Let’s Make the Perfect Church…Step 1

09Mar08

When we look at life, we generally are looking at ways to improve it. There is always room for growth. We never really finish, we continue to learn. We see the strengths and capitalize on them. We do our best to be honest about our weaknesses and we hit them straight on.

Of course, it is good to be positive in the process. Set high goals and move in confidence. We can really get down on ourselves when we do nothing but focus on the bad. In fact, just focusing on the negative can lead to unhealthy decision making. Improper priorities may be set. We may end up walking down roads we never should have been on.

So if making the negative our focus is bad. Why do we in the church tend to do this…to the church?

I read a ton of blogs and articles. I love reading peoples perspectives. I love to hear the stories of lives changed, for good and for bad. I want to know how I, as a leader in the church, can better be who I need to be to represent Jesus to the culture and community around me. When I hear from people who have been affected by the church community, it allows me to then evaluate my own life and the impact my leadership has or has not made. I can learn from them.

But, lately, it seems like all I read is that the church sucks. It has lost touch. It doesn’t get it. It hates and doesn’t love. It seeks to improve itself while leaving the truly needy outside in the cold. And so on…and so on.

I’ve grown up in the church as a Pastor’s Kid. I have seen it all. I have seen the messes. I have watched people get hurt. I have been a part of some crazy board meetings that left me angry and dry. Even in the midst of all of this. I still see the church as good. Am I crazy? Blinded? Too close? I don’t think so.

For every person that has hurt another, there are 100 that have cared for someone in need. For every Pastor that has abused his privilege, there are 100 others that have humbly and prayerfully lead their people. For those who have spent the tithe on frivolous wants and gaudy buildings, there are 100 others that meet in simplicity and purpose. For all of those people who come and consume, there are 100’s of others who consistently give.

The church is an organism. People. Growing. Learning. failing. Succeeding. People make mistakes, no doubt. But for every mistake, their is also something beautiful. I believe there is a lot more beauty than mistake. I just think sometimes our perspectives and bias are wrong.

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230 Responses to “Let’s Make the Perfect Church…Step 1”

  1. Good post! I totally see your point here and agree wholeheartedly. πŸ˜‰

  2. 2 Nevin

    It seems like that as long as the church is filled with imperfect people, there are always going to be human error types of problems. To me, the next question becomes how we can all understand each others inherint defects….

    Nev

  3. Thanks Bran πŸ™‚

    Nevin, I think that’s a great question. Maybe even deeper, how can we grow to accept everyone’s quirkiness. How can we continue to be quirky and live passionate lives for Jesus. I think we can. But as long as people look at others and complain, I don’t think we can.

  4. It seems to always be a heart condition. To me, people who dwell on the negative, are judgmental and complainers, have issues with God, and regardless of where they go, until they resolve their issues with God, they will continue to see and spread negative. As long as the church is Spirit led, and not of man, and the leadership is seeking to please God and get their guidence from Him and not the people…is there really anything else to do? I think these people who are so disgruntled with church, need some open heart surgery…. πŸ˜‰

  5. Being negative is something we humans do well — the news being the classic example. And while some of the complaints you site in this post are founded in some truth, we will see little change if all that we do is focus on the negative. If we want our church to grow in Christ, we will need to look at each others strengths and gifts; we will need to encourage and hone those things we as individuals and as a community are doing well.

    In one youth group past, during our closing prayer we would hold hands interlocking our fingers. We said fingers represented our strengths and gifts. The valleys between the fingers were our weaknesses. When we were together in Christ, only the strengths can be seen and the weaknesses are … irrelevant.

    To encourage you some, here is a post from a young man for whom I have a great deal of respect, posting about much the same topic from a confessional point of view. http://petruzzo.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/condemning-the-church/

  6. Deb, I think your right that it is a heart condition. We are all stricken with it to some degree. Complaining is pride. It seeks to please ourselves.

    Ric, that post is wonderful. I checked it out and commented. Everyone check it out.

    One thing he speaks to is that we can hardly stand back and point a finger when we are in fact, the church. We are pointing the finger at ourselves. If we want change, we need to “Be” who the church should be.

    One of the other Pastors at Table Rock and I were talking the other day about the way the community sees us and how many are cynical that our “image” can be changed. But I believe a “spade” is a “spade”. If we care, the community will see the church as caring. If we help, the community will see us as helpful. What we do is how people will see us. So, if we complain and argue…that is what the community sees. They don’t want to hear our dogma and theology, they want to know our Jesus.

  7. “For all of those people who come and consume, there are 100’s of others who consistently give”

    Great call. I needed that reminder.

  8. 8 Tyler

    Great post. One thing I will say is that it’s important for the church to advance and to advances means we must take an honest (negative in some cases) look at the church. However, you are totally right on by saying it is popular to be negative about the local church now.

  9. Hey Tyler. I absolutely agree with honest looks and evaluation. We have to know who we are and how we look to others. I think where the problem comes in is how people react to the findings. That’s where things can get too negative.

    We need to listen, evaluate and be honest and then move forward with how to fix it. Which is something very positive. it’s unfortunate to see how people take the findings and just bash the church over it. Most the time it’s the church people doing the bashing.

  10. 10 tam

    Even in the perfect case scenario – as has been said already, there will always be Negative Nelly’s out there, Yes, I said Negative Nelly, the ones who trash the church to justify their lives and lifestyle. So even if we’re a positive influence in our community many will still choose to see us as anything but.

  11. That’s kind of what we talked about in the office this week.

    If our home church table rock serves the community and does it well. I have no doubt that people will still be able to talk poorly about us. But, I believe that we will not be known for how people talk about us when our actions speak loud.

  12. Boy, do I love your optimism and your enthusiasm, Brent (although based upon what I have seen myself and learned about the church’s history, I doubt your percentages)

    What’s the perfect church? Jesus explained this to us. Things started to go awry when hierarchies were first put into place, not long after Christ’s death and resurrection. It all went down hill from there. Religion loves to smother the Spirit.

    Sorry to be Debby Downer. ;(

  13. I agree with all you are saying about the church, that is, the body of believers large and small. I’ve become more and more convinced that our growth must be organic – each of us seeing a need and acting. The problems, the ‘negative’, the sin frankly is when we approach each other (and church) in order to get something – the opposite is true. It’s a paradox that Jesus preached repeatedly: “If you want to live…die”, “If you want to be first…go to the end of the line”, “the one who is the greatest is the least”.

    Now having said that I also have come to believe that the organized, institutionalized social gathering we often refer to as “church” (the service, the building, the group) is fundamentally broken and not what God intended – particularly in America. I believe Satan has had a hand in building denominations and doctrines and pitting us against one another. Again, Jesus said that all would be able to know that we are his disciples by the way we love one another. Doing this isn’t really measurable – how can you tell how well you are loving? That makes us uncomfortable; so we build our “walls” and come up with our rules that we can follow – and reasonably achieve – and then we feel pretty good about ourselves.

    I attended the “celebration party” of my sister-in-law’s father last week. This man was a believer, but he never set foot in the door of an organized church. I was listening to his children, co-workers, and friends recount the ways in which he touched their lives; the way in which he made sure he was “socializing” with everyone he supervised; the way he supported and promoted charities; and the way in which he actively sought to avoid recognition. He was a man of few words – that is – he chose his words carefully.

    As I was listening to all of this I had two thoughts: 1) this wasn’t your typical Christian service in that no one mentioned God, Jesus, or Church, and 2) it occurred to me that this man was Jesus to countless people that he encountered in his daily walk. There was no organization, no agenda, no fanfare, no christian-ese; he simply met people where they were, met their needs, taught, led, consoled, and laughed, cajoled, and had a good time.

    He was truly an imitator of the Christ – and that’s what we’re supposed to be too.

  14. 14 Deborah

    HEY!! Christian, would you PLEASE pick another name for your downer scenario????? SHEESH πŸ˜‰

  15. 15 Deborah

    “Religion loves to smother the Spirit.” YAY! Christian, wooo hooo!!!! *whistle* *whistle* That sums it up completely! πŸ™‚

  16. 16 Elaine

    Good post. I just love our church and am always so fed by everything, and just blessed to go be with people who love God and worship Him! So I have no downers to add. Thank you for praying for my Mom’s surgery. She is doing great. I had to remove my blog from cyberspace..long story.

  17. Christian, no worries on being a downer πŸ™‚

    I should not have used numbers, because that is probably lying. I should have just used the contrast. We’ve obviously had some great discussion regarding the church government system. Which needs a major overhaul. But even in the midst of it, I have watched people lead the church in wonderful ways. I think the key comes for me in determining what Christianity is. it is NOT about buildings and organizations. I believe however, that those things can have their place.

    B4dguy,

    “I also have come to believe that the organized, institutionalized social gathering we often refer to as β€œchurch” (the service, the building, the group) is fundamentally broken”

    This is kind of my point though. I know many churches all over that are not broken and are working hard to be lights in the community and are known for that. So, your statement implies that it is broken as a whole and I only see parts of it in ruins. I see other parts that are truly beautiful.

    “I believe Satan has had a hand in building denominations and doctrines and pitting us against one another”

    I absolutely agree. Doctrine and denomination implies separation and that is unbiblical on all accounts.

    “Doing this isn’t really measurable – how can you tell how well you are loving?”

    Maybe this wasn’t meant to be read the way I read it, but I believe that a “spade” is a “spade”. People will see us for who we are and if we are loving. they will know us for that.

    I would have loved to be at the service of your friend. Seems to me that many of us could learn from who he was and how he lived his life.

    Deb, Hahahaha!!!! You don’t like his name πŸ™‚

    I agree that religion and ddare I say tradition is a huge factor in God being left on the sidelines or not even a part of the team (a little sports analogy)

    Elaine, I am so happy to hear about your Mom, but sorry we are going to miss out on your blog.

  18. I think that religion is something we should be very wary of. It can take our ‘church’ and turn into something quite different. We’ve already had some interesting conversations with BuddyO (and yourself) about big church versus small church. When I left my old church and joined Cedar Ridge (very definitely a – duh-duh-duhhh! – emergent church) I told people that I realized that I was not a Methodist at heart. Now I realize that what I really meant was that I am not religious. That doesn’t mean that our community doesn’t have a roof, walls a couple pastors and a maintenance man. But we have no ‘forms’ that we insist all must ascribe to. This permits an amazingly refreshing level of relaxation that permits people to ask the hard questions and others to provide even harder answers with no fear of excoriation.

