How do you see church?

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So I’ve been thinking about how people interact with a church. And while these are large generalities, they may help us think through where we’re at.

1. Spectator/Observer – I could start with the community outside of the church, but I’ll begin with people who actually have walked through the doors. The person in spectator mode is actively taking everything in, observing interactions, noticing how things go. Typically there is enough there to pique interest and they may often return out of curiosity.

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Worship As a Weapon

  
There are a number of things that keep us from the life God has for us. We live in a broken and sinful world. The levels of anxiety that we are all dealing with is at an all time high. We have become more self-oriented than any generation before us. Those of us who are Christians (followers of Jesus) often settle for an immature and shallow faith that is ill-equipped to face the realities of the world around us. Over the last few years I’ve researched a number of things related to facing anxiety, mature faith and pain and brokenness. I started to see a pattern emerging related to the topic of worship.

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It’s Our Turn

  
I don’t think I’m a cynical person. I think most people would describe me as positive and optimistic. Yet here’s what I’ve noticed a lot of from my generation and the generations below me: there’s a lot of blame, excuse, complaining and passivity. I don’t blame us, I mean in lots of ways many of us have been handed a less than desirable world. Broken families, lack of healthy interactions, social awkwardness, identity issues, anxiety, stress – it’s all a part of our reality. And then there’s the world with its terrorism, politics, superficiality, violence, materialism, selfishness, lies and on and on the list could go. I get it – it’s not good. But here’s what I wonder: if we respond to the life we’ve been handed with blame, cynicism, complaints and just distract ourselves with shiny things and sit passively not involved, than what world will we have to give to the next generation. If what we’ve been handed is less than desirable and we do nothing to change anything than won’t the life we hand to who comes after us be even worse than we’ve been given?
We are not the first generation to wrestle with these issues. As I read the Bible I see often the characters existing in chaotic, confusing and often downright evil societies. It’s in these ancient pages I also see a different response than the one I often see from our generation and the generations after us. I see people rising up even though they’re afraid, even though they don’t know what to do, even when it’s very few of them. And do you know what happens back then? God acts, God moves through often small, rag tag groups of people who are scared but trusting. Real people who have very little of thier stuff together who God uses to begin to turn the tide.
It’s our turn. We’ve been given the baton whether we like it or not, it’s our turn now. So what will we do with our turn? How will we act? What message will we give to those around us? Is it a message of hope or one of despair? Will we learn to love or only to judge? Will we live under the authority of God or live for ourselves and be our own boss? Do we, as the church, have anything to offer to the world around us? What will be our legacy? I would call us to rise up and answer the call, to let go of the excuses (even if they’re really good ones), to stop pointing fingers and get on the solution side of things. And I’ll be honest, I don’t have the answers, but I know that they won’t be found by passively watching from the outside. We need to engage, we need to pray, we need to focus, we need to forgive, and we need to invest in what really matters. And who knows, maybe a small, rag tag group of blog readers and church goers could actually be used of God to make an impact?

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Convert Control To Trust

  
Part of the positive fall-out from a struggle (a few years ago now) with anxiety is a recognition of a battle with control. I realized then and continue to realize now that when we try to carry, be responsible for or control something that is beyond our control or bigger than us (or something we aren’t intended to control) it produces anxiety. While I’m reluctant to declare complete victory over anxiety or worry, it has become a small and rarely present part of life in large part to three skills/ decisions God has provided. I offer them as “one traveler to another” in hopes of benefitting others.

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Uncommon



We like to fit in. There is something wired up in us that makes us fearful of standing out and looking different. In some of us this power is stronger than in others, yet it exists in all of us. It is definitely easier to go along with the crowd than to stand apart. What does it take then to cause one of us to be willing to step out? And not only to step out but to walk a different path consistently would seem like an impossible task. This is only part of the challenge in choosing to walk the way of Jesus. His way also has the enemy of the evil one and one of the strongest foes: our own flesh, our own selfishness, our own propensity to want to be in charge, to want to be “God”. The way of Jesus is the way of life. His call is not common, popular, easy or our default. It’s a narrow way, a singluar way and a leaving of what’s behind and taking up of a cross.

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Sabbatical Reflections #8: Keep It Simple

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So we’ve passed the halfway point in the sabbatical which is creating several emotions in us. There’s an excitement to go back, to see friends, get back to “normal” life and serve God at church. To be honest there’s a little “panic” – how are we going to do this? how do we re-engage after we’ve become so used to this way of life? And then there’s a little reflecting and planning and it’s this third response that I want to talk with you a little about. Where we’re at today is beginning to think about returning to life and asking, what can and do we want to do and be differently as a result of this dedicated time on sabbatical?

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Guest blog: meta story — read this

I LOVE how TJ Addington put these truths! The critical story we are in!

Here ya go…

There is a missing element in the conversation regarding spiritual transformation in many evangelical circles. There is rightly a conversation taking place about the need to move from behavior modification where people modify behaviors to fit into their evangelical sub-culture (whatever it is) to true inner life transformation.

In the first case life change is at the behavioral level. In the second case it is from the inside out: Hearts that understand and live in grace, minds that seek to think like Jesus, lives that are brought in line with God’s priorities and relationships that reflect the love of Jesus. For too long the church has settled for behavior modification instead of inner transformation. This is a very important conversation.

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