I discovered this link to my site today and found some really interesting and challenging stuff in this post. In light of the conversations around the place about homosexuality you might find this guy’s perspective well worth a read. Its long, but worth it! You can read the whole conversation here it came from outer space divx movie online
My background…..totally unchurched …zero bible knowledge..and gay…………………………..at age 19..witnessed to by a university student….
I started out in an Anglican church…in Melbourne, Aust..(one highly regarded for being theologically balanced) and later moved cities and into the wilds of Vineyard church (which ended up getting kicked out of Vineyard) and I now..no longer church. Also spent 11 years running a Christian radio newsroom…but left after starting to live a major double life. (Ex-gay recovery was seriously not working). Have spent a couple of years on the sidelines..reflecting on why Christianity and I didn’t mix. I now know I have a borderline personality..which poisons relationships…..but there were definitely some unhealthy church approaches which didn’t help me to assimilate..and I know I’m not the only one.
*There is a major problem with worship leading…whether by the pastor or a specific worship leader. Churchgoers will have reasonable expectations that whatever is said in the sermon should have some merit too…..but there is no scrutiny placed on some of the BS that comes out of the mouths of people leading worship. “If you’re a real Christian …you should be wanting to have a party…all the time”……..or….”we bless you Lord” or “come..Holy Spirit” (this whole concept that God/The Holy Spirit is only in a church building when Christians ask Him to be..and there’s an electric piano playing…arrrghhh).
I’m very much concerned about the link between joyful contemporary worship and Christianity that is being mistakenly reinforced http://backyardmissionary.typepad.com/back…4/la_la_la.html I have been depressed now for more than 5 years and see only gradual improvement in my condition. Does that automatically exclude me from church involvement now? I have though seen worship leading done well. One worship leader just led into the songs with a gentle….’sit or stand as you wish……feel free to go with wherever God leads you’… Because I wasn’t bullied by the worship leader….I started out seated…but stood up and tentatively sang a bit towards the end…But generally now…if I’m visiting a church and the worship starts..I just freeze up. The church-that-got-kicked-out-of-Vineyard church I was in..put ALL it’s eggs into the worship basket. It wanted to be a church known for its worship…(not its love..or not about Jesus). This thinking is spreading really fast in Australian churches. Where is the monitoring and correction of worship leaders? They seem to be an untouchable law unto themselves.
* Don’t get me started on the ‘turn around and shake the hands of five people you don’t know’ thing that pastors get church members to do…as a time-filler between the announcements and the second worship set. This happens EVERYWHERE…..not quite as daggy as the episcopal/anglican ‘Peace be with you” thing..but just as awkward and uncomfortable. My fantasy (when I’m not thinking about Keanu ) is to get a pastor out to lunch…..and in the middle of the restaurant…..get him to turn around and shake hands with five people he doesn’t know. And apart from the total awkwardness of it……(and mindlessness of it)…..I think it actually promotes superficial relating in the church…not the ‘icebreaker’ which I’m told it’s intended to be. I’d just rather someone said ‘hi’ to me..because they wanted to get to know me….rather than some pastor forcing people to do it…..so I know the other person isn’t just being nice to me because the pastor told them to do it. AND…if you’re one of those pastors who ..in the middle of the sermon……gets people to turn to the person next to them..and say ‘you’re the most beautiful person in the world’…then…my other fantasy..is that everyone in the congregation turns to the pastor and says……’pastor ….you’re a total f***wit’
* As soon as I hear the electric piano start tinkling away near the end of the sermon……..I know exactly what’s coming…word for word. “You may be here tonight…and not really know where you stand with God…..you may have been coming here for a while…and not really made that commitment………yada yada yada”
Please find a new way of doing the altar call (IF you HAVE to do the altar call………what’s wrong with just talking with people one by one about where they’re at?) ..that isn’t exactly the same..word for word each week.
* The guilt trip thing. I was working in a Christian radio newsroom….which was linked-in with Australia’s one of Australia’s main commercial radio news networks. We all share stories in the network….so one Easter Sunday..on a slow news day…I wrote up these stories about the real message of Easter. Did an interview with a good Aussie communicator on Jesus (Mal Garvin)….and sent them to the network. They used the stories ‘as is’…..(copy and paste is a wonderful thing) and ran them through the afternoon. I’d estimate about 200,000 to 300,000 people who’d never thought about Christianity in their life..heard the stories on radio that afternoon. It was one of those rare moments of Christian life…where I nailed it..and I knew I nailed it.
I got to church-that-got-kicked-out-of-vineyard that night…..and the pastor was getting up us..because we weren’t doing enough evangelism. I was gobsmacked. Do pastors have to confront congregations about imagined failings every week? Do pastors actually have any idea about what goes on in the lives of the people they’re speaking to? Yes…I know pastors have their inner circle of friends…but do you know what goes on in the outer circle……in the church. Why do pastors automatically sit at the front of the church…even if they have absolutely no involvement in that particular service. I get the very distinct impression some pastors really don’t like hanging around with the congregation. If that is you…get another job.
*Whatever happened to the gospel? Churches seem to operate on this ‘fairness’ principle. Do good things….everything will be ok……good things happen to good people…bad things happen to bad people…….nothing happens to mediocre people…..etc.
The gospel is inherantly unfair. People who did wonderful things in God’s name are banished to hell. Thieves and prostitutes who should be punished get grace and are told they will be in paradise. Peter denies Christ three times (not just dodging mentioning his allegiance to Christ….outright bare-faced lying denial.) and gets the keys to the kingdom. If your church’s Christianity makes sense to people then there is something horribly wrong. As an Australian looking on at the American church..the teaching and thinking more reflects the theology of your Rush Limbaugh than Christ.
I found there are three types of churches……cool and uncaring…….caring and uncool..and uncool and uncaring. Two types of Christian radio (the sector I used to be in) cool and uncaring…uncool and uncaring.
I see the way forward as a ‘cool and caring’ church. It is an extremely difficult balance to get..because one usually cancels out the other……the trick is to be cool…but gentle…(not Xtreme..urgghh…..couldn’t agree more mikeyrey) You have traditional and unhyped church….and contemporary and hyped church. I think what’s emerging (there’s that word again) is a contemporary and unhyped movement out of all the pomo musings…..and that can only be warmly welcomed and long overdue. Haven’t seen any real sign of it in Australia yet…but looking forward to it. Until then…you can take your straight-jacketed (in every sense of the word) Pharisee Clubs and ^$$^*^(^%(&(*_(&)&^$*$ them along with the pharisee theology…particularly as it’s applied to the ‘naughty’ sinners…like me…by the ‘nice’ sinners….(you). Even if that’s not the reality from your perspective…that is very much how it is perceived by us ‘naughty’ sinners…….and if you want to change that perception…….it might be a good idea to put the ‘gospel of unfairness’ (grace for the sinner) back into preaching.
P.S. Yes ….I still work in radio news…but in a commercial talk station……it’s wonderful being out of the Christian environment…where I can actually express an opinion now.
I reckon that was worth reading!…