    If the Spirit of God is to flow freely among the believers then they must be encouraged to speak their minds, whether they are right or they are wrong. They must be allowed to make mistakes. They should never be told what they must believe – just the idea is absurd. They must not be distracted by appearances, their own or that of others, so that they may able to hear God. They must truly welcome all who come through their doors. If the church has walls that keep people out then that church is no longer an effective part of the Body of Christ. Like putting mittens on the hands of a violinist.

  19. I think this is really well said Christian. Truth is rooted in God’s Word both from the Bible and from his Spirit(Some people leave the Spirit thing out). We forget sometimes that knowing God is not achieved by doctrine or through a denomination. God is the only one that can give you that knowledge.

  20. 20 ahavens

    inWorship,
    thanks for your comment on my blog (www.aaronhavens.com)
    I’m one that hurts for the “church”…oh how I long to see her as Christ does!

  21. Man. I was running the A/V yesterday, and the new guy on the soundboard was having a crazy time keeping the lead vocals in check (Jill can wail). I kept seeing this guy in the back seat giving us the stink-eye. It REALLY bothered me. I kept wanting to go over and tell the guy to get lost in worship and not in the perfection of sound quality.

    There are way too many complainers, and way too little changers.

    I want to be a changer.

  22. Aaron and Mudpuppy, I am with you guys. I hurt for the church and I will do nothing to change it if I complain(and I have), so I just need to truly BE the church!

  23. Brent,

    “This is kind of my point though. I know many churches all over that are not broken and are working hard to be lights in the community and are known for that. So, your statement implies that it is broken as a whole and I only see parts of it in ruins. I see other parts that are truly beautiful.”

    Absolutely – that is my implication. I guess I am disagreeing with your observation – percentages notwithstanding. I don’t believe that the way we do church – even the functioning ones – is at all Biblical, and therefore is fundamentally broken. I’ve had many discussions about this with folks that say “it’s a matter of substance over form” but I beg to differ on the form.

    This is my opinion, of course, but I personally don’t believe the church should have ever become an organization at any level. Organized – yes. An organization/institution – no. Is this an extreme position to take? Maybe – but this is where I am right now.

    I do agree that there are bright spots within the “C”hurch – but I would trace this to people not the organization itself.

  24. Hey B! I have and sometimes am still feeling like this post. I have been face down before the Lord and begging to be placed in a church where people are more of a body, and are driven to outreach. Who want to hear testimony, and applaud God for the great things HE is doing, who believe that HE is still there and not silent. Here are some of the things HE spoke to me-

    Sometimes the hardest outreach is the in reach(in the church) sometimes the lost are sitting there and duped that they are saved and maybe they are not.

    HIS bride needs to get ready, She needs to wake up and for now my job is show them a life that is functioning the walk with HIM and not playing dressup on Sundays.

    SInce I have been walking this about 3 years, I am seeing change and I know it is HIM, not me.
    The biggest problem and probably the only real problem that the church has is they have put God in a box, and have forgotten HIS kingship, and use HIM as a genie. They are disappointed and have lessened God in their own eyes, GOd won’t comply with genie standards. I feel you frustration and honestly I am so there with you. But I don’t know what God is doing I just know that HE is.

    THere is verse and I will go look for it..says something to the effect of “Narrow is the road, and few will find it” Maybe we should pray for HIM to give us contentment in it as we may very well be among the few. love you brother!

  25. sorry for the short story comment! πŸ™‚ (a few to God could be a bzillion)

  26. b4dguy,

    “I do agree that there are bright spots within the β€œC”hurch – but I would trace this to people not the organization itself.”

    I think this is the key to me. I don’t have issues with an organization as such. I think that people can be living and effective for Christ within one.

    I have issue when the organization determines the people’s decisions. God should be allowed to do this, not the organization.

    Also, I don’t think there really is ANY Biblical speak of what the “C”hurch should be except…to “be it”. I think there is a lot of freedom in what it looks like and how it organizes. I think Paul has given us great examples and wisdom in dealing with and leading the “C”hurch. BUT, again, I do believe that the organization should not be the driving force of Christianity. In my opinion, the “c”hurch has a lot of work to do. Because whether or not the “C”hurch is failing, the world believes the “c”hurch is failing as well.

    Thanks for this discussion!

    Darla, thanks for your passion for His bride!,

    “Sometimes the hardest outreach is the in reach(in the church) sometimes the lost are sitting there and duped that they are saved and maybe they are not.”

    I think there is much ministry to be had inside th church as outside. I would hope thought, that people don’t wait for the organization to do something (as I feel many are). I would hope that they would rise up and be the church regardless of whatever organization they are a part of.

  27. Bad- I love your heart! I love the whole home church thing. And just because God send me back to the church, I believe HE also sends men like you to churches like yours..to a body of believers and reaching out. You got to love the way HE can multitask!
    Respect what you are doing and wish I were with you..but God hasn’t released me from what I am doing ….love and peace on ya!

  28. what i see on both sides is God being kept in a box…what do you say, maybe we should let HIM out??? and be first in our churches if that is what it takes…mmmmmmm

  29. I think I can see exactly where Bad is coming from, and I have to say that I agree. Brent, you are right, there are wonderful examples of God’s kingdom being served in and by the church, but they are often done in spite of institutional constraints.

    But Bad’s point (I think) is this: Jesus did not come to found a new religion, he came to abolish religion. He told us that we do not need the temple, the altar with it’s sacrifices nor the priesthood to connect to God. It can be done through him, his life, his sacrifice, his example. Paul (in his authentic letters) stress this, but the young church, early on, began to form levels of bureaucracy, internal disputes over doctrine, rivalries among leaders. A systematic theology is developed which encompasses layer upon layer of convoluted and obtuse dissertation that appears to be devoted to marking boundaries.

    Many say this an acceptable cost of doing business. Whenever people get together and organize politics comes onto the stage. So perhaps the problem is in the organizing itself. The structures and forms need to be more loose, less rigid. More open, more accepting. Less dogmatic.

  30. I hear you Christian. I read a post the other day that talked about throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think many are afraid or in protection mode when it comes to rethinking church…or stripping it down completely.

    I am honest in saying that I have no fears of the church as we know it, completely disappearing. I just have honestly seen God working in the midst of the organization, so I know it can be done. BUT, I do agree with both you and bad that on a large scale, it is broke.

    To further the thoughts here, you mentioned this,

    “Jesus did not come to found a new religion, he came to abolish religion. He told us that we do not need the temple, the altar with it’s sacrifices nor the priesthood to connect to God.”

    2 thoughts.

    #1 Does having an organized group of Christians automatically make it religious?
    #2 If so or if their is caution to organizing, what is the line in the sand? When is the organization too much?

  31. No, I don’t think that people coming together, gathering for worship, community, sharing the Lord’s supper, qualifies as a religion.

    Let me give you of an example where (I think) the line is first crossed. You have a successful faith community and it grows to the point where it is becoming too big and still be authentic, vital and apolitical. So a smaller community is spun off (or I guess we say ‘planted’?). There is often a tendency for that newer, smaller community to look towards the original larger community for guidance. In many times it is a requirement laid down by the originators. Rules are set down, forms are established, written doctrine is agreed upon. Voila! Religion.

    How can the new community find there way, growing and learning, as the original community did if they are told what do believe, say and act? How can the original community change with the times, stay fresh and dynamic, if it must be beholden to a rigid standard of doctrines?

  32. I hope my first question wasn’t implying that was what you thought, I just was questioning for discussions sake. I truly value your opinions.

    So, if a community gets to big and wants to meet separately, who says the community doesn’t want what they’ve had all along…hence the “offspring”. They spread out hoping to continue the community they’ve already had.

    Your premise is based on a lot of assumptions about the future of the “mother ship”…I’ve always loved that term πŸ™‚ Will one go out of date, but not the others? If they are just “gathering for worship, community, sharing the Lord’s supper” as you have said, I can understand why their wouldn’t be a “need” to stay connected, but what if they want to? What would the reasons to stay connected be?

    I would definitely have more issue, based on your example, if one community went into another and told them who they had to be. But in a sense, that is what we are doing now, with this discussion.

    A question of the “home church” model. I wish Buddy was around(hope their OK). I’d love for him to answer this, but Christian I am sure you can as well. If myself and a couple of our neighbors decide to start a home church and due to our presence in the neighborhood, more and more join with us, when is it too big? How do we tell people it’s too big and they have to go somewhere else? Obviously, if we decide to stay within our home, there would come a time that we are out of space. I am truly asking here, cause I wouldn’t know what to do if I was in that situation.

  33. When I walk into my church presently , I walk in already in fellowship with God. It makes a difference where my heart wanders once I am there. I still do outreach and more people are getting it, but it takes alot of prayer. I pray for my Pastors daily and encourage others to do the same. Pastors are just people with a higher calling. We as believers are called to the Great Commission, our Pastors are to shepherd us, and we are to make disciples of others as we are discipled. (does that make sense?) It is truly up to the individual to serve God, and also reach out to others. This is really not about religion, its about a Christ followers walk, and that it isn’t an easy road, but it is still easier than the road that Jesus took and HIS cross was much heavier. God is still there to carry our cross for us when we think we can’t possible do it another step, HE refreshes, HE restores, HE rewards. Its not easy but its worth it. We can beat the religion thing, but I think it is much more than that…I believe HE is doing something and we need to lean on HIM and not our own understanding. Just my thoughts.

  34. Again an answer to your question as to when is too big…only God can determine that..we carry more than we need to, and it all comes back to our fellowship with HIM. HE will not be silent if we are asking HIM for guidance. It is wrong to draw a line and say one way is the only way..the only place where we can draw a line is where Jesus is the way to God, our savior our King….dying rising and sitting at the right hand of God. if it can not be scriptural it can not be a line. HIS ways are just not ours..thats where walking by faith and not by sight comes in..its about are we where HE wants us, and are we doing what HE wants..its all about HIM and what HE has in HIS plan

  35. Darla, I love your heart.

    I would think…and others can pipe in here. That there would be some discussion over what Pastors even are supposed to be. The Bible speaks of them, but it speaks of them in Paul’s context, not Jesus teachings.

