Church-Fu

commentary and editorials

Posts tagged church

3 notes

Then I headed to church.

And it was not good.

The service was way long, and boring, and only three people had shown up for the choir, and the song they sang sucked. There was a disruptive baby who had about three hours of neck control but was already spoiling everything for the rest of us. I sat with a look of grim munificence, like so many of your better Christians, exuding mental toxins into the atmosphere. I decided that this church was deteriorating. I had come for a spiritual booster shot and instead got aggravation. I was going to leave, and never come back.

Then something amazing happened. I would call it grace, but then, I’m easy. It was that deeper breath, or pause, or briefly cleaner glasses, that gives us a bit of freedom and relief. I remembered my secular father’s only strong spiritual directive: Don’t be an asshole, and make sure everybody eats. Veronica quoted a fellow pastor recently: “I’m only a beggar, showing the other beggars where the bread is.” There are many kinds of bread: kindness, companionship, besides the flour-and-yeast kind…I realized I was going to get through this disappointing service, and anyway, you have to be somewhere: better here, where I have heard truth spoken so often, than, say, at the DMV, or home alone, orbiting my own mind. And it’s good to be out where others can see you, so you can’t be your ghastly, spoiled self. It forces you to act slightly more elegantly, and this improves your thoughts, and thereby the world.

Anne Lamott (via mshedden)

Church: better than the DMV

(via denisehess)

(Source: sheddenm, via denisehess)

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FaithStreet estimates churches spend between $5 and $10 billion on advertising, much of which ends up on roadside billboards. Only around 500 churches buy Google AdWords now, which is surprising in that Google experiences 25 million church-related inquiries a month.

Startup FaithStreet lives at the corner of tech and Christianity” via PandoDaily

While this may not ignite the passions of many tech entrepreneurs, religious institutions in the US are a huge untapped market for technology solutions.  For the uninitiated, there are over 300,000 Christian churches with 56 million active worshipers attending services on a weekly basis.

(via marksbirch)

Also, $5 to $10 BILLION on advertising? 

(via marksbirch)

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Most pastors and doctrine-nerds sit at a desk thinking about church stuff for a better church to make more church people and get trapped in this programmatic self-isolated bubble of safe church-world. They churn out ‘disciples’ on an assembly line of eight-week packets like the only thing worth doing is making more full-time pastors or missionaries or praise band members. Meanwhile, young professionals and struggling students and single moms have no idea about this church-ish Disneyland we’ve thrown on them. They’re just trying to serve our Creator in small steps forward against all odds in a world of real hurt, and that actually glorifies God more than the pastor who polishes his sermon ten hours a day. Get in touch with these people and love them. Your theoretical lab-tested doctrine isn’t working for you, either.
(via jspark3000)

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I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified. I have always thought that purity was the most mysterious of the virtues, but it occurs to me that it would never have entered the human consciousness to conceive of purity if we were not to look forward to a resurrection of the body, which will be flesh and spirit united in peace, in the way they were in Christ.
Flannery O’Connor

(Source: habitofbeing, via invisibleforeigner)

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It’s in the nature of the Church to survive all crises - in however battered a fashion. The Church can’t be identified with Western culture and I suppose the wreck of it doesn’t cause her much of a sense of crisis.

Flannery O’Connor

I believe the Purpose Driven, “relevant”, and other modern church iterations that do identify with the Western culture are exhibiting a significant sense of crisis.

(Source: invisibleforeigner, via invisibleforeigner)

100 notes

JS Park: Why I'm No Longer Self-Identifying As A "Reformed Calvinist"

thepoorinspirit:

jspark3000:

“This is not a theology issue, but rather a love issue.  The ivory tower of Neo-Calvinism has reached so high, I’m not sure what the point is anymore.  Calvinist bloggers only stimulate other Calvinist bloggers.  Neo-Calvinism has become the ghetto of the ghetto of the Christian subculture. Somehow the sincere search for deeper doctrine has led to arrogance, inhouse fighting, a ridiculously isolated blogosphere, and 20 year olds condescending to everyone.  Doctrine-nerds are yelling “heresy” and “blasphemy” without a clue how serious those charges are, and also without a single gesture of brotherly love or empathy. Disagreements do not mean nuclear war.  How Jesus would grieve over these New Pharisees.”


I share these feelings JS Park has about the online community of Neo-Calvinism (though I’m sure Park and I probably differ on some theological issues).  Most “Neo-Calvinists” have rarely ever engaged or read other theologies on their own turf - most of what they know of Arminianism, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox and varying other theologies are from, gasp, Reformed people.  Caricatures abound.  Just because someone you enjoy listening to says something is “biblical”, doesn’t mean it actually is.  I’ve encountered a decent amount of “be wary of this guy” about my blog because I don’t agree with the pillars of Calvinism.  Encountering these people reminds me of the Stoop Kid episode from Hey Arnold.  The Stoop Kid is afraid to leave his stoop, so he terrorizes anyone that comes near.  In actuality, their world is limited to this little place amongst the bigger neighborhood of theology.

That’s not to say all Calvinists are remotely like this.  One of my great friends is Calvinist, but she’s not a jerk (I think I’m more of a jerk to her sometimes…).  We constantly talk about theology and we acknowledge that we don’t agree.  But we both still love Jesus and want to see the Kingdom of God manifest on earth.  And that’s what ultimately counts.

