Jr. High...

There has been so much going on in my life since my last post in July. Firstly, I am now a Junior High youth pastor at a church in Sierra Madre, California. I have been the Jr. High director since August 8th so I now have more responsibility then I know what to do with. Then on top of that I have fallen in love with these kids. I have let these kids eat me alive so that I can try and feel what they feel and hurt and cry when they do these things. It has surely been a great adventure. The job has also been a great way to take all the things of seminary and put it to good use, which is always a good thing. :)

Secondly, I have been playing out a lot. For those who do not know what that means, I am a singer/songwriter and I have been playing a lot of shows/gigs. I'm up to about 3 times a month, this has been a blessing because it fills a musical void that if you know me I truly need! I have a band that looks to be starting to play with me in January of 2006, this I cannot wait for!

God is so good, there are so many other things going on right now however, I do not have the time nor the typing capabilities to fill you all in. I just know that there is something big around the corner, I can feel it! We shall see...

Hybrid Church

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20

This post is my attempt offer some of my ideas on where I think Church can go. These are just my ideas. This is what I call a Hybrid Church. This is the short and quick version, the longer version I'm sure some of you would find boring, so this is the condensed version. The Hybrid Church takes a lot of good things from different generations of church and combines them with the Great Commission to hopefully offer a haven where people can be encouraged, grow, and Go (Great Commission.)

The Hybrid Church takes on the form of the missional church and the emerging church to form a church with strengths comparable to our ever-flowing and changing culture. The church needs to have the mindset of caring about and reaching out to the lost, broken, and oppressed. This is the Missional Church. According to Dr. Eddie Gibbs, "there are many churches describing themselves as "evangelical" that are not evangelistic. They display little concern for and make little effort to reach out to, those who are not yet Christians, as well as evangelism only in terms of inviting nonattenders to swell their ranks." If the Church does not handle what Jesus commanded in the Great Commission then all is lost. People are wired and designed to experience something greater than themselves and if the church cannot connect those dots for people who will?

The other half of this hybrid is the "emerging" church. What the emerging church does so well comes from its ability to be liquid and changing. This liquid movement will keep the consumer attention as long as the church uses things to keep the public's attention. Such as using things like film, art, theatre, and music. Does it mean it has to be a big production like the mega church? No, it does not have to resemble that model at all. There are churches that can offer those resources, however, this model does not require a large budget to accomplish those things. In the book "The Shaping of Things to Come: innovation and mission for the 21st - century church." Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch pointed out that, "people want substance and things that deal with more serious topics." Emerging church goers are not looking for fluff. There is already enough of those churches to squelch religion and Christianity in America why add to it.

In order for the church of today to become the church of tomorrow church leaders need to recognize where the church is now, identify the challenges of relating to its cultural context, and determine what needs to change if the church is going to be successful moving into tomorrow. If the church is truly about changing and about doing Kingdom work people will notice the difference and desire the same for their life with out the church ever forcing down a pill society does not want to consume. We are wired and designed to serve more than ourselves. At some point in time, something will click, and people will come searching. The only hope is for the church to be ready and willing to accept them into its arms.

I recently received an old paper back from the winter quarter. In reflection of that paper and of some of the mega churches I have attended out here in L.A. and back home I would like to share some of my ideas on what "I" think Church should not be and what it should be or at least "Wrestle" with.

Is church really about the numbers? Is church really about converting the most unsaved people to Christianity?
Church should not be about the numbers or the amount of growth that the church has experienced over the past year or the previous years. Yes, in our consumer/business minded world "numbers = good."” I think the Church of the last 20 years has missed the boat on what Church is truly intended for. Church is not about the numbers that attend for a weekend service, but church should be about how many people are being infected and transformed by following Jesus.

Worship. People want to worship God, not a performance from the band doing the latest Top 40 pop song. Yes, it might have relevance to the sermon but if people wanted to go to a concert and be entertained they would go there. People want truth for their lives and they want to know what God says about their lives and how to live it. They will attend for a while, however, people do a lot of things for a while before they realize that there is no substance there. They do not want a good book or hey this is good way to set up your finances. Church should not be a self-help class. However, Church is about the community that we form through living lives together and learning from our mistakes, struggles, heart brakes, and our successes together.

Church should be about bringing others to Jesus. Church is not about entertaining people. Having Church needs to be about one thing and one thing only, worshiping our almighty God. The second tier needs to have the time spent in worship and learning about God to translate into action. The third tier item should be getting our congregations to engage with some of the bigger topics in which are being addressed.

Church is not the building. Church is the people. That is why when Jesus came and destroyed the temple by giving his life up for us, the old way of coming to God was destroyed. The new way is from with in. It is from with in the heart that you find the church and where God resides. God resides in people; yes He is also present in a Church. But Church has what in them? People, so God is there also.

The Church'’s lone purpose should not be for converting others to Christianity. IF we are to think that Church is about entertaining our congregations and trying to convert "“atheist into believers" (kanye west) then we have missed the point. It is not about giving someone as Dallas Willard has stated a "Fire Proof Card."” Jesus has called us to reach out to the lost, the broken, the widow and the poor. Jesus'’ words are not easy to swallow and are definitely not easy to live out. That is why Jesus has called us to carry out over a lifetime this way of living. He knows it is not going to be easy. Following Jesus is not easy it is necessary. So why not teach that? If the church were to start teaching a Jesus lifestyle would it not be radically transformed? Of course it would change!

So may we be open to change, may we look to continually shake up the way we do church and especially open to where God is leading His Kingdom and us. And may He reap all the glory!

tomorrow's post... How does the church transform?

I have been wrestling the past couple of weeks and days with the thoughts of ordination. I come from a Baptist background and for so long I have resisted anything that resembled the Baptist denomination. However, because of my current living situation and because of seeing some successful churches and all of these being Baptist I see hope. So the question is do I return to my roots and become ordained like my father and my grandfather before him and my great grandfather before him? These are the questions that I am wrestling with and I hope that the truth will surface while I am here at seminary. Having an identity with who I associate with would be great and also being able to begin to turn my focus to how I can help turn around something in America that is dieing which is the denominational church and churches. From the other side of the fence is the non-denominational track. The non-denomination track gives ones a free reign, however with that free reign comes more problems and more floating theology. Which is dangerous because the theology can be not grounded in anything substantial or truthful, or biblical for that matter. The other bad thing is money. Non-denomination churches have no support and are responsible for raising all their own support. However, there is nothing like leaning on God to provide money to strengthen your faith. These are just some of the things that I have been wrestling and dealing with in the past few weeks and I am sure this topic will arise again before my time here is done.

This is my first post on here and will be updating later today. I hope your ready for the ride!

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