidating, and don’t help the congregant understand why such things are true or supposedly true. Those questioning are made to feel stupid for even asking “why”.

Often, the end result of “soundbitism” is that Christians don’t have a deep understanding of why they believe what they believe. They simply parrot what the leadership told them, and believe what they believe because they were told to. They become more and more a part of a Churchianity environment. That was never Jesus’ plan.

If church leadership isn’t leading well, questions and criticisms should arise. When church leadership uses a sound bite methodology for answering valid questions and criticisms, the questioners are left with nothing. They are not treated as though their concerns are valid, and they they are ignored as the leader goes on to the next willing listener. These questioners are then ushered out the door.

When congregants are treated that way, they will often (and sometimes very rightly) leave that church. Or they may leave The Church, vowing to never be a part of “organized religion” ever again. I don’t think that second option is the right thing to do.

Church leaders, congregants, and ex/former congregants that claim to follow Jesus all need to be able to say why they believe what they believe, and support that belief system from God’s Word. Otherwise, anything goes.

Pastors who respond to questions with “Because I said so”, are, in my opinion, VERY wrong for doing that. That’s a sound bite. Church attenders who recite a creed or system for Christian living are not allowed to say, in my opinion, “I believe thus and so because the pastor said so”. Ex and former congregants who still follow Jesus but will not commit to SOME kind of Christian gathering cannot simply say, “Because that’s how I feel about it”.

These are all examples of “sound bites”. They are not clear explanations of the whole story, and they are designed to produce a desired result.

My hope in writing these articles is that all Christians will have a high view of Jesus’ Church. We cannot reduce His church down to sound bite discussions. Being in His church requires thought and commitment.

I am currently teaching a topical series on the Church. The notes can be found in the Sermon Notes link on this blogsite, under Topical Studies.

In brief, what we have studied so far:

1. The Church is built on Jesus. It is His creation. He died to establish it. (Matthew 16)

2. The Church presently, and forever will, display the manifold wisdom of God to both angels and demons (Ephesians 3)

3. When angels want to understand God’s incredible work of salvation, they look at the Church. (1 Peter 1)

May every Christian have a high and respectful view of Jesus’ Church, which is His Body, His Bride. In spite of the many wrongs done by both leaders and congregants, may none of us treat His church with any kind of “sound bite” attitude.

Jesus said that He would build His Church, and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Regardless of our experiences, that is true. May we experience the truth of His words.

Blessings…