    A question for everyone…

    Are Paul’s teachings on the church looked at poorly, becasue Jesus didn’t talk about them, or because the catholic church has created so much doctrine around them?

  36. But there are scriptures that place some over the rest, and in Ezekiel there is a chapter about what is expected from the Shepherd of the flock…by the way the old testament is a shadow of the new testament but I can not show that or prove that…you will have to seek for your self! πŸ˜‰

    I am not about the doctrine so much, and I am not talking about Catholisim…I don’t believe I have to ask a priest for forgiveness, as Jesus is my high priest…and no one can top that!

    I tried to be part of something that was outside the church itself, and I did much stumbling and making my own rules…bad bad bad…God was not in that..now I am open to that God is in it other places…but HE is so personal and we are to be where HE wants us, doing what HE wants, and let HIM be God. Its ultimately all about HIM.

    To answer your last question, I know it is bad to answer a question with a question..but here I go anyway…Isn’t the whole Bible God breathed? All is from HIM? IS the Bible a love letter to all of us from cover to cover? Maybe the problem is more of Christ being the Lord and King, and not so much what others think. I do not look poorly on any scripture but very convicted in it. Causing me to want more and more to be like Jesus, and more of HIM to fill me and less of me…its still individual to me…sorry I am probably very confusing… I just love my Lord sooo much, and I love HIS church whatever that is, I just want to be part of it…our testimony is what brings others, not a building.

  37. I think your probably preaching to the choir a bit with me Darla. I have similar views as you, but I am curious what Christian and b4dguy might have to say to some of my questions.

    Regarding bringing the catholic church into this. I’ve always sensed a distaste for religion based on what the Catholic church has made it. I wasn’t sure if there is some bias in this group regarding that perspective.

    And you are not confusing. Your sharing your journey with us. Some of that will make more sense to you than us, but I think your example is one we’ve talked about here today. The Holy Spirit doesn’t treat us like one big mob of people. We are treated like individuals. I believe that God will teach each of us in the way we each need to understand. He knows best what we need and who we were created to be.

  38. πŸ™‚

  39. I am told there is a movement afoot where this next generation (20’s and younger) will universally reject “church” as it is done today. Some young people I know have already started the exodus from what they call ‘traditional church’ into home church / community. They may have other names for it. They want a community first and foremost. I am told the large worship centers and church campuses of today will become the abandoned cathedrals of the not too distant future… I don’t like predicting the future but I relay this for thought and discussion.

    An interesting ‘twist’ that is taking place is a ‘traditional’ church is ‘planting’ a community as one of their young members is pursuing coursework towards becoming a pastor. The ‘plant’ is more of a home church or community. This plant will be linked to the traditional church (organization). Many of the young people who claim to have exited stage right are attaching themselves to this start up that has not yet started up so they meet on Sunday nights for worship at the traditional church and then as a smaller group with the young pastor whom the church is preparing / equiping.

    I find all of this confusing. reject traditional. embrace traditional-endorsed non-traditional.

    I do think the way we (generally speaking) “do church” today is being challenged and in many cases rejected as not biblical. I’ve been invited to come worship with this young crowd a couple of times. One time the style of worship was completely foreign to me. I wonder if that is how these young people feel about the popularized order-of-worship.

  40. Ric, you point out something that to me is an issue in society in general.

    Society likes the next “thing”. They want to be cool and in with the “progressive” crowd. they want to be anti authority and make decisions fro themselves.

    I see a lot of these 20 somethings thinking no differently than anyone else, they are just worshiping differently. It goes back to this attitude of being against things.

    I have no problem with people being a part of a home church or an organizational church. I do have problems with them participating in these groups based on what they are against or based on what their friends are doing.

    As Darla pointed out earlier. We need to let God lead us to the communities and lifestyles that he has created us to be a part of. we are all feet and hands and such and we are going to be used by Him in so many different areas of life ans styles of community.

    I definitely think you hit on something though. Styles will always change. I grew up as one of those 20 somethings when church was being heralded as stuffy and outdated. we challenged traditional style by using drums and overhead projectors. We were utter anarchist in many peoples eyes. Times change and now that is considered outdated.

    I don’t think there is an absolute way of doing church now or ever. If we are going to be lights in our communities, we will be part of something that is very organic and ever changing. Thus, how we do church will always be changing. How communication happens will always be changing. What art, music and literature is will always be changing. The thing that never changes is our God and our necessity to continually be humble and surrendered to Him and the Spirits leading.

  41. 41 Tawny

    I think the Church is an oportunity to love.

    If we are all following Christ to the best of the strength and ability He has given us, we will all end up in the same place. πŸ™‚

    The interesting thing to me is wondering what will change in the church during our generation. Like the reformation, or abolition of slavery or any other of the big movements throughout history since Jesus arose.

    I really wish there was spellcheck on the comments!

  42. Looks like spelling is just fine. At least good enough for my blog. I have spelling issues myself πŸ™‚

    I think your thought is a good one. When we look back at the church in 20 years. What will we see as tried and true and what will we see as failure.

  43. I don’t know what is too big but don’t think anything less than two or three can be too small. I think that would be up to the congregation itself. Only they would have a feel for the health of their community. My church, for instance, has 600 or so members. I don’t really know if the size is that important, as long as the community is able to resist creating a bureaucracy that exists for maintaining itself rather than serving the community within and as well as outside of itself.

    I think that there is a problem when we think that the size of our congregations and the facilities in place to serve them as being all that important. You fill up, there’s no place to sit. So what? Time for someone to start thinking out of any box made up of that particular church’s four walls.

    Buddy is doing fine BTW. He’s in Germany hawking Light Vipers right now. But I remember something very wise that he once said, back when I was just a green Christian guppy. Some church members complained about our youth group, which we were both leaders of at the time. They said that since it was atypical (we had no skits or crafts – it was pretty much just a chaotic coffee house, but very active) that some families had decided to move on to another Methodist church down the road, for a more traditional youth venue. Buddy’s response was, “Great. At least they are finding a home.”

    “But shouldn’t we be concerned about the future of our congregation, make sure that there will be a next generation to carry on the tradition?”, they asked.

    “Why?” Buddy asked back. And I ask the same question. Who are we serving, God or the church? Do we think that it is the same thing?

  44. I like what Buddy had to say…and in turn what you are saying πŸ™‚

    Just curious, I am assuming that when you say “as long as the community is able to resist creating a bureaucracy that exists for maintaining itself rather than serving the community within and as well as outside of itself.” That you are implying that some standards and traditions can be set that would “protect” a way of doing church. If a church is serving the outside community well, I would assume that would be something to uphold or encourage. I’m not saying this creates bureaucracy, but it seems to demand for some sort of rule.

    I guess what i am getting at is, that earlier tonight I was commenting to someone who I believe is doing church right. I think God is the center. Loving the community is at focus and it is not just saying it but doing it. In turn they have decided that this is something to stand for and protect. I would agree with that.

    Am I off base in thinking this way?

  45. I think there is a difference between encouraging and a certain behavior and mandating it. The word ‘uphold’ can be one of many bridges that can turn a spirit led, Christ centered life into one that is looking for approval from others. Certainly there are people who are doing church right. I think at Cedar Ridge we are doing church right (although we ain’t perfect).

    But I think that it many communities the structure, the hierarchy, the rules, regulations, traditions – whatever you want to call them – make it very difficult to do so. My experience in the Methodist church, with the Book of Discipline, the District Conferences, the bishop, the SPRC, Board of Trustees etc etc etc became terribly stifling for me. Some people thrive in this environment. Sorry, but I question their focus.

    You mention the Roman Catholic church. I see a lot of value in their tradition, their sense of the sacred. I am appalled by their legalism and their religious hierarchy. I have friends who are priests who feel the same way. Are there people in the Roman Catholic tradition who are serving the Kingdom? Absolutely. Is the Vatican making it any easier? Nope. And the Protestant denominations aren’t much better.

  46. Oh, and my priest friends are staying within the Catholic church to stand and protect what is working, while also working to make things better. That is the courageous thing to do. So I can see your position, here. And I applaud you. I just don’t have the energy.

  47. “I just don’t have the energy.”

    I feel like i need to be toweling you off and throwing water on your face πŸ™‚

    I would tend to be one that would want t uphold something. I understand that we can’t force, but it seems we can enforce to a degree. take a home church for instance. If there is something that is out of line. I would assume that it would be addressed. I don’t think there should be disorder. That doesn’t happen often.

    I definitely commend those (like your priest friends) that are committing to what is good about ministry and defending that. I want to always defend that, but I also can understand how that could lead to the bureaucracy your talking about. we truly have to be cautious. I don’t always succeed at it, but I truly want to be a person that always errs on the side of grace.

  48. whewwww! much to catch up on here…

    Let me start with underscoring again that I don’t believe church should be an organization at all. So, I can’t agree with “I think there is a lot of freedom in what it looks like and how it organizes.” I also don’t think that my opinions are going to bring down the church as it exists to day (nor prevent it). I’m also not on a mission to make anyone quit attending their own church -whatever the form. For now, this is a discussion that I hope gets people thinking.

    Darla – I believe the verse you are looking for is Matthew 7:14, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Brent picked up on it, but I also wanted to address your comment “Pastors are just people with a higher calling.” It’s the ‘higher’ that is objectionable. I don’t think any member of the body has a ‘higher’ calling – in fact, Paul tells us that the seemingly insignificant jobs are really the most important. I agree with your idea of being discipled and discipling – that is more in line with what we should all be doing. Keep doing what God is telling you to do – it sounds like you are making an impact.

    Tawny – Yes. The opportunity to love. Jesus’ third commandment: “Love one another.” I think the church has been changing for 2000 years. We were stuck on organ music for awhile; but that’s changing.

    Brent – You threw up quite a few questions, I’ll try to address them here:

    “Does having an organized group of Christians automatically make it religious?”

    No. I don’t think the problem is in being organized; it’s in becoming an organization.

    “If so or if their is caution to organizing, what is the line in the sand? When is the organization too much?”

    I”m going to sound really po-mo on this one, but I think the line is different for everyone. I don’t know where it is, but I can usually tell if it’s been crossed.

    “If myself and a couple of our neighbors decide to start a home church and due to our presence in the neighborhood, more and more join with us, when is it too big?”

