Friday, December 15, 2006

Excuse me while I vent....



Just a bit though :)

I've been blogging now for 4 months. And just recently I've, within the last month and a half or so I've read and viewed a great deal of blogs. Most of which I thoroughly enjoy and get a lot out of. Oh no, there goes the consumerism mindset again....sorry. As I was saying, I've benefited from the wisdom of many of these blogs and the writers behind them. I won't begin naming them as I don't want to show "favortism" in this. My point is, I'm am up to here ^^^----^^^ with hearing about all of the screwed up things with "church"!! I mean what in the world is going on? If it's not consumerism, syncretism or some other "ism", It's something else that is wrong with the church. What the heck are we doing about it other than crying and moaning about it the blogosphere? Blog about it all day long, cry about it all day long, (would you like some cheese with that whine?), talk of how the church is all screwed up but at the end of the day tell me what YOU have done to bring it closer to what Jesus had in mind! I'm just sick and tired of it all....I've posted some of my concerns with the church but it seems that every site you go to it's all being re-hashed day in and day out. Tell me something funny, share with me something that will glorify God and not verbally abuse His church, tell me what you did today to make a difference in someones life TODAY. I could write a very long post about how I took an exorbitant amount of my time today to make a difference in 5 strangers' lives but it would probably go unnoticed because all we're interested in reading and commenting on seems like is where the church is screwed something up and cheapened the message to promote consumerism and syncretism or you add the "ism" here ______________.<<<<<<<<<<<<<

I hereby pledge to NOT read or post on any blog that is doing nothing more than revisiting a negative aspect of the church without offering a real solution to the problem. I mean, is it any wonder the church is faulty? She's comprised of HUMANS!! Faulty, fallible humans...like me! And you. Tell me something good about the church or don't talk to me! I'm much too positive of a person to always hear the negative. It's like telling a non-believer what's so screwed up about them...they don't need to hear that from you...they already know it themselves. What they want to hear from you is "how can I get out of this mess?"!

That is all.

18 comments:

John Smulo said...

Hey Shannon,

Ouch, your right, I have been too negative about this. I'll have to work on being more positive! It probably says more about where I am with struggles than anything.

Thanks for the conviction :-)

By the way, you should blog on the positive stuff you're doing.

PS I would like some cheese with that whine. But can I also have some wine, preferably red? :-)

Jamie said...

Shannon,

You are right~ seeing/blogging about/complaining about what's wrong in the church without offering possible solutions is nothing more than whining.

I think that for me, part of my "complaining" is trying to figure out where I've gone wrong in this whole thing. Where is or has my thinking been wrong. Unfortunately, I find alot of places. And I don't have the answers. I'm truly working out my salvation with fear and trembling.

However, if I'm going to be completely honest, I will also have to admit that I'm hurt. REALLY hurt. The last 2 years for my family have been difficult and we've felt betrayed by some in the church. People that I KNOW love God and seek to follow Him. People that were very close friends, even. So, part of my blogging is also trying to figure out~How does this happen? Yes, we live in a fallen world, yes people are messy, but where is the redemption that the cross offers? Why, so often, am I not seeing much difference between the world and the church?

These are the the things I'm trying to work out in my head. I guess this post is a little longer than I thought :) Thanks for being honest and for challenging us to be more positive and solutions oriented. I, too, would prefer a red, like John.

Jamie

Shannon said...

John and Jamie,

Red wine it is, for the both of you :)

John and Jamie, I would in no way seek to minimize the hurts and struggles that you and your families are dealing with as a result of church hurts. I hope I didn't come across that way. I think you should have the time you need to deal with any issues that affect your lives and families.

My post directed to this negativism I see in many, many sites on the web is painted with a broad stroke. I refuse to believe that the "Church" in my little corner of the world is somehow better than the "Church" in your corner of it.

I'm just going to focus on the positives for a good while and hope that others can pull out some positives about the Church as well. I wonder what the non-believer thinks when seeing Christians talk as if the Church is such a screwed up mess that the believer doesn't even want to be part of it? I think it can do more harm than good. I guess it depends on how a person views the Church in relation to society and the world overall. I happen to believe the Church is central to society and the world; even though I may not like everything about her, She is God's plan and it's partly my duty to make her what He wants her to be.

God bless you guys for honest responses and not beating me up over my frustrations :)

Shannon

Anonymous said...

