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Old 03-15-2009, 02:16 PM   #16
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Don't assume a post-Christian West = a secular West.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:29 PM   #17
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But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power.

~2 Timothy 3:1-4
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Old 03-15-2009, 11:22 PM   #18
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But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power.

~2 Timothy 3:1-4



sounds like the Republican Party.
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:23 AM   #19
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sounds like the Republican Party.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:31 PM   #20
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I think people have been like that since the beginning of civilization.
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:50 PM   #21
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Indeed.
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Old 03-18-2009, 01:03 PM   #22
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I just read this article from Sojourners and it's pretty much on par with where I see the church going, especially the last paragraph.


The Collapse of Evangelicalism? - Troy Jackson - God’s Politics Blog


The Collapse of Evangelicalism?
by Troy Jackson 03-17-2009

In the March 10 edition of The Christian Science Monitor, Michael Spencer predicts “the coming evangelical collapse.” Much of his assessment of the white evangelical church in the United States is spot on. Far too many congregations have become consumers of Christian programming rather than followers of Jesus Christ. Many have been co-opted by the leaders of the so-called “culture wars,” forfeiting the power of Jesus’ gospel of love and grace for hate-filled attempts to protect and defend Judeo-Christian mores. Churches and Christians that have bought into this direction are withering away. Pruning is necessary.

But in many circles, the evangelical church that I see is sprouting and blossoming. The picture of evangelicals often painted in media assessments is outdated and incomplete. While the critiques offered by Spencer are not wrong, God’s spirit continues to allow healthy seeds to take root and grow both on the margins and in some of the largest churches in this nation. As I look at the landscape of the evangelical church, I am more hopeful today than at any point in my adult life.

While I don’t have any hard data, I have seen a lot of anecdotal evidence of new fruit-bearing branches of renewal over the past few years:

1. What I witnessed at PAPAFEST 2006 in Tennessee (repeated in 2008 in Illinois). The gathering was filled with young people committed to not being conformed to the pattern of this world, but to being transformed by the renewing of their minds. The festival speaks to a larger renewal movement that includes, but is not limited to, what has been called “New Monasticism.” Groups like Rutba House in Durham, North Carolina, the Simple Way in Philadelphia, and Vineyard Central in Cincinnati are committing to personal and social transformation rooted in Christ-inspired love for one another.

2. The emerging Faith & Justice Movements in Boston and New York City. Lisa Sharon Harper (NYC) and Rachel Anderson (Boston) have been overseeing networks of hundreds of Christians (including many evangelicals) in these two cities who are coming together to both grow in Christ and further justice in their communities. These excellent organizations are training and inspiring Christians in their cities to be agents of transformation that will make a difference for the marginalized in their communities and around the world.

3. The so-called “Mega-Church” is getting involved in working for justice. Community Christian Church in the Chicago area announced they were giving away their entire offering last Sunday to support efforts for evangelism and justice in Chicago and around the world. They ended up collecting and giving away over $400,000. The congregation, which began in Naperville, Illinois, is also working in nearby East Aurora, and not primarily through charity. They are investing time, energy, and resources to apply the principles of John Perkins’ Christian Community Development model to be a part of this largely immigrant community. They are but one example of a mega-church that is growing rapidly in what it means to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”

4. Many evangelicals are being reshaped by the best of the mainline, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions. They are learning from the vibrant justice traditions that have been few and far between for evangelicals over the last 50 years. They are also being reshaped by the rich and deep spirituality of the Orthodox and Catholic traditions. Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton are being read alongside Rick Warren and Brian McLaren.

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of pastors and Christian leaders in Cincinnati who are working to covenant together in our commitment to bring the Good News of Jesus to our city in fresh and powerful ways in the years to come. This diverse gathering of evangelical leaders (Caucasian & African-American) never once talked of culture wars. Instead we talked of prayer, of humility, of confronting our city’s history of racism, and of biblical righteousness and justice.

Next month, thousands of Christ-followers, including many evangelicals will come to Washington, D.C., for Sojourners’ Mobilization to End Poverty. This faith-based gathering will demonstrate some powerful undercurrents, movements of God’s Spirit, to reshape not only the white evangelical church, but also the broader church of Jesus Christ in this country and around the world.

Perhaps Michael Spencer is right—the evangelical church as commonly imagined by pundits is about to collapse, but a church that is more biblically-grounded and Spirit-led is emerging, and I’m excited to see and taste some of its first fruits!