    (Twelve comes to mind for some reason…) I believe that a home church (or small group, cell group, support group) should meet long enough to train the members to go and start their own church/group. So, all the neighbors shouldn’t be coming to your house, but your neighbors would clump together organically in whatever grouping makes sense. The church/group is really a small circle of friends; friends that know each other – I mean, really know each other and are committed to “getting in each other’s business” if that’s what it takes.

    “Are Paul’s teachings on the church looked at poorly, because Jesus didn’t talk about them, or because the catholic church has created so much doctrine around them?”

    I don’t think Paul taught on the church – not the way we do church. I would not hold only Catholics responsible, but all of us for the past 2000 years. Looked at poorly or just misunderstood?

    I don’t know if it was intentionally or not, but Brent – you started using the phrase “doing church”. To me that doesn’t make sense. Church is people. How do we do people? We don’t. People need to do what they are called to do – but that is independent of “church activities.” I think we’re probably on the same page on this, but I couldn’t let it slip. πŸ™‚ Other than the “do church” I agree with your statement about us always organically changing, etc.

    Church is too big when anyone can anonymously slip in and out without being confronted by love.

    Brent, there’s nothing wrong with your original post in that you are calling people to do something positive – I don’t think you are off base here. I think we’re all in agreement, and it’s important to not forget this point. But…I don’t think the focus of our efforts should be on fixing anything, or just inwardly (corporately inwardly) focused – it should be on doing the things that Jesus told us to do.

    If nothing else, you’ve generated a great discussion.

  49. whoa, Christian – did the methodist church for twelve years! I was always amazed that the “how-to” manual (book of discipline) was larger than the original (new testamant).

    Darla – while we were in the methodist church we called ourselves MUMs (Missionaries to Methodists). We had a good thing going to we outed ourselves… tee hee.

  50. “When we look at life, we generally are looking at ways to improve it.”

    Well, There’s your problem, Right There!

    God creates a perfect planet and a garden of Eden and the Perfect Man and his mate from Adam’s rib.

    He gives us life and everything we could possibly ever need to live in peace and harmony, surrounding us in unending beauty…

    And we come along and look for ways to improve it!!!

    Take a look around…. have we done anything like a half-way decent job of improving things in the last ten thousand years?

    All He wanted was a one-to-one relationship with us and we (some of us at any rate) feel this overwhelming need/desire to make something ‘better’ in our ridiculously short lifetimes.

    Didn’t Jesus teach us anything? When we leave it to our own imaginations, our doubts, our fears, our fleshly desires (for a more perfect world/church/society/community), what we kid ourselves God wants for us to do, we ALL make mistakes – we all make the same Primary Mistake – we put our pathetic and deformed little needs above His. The Truth (painful as it is to us) is that none of us can ever know precisely what it is that God want for us for our entire life – we can merely through trial and error (and making mistakes along the way) discover what ‘feels right’ and do our best to maintain that ‘gut feeling’ until we discover that we have stopped doing quite the ‘right thing’ because God is sending us clear information in the form of our fellow men’s interaction with us (or perhaps just feeling the retun of our own doubt) and we need to re-align our will with that of The Living God.

    Darla seems to me to make a sincere attempt (not sure how successful she is – only she can tell by looking at the ‘fruits’ she is bearing around her) to follow her God and do as Jesus did – put The Father’s Will first and foremost.

    I am not saying others don’t make the attempt but as you say Brent – sometimes the perspective and personal (emphasis on PERSONAL) bias is ‘wrong’ (in the sense that ours does not comply anywhere near with a true alignemnt to that of The Father of us ALL)

    When we act in accord with His Will – there will be no personal doubt or need to ask what am i doing wrong/right, how can i ‘improve things’ – that will be self-evident by the circumstances that generate around you through your considered and careful (not ‘thought-less’), loving actions.

    At least that is one (my) perspective. It may be ‘wrong’ – it does not feel so to me.

    love

  51. Here are some of Jesus’ thoughts on church leadership (Matthew 23, from the Message):

    1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

    4-7″Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

    8-10″Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and themβ€”Christ.

    11-12″Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.”

  52. Amen!

  53. “I am not saying others don’t make the attempt but as you say Brent – sometimes the perspective and personal (emphasis on PERSONAL) bias is β€˜wrong’ (in the sense that ours does not comply anywhere near with a true alignment to that of The Father of us ALL)

    When we act in accord with His Will – there will be no personal doubt or need to ask what am i doing wrong/right, how can i β€˜improve things’ – that will be self-evident by the circumstances that generate around you through your considered and careful (not β€˜thought-less’), loving actions.”

    Stong ‘amen’ on this – but here’s the rub that I see: So many of us – the plain old, common folk (sheep if you will) don’t take the time, or don’t have the inclination to take these steps for ourselves. We’re much more comfortable (it seems) to let others do the thinking and pointing for us. I think this is part of our fallen nature, and I don’t think we’re going to fix this condition at a macro level. It’s like we’ve all taken the blue pill. And in defense of many that are ‘called’ to be pastors – I would like to think that most if not all of them are trying to figure out how to move/inspire the masses into some independent thought. When that doesn’t work we come up with programs and ministries where people can fulfill their perceived obligations and thus feel pretty good about themselves, while at the same time entirely missing the boat on the things LWBUT describes above. The pastors then become committed to the programs, the ministries, paying the bills, etc. and what once started out with good intentions because a systematic way for themselves to feel good about themselves. Now introduce Jesus’ words above and what Jesus describes fits the scenario like a glove.

    I realize this is a gross generalization (my words, not Jesus’) but I’m willing to bet we could all put ourselves somewhere into this scenario.

  54. Badguy said “12 comes to mind” and “Church is too big when anyone can anonymously slip in and out without being confronted by love.” And while I agree with it but I want to caveat this with my support for a large, “corporate?” worship gathering.

    I personally find a strong connection to the body of Christ and to my Lord in a small group setting. Usually in a living room or around a camp fire with someone with a guitar and we’re reading from the bible and sharing with each other what we hear God speaking to us in a passage of scripture.

    That said, if I could not have slipped into the back of a large worship gathering anonymously, cried without anyone noticing and bugging me about it, and left quietly posing as though I had it all under control… I would not have ever entered in to this community called the way.

    I think we as the church need to continually remind each other that a weekly worship gathering is simply one of the things we do as the church. It unfortunately becomes the focus and the purpose of many church communities to the point that legions of people work all week long to bring that 1 hour while 2 people feed the homeless. I think the 20 something crowd sees this and says (quite accurately), “That is not church!” Its like Mudpuppy’s comment about getting the stink-eye from someone when things are just “perfect” on Sunday morning.

    The Sunday morning Worship gatherings are our most confusing element. And since it is often the only element, “church” is confusing. Christians really need to get over themselves on this one. The body is not the audience or the target demographic for that hour. And of course, the anonymous visitor is not the audience either. We are all spectators to the most amazing, perplexing, and mysterious event.

    [Warning: Sports Analogy Alert – bail now or forever hold your groaning]
    I heard a preacher describe the worship accurately as “the huddle.” We all come together in a big huddle on the field of life. The world is watching. Some go get a beverage or more dip and come back and sit down. The coach on the sidelines looks at his clipboard. Someone says break and everyone runs to the line. The clock winds down while the world leans in. Time expires. The ball is never “hiked.” Everyone “eagerly” runs back to the huddle, high-fives and butt slappin. The pastor bites his lip and tries to figure out what to say this time…

    We love the huddle — We fear the field. Between huddles, we plan our next huddle. And the world has changed the channel.

    (I hope this isn’t the negativity your original post lamented about… these are my thoughts as I read through the comment trail.)

  55. Ah, Ric. You have that way of cutting right through to the heart of the matter. I just love cheesy analogies, and good ones like yours, as well. πŸ™‚

  56. b4dguy, One thing I need to clarify, is that I feel Paul’s teachings are usually not looked at as something to consider into what church is. This is why I bring up the Catholic church and such, but I completely agree with Christians assertion that Catholic or Baptists, there still can be the same issues.

    I appreciate your willingness to speak your heart on this. One line of questioning for you. What are Paul’s teachings to be considered. Jeus didn’t say it so we cast it out? Or maybe just applied to what was going on then? Is there none of his “how to manage the organization” teachings that apply to what we do today?

    And thanks for picking up on my “do church ” thing. Hopefully that implied “organization” as that was all it was meant to do πŸ™‚

    LOVE!!! Welcome back! I noticed you lurking around some other spots and wondered if I would be honored with your presence again πŸ™‚

    A thought that comes to me when I read you comment is that People cannot be shoved into the business category. I think tasks and plans can benefit from a good strategy and improve with trial and error. But people can’t be treated like tasks and plans. They are individual and need to be appreciated and loved as such.

    Christian, This passage to me speaks nothing of church organization, but only of what it looks like. This is what leadership and church should not be. I know of churches that operate this way (Have you guys seen the “pee standing up” message video floating around?). If you look at what Jesus spoke about, it was His message and truth being forced or ruled or lawed over others. And then unfortunately man made laws wrapped up in all of that. Jesus condemned that. But what of leaders and facilities and so on. I hear your heart in this passage and I agree, but I also think it only speaks to an aspect of what the organization could be.

    b4dguy

    “The pastors then become committed to the programs, the ministries, paying the bills, etc.”

    That’s when the pharisee begins to rule. I agree with you and your take on Love’s comments. Obviously, my stance has been that there are churches that keep Jesus and a life of serving Him at t eh center of anything they do. I am a part of one of them. So…I may be a little biased that way πŸ™‚

    RIc, not negative at all. challenging and good.

    “I think we as the church need to continually remind each other that a weekly worship gathering is simply one of the things we do as the church. It unfortunately becomes the focus and the purpose of many church communities to the point that legions of people work all week long to bring that 1 hour while 2 people feed the homeless. I think the 20 something crowd sees this and says (quite accurately), β€œThat is not church!” Its like Mudpuppy’s comment about getting the stink-eye from someone when things are just β€œperfect” on Sunday morning.”

    This is HUGE!!!

  57. Well, I read that scripture as Jesus saying “Hey – you may need to be organized to spread this good news, but let’s don’t create and organization.” There is a ‘natural’ human need to rise to the top of any organization, generating competition and rivalry. Clement wrote a letter pointing this unfortunate tendency already forming in the early church but pointed out that he was part of the problem by limiting his discussion to other ‘bishops’. Hierarchy.