Shannon,
I have read through you Blogs over the last few days b/c of your email I had with you, and very frankly, I am soooo proud of you and respect your conviction. What God is doing with your convictions, going out and touching the world. Telling people even your church that perfection is not what we need to make a church, but a Loving, Kind, Respectful, Gracious church that will allow people to participate with the church where they are at and teach them.

I firmly agree that that is the biggest problem with church-goers today (and I shall admit that I often find myself not excluded from this category)Wine, well I wine no more! The church...well as the body of Christ, I truely believe that there are wonderful things happening around the world. Lives are being touched on a daily basis. I pray that the Holy spirit will press upon all to strive to help with Christ work so all of us in the Church...(when i say the church-it's a Church without walls, without boundaries, without cultural differences and one that allows God to prevail)and as for the critics, well they are just the same as us...sinners saved by grace putting their pants on the same way we do. I often remember when a mentor told me one time when i was in the "wine mode" if there were no problems in church, you would find no people there.

Ginger

The Creature said...

Yep - Thanks Mate!

Criticism is necessary - but not if it is purely self indulgent. That is one reason I have stopped blogging for a bit. I find myself getting bogged down in the negative and that then comes out in my posts - and it isn't even a real reflection of where I am at or what God is doing in the world around me!

This is, IMO, one of the failings (if you like) of the EC. It's easy to express our love for those "outside" the kingdom while we bag and attack those on the inside. Isn't our first commitment actually to each other - i.e. our Christian family? When the family is strong and united then the mission is easier to accomplish. I think though it is easier to focus on our differences than to look at the things that unite us (without ignoring the differences). To have the courage to change the things we can change and the grace to accept that God's at work in the situations, people, lives we can't change.

Thanks again bro! And keep 'em coming.

Morehart said...

Well Put.

~Patricia~ said...

I hear you! What shamed me was that I allowed myself to be drawn into what I think are "feeding frenzies" in the blogosphere. A few months ago I moved my blog, cancelled all my blogline subscriptions and started over. I'm rebuilding my subscriptions with blogs that find ways to share how God is working in their lives, how they are using the gifts they have been given, and by doing so, they are encouraging others to do the same. Blessings! Patricia

Shannon said...

Ginger,

Thanks for commenting. Your words mean a great deal to me. Because as your former Pastor, you know me beyond the context of this blog. I hope you stop in from time to time and offer your advise on my posts!

Thanks,

Shannon

Shannon said...

Creature,

Thanks for the encouragement! I really appreciate it. I might add, I miss your posts but I'm sure you'll be back when the time is right for you. You said, "I think though it is easier to focus on our differences than to look at the things that unite us (without ignoring the differences)", is so very true. For this reason, I'm really trying to accentuate the positive in everything I say and do! Thanks for the reminder!

Shannon said...

morehart,

Thanks! Is Kentucky getting colder? I bet it is!

Shannon said...

Patricia,

Thanks for commenting and sharing a bit of your story! I certainly hope that Divulgence will be one of those blogs that seek to do as you describe in your comment. If you don't mind, I'll be linking you in my blogroll.

Shannon

Pastor Phil said...

As a pastor for the last 21 years I'm not sure I can fully agree with you here. Martin Luther 95 Theses weren't whining, and neither were the prophets complaints about Israel.

There will be seasons in which legitimate complaints about the church are warranted and needed until there is reformation. The letters to the 7 churches were not whining, but they were filled with negativity about the church.

The question is whether this is a season in which the complaints, and critiques are legitimate, or unwarranted concerning the state of Christianity in our culture. If they are warranted, you are going to have to listen to a whole lot more of it, because the message takes time to grow into significant influence to make a difference.

Israel did not find deliverance until their complaint reached God's ears. No amount of positive thinking, and plans for escape would have provided help. The Reformation grew from a cry for deliverance, and a complaint as well.

I enjoy Jewish jokes - shared by Jewish people, and black jokes from black people, but I'm not telling any black jokes anytime soon.

As a pastor I will tell church jokes, and I will critique as an insider. I do believe that this is the season we live in - when warranted critiques are needed against our monolithic church culture which has left a large portion of our society outside its walls, meanwhile thinking that we have done everything we needed to do.

If we do live in a season in which there is a needed revolution (using George Barna's Critique), then some of us will have to whine about not wanting to hear those critiques for awhile longer - especially those of us who are leading churches.

That's my take, and I think that it is a mistake to avoid things simply because they have no positive offering. We do have some sacred cows to barbecue after all.

Shannon said...

Phil,

Hi and thanks for your comment.