Troy Jackson is senior pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, and earned his Ph.D. in United States history from the University of Kentucky. He is author of Becoming King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Making of a National Leader (Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century) and a participant in Sojourners’ Windchangers grassroots organizing project in Ohio.
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:00 PM   #23
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I also think it's part of a broader phenomenon of religious institutions, period, having to come to terms with secular (post-)modernity, with the reality that they don't define the structure and daily life of communities as much as they used to, and not having fully figured out yet how to meaningfully address the spiritual needs that people still come to them for in a way that reflects that reality.
This is exactly how I feel, and have felt for a long time. Phil always asks me why I don't feel like I *need* to go to church anymore, why people in general don't. First of all, I'm a self-starter. As opposed to someone like him who needs to go from point A to point B, be sat down in a pew and have ideas thrown at him for an hour or so, if I feel something is lacking in my spirituality or my knowledge of the Bible or some aspect of theology, I will simply look it up, find some interesting sermons on my own, and take some time to digest it. But most of all, people just don't need the church like they used to. I don't mean that to hurt anyone's feelings but to me that's just a fact. Previously, people's lives depended on the church. Jobs, education, even homes and health care came through the church and living in church communities or compounds and we don't do that any more. So for someone like me that is much more analytical and much less spiritual to begin with, an institutional church just isn't necessary to fulfill the religious aspect of my life. I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am capable of putting myself in situations that challenge what I think and give me opportunities to grow. If anything, the church in my experience has only hindered that.
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:10 PM   #24
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I think when we meet God and His Son in the next life, when reviewing our lives in front of those 2, church attendence won't be the most important issue.

The most important issues before God will be:
- how we treated the less fortunate,
-how we conducted ourselves out of the limelight
-and if we served and lived our lives joyfully-glorifying Him.

I do enjoy going to chuch for one reason and that is partake of the Sacrament-in remembrance of what Christ did for alll of us.

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Old 03-18-2009, 03:20 PM   #25
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This is exactly how I feel, and have felt for a long time. Phil always asks me why I don't feel like I *need* to go to church anymore, why people in general don't. First of all, I'm a self-starter. As opposed to someone like him who needs to go from point A to point B, be sat down in a pew and have ideas thrown at him for an hour or so, if I feel something is lacking in my spirituality or my knowledge of the Bible or some aspect of theology, I will simply look it up, find some interesting sermons on my own, and take some time to digest it. But most of all, people just don't need the church like they used to. I don't mean that to hurt anyone's feelings but to me that's just a fact. Previously, people's lives depended on the church. Jobs, education, even homes and health care came through the church and living in church communities or compounds and we don't do that any more. So for someone like me that is much more analytical and much less spiritual to begin with, an institutional church just isn't necessary to fulfill the religious aspect of my life. I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am capable of putting myself in situations that challenge what I think and give me opportunities to grow. If anything, the church in my experience has only hindered that.
That's interesting. I kind of feel like that sometimes.

For me though, a large part of why I go to church is for community. Yes, the messages are often helpful and they can make me think about something I might not be focusing on at the moment or whatever, but community is huge for my wife and I. Our church is very small group oriented. We don't have adult "Sunday school" or whatever. We all belong to small groups that meet once a week. We do studies that our group chooses, or sometimes we'll do an all-church study. Those are nice because you get to discuss a book of the Bible or whatever and hear other people's perspectives on it, which is nice. But as far as community, it's like an extended family. When my wife delivers our third child in the coming weeks, we know we'll have meals brought to our house for two weeks. And if one of us is in the hospital or has an emergency and my parents are unavailable, we know we have people who will step in and help with our other two children. We all just are there for each other. It's also good for spiritual accountability and prayer support. Plus, we do projects together to help others and whatnot as a church. We're joining nine other area churches (I believe from as many denominations) in May to help a number of nonprofits with service projects, etc. It's cool to be a part of that. Worshiping and taking communion with others is great, too.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:17 PM   #26
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That's part of the problem for me. I've always been a loner who doesn't want to inconvenience anyone else (even though they may not see it as such, I still feel like I'm inconveniencing people). I don't like any attention on myself. We've done some church shopping as much as I hate when people do it, and I prefer the churches where I can walk in, shake hands with the greeter, sit down, absorb the message, and walk out. We used to go to this one very small church b/c Phil played drums there and I honestly could not go anymore because the people were just so nice it was overbearing to me. I'm just not used to that at all, I can't handle a bunch of strangers constantly wanting to be in my business, so to speak, asking the same questions two dozen times every Sunday ("where do you work?" "where did you go to school?" "what do you like to do?"). I go to church to GET AWAY from all of that, lol. I don't want to re-live it over and over on my one day off. Maybe it's the way I was raised or there's something psychologically wrong with me, but it gets to a point where I literally feel clostrophobic and just start walking to the car and wait for Phil to follow. Also I find spirituality something very personal. Like my relationship with my husband or my best friends, I don't go spilling that to anyone who will listen.