    About the whole Paul versus Jesus thing. It helps to remember that Paul’s letters predate the Gospels by quite a few years. No doubt his writings influenced the Gospel writers, i.e. his account of the last supper.

  58. Ya, I see that as well. I did want to be clear, that I hear your heart through this passage.

    I have no problem with leaders. But if you read about great leaders and their routines and habits, you see that they are very much facilitators. They don’t seek to protect themselves, but they seek to uphold the purpose and vision. Here’s where issues can arise in the church. If the vision and purpose of the church are to protect the organization, they have lost sight. But if they are to (like we were talking about earlier…re the priest) uphold and protect what is working, than I have no issue with that.

    We could go on to define what works, but I think many of you have done that nicely here.

  59. I read this today and thought it spoke nicely to my heart in this whole discussion. Christian, you might enjoy cause it uses a restaurant analogy πŸ™‚

    This is from Mark Beeson’s blog. A Pastor in Indiana.

    “Once upon a time a restaurateur noticed the cars driving past his restaurant.

    He had a prime location for his upscale refectory. Few roads were as heavily traveled and few locations offered the ease of access he enjoyed. Transfixed by the sight as hundreds of cars cruised past his bistro window, he made a sad mistake.

    He failed to turn around to see what was going on inside his dining establishment.

    Tables were filled. People were happy. Reservations were booked for the entire evening. His patrons were poster-children of viral promotion:

    β€œThis place has the best food in town!”
    β€œYou’ll love the ambiance.”
    β€œGreat food! Great service! Great place!”

    His parking lot was filled with cars. His cash flow was positive and other merchants envied his success.

    But he was unhappy.

    He couldn’t shift his attention from all the people passing by, driving their cars to different restaurants – and choosing other places to eat. Thousands were rejecting his restaurant every hour of the day! It broke his heart.

    Rather than count the β€œYes” votes and turn his attention to those he was able to reach, he focused on the rejection of others and lost his joy.”

  60. I guess it speaks to my heart of fixating on the negative and in turn forgetting the positive and most often the things that are good right in front of us.

  61. 61 tam

    ooo, that’s good!

    no need to comment on my comment

  62. 62 b4dguy

    I actually read the restaurant analogy more on focusong on the lost. Like the physician coming for the sick (starving) or the shepherd leaving 99 sheep to find the one lost.

  63. I see that as well bad, but i saw that it spoke nicely to the fact that the church too often focuses on what it does wrong and how to fix it and in doing so, forgets the people that are right there waiting.

    tam, I’ll comment to your comment just cause your cute…

    Nice comment πŸ™‚

  64. Tam’s comment 61 is the type fun I would expect when/if Patti ever moves from ‘being annoyed by my blogging’ to jumping in…

    Yeah, Brent I think I get it. I wonder if those seeing the ills of traditional church are, in many cases ‘fixing’ by changing so as to feel better about themselves (tying into some of Badguy’s comments). That is, extravagant worship centers with small charity toward the poor is hypocrisy! Solution: no more extravagant worship centers! Home church. QED. I know this does not describe ALL cases but I have to wonder if we leave because we are very sure of what it is we do NOT like but we are not too sure of what we are suppose to be going towards. (yet another comment tie in — I think one of Brent’s).

    ps. I like the fact that the 2 personas are female (Nelly and Debby). I mean whoever heard of a Ridiculing Ricky? Oxymoron.

  65. “I have to wonder if we leave because we are very sure of what it is we do NOT like but we are not too sure of what we are suppose to be going towards.”

    I absolutely think people leave because of this. I think people in general follow (I think b4dguy brought that up). There is a disturbing trend in our culture to follow and be “in”. This goes to how we resond to churches. We use this mentalitty to both join churches as well as to leave them. In any situation, this mentality leads to a negative…”against” attitude. “Our church is better than yours”. That stuff makes me sick.

  66. 66 tam

    Ric, I’ll pray Patti comes over to the dark side πŸ˜€

    and what is this??!!!

    “ps. I like the fact that the 2 personas are female (Nelly and Debby).”

    Them there are fightin’ words pal! icky ricky 😯

  67. The focus on negativity is certainly a reason why many people leave churches – either to find one that entertains them or to just check out of church/Church altogether (although I don’t think that you must join a little “c” to be part of the big “C”).

    But not everyone has this take on things. When I left my church it was not over any obvious dissatisfaction – it was so much ‘better’ than what I remembered as a youth. But then I saw how it ‘could’ be and when my home church proved to be not interested in even considering change then I moved on. (Thank the Lord!)

    In my community (for reasons I don’t want to get into now I would prefer to reserve the word ‘church’ for the big “C”) we are actively involved in an outreach to other Christian communities, across any and all denominational lines. The idea is to attempt a breaking down of these unnecessary dividing walls, and in the process share in and celebrate those things that we are doing well while helping each other (us included) with those challenges that we struggle with. It’s only a beginning but you never know.

  68. Oh, the restaurant thing. Thanks, it hit home. I remember when my restaurant finally began to take off, after a long period of struggling business. My regular customers became very unhappy. Now they had to wait for a table. It was louder. I couldn’t spend as much time as I used to chatting table side. Different lenses, different views.

  69. 69 Tawny

    Ok, can’t stop myself, this is so interesting, I just have to add my two more cents. I copied this off of my blog from this morning that was inspired by this thread. (changed it a little because I have more time right now)

    I LOVE how Jesus feels about the Church. God not only cares about us individually (He knows when we sit down and when we rise us, how many hairs are on our heads) but He also cares very much about the Church (all of His people joined together, all over this planet in way He orchestrates and sometimes only He understands). I love how He said “Saul why do you persecute ME”, not “my people” not even “my body” but ME. And of course He calls us His Body. He couldn’t take us more personally. We have to believe He cares and He has the power to make it what He wants it to be. I am not saying don’t do our part to make a difference if He gives us a passion for something, we just have to be sure HE gave us the passion.

    All this to say, we don’t have to worry about the Church we need to follow the Head. That’s what I think we need to learn to do better. Anyone who is part of the body needs to learn to recognize when we are being directed to do something. Sometimes I think we are too busy watching each other and trying to figure it all out and we never learn to really follow Him. All the time, which of course would include with whom we meet to worship Him. I don’t know how to do that yet either, but that is my goal. In my personal life and in the Church. We shouldn’t be able to separate them.

  70. Christian, using community(small “c”) and church(Big “C”) is perfect in my opinion. For lots of reasons.

    Anyway, one of the things I implied in my last comment was that people both leave churches and join churches based on selfish desires. DO you see any 20 somethings joining your church for reasons of, “it’s the cool thing”? I am curious. i have talked to some around here that know nothing about modern, post-modern, emerging, emergent. But, they have made their minds up as to what is good or bad based on what “peers” are saying and participating in.

    The restaurant thing can definitely be taken a bunch of way. I see your perspective.

    Tawny, I love your thoughts here. Realizing what we are a part of is so much more than an organization in every way, is crucial. People in communities need to learn to be God focused in their discipleship and not so man focused.

    “Sometimes I think we are too busy watching each other and trying to figure it all out and we never learn to really follow Him.”

    I totally agree.

    I saw this today and thought it fit into some of this discussion,

    “by the cold and religious we were taken in hand
    shown how to feel good and told to feel bad”

    Pink Floyd from the song Your Possible Pasts…

  71. No, we have a very diverse community. We’ve got kids with spiked hair, tattoos and piercings sitting next to clean cut preppy college types on one side and old folks in suits and dresses on the other. And these folk, both young and old, have been there longer myself. The attraction is Jesus and the idea that the Kingdom is at hand.

    Case in point: My daughter, who is 19 and very bright, stayed on at our old church almost a couple of years after my wife and I left. She had some good friends there as well as some good memories and she helped lead the youth group. She was adamant about remaining loyal and was even a little annoyed at her parents for leaving.

    About a month ago her mother couldn’t attend services with me so she went because she didn’t want me to be “all alone”. She was blown away. She didn’t realize that she could experience such freedom in ‘church’. For the first time she felt that her mind was truly stimulated, that she was being allowed and encouraged to discover God on her own terms for the first time. She also expressed the fact that she felt the presence of God’s spirit moving among the people for the first time in a very long time. She hasn’t gone back to the Methodist church (she felt guilty for about a minute). She now has joined a Sunday morning adult grouping in which she is the only person under 40 years of age and had found it quite easy to relate to and be open with folks in their seventies. She says she doesn’t even notice their ages, something that was very difficult, if not impossible, for her to do in the past.

  72. I love to hear about the next generation’s passion for truly experiencing God.

    Someday if I’m ever in your neck of the woods. I would love to go to Community with you.

  73. Christian – where is your community? and do you ever go to Cornerstone?

    Brent – I’m curious about your newer thread, but thought the questions I had better fit here: why was this man sitting in front of the Pastoral staff today?

  74. I knew that would be a question πŸ™‚

    We had heard what he was doing and we wanted to hear straight from him how we could be a support in it. We prayed with him and we were also able to help him pay for some of the expenses he will incur going through some future training. We very often hear about people dealing with situations like this and we wanted to be a resource for him in being able to connect him those people.

    It was awesome hearing all of the testimony he had with how God has placed people and situations in his lap, so that God could be glorified.

  75. I don’t think there will ever be a perfect church on earth. We have a great pastor at our church. It’s like taking a college course in understanding the bible and not the gospel according to whoever is talking. I’ve been meeting with him weekly for a little over a year to work through some issues I’ve had and tomorrow is the last meeting and the workbook is done. The cool thing about it is he still wants to keep meeting and asked me what I would be interested in learning or studying about. He also asked me to write a song about Exodus which we are currently going through on Sunday mornings. We spent almost a year going through Genesis. This is a somewhat small church, 150 – 200 average attendance. Ultra coservative from what I’m told πŸ˜† Not too many Debbie downers or negative Nelly’s.
    (We do have a biased Bob though) While I sometimes might want to go to the mega church down the road because they have a rockin worship team and a latte stand at this point I need the kind of biblical teaching that I’m afraid I might miss if I were left to myself or a group of my neighbors to try to figure it out.