I agree with all you have said. My frustrations aren't aimed at legitimate complaints or warranted critiques. As already stated in my post, my frustration is over the seemingly endless "whining" about the supposed failures of the church that are popular on many blogs without offering much of a solution to the problems if any. When complaints are being cast constantly without the follow up offering of a solution, this is whining, period. The prophets didn't complain about Israel or God's people without offering a way out of the mess they were in. Many times the call was as simple as Repent and return to God. There was always an available choice for making it better. I just don't see much of that happening in the blogosphere. I see a lot of complaints being lodged at the church but not a great deal from the same people as to what they're doing to make it better. Don't misunderstand me, please, I acknowledge there are some serious issues with today's church that need to be addressed. I'm familiar with your story and am saddened that you and your family were ostracized from the church for following Jesus in such a worthy way. These are big problems that will only get bigger if not dealt with. But, it's easy to get on a blog and complain, but it's better to get on a blog and offer a solution. I guess one would argue, "Well you have to complain and make it known in order to bring about a solution." Okay, I just wonder how long the complaints will flow before we start seeing some of these bloggers begin offering that solution that is so desperately needed. I for one will offer the positive side of church in a big way on my blog from now on….there are enough offering the opposite.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Shannon,

You will note from my latest post that I am not sure it is worth trying to save the word "church," when we may have already lost that semantic battle in many people's hearts and minds. I referenced your blog on this as a point of following an interesting debate.

There are many (and I am definitely one, because of where we live, and who we have as friends) who are increasingly finding other words to define what we do together as Jesus followers. It is at this point which I agree with Barna about church not being the place in which "the Revolution" appears to be happening in force right now.

If you present a position which detracts from people who are critiquing the institution of church, and redefining Christianity with new words then it will become a mere semantic battle with no substance. It is important to realize that there are many of us who are finding ways to bring God to people without "church."

In many of the prophetic declarations of judgment, there was no hope of repentance - the decision was made. If I have lost the semantic battle for the word church with someone already, I might as well agree with their critique of the corrupt institution and identify with the fact that Jesus wouldn't want things this way. There may be no hope of saving that word until other work has happened in the heart.

For me this is a missiological issue, and not a sick grief rant. To call a critique of the institution of "church" without offering a solution "whining, period" may be a missiological and semantic misunderstanding. In some cases there is no hope for the "church," because we lost the semantic battle for that English word already.

It may take a deeper look into the blogosphere to divine the hearts of the "churched," and the unchurched, and to make the call on who's whining and who's honestly processing. Many people will make the change slowly. Some will not make it at all. Some will do so by finding an alternative for what we call church. Calling them whiners may not be the way toward offering them healing. Or so methinks - and I've been tied to the stake on that hill.

colin said...

Thank you Shannon for expressing your pastor's heart in such an open and vulnerable manner. I will endeavour to temper my writing with love (not, my own, but prayerfully with the love of Him who died and gave His life for His Church.

Please forgive me if my writings have in any way brought discouragement rather than encouragement and strengthening to you.

Shannon said...

Hi Colin,

Your writings have been a great encouragement to not only me but others as well. I appreciate your heart. :)

Shannon said...

Phil,

I truly appreciate your unique position in life and on this issue; though I don't readily agree with all of it. Perhaps I'm just not intelligent enough to wrap my brain around some of it yet. Who knows? It would appear that you might think I'm waged in a battle to defend the Secularized church. George Barna in his book "Revolution" says that his use of "church" with a lower case "c" "...refers to the congregation-based faith experience, which involves a formal structure, a hierarchy of leadership, and a specific group of believers." The term Church, with a capital "C"..."refers to all believers in Jesus Christ, comprising the population of heaven-bound individuals who are connected by their faith in Christ, regardless of their local church connections or involvement."

He goes on to say that the "Revolution is designed to advance the Church and to redefine the church."

I agree with his assessment on both ideas...the Church does need to be advanced and the church does need to be redefined.

I tend not to draw a hard line between "c" and "C" as they are both "His" church which should operate conjunctively in a manner which is pleasing to "Him". My original post didn't call for the cessation of legitimate complaints or warranted critiques, just the idea that if that is all we have going forth, what good are we really doing? As I see it, very little. In reality, every aspect of life is open to such considerations but as with all other aspects, there has to be a solution before advancement can be fully realized; even in the Revolution, which I'm very much for. To simply point out the negative, consistently, isn’t advancing with much effectiveness.