I am really big on the accountability thing, I really agree with that even though admittedly I have an extremely difficult time actually wanting to go to church (more for the reason I stated above than feeling guilty about something I've done or not done, in a spiritual sense). My problem is that at least in the denomination in which I grew up and thought I had subscribed myself to, there was so much hate and judging and just being totally hypocritical going on I just couldn't take it any more. The people I knew were the type that would just ignore all the hard issues (like the church's stance on homosexuality, for example, something that is really a no-brainer for me but is a Big Issue for the church and my particular church just won't even bring it up and that pisses me off). Aside from how I personally feel about spiritual accountability and the church community, there were two things that happened recently that have almost completely turned me off to the church community I grew up in. Not so much the people themselves but the doctrine behind it. I could go into detail but I'm not sure it really matters. I'll just say that I had really high hopes at one point and they way the issue was handled at Synod and some of the things that came from fellow Christian's mouths were absolutely abhorrent to me. There are just some irreconsiliable differences, things that I will never accept that are so ingrained in the doctrine. I know we won't all always agree on everything but to me some things are so fundamental I can't just set them aside and go along with the flow. I am above all accountable to God, and I am not always willing to compromise on that in order to save face. And I am sick to death of people taking any sort of question or challenge and inferring that it implies a lack of faith or belief. Quite the contrary. I am firm in my faith and my beliefs such that I don't need to go flaunting it and waving it around in front of people's faces in order to affirm myself.

Now I will admit I've taken the easy way out. It's easier for me to simply withdraw than try to change, but I haven't found too many people interested in changing so I figure I'll do everyone a favor and just shut up about it and do my own thing from now on. Also I have discovered that the things I believe cause rifts between myself and my husband's family. I'm not about to dissown family or get myself shunned over these things, it's better just left alone. I know what I believe and exactly why I believe it. If they do not agree or do not accept it then we will leave it at that, I'm not going to push any harder b/c I'm not going to change their minds and they are not going to change mine. Enough relationships and lives have already been lost in the name of God.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:28 PM   #27
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This song I have known for many years sums up almost exactly how I feel:

You make it sound easy
You say, "you just hold your hand out," don't you
"You just hold your hand out," don't you
That hope never leaves you
'Cos a light shines on that helps you to steer
Makes everything clear
(Well it might)
Well it might in your world
(but it doesn't)
But it doesn't in mine
(I've been stumbling)
I've been stumbling in the dark for years
And the light just made me blind

You say it lights every pathway
Shows me how to live life
For the rest of my days
For the rest of my days
(But I can't)
But I can't put my faith in
(Your words)
Your words and demands
(I believe)
I believe in God alright
It's folk like you I just can't stand
You don't have to try and scare me
To reinforce my faith, sir
'Cos I know that one day
I'll stand before my maker
(And if I)
And if I'm found wanting
(When my case)
When my case is heard
(It'll be)
It'll be by the Author
Not some interpreter of His words

You make it sound easy
You say "you just hold your hand out," don't you
"You just hold your hand," out don't you
That hope never leaves you
'Cos a light shines on that helps you to steer
Makes everything clear
(Well it might)
Well it might in your world
(but it doesn't)
But it doesn't in mine
(I've been stumbling)
I've been stumbling in the dark for years
And the light just made me blind
Yeah the light just made me blind
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:56 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
This song I have known for many years sums up almost exactly how I feel:


I believe in God alright
It's folk like you I just can't stand
[/I]
But, how can you believe in God who you cannot see but cannot stand His children-those who you can see? They are His creation.

I've found it's best to have a forgiving heart for the clumsiness in others-those with goodly intentions but inadvertently agitate us with their idiosyncrasies.

Isn't that what Grace is all about?

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Old 03-18-2009, 05:01 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
That's part of the problem for me. I've always been a loner who doesn't want to inconvenience anyone else (even though they may not see it as such, I still feel like I'm inconveniencing people). I don't like any attention on myself. We've done some church shopping as much as I hate when people do it, and I prefer the churches where I can walk in, shake hands with the greeter, sit down, absorb the message, and walk out. We used to go to this one very small church b/c Phil played drums there and I honestly could not go anymore because the people were just so nice it was overbearing to me. I'm just not used to that at all, I can't handle a bunch of strangers constantly wanting to be in my business, so to speak, asking the same questions two dozen times every Sunday ("where do you work?" "where did you go to school?" "what do you like to do?"). I go to church to GET AWAY from all of that, lol. I don't want to re-live it over and over on my one day off. Maybe it's the way I was raised or there's something psychologically wrong with me, but it gets to a point where I literally feel clostrophobic and just start walking to the car and wait for Phil to follow.