  76. Cedar Ridge is in Burtonsville, Maryland, about 10 miles north of DC and about 20 miles south of where I live in Ellicott City, outside of Baltimore. My wife just reminded me that we just celebrated the 25th anniversary. Brent, why don’t you fly out and visit? You could write it off your taxes. πŸ˜‰

    We came aboard CRCC at a unique time. I first visited to catch one of Brian McLaren’s sermons – sort of a free lecture, in my mind. Wouldn’t you know it but on the Sunday I showed up it was the new pastor’s first day. And was I blessed.

    Anyway, with the founding pastor stepping aside after 20 some years, the community decided to step back and lie fallow for a year, spend some time in prayer, study, reflection. Listening to God, hoping to find if we are where he wants us to be. We put a hold on new endeavors and cut back on everything else, including missions. This was good for me as well.

    When I first got there I immediately answered the plea for Sunday school teachers and ended up serving on a discipleship committee (part of our ‘visioning’ process). I realized that, once again, I was becoming another Martha, just as I had in my old church. So now I have deliberately become like Mary – a veritable pew potato. But in this process I have realized that ‘doing church’ can take place outside of ‘church’, even more so than inside. Anyway, I love this place. But… I have come to the point where it is not so important in my life that it gets in the way of God.

    Cornerstone? We did attend a community worship service in a place called Cornerstone, in Columbia. Are they Pentecostal?

  77. 77 b4dguy

    Brent – very cool.

  78. you guys can see why I tend to be optimistic. I am a part of a church that is an organization, but “gets it”. We truly exist to further His kingdom…not ours.

    Christian, we are trying to figure out as a family how to make an East Coast run someday to visit all our blog friends. We would love to do that!

    Scott, I love what your Pastor is doing with you. Truly seeking out community…relationship!

  79. Uh..OK. We’ve a pretty small house, though. And the hot water runs out after two showers.

  80. Hahaha!!!!

  81. ahhhh….that ‘splains it. McClaren’s church. I grew up in Silver Spring and now live in Pasadena. So, um we like live 20 minutes apart! Ric lives nearby in Gambrills…

    Cornerstone is a music festival put on by Jesus People USA held each summer in Bushnell, IL (www.cornerstonefestival.com).

    Brent if you ever come east -we’ve got plenty of rooms/bathrooms.

  82. ok, so we’re gonna organize an east coast bloggers junket. No, it will not involve stamping OR candles. Or baskets. Coolers maybe. We’ll blog about it and post some pictures so the west coasters don’t get left out.

    oh no, did I say we’re gonna organize?

    We’re so doomed.

  83. Now I’m getting jealous.

    I’ve told you before Ric, that I would love to get our family out to DC and do a little history tour of the area. Someday!

  84. Uh-Ohhh! Tam’s got her Dander up and is in a Fighting mood (ducks for cover – QUACK! – darn sqeamish ducks!) πŸ˜€

    While i hope Praise 365’s biased Bob helps her mood somewhat, by levelling out the negative female bias in the downer names, i hasten to point out the biased Bob in question is NOT moi! πŸ˜‰
    (I’m A biased Bob, not That one!)

    Just getting back ‘on topic’ (i know – call me a radical if you will):-)
    Could you please tell me what you see is the Primary function of a(your) church, please Brent?

    If it cannot be so limited to a single Prime function then perhaps place functions in a ‘prioritised’ order of importance?

    I think that would be a must in the ‘first step’ to building a ‘perfect’ one.

    Of course finding a bunch of people who would agree 100% with your list and the relative priority of each function may raise more than a little difficulty and raise a need for ‘compromise’… and thus the slippery slope would begin… 😦

    I agree with bad – many of us act like sheep and just ‘follow’ because it is easier than following (making/living) your own individual path to God.

    Would a perfect church ‘grow’? or would it teach people not to remain part of a ‘small’ flock, but to become ‘individuals’ with a one-to-one contract with God?

    Minister to others and teach them the value in finding out the Truth of Jesus and of God for themselves, by all means. Share communion in His Name with those of a similar mind (providing you can find a hall large enough πŸ˜‰ ) as and when you see fit. Provide service to your local community and share what common wealth you have with those in most need. In today’s world this will require some level of organisation, of heirerarchies.

    But remember that at it’s very core – our relationship with God is first and foremost personal and one-to-one – it must be experienced – It cannot ever be ‘taught’ or given by another. Just because some of us act like sheep does not mean we deserve to be treated like one.

    P.S. Good to be back (here) B! – was never very far away (spiritually, at least)

    love

  85. Brent, what would the pastoral staff have done if the gentleman’s ideas sounded, for lack of a better word, “whacko”? That is, in this case you were clearly able to support him and explore ways to support him; what if after hearing his heart, there needed to be “gentle prodding” in another direction, or it was clear that his ideas couldn’t be supported? I’m just curious – I’m sure it’s had to have happened before, and handling “no” is pretty dicey at times.

    Also, what’s “Step 2”? (and will we ever get there???)

    Finally, did you ever answer my question from the “ask me anything” post? (if so, I missed it…)

  86. Hey Love,

    “Could you please tell me what you see is the Primary function of a(your) church, please Brent?”

    We as a church (table Rock Fellowship) have always been about releasing people into service. We have always wanted to encourage people to know the God we serve and then to turn around and serve Him themselves. We have always wanted to be a group of people that encourages and resources in doing this.

    Take, for instance. My Dad is joining out staff this month to organize a senior’s ministry. When I hear of these types of ministries(based on my bias) I see potlucks and trips to the Indian run casinos. I don’t really see inistry as much as I see “club”. My Dad is going to be leading a ministry based on service. He sees people of any age(but focusing on 55 and up) as completely capable of serving, caring and ministrering to the community. He is using Psalms 71 as a foundation for the ministry. Most specifically Psalm 71:14,

    “So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
    until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.”

    We all have a legacy to leave in God’s name. We all have ability. We are all created to serve God. Our churches passion is to do just that…however that looks. We see it specifically in 3 areas. Upwards(our personal relationship with God) Inwards(Our immediate relationships) and outwards( our local community relationships).

    “Of course finding a bunch of people who would agree 100% with your list and the relative priority of each function may raise more than a little difficulty and raise a need for β€˜compromise’… and thus the slippery slope would begin…”

    This is where the conversation of “protecting” something comes in to play. If a group of people are truly and honestly loving God and loving people, should that standard not be held. If it isn’t the “slippery slope” and man’s opinion may cause division and than rule. Finding the standard is a tight rope as well, but I think possible when stripped down to the simplicity of the gospel.

    “P.S. Good to be back (here) B! – was never very far away (spiritually, at least)”

    Glad you are back as well. nice to hear your thoughts again!

  87. b4dguy, Thanks for piping back in…

    First I have not answered your question form the “ask me anything” post. I haven’t forgotten you, just thought that your question was very good and possibly needed some more attention from me to answer. I’m getting close πŸ™‚

    Regarding your question(which is a reality, cause it’s happened). In a situation like this, we have given what we can to offer help and support. It is not up to our Pastoral staff to lead him or tell him what to do, but instead, in relationship, offer counsel an advice. We)the staff) are not “the” workers for God’s plan, we are only part. If God has placed on someone’s heart a vision for ministry, our goal is not to get in the way of it, but to use our giftings to support it. Our Church is not perfect, so there are things we as a staff and as a congregation cannot offer or commit to. We just aren’t capable to be a part of everything. But a person in this situation may have come in with a clear vision. We won’t hinder it, we will pray for them and if we can be involved as a staff or we can offer up resources of the Church, we will. More important in this situation is this persons relationships with the entire body. If they are solid, he will find those that can minister with him. If they are looking only to the staff or organization to provide, they have failed in what it means to be One Body. I really believe when God impresses on us something, He will bring those around us in support to handle His task.

  88. That’s all very cool (again). You may have guessed that I’ve had very different experiences at churches I’ve attended over the years – all across the spectrum. Most recently it’s been, “I can’t even take a step without the pastor’s permission…” type places. I suspected your church isn’t like this, but wanted to hear you say it.

    For the record, I was “released” by my last pastor…I still don’t really know what that means, and he couldn’t answer the question when I asked him directly. At the time he pleaded with me to warn the new pastor (I was headed to be a youth pastor at another church) that I had “strong feelings” about certain church doctrines (this guy was pentecostal [AG] so the big ticket items were drinking, smoking, rock music, and speaking in tongues). I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had, in fact, discussed these things with the new pastor…over a pitcher of beer.

    You see? I can be compassionate AND merciful when necessary.

  89. “I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had, in fact, discussed these things with the new pastor…over a pitcher of beer.”

    Hahahahaha!!!! I know I shouldn’t laugh at your prior Pastors expense, but I love this!

    I need to say, we are not perfect, nor do I feel that you assume that. We as a staff make decisions for people sometimes that we have to learn from and correct for the future. We will be doing that till we are gone from this earth…no doubt.

  90. Bad – I love it, I love it, I love it! As a Methodist I felt compelled to hide not only the wine bottles but the glasses and corkscrews as well, when my ‘church’ friends came over. I sometimes think that if God had chosen the Huns or Teutons as his chosen people we probably would be celebrating communion with cheese and beer (but probably not grape juice!).

    We had met BuddyO and KathySo in church and had been friends for a few years when they asked us to meet them at a (gasp!) bar to hear a friend’s band. When we walked in my jaw hit the floor. Two martinis were sitting in front of them. Hallelujah! What a great feeling it was to enjoy their company accompanied with a cocktail, no longer fretting over a misinterpretation of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The freedom to be yourself, to be honest and not worry about being judged. Priceless.

  91. Can we hit a hundred? I’m so jealous. I barely hit ten anymore. 😦

  92. Since you’re laughing anyway, here’s another story (same guy):

    I was trying to inject a more contemporary, Young Life-style form of music time during the youth group meetings (the music time had been considered a worship time). The pastor and I had many conversations over the particulars of what kind of contemporary/popular music would be allowed. He finally came back to me with his decree – the music had to be upbeat and positive, not controversial; his example, “YMCA – it’s about the young men’s christian association”… AND the music shouldn’t be too loud/hard/contradictory to Scripture; “like that band KISS.”

    He still doesn’t believe me that YMCA is the unofficial Gay National Anthem.

  93. Christian is being Debbie downer again πŸ™‚

    So Christian, one question, where did you hide all the stuff? πŸ™‚

    We actually talked as a staff about wine vs grape juice this week. Who knows…

    b4dguy, Keep the stories coming. I am loving them. One of our Pastors is from the AG background. He was ordained there. When he started attending our church and made the decision to be a part of it, he had to mail his ordination papers back. He was officially never allowed to be a part of the AG organization again. I thank God that he is a part of our community now!

