Church Attraction

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The question is, “Who does the church attract?” not, who should, but who does.

Before we get too far into this I do not believe that the church is necessary for salvation – I don’t think that God works that way. I do believe that the church is a very important social structure for the mutual uplifting and sharing of faith, questioning and growing in our faith, care and support for those who are in need – physical, emotional, psychological, and a place to find respite from the world and it’s seemingly endless demands. Additionally, I believe that gathering around God’s word, Christ’s meal, and the water of life is important as a foundation for us to live as followers of Jesus.

None of that answers or even pokes at “Who does the church attract?” Scripture makes it pretty clear that “the church” (the people of God, followers of Jesus – however you quantify it) is to go out, not expecting people to be attracted to the building, the program, the style of worship, the denomination. But my experience is that this is exactly the way the church acts – “they” should come to “us” becasue “we” have what “they” need.

I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth (blog as it were) so I leave the question hanging, who does the church attract?  Who should the church attract?  How might the church go about being more real in the world?

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Graffiti of Life

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I recently began reading a book by Mark Scandrette titled, “Soul Graffiti.” Mark’s outlook on Spirituality from a Christian perspective is vibrant, reckless, and wonderful. Part of what Mark challenges the reader to consider is the primitive nature of graffiti, and how it gets into our hearts, as an expression of our true selves.

If you were to write graffiti of your soul, either in word or picture, what would it be?

If you could write up to 3 words on the sidewalk (anywhere), what words would you use, and where would you write them?

Faith and Love

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Werner Elert (1885-1954) makes a note that “faith and love must always be distinguished in such a way that faith concerns the person and love concerns the works.” We are given the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit and the result of this faith is acting in love toward those we interact with. Ellert goes on, “Faith remains the actor and love remains the deed.”

I believe that God and Jesus have great faith in us. I would even go so far as to say that when Paul says, “We are saved by grace through faith,” this faith is Christ’s faith in us (otherwise faith is still something we have to do). The result of this faith is love. Loving deeds for the earth, animals, fellow persons. Jesus indicates that with faith we will do his commandments – love God and love your neighbor.

What do you make of this correlation between faith and love?

I’m … and I’m a mess!

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In a book titled “Messy Spirituality,” the late Mike Yaconelli writes, “Messy spirituality unveils the myth of flawlessness and calls Christians everywhere to come out of hiding and stop pretending.”

“Messy Spirituality has the audacity to suggest that messiness is the workshop of authentic spirituality, the greenhouse of faith, the place where the real Jesus meet the real us.” ~ p. 15

I find a great deal of hope in these two sentences. I’m a mess, God finds me in my mess and helps me to grow. People often think that “regular church goers” have everything under control, that their lives are smooth sailing, and that they don’t have any issues in their lives. (You may think I’m wrong in this, just take your head out of the sand and listen to people, and their impressions of Christians.)

I see that the “real” Jesus and the real us do meet in a very authentic way when we acknowledge our messiness. It’s when we try to keep the messiness all to ourselves, piled higher and deeper that we begin to burn. Ever see a garden that has been spread with too much manure in one place…the plants actually burn. But when the manure (mess) is spread, acknowledged, the plant actually grow better in richer soil. Soil that has engaged with the messiness and is ready to move forward.

Are you working on your mess? Or ignoring it and piling it higher and deeper? Where do you find safety in sharing the real you and can you say, “I’m…and I’m a mess!”

What would you do?

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Let’s say that you were given an unexpected day off to do anything. What would you do?

  • Get caught up on a projects around home.
  • Sleep in, relax, and do nothing.
  • Go to a museum, park, cultural event.
  • Watch movies, read, eat your favorite foods.
  • Other

Surprises

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Tonight a group of us talked about “surprises.”

I’d like to hear from you about your feelings concerning surprises. Are there different primal emotions with “good” and “bad” surprises? In what way can we be surprised by grace?

Can’t wait to hear from you and continue to conversation.

Garbage Heap

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Many of us have a “Garbage Heap” in our lives. It is typically the trash of life that we throw into a pile and never really get rid of. Never take it to the compost bin where it can be turned into something good and life giving. Instead we toss it on a heap and it combines with a bunch of other trash pieces from life that ends up creating this amazing odor. The really amazing part of this odor is that it creeps into every part of our lives so that nothing good can be experienced.

On youth retreats we use a term, “reapply.” As in, “go and reapply some deodorant because you are getting a bit rank.” Reapplying is just masking, just a cover up until they can get washed up. As adults, we have learned to “reapply” very well in our garbage heap lives. We do a great job of covering up, masking and not getting to the source of the stench.

It is in getting to the source of the stench that we begin to be transformed by the Christ who washes us and gives us new life. That washing of authentic, laying down our trash, coming face to face with it, is where we really begin to see the God who loves us so much that He sent Jesus to go to the garbage heap – not because of us, maybe for us, but always with us. To compost that garbage so that it may be a strength and a place of transformation in our lives.

Love to hear what you have to say.

Peace!

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