I am really big on the accountability thing, I really agree with that even though admittedly I have an extremely difficult time actually wanting to go to church (more for the reason I stated above than feeling guilty about something I've done or not done, in a spiritual sense). My problem is that at least in the denomination in which I grew up and thought I had subscribed myself to, there was so much hate and judging and just being totally hypocritical going on I just couldn't take it any more. The people I knew were the type that would just ignore all the hard issues (like the church's stance on homosexuality, for example, something that is really a no-brainer for me but is a Big Issue for the church and my particular church just won't even bring it up and that pisses me off). Aside from how I personally feel about spiritual accountability and the church community, there were two things that happened recently that have almost completely turned me off to the church community I grew up in. Not so much the people themselves but the doctrine behind it. I could go into detail but I'm not sure it really matters. I'll just say that I had really high hopes at one point and they way the issue was handled at Synod and some of the things that came from fellow Christian's mouths were absolutely abhorrent to me. There are just some irreconsiliable differences, things that I will never accept that are so ingrained in the doctrine. I know we won't all always agree on everything but to me some things are so fundamental I can't just set them aside and go along with the flow. I am above all accountable to God.

Now I will admit I've taken the easy way out. It's easier for me to simply withdraw than try to change, but I haven't found too many people interested in changing so I figure I'll do everyone a favor and just shut up about it and do my own thing from now on. Also I have discovered that the things I believe cause rifts between myself and my husband's family. I'm not about to dissown family or get myself shunned over these things. I know what I believe and exactly why I believe it. If they do not agree or do not accept it then we will leave it at that, I'm not going to push any harder b/c I'm not going to change their minds and they are not going to change mine.
We used to go to a church where people would come up and talk and it seemed like it was out of obligation or whatever. It didn't always bother me, but sometimes it did. The church we're at now, which is nondenominational, isn't like that. It's more laid back. It's not a "churchy" church, if that makes sense. It's Biblically-rooted, but more casual and modern (but thankfully, not too "trendy.") It's nice.

We had a message series on the difficult issues once. It went over well I guess. They just, of course, explained what they Bible says on the issues. There was disagreement in certain areas, but people didn't riot. And we have the typical Right Wing homeschooler moms who just complain about everything, but I enjoy those discussions, too.

The one thing I wish we had more of was a consistent class focused on more of the deep historical, theological topics and the ancient languages for people wanting more of that. We have some here and there and we have people knowledgeable in those areas come in for a weekend seminar or whatever, but I'd like a weekly setup. We did have that at my other church. We definitely have many qualified people to do it here, it's just not there yet. I also wish they'd change up the worship music a bit more. They do a good job and make it their own, but once a worship song becomes a "hit" in general, it doesn't feel right singing it. That's just me though.
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Old 03-18-2009, 05:07 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
This song I have known for many years sums up almost exactly how I feel:

You make it sound easy
You say, "you just hold your hand out," don't you
"You just hold your hand out," don't you
That hope never leaves you
'Cos a light shines on that helps you to steer
Makes everything clear
(Well it might)
Well it might in your world
(but it doesn't)
But it doesn't in mine
(I've been stumbling)
I've been stumbling in the dark for years
And the light just made me blind

You say it lights every pathway
Shows me how to live life
For the rest of my days
For the rest of my days
(But I can't)
But I can't put my faith in
(Your words)
Your words and demands
(I believe)
I believe in God alright
It's folk like you I just can't stand
You don't have to try and scare me
To reinforce my faith, sir
'Cos I know that one day
I'll stand before my maker
(And if I)
And if I'm found wanting
(When my case)
When my case is heard
(It'll be)
It'll be by the Author
Not some interpreter of His words

You make it sound easy
You say "you just hold your hand out," don't you
"You just hold your hand," out don't you
That hope never leaves you
'Cos a light shines on that helps you to steer
Makes everything clear
(Well it might)
Well it might in your world
(but it doesn't)
But it doesn't in mine
(I've been stumbling)
I've been stumbling in the dark for years
And the light just made me blind
Yeah the light just made me blind
Who's song is that? Part of it reminds me of Jon Foreman's "Instead of a Show."

Jon Foreman – Instead of a Show – Listen free and discover music at Last.fm

The first time I heard this I think I yelled "Yes!" really loud in my car.
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