  94. Okay, then there was the time that the pastor was sitting on our porch reprimanding us for all the “things” he had heard about us. The list was all gossip, and dated back about 8 months -but hey this was about us – not him. At one point he stopped mid-sentence and gaped – he had spied through the window of my office the “A Christmas Story – major award” leg lamp that my wife gave me for my birthday. “Why would anyone have that in their home?” he pondered out loud.

    WHO WOULDN’T OWN A MAJOR AWARD LEG LAMP IN THEIR HOME???

    Christian – Ric and I want to meet you over a drink. While Ric wants a cooler…I prefer draught! Ever been to Ram’s Head in Annapolis?

  95. The last time my wife and I attended a worship service at the AG church was before Christmas. Mind you, we’d had quite a few “heated” discussions with the pastor at this point. He was doing the meet and greet after the service, and as he shook my wife’s hand (she hadn’t been to a service in months” all he could muster was, “well, Ho, Ho, Ho.” To which we both responded in unison, “Who you callin’ a Ho?”

    He just shook his head and walked away…

  96. (This is very cathartic btw – it’s not often I get to laugh about this with people that are sane enough to see the humor, irony, and still weep for the lost opportunities…)

    95, 96…

  97. Hahahaha!!!!!!

  98. Here’s a pic (provided by ric) of our old leadership staff (most of us)…

    http://b4dguy.wordpress.com/2008/03/12/the-methodist-youth-fellowship-leadership-staff/

    for your viewing pleasure…(and I finally figured out how to load pics to the blog – w00t!)

    98…

  99. Did someone say ‘beer’?

  100. 100!!!! If you’re in Pasadena, and Ric’s in Gambrills and I’m in EC why not some place more central (Annapolis is a long haul for me when I’ve had a brew or two). There’s a Ram’s Head in Savage.

  101. ahhhh….Savage Mill would be perfect. Been there quite a few times.

    Ric – set it up!

  102. I am truly getting jealous about this East coast meet up!

    Tam says to have a Mojito for her.

    I’m more of a dark micro brew kinda guy…

  103. what’s a mojito? and do I have to lift my pinky?

  104. White Rum, Mint and soda water.

    And yes…you’d most definitely need to lift a pinky πŸ™‚

  105. I am starting to get jealous too! since I live on the east coast, and what is brother that don’t let a sister join in?? πŸ˜‰

  106. I’m a dark beer guy too – one of my favorites is Rogue Dead Guy Ale (available on tap at Ram’s Head!)

  107. Umm… since when am I the beer date set up guy? I’ve been to that rams head… its pretty cool.

    I wonder if they let poets take the mic?

  108. No pinky lifting with a Mojito. (Can you really picture Tam lifting a pinky? Brent, maybe.) The bad boys down in Havana made this one famous.

    Darla, where on the East Coast? We are oyster slurping, crab crackin’ and Old Bay snortin’ Free Staters. How close are you to Charm City? (I’d rather hang out with girls instead of burpin’ burly types anyway)

  109. How can a dead guy be a rogue? Are you sure it ain’t Dead Rogue Guy Ale?

  110. Sorry, I forgot. Poets don’t burp. (Am I getting annoying, yet?)

  111. 111. Not yet? OK, I just remembered. BuddyO and Logio are in the area as well. I taught Logio how to drink beer last year. Buddy already knows how.

  112. You don’t need to lift your pinky with a Mojito!!! Just drink it like the man you are! But if you’re compelled to “lift” don’t blame it on the drink but DO send me a pic of it! 😯

    C, “(Am I getting annoying, yet?)”

    Hahaha! Yet?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    πŸ˜€

  113. Cool, I’m a burly type πŸ˜€

  114. Christian- I am outside Harrisburg PA, not too far from the Chesapeak bay in the other direction(approx 1 hour) Used to spend much time in North East MD….

  115. North East is actually the name of a town.. πŸ™‚

  116. 116 b4dguy

    Darla,

    where exactly are you? I gradeated from Messiah College, and I was just in Mechanicsburg last week.

  117. Bad- I live in a small town between harrisburg and Lancaster, Mount Joy…grew up center city in Lancaster. I am familiar with Mechanicsburg. πŸ™‚ will have to hook up with you so when you are in my area we could at least give you dinner that is better than Mcdonalds!

  118. Harrisburg? Lancaster? Mt.Joy? Really? And you can get a buggy down to B’more in an hour? You must have some really great horses. Bring us some Hershey bars, will you.

  119. hahaha I could that! Hubs works for a plastic company in Hershey! hahaha and wilbur chocolate is here in mount Joy…No I am not Amish and do drive a little fast..Jesus still loves me!

  120. B’Mo is more like an hour and half..North East is about an hour..I am a back roads girl from pa to md

  121. Sorry B! just realized we high jacked your blog…love you B and Tam!!

  122. Don’t apologize. He’s got 122 comments. Wah-wah!

  123. Heck Darla, have at it. We’re this far…let’s go for 200. We haven’t done that since the evolution post.

    Loving the conversation here. Even though I know I will not be a part of the meet and greet 😦

  124. 124 b4dguy

    how far are you from lititz? got a good friend lives there.

  125. Lititz is about 20 minutes from where we are in Mt. Joy

  126. C’mon Brent, you all have to get a vacation sometime…why not stay with us…PA is in the middle of the East coast…everything is driving distance with in a day…

  127. “I gradeated from Messiah College..”??

    Gradeated? I’m guessin’ English was not your major there then? πŸ˜‰

    Or did they only go up to grade eight? πŸ™‚

    Or you been sippin’ a mite too much rogue dead man there, bad?

    Mine’s a lemon, lime and bitters (never really understood what was so great about that whole ‘beer buzz’ thing?? – my mind is ‘fuzzy’ enough already!) 😯

    love

  128. This is all too sad for me to watch

  129. my eyes are leaking

  130. Okay I totally thought there were 129 SERIOUS comments on here about church and such….. I sooooo should have known! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜† 😯 hahahaha!

    B, you want 200 comments?? 😯 Sadly enough, I think it can be done. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†

  131. Brandy, stop right there and put down the computer 😯

  132. Computer?, stop right there and pick up that brandy! πŸ˜‰

    (as in Glass of – not well… you know!… umm unless you are Brandy’s husband perhaps?) πŸ™‚

    love (132!)

  133. Love, Now I know why you aren’t a Beer guy πŸ˜‰

  134. Yup – give me a Brandy every time… or maybe a Sherry? πŸ˜‰

    love

  135. Ying and yang…I’m a Whisky dude πŸ™‚

    But then, what does that mean in “pun” world???

  136. Give me a long island and I’m golden. πŸ˜‰

    Now B, I’ve rarely been on this week. HONEST! 😯

  137. I’m with B. 7-n-7 is my fav. You can remember that because Matt 7:7 is one of my favs too.

    Thanks for adding to quiet my morning time.

  138. East coast been up and buzzing for about 5-6 hours, depending on the wake up time..sunrise was awesome!!! hope you all get to see it on the west coast.. πŸ™‚ just thought I would stop and add something to boost the 200 mark. πŸ˜‰

  139. let’s tie the recent comments back to the original post. What role does alcohol play in the perfect church? and is there a difference between grain-based fermentation products and grape-based? Fruit or vegetable? Of course, there’s also things like Mead – which technically would be an animal by product.

  140. I’m new to all this, so forgive me – but is there a relationship between darla and praise365?

  141. Morning Bad! Praise365 is my husband. I love how we are getting back to the real thoughts on this post… “mead”= an animal by product? 😯

  142. “gradeated” – a colloquialism, or how do you inflect an accent into a blog? I wasn’t an English major, but I am of English descent – and I was raised to speak and write the language correctly.

    Don’t get me started on things like hanging prepositions at ends of sentences, or the placement of yourself in a list of folks, or whether to use “me” or “I”. Eighth graders (in my day) would have known the proper usage of all of these things.

  143. “Who are you and what have you done with my hubs??” – darla

    well, that kinda answers my question. I’ll let you know the next time I’m heading up Lititz way, and I’ll make it a point to swing through Mount Joy.

  144. That would be awesome! We will feed you, and hang out…very cool!

  145. Brandy, I am sure you could take this over 200 comments in a matter of minutes πŸ™‚

    b4dguy, Wasn’t it Calvin who was also a brewer?

    Darla, did we actually get back on topic πŸ™‚

  146. I have to scroll up through alot of comments to find the original topic! mmmmmmm maybe just hit home…lol not the sharpest tool in the shed, but God says I shine like the stars! brb…going to check the topic…I am pretty sure it wasn’t about beer in church.. 😯

  147. “for every one that has hurt someone there are 100 who cared for someone” (Original topic)
    I think the church gets a bad rap in this..and it is typical of other places as well as the church. One negative person is louder than 100 happy positive people…wonder why we are so silent in what is good. and wonder if that is what the Psalmist was driving at when he repeated himself so often to rejoice and give praise, to do it with cymbals and other instruments….

  148. I really like that perspective Darla. It kind of goes a long with the thought here…good job bringing it back πŸ™‚

    If we speak and live as loud as another, our actions will be seen and heard. I have no doubt of that.

  149. Darla, I LOVE that! Right on! Great way to look at this!

  150. 150

  151. What do you think would be a positive way for the individual to bring back or be louder than the negative?

    I have been trying to email once a month my pastors of the good that comes from the messages i recieve, and also to remind people to pray for them.

  152. The old statement, actions speak louder than words, is a good one.

    People will always say what they want. They’ll lie, gossip and say whatever to get their way. we can’t combat that…except to be filled with integrity in all we do.

    If our actions support or better than that, lead our words, they can say all they want, but the action always stands.

  153. 153 πŸ˜‰

    We’re slowing down here folks. I’ve got all night…..well, not really. πŸ˜‰

  154. hey – just saying the number of the comment shouldn’t count – minus 10 pts for tam!

  155. Wha?!?!

  156. off topic – Darla – mead: beer and honey, hence ‘animal’ as opposed to hops (beer) vegetable and sherry (grape) fruit – all sorted now? πŸ™‚

    On topic – sort of – monks have long been fans of brewing beer So ‘doing church’ (lets face it, no-one ‘does’ church like real honest-to-God middle-ages monks!) should probably include a class or two in the brewers’ art.