518 notes

newsweek:
This week’s cover features a very average-looking Jesus Christ, whose cover line urges we follow him—and ditch the church. The cover story is written by Andrew Sullivan, who who argues that Christianity in America is “in crisis,” as political issues like contraception, health care, and abortion have been usurped by religious thinking, and the kind of Christianity that is most essential and pure has been lost. 
Here’s an excerpt (full story online and on newsstands tomorrow AM): 
It seems no accident to me that so many Christians now embrace materialist self-help rather than ascetic self-denial—or that most Catholics, even regular churchgoers, have tuned out the hierarchy in embarrassment or disgust. Given this crisis, it is no surprise that the fastest-growing segment of belief among the young is atheism, which has leapt in popularity in the new millennium. Nor is it a shock that so many have turned away from organized Christianity and toward “spirituality,” co-opting or adapting the practices of meditation or yoga, or wandering as lapsed Catholics in an inquisitive spiritual desert. The thirst for God is still there. How could it not be, when the profoundest human questions—Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? What happens to us after death?—remain as pressing and mysterious as they’ve always been?  That’s why polls show a huge majority of Americans still believing in a Higher Power. But the need for new questioning—of Christian institutions as well as ideas and priorities—is as real as the crisis is deep.
Wasn’t the protestant reformation this exact same thing: Drop the church, keep Jesus in your heart, read scripture yourself?? How’d that work out?

newsweek:

This week’s cover features a very average-looking Jesus Christ, whose cover line urges we follow him—and ditch the church. The cover story is written by Andrew Sullivan, who who argues that Christianity in America is “in crisis,” as political issues like contraception, health care, and abortion have been usurped by religious thinking, and the kind of Christianity that is most essential and pure has been lost. 

Here’s an excerpt (full story online and on newsstands tomorrow AM): 

It seems no accident to me that so many Christians now embrace materialist self-help rather than ascetic self-denial—or that most Catholics, even regular churchgoers, have tuned out the hierarchy in embarrassment or disgust. Given this crisis, it is no surprise that the fastest-growing segment of belief among the young is atheism, which has leapt in popularity in the new millennium. Nor is it a shock that so many have turned away from organized Christianity and toward “spirituality,” co-opting or adapting the practices of meditation or yoga, or wandering as lapsed Catholics in an inquisitive spiritual desert. The thirst for God is still there. How could it not be, when the profoundest human questions—Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? What happens to us after death?—remain as pressing and mysterious as they’ve always been?  That’s why polls show a huge majority of Americans still believing in a Higher Power. But the need for new questioning—of Christian institutions as well as ideas and priorities—is as real as the crisis is deep.

Wasn’t the protestant reformation this exact same thing: Drop the church, keep Jesus in your heart, read scripture yourself?? How’d that work out?

(via divineirony)

37 notes

Young Adults Abandon Cars & Church

An article in The Atlantic by Jordan Weissmann reveals that automakers are struggling to connect their products to teens and twenty-somethings. The problem isn’t the cars, or even the economy, but driving in general. Fewer young people are getting drivers licenses. In 1998 nearly two-thirds of potential drivers age 19 or younger had a license. In 2008 it was less then half. It’s hard to believe, but trends indicate young people in the 21st century no longer view a car as the symbol of adolescent independence. As one Toyota executive noted, “Many young people care more about buying the latest smart phone or gaming console than getting their driver’s license.”

(Source: azspot)

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Poverty: Is the Church on the Wrong Side?

Indeed, Wolterstorff, citing Abraham Kuyper, says the failure of our system to care for the poor means we as Christians have an obligation to reform that system – to work for social reforms, not simply do acts of charity. Wolterstorff, a Calvinist working in the tradition of Calvin himself, as well as Kuyper, argues all human beings have sustenance rights, which are on par with three others – rights to protection, freedom and participation. But because sustenance is necessary for life, without which all other rights are meaningless, he argues sustenance is the primary right of humanity.

Rights, he argues, are morally legitimate claims on others. If my rights are being violated, society has a duty to protect them. If the sustenance rights of our poor and needy are being violated, we as a society have a duty to uphold those rights.

(Source: azspot)

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I am afraid of the Church patriotism existing in Catholic circles. By patriotism I mean the feeling one has for a terrestrial country. I am afraid of it because I fear to catch it. It is not that the Church appears to me to be unworthy of inspiring such a feeling. It is because I do not want any feeling of such a kind in myself. The word want is not accurate. I know, I feel quite certain, that any feeling of this kind, whatever its object, would be fatal for me.
Simone Weil, Waiting for God (via invisibleforeigner)

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Reinhold Niebuhr could write and preach about the cross with profound theological imagination and say nothing of how the violence of white supremacy invalidated the faith of white churches. It takes a lot of theological blindness to do that, especially since the vigilantes were white Christians who claimed to worship the Jew lynched in Jerusalem.
James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (via invisibleforeigner)

132 notes

Spiritual But Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me. (by Lillian Daniel)

invisibleforeigner:

invisibleforeigner:

On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is “spiritual but not religious.” Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo. 

Next thing you know, he’s telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails and … did I mention the beach at sunset yet? 

Like people who go to church don’t see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition. 

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself. 

Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community?  Because when this flight gets choppy, that’s who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church. 

The snark is strong with this one.

I’m just going to reblog this because I enjoy it.