Lastly, I'm a bit confused by the comment, "In many of the prophetic declarations of judgment, there was no hope of repentance - the decision was made." Again, perhaps I'm just not knowledgeable enough to know this but that doesn't sound much like the God I read about in the scripture. That is, divine judgment handed down without any prior dealings with God's people on the issues that warranted repentance. I’ve always understood God as "slow to anger, long-suffering, merciful, patient and a host of other adjectives. I recall times in the word of God when He would have destroyed the children of Israel but because Moses intervened, they were spared. I remember God sending the "prophets" to call his people back to himself before judgment would be imposed. I remember a man named Noah building a boat in the desert for what had to be a considerable amount of years all the while he must have been telling people to prepare for the rain (judgment).I remember God not willing to destroy the city of Nineveh before an offer of repentance was realized but sent a reluctant prophet named Jonah to preach to them that judgment was on its way "if" they didn't repent of the evil they were committing and call out to God to forgive them. But, I don't remember God taking a preemptive strike of judgment before the offer of mercy was considered. Am I wrong on this? Have I missed some important aspect of God that I should know about? If there is such a case in the scripture where God had made up his mind to simply destroy Israel because of a predetermined judgment, without the hope of repentance, I would be interested in studying it further.

Pastor Phil said...

Placing the prophetic in the context of this discussion (not in a general illustration of prophetic utterances) - once something has been shown to be unrepentant it has come to its end - Jerusalem, Jerusalem how long I would have gathered you....but you would not. Isaiah's proclamations against the enemies of Israel...the rejection of Esau....There was no hope offered by Jesus to the institution of the religious leadership of Israel found in the Sanhedrin...nor is there hope for the whore of Babylon.

Now of course I can see it will be easy to jump on those statements, but I am not calling current denominational structures either Pharisees (though there is some resemblance at times), and I am certainly not referencing the church to the Whore of Babylon.

But...the fact is many people feel that the church is oppressive. They feel that it has stolen. They feel that it has murdered. In fact through human history all these things are true. There still remain
attitudes in the structure of leadership today which make the same oppression, theivery, and murderous hatred appear to be alive today. To them the church is like the Pharisees, and like the murderous whore of Babylon. I can not defend those things.

The gay population feels wronged by a murderous attitude toward them - hatred fomented into persecution by Christians, and Pagans remember the Burning Times. Adult children of senior citizens feel that the church has robbed their parents who have given more than they could afford to charlatan preachers on T.V. Teens who have grown up in fundamentalist churches live with the gnawing oppression of legalism which haunts them, or drives them away from church for decades.

I can offer no defense to the church which has done these things, and I offer that church no hope - though I believe in the Church as God's people. My task, and all of ours I believe, is to offer hope to the offended party, not defend the offender. The wronged person does not care for my carefully dissected Christian verbiage of Church versus church. I have no problem simply stating that somehow I believe God is good, despite the sickness of those who have harmed others in His name, and what He has seen of "church" makes Him sick, yet there are people all over the globe who yearn for something closer to what Jesus had in mind. These seekers don't care about church, they care about loving people, and following the Jesus way. Some of them are in churches, others are searching for God in other places, and other ways, and we don't have to go to church to find those people or the God they serve.

Sometime ago we got rid of the word religion - which is not a bad word, but society made it evil, and we relented. We replaced it with "relationship." It did not matter to evangelicals that James spoke of "true religion." We stopped using the word to define us. The semantic battle was lost, and we adapted.

I am suggesting that there are segments of society with whom we have lost that semantic battle. Just as religion became a word defining pompous and empty Christianity, so church has carried that meaning for some. That segment of society is growing I believe, not shrinking. Will we be ready to disapprove of "church" in the same way we disapproved of "religion" if the day comes that we need to, or will hold onto a word stubbornly defending it, when we could have bypassed it to speak of a God Who judges the oppressors in every institution including the "church?"

This is radical recontextualization of the Gospel, but you must understand - in the truest sense of the word, I am a missionary to people on the furthest edge of our society. They hate church, but they hang out with us (though we are a "church"), because they see honesty and care in us. I am regularly defending the faithless against the faithful who misunderstand them, and fearfully attack them.


These same people are pioneers of the direction our society is going. I am looking ahead, and seeing that we need to adapt our conversation soon if we expect to be relevant to the future that appears to me to be coming our way.

How we do, and what we call "Church" is one of those adaptations. But I feel that we may well have entrenched ourselves into a position of defending what may someday soon become indefensible.

Sorry for being so wordy. I hope that makes more sense. I deal with people who hate church daily, and have learned to make them a part of my world. There are too few able to adapt to love them, and speak their language - which may be the langauge of the future.