    Clearly, Christ was more of a grape fancier Himself although Christian implied once that He may only have been imbibing to be sociable with His Jewish ‘Bud’dies.

    Thanks for the claarification, Bad! Humour is essential when reading comments, i find πŸ™‚ Our own can sometimes be hard for others to read right the first time though πŸ˜€

    Brent – Whiskey huh? Whiskey makes you frisky and Brandy makes you randy
    If there was a beverage called ‘Tam’ that would be my favourite! πŸ˜‰

    Is it just me or is this post going downhill fast???

    love

  157. Love, it wasn’t I that suggested such a thing about Christ. I am pretty sure that he fancied the grape.

  158. Chris – i may have got the actual object confused, but am fairly sure it was you (at least on one of your posts at any rate) that you (referring to foods at the last supper?) suggested that Jesus ate (was it bread – as in bread and wine) something more for Jewish Tradition than His desire of a diet plan that He usually followed.

    Ring any bells?

    I’m also sure he fancied the grape but i think he was more of a ‘Purist’ (‘raw’ grapes or dried, at best. He was good at ‘raisin’ the dead – not to mention ‘prune’ing branches (groan) – sorry! πŸ˜‰ )

    love

  159. It is always interesting to me that our knowledge of Jesus leaves a lot up to the imagination. We have ideas of how he would react in situations, but then we aren’t given the situations. Some, but not all.

    Christian, you still reading that book about Jesus? Did it have a “He was a grape dude” section? Tongue in cheek, but I’d love ot hear more about that book.

    Love, I cant be “randy” I’m not British πŸ™‚

  160. I’ll be Brandy, Jake’ll be randy. πŸ˜‰ 😯 πŸ˜†

  161. Randy Van Warmer was American – wasn’t he??? πŸ˜‰
    (‘Just when i needed you most’ – now THERE’s a song title!)

    Tam!? Can ‘Vinny’ be Randy?

    I know he can be a mean Bille Ray – I’ve seen the mullet photo’s! 😯

    love ❀

  162. Oops! – that was Billy Ray (as in Cyrus), not Bille.

    love ❀

  163. Nice Bran…you did good on that one πŸ™‚

    Sorry Love, I had Austin Powers in my head after reading “randy” πŸ™‚

    I did kind of have the Cyrus thing going on. His was probably a little prettier though πŸ™‚

  164. Thankya thankya πŸ˜‰

    Jake does a mean Austin Powers too. πŸ˜† Yeah baby! πŸ˜† heehee

  165. HAHAHAHAHAA! I just asked Jake “tell me the first Ausin Powers line from one of the movies that comes to mind” and he said “I’m gonna eat the baby. Why?” hahaha! I said “EAT THE BABY?!?!” and he said “yeah, Fat Bastard”

    πŸ˜† hahahahaha

  166. “Get in my mouth!!!!”

    Hahahahaha!!!!!!!

  167. I think we are definitely off topic now πŸ™‚

  168. Okay, Jake is callin’ you out on this one…..

    It’s “Get in my belly!” 😯

    “You can keep your mojo, but I want the baby!”

    “I want my baby back baby back baby back….ribs” hahahaha!!!! πŸ˜†

    Yes, way off topic….what does Tam call it? WOOT??

    WOOT!WOOT!

    (#168!)

    Signed, Brandy and Randy πŸ˜›

  169. we really do talk well, we just get off track.

  170. mmmmmmmm making the perfect Church…..mmmmmmmmmm

  171. I was hoping to see 200 here when i woke up, but now I know I will have to work at this morning! Something about things unfinished in my mind will make me crazy..

  172. “Oh Bee-Haive!” πŸ˜‰

    Tam? you ignoring my q?? πŸ™‚

    Only 30 to go folks!

  173. Gee Darla, first you shoot past me on Tam’s blog – now here Gosh your fast girl! πŸ™‚

    Only 27 now!

    love ❀

  174. actions speak louder than words…I know I have heard that phrase a bzillion times, and believe it as well…just thinking about when you have done lots with actions and one person can say something totally negative and cause total chaos over that one remark

  175. Morning or good evening Love!

  176. Either you are up late or I am up early,….maybe both!?!?!

  177. Love are you going to comment on Tams Fill in Friday??? I was waiting for you so that I can add two words…hahaha (of course in between getting ready for work!)

  178. Love? Love! Love! Did you fall asleep at the computer?? don’t spill your drink! Wake up, and do your comment…man! dang dang time difference!

  179. Love – he probably like bread too. But the point was that both bread and wine are ‘naturally’ occurring food stuffs in that when the yeast encounters the host (moist flour or grape juice) it multiplies, producing the by products (carbon dioxide and alcohol) that enhance the original character of the host. Both the wheat and the grape must be crushed in order to make bread and wine. The way that this so beautifully lends metaphorical assistance to Jesus’ message is beyond uncanniness (or coincidence?).

    Which book is that, Brent?

  180. http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2008/03/they_love_the_c.html

    here is a link to a blog I read this morning that was pretty much what we have been talking about or at least some of the time. The article is about loving Jesus and not the church, and how that doesn’t work together…but has good points on both sides..just thought I would add another angle just to get to 200 yes I am pathetic once I set my mind to achieving something even if it is just getting to 200!!

  181. You

  182. should

  183. write

  184. one

  185. word

  186. per

  187. comment…

  188. Ooooh

  189. like

  190. that

  191. idea!

  192. πŸ˜†

  193. You guys are freaks!!!

    We are headed out of the house to go see a friend at the hospital. He’s having bypass surgery this AM. Be praying for him. His name is Scott.

    We’ll be back on later πŸ™‚

  194. I should have #200 do a guest post…

  195. Since I am the one who encouraged Badguy to get on wordpress, I just want to say I am sorry.

    And well, thank you.

    Because while he’s irritating you and going through comments like paper cups… I get some quiet time.

  196. i am praying for you and tam as you minister to Scott and his family.

  197. the 200th comment guest post is very tempting but then I would have to find a guest writer for my own neglected blog…maybe we should have a day when we all do someone elses blog..that would really make people wonder if they were on the right blog..hahaha easy things make me laugh! πŸ˜†

  198. thank you for the complement..Freaks R Us!! we know you love it!

  199. ummmmmmmmmmmmmm

  200. YEAH!!!!

    πŸ˜†

    πŸ˜€

  201. OOOOH! I like Darla’s idea of doing someone else’s blog for a day!!! HAHA!! And then we have to guess who did it!! ooooh! 😯

  202. Darla, I’ll check out that link later. I am sure it will be great.

    Christian I was talking about that book you were reading, “What Jesus Meant”. Did you like it?

    No word on our friend Scott yet. He went in at 10 our time and should be out around 1.

    PS…Brandy gets a guest post πŸ™‚

  203. “PS…Brandy gets a guest post :)”

    😯

  204. Oh, that one. It was excellent. I just read another one by Wills, “What Paul Meant”, also quite good. Both of these books fairly small and pretty easy reading. Wills is a historian, one the Pulitzer Prize for “Lincoln at Gettysburg”. Both of these books are grounded in scriptures. Good stuff.

  205. Won – not ‘one’. I am developing Sometimers Disease.

  206. Hahaha!!!

    I’ll look into the books. i like small. My mind doesn’t focus long πŸ™‚

  207. just for info.

    Our friend is out of surgery. 4 bypassess. I’ll get more info late, but it sound positive. Thanks for the prayers!!!

  208. 4 bypasses? he’ll be home in two days.

    praising with you!

  209. Glad your friend is out of surgery, will keep praying for his recovery

  210. Ric, I just got you out of spam.

    We like badguy. He can hang around. If he gets overwhelming, we’ll just send him back to you πŸ™‚

  211. what does the 212th commenter get?

  212. Tam- what do you want to get?

  213. 212 gets left over rib & chicken doggie bag

  214. Guest post? 😯

    I think the 212th commenter wants that. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜† hahaha!

  215. Alright Bran, what are you gonna post about πŸ™‚

  216. crap….I think you should interview me. πŸ˜‰

  217. Evening everyone! πŸ™‚ (Afternoon here actually, prayers for Scott’s recovery – 4 bypasses? sounds like he loved the Family Platter at Roscoe’s. Someone PLEASE tell me there was a salad bar there and you USED it?? Please?)

    Sorry Darla – missed you at Tam’s and here – because i was over at your under-appreciated blog leaving you a message :-)!) Then had to leave as was end of my day pc-wise. (Cooking dinner time!)

    Isn’t it fascinating watching the ego at work (and ‘play’)? πŸ™‚

    Not wanting to speak for The Blogboss but i think the 212th commenter gets a kiss and a cuddle with the blogboss! πŸ™‚ ( no queueing please!) Competition is over – for now.

    love ❀

  218. I’m with Love here…. Utilize the salad bar! 😯 haha!

  219. Moderation is key people…especially with lettuce πŸ™‚

    Love has a great idea for #212…I can make that happen.

    As for you Brandy, you always have something to talk about. Think about it for a bit and get back to me πŸ™‚

  220. Kiss and a cuddle? Love, sometimes you remind me Paul Lynde. Jeesh!

  221. I’ll take that as a compliment! (said in a Paul Lynde voice)

    Roscoe’s Family Platter then he get’s to go home to 212!
    That ‘Jealous Guy’ is getting a work-over today fer sure. πŸ˜‰

    Brent! I need to have a good long talk with you on the subject of ‘Moderation’ – i don’t think you truly understand the concept.

  222. 222 – WOO-HOO!

    love ❀

  223. I’m thinking. πŸ˜‰

  224. Moderation is a great word πŸ™‚

    Keep thinking Brandy…

  225. “Moderation is a great word πŸ™‚ ”

    I’m thinking it ‘covers’ a multitude of sins… am i right or am i right?

    love ❀

  226. Im gonna go out on a limb here and say…You’re right πŸ™‚

  227. 229 Judy Westcott

    I agree, our prospective and bias are all wrong. A lot of people attend church to help themselves, not for God. I have tried to explain this to some of my friends and family, but some don’t get it.

    I also have been to Roscos. The ribs are really great.

    Your wife, Tam is also a very beautiful, inside and out.

  228. Judy, what an honor. Thanks for the comments.

    I agree that Tam is beautiful…inside and out!



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