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December 09, 2004

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Ryan, thanks for the encouragement. It doesn't bother me that Jack and Katy aren't where I'm at -- no ego issues here. But I worry for them. I guess some people "say" they need help with their spiritual lifes, but when it comes down to it, may not be willing to expend the effort. For far too many people in the institutional Church, their faith tends to be more one of convenience than of conviction. Does that makes sense?

You said:
"you cannot bring change unless change is requested" -- ah... very true. Yet, even a "request" often holds little weight.

Lord, have mercy on us all.

chris, you have already convinced me that regardless of your 'title' you are pastoral in gifting … thanks for that gentle response ... this is NOT to be under estimated … to me this is not only a biblical mandate it is also of critical importance an age where the most 'coveted' (compensated!) gifting is that of administration ... that speaks volumes ... but i digress ... back to the questions at hand:

you said: should "shepherds" … be concerned about people's spiritual growth and what "might" be hindering or hurting them?
Obviously, however the discussion is polarized and that’s not where the difficulties exist … chris i am truly ashamed at how extremely aquatinted i am with the natural tendencies of a young pastor to over assume the importance of their own ‘labor in the word’ . . . the associated feelings of disappointment as people ‘vote with their feet’ for OTHER THINGS . . . that’s probably as difficult to hear as it was to say. . . most often those deceptive feelings flourish in an environment of hard work and diligence … (BTW it was not my intention to play the ‘judgmental card’) … an increase in judgmental feelings however is where it starts for me … this is a dangerous ‘emotional trap’ that is very real for many pastors/leaders … and it is highly probable that your friends may be not only be exempt from its effects, it is also likely that they are oblivious to its tempting presence as well … (perhaps i’m simply projecting the experience of me and my friends onto you) … if that’s’ so please forgive me …
I have found that in situations like this you (and the members of the group) could communicate your own commitment to them by simply ‘walk away from biblical studies’ (temporarily) and walking over to their house for ‘free labor’ ... historically I have greatly underestimated the value of doing things together as a community to groups … even if these folks don’t reciprocate when the work is over in the end the bonding that can occur over meals prepared together and plaster is often much more effective than a year of ‘study’
. . . in my mind this ‘approach’ is a fundamental differentiator between the emergent church and the institutional church mindsets … for emergent types one of the most fundamental aspects of faith is the relational/missional living aspects . . . for the institutional church doctrinal purity is paramount . . . thus the centralized (in my opinion overemphasis on bible principles and bible studies) over Jesus and John’s words emphasizing relationships between us as ‘ultimate’ . . .
you said: I often worry that popular notions of radical egalitarianism distort our faith-beliefs, insisting that Christianity must be an individualistic faith: self-validating, self-contained, and without the moral or practical implications of "community."
Its not pseudo-humility but I’m not to smart sometimes … As I understand egalitarianism it has more to do with authoritarian environments and the removal of inequalities between people and people groups and less to do with the current problems facing the church related to the problem you’ve indirectly raised regarding the intrinsic foundation and propensities within protestantism dominated by a theological momentum aimed at greater separation, conflict and divisions which are (silently) considered ‘necessary evils’ administered for the perceived greater good … for the sake of ‘doctrinal purity’ … leaving our brothers at that altar . . . sacrificed . . .
you are absolutely right in identifying the cultural weaknesses in the culture with an overemphasis on ‘felt needs’ as contrasted with the ‘REAL needs’ (greater levels of discipline, higher levels of commitment, and the establishing life’s priorities) that commonly go unrecognized and undiscussed because we lack the depth of relationship required to have than kind of conversation . . . however I sincerely believe that more inductive bible studies or small group discussions will not grow people in these areas . . . as you (and the group under your leadership I assume) commit to them, they MAY over time positively respond and commit to you and that group … all to often we (chr’ns) sadly become weary however in our well doing . . . don’t worry I speaking to myself now more than I’m speaking to you . . . but since its your blog and you posed the issue you “get to” indulge me or listen to me simply reflect on my own sins . . . thanks for doing that BTW . . . sorry for the long response … but confession is good for the soul …

peace :::


i can't wait to sell my house so i don't have to work in the yard and on the things that always need to be fixed in the house.

but it would cost me twice as much to rent as to continue my current house payments. so i'll probably be here for a long time.

anyway --

i like a clean and comfortable home. i don't like a home that rules me in any way. (the home was made for man, not man for the home.) a project that takes too long, feels like it's ruling me. so we only do little things, and very few of them a year. and only with money that we already have.

so our house is not completely up to date. but it serves us well.

it's easy for me to emphathize with DP's perceptions here, having been a pastor's wife for 20 years. however, i also emphathize with the stresses of working 45-50 hour weeks, and the fact that going to a church service on the weekend really is a sacrifice at times. if i have a few other activites planned for the weekend, adding church to that makes it feel like i had no down time at all. we have to take care of ourselves if we're gonna last for the long haul of life. sometimes we just need to rest a little more.

finding the balance is tough, the other couple of weekend activities are not remodeling the house, but rather have to do with the people whom we love -- our parents and nearly adult children. i tend to choose the people i love over a church service, if i have to make the choice in order to maintain my own sanity.

This is a fascinating thread!

I think home improvement has many appeals -- as others have noted, it's affordable (good use of one's money) and it's a way one can accomplish measurable things (as opposed to the professional work many of us do, where progress is less visible than, say, in building or painting). I'm also reminded of the Shaker adage "hands to work, hearts to God," inasmuch as work can be sanctifying -- and while it's easier for that to be true when one is building a house for a needy family, it can also be true when one is putting one's hands to work fixing one's own dwellingplace.

But I think this taps into a larger question, which is: why do so many people who say that religion is important to them not bear that out by attending church/synagogue/whatever? And what, if anything, should clergyfolk do about that? I'm not sure I have answers to either of those questions, but I think they're worth asking.

... as opposed to the "church improvement" projects church leaders are endlessly trying to recruit people into.

avalon,
I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to or trying to say. My guess is that you've recognized that some (or perhaps many) churches busy people in their own "projects" which may in fact be as problematic as excessive home improvement projects. But I guess we'll have to wait and let you expand your thoughts here a bit more.

Home improvement projects are undoubtedly very stressful and expensive both in time and money. The best advise I can give is to plan well before starting the project.

The bigger the project, the higher the chances Murphy's Law will come into play (if anything can go wrong, it will).
Budget your time and money according to the worst case scenario. There's nothing worse than finding out halfway through a job that it will cost you more than you anticipated. But it's a great feeling when you finished under budget and within deadlines.

Home improvement sometimes can be very boring and obsessing.Last year we needed three months to renovate our home.I was so tired after that.

This is certainly an interesting topic, one that I would not have expected to read. There are the typical reasons that people choose not to go to services: football, chores, shopping, laziness and lack of faith. But to hear that remodeling is becoming a serious problem is amazing.

While I have spent many a days, nights & dollars on remodeling my own homes, I hate to admit it, but the available time usually ends up being on Saturdays and Sundays - times when service is being held.

Am I a sinner? Sure hope not.

Remodeling Fool,

Of course you are a sinner. And so am I and everyone else. The greater sin here though, is probably what you and I and others fail to do because of our home improvement priorities, not that home improvement is - in and of itself - a sin. I've long been convinced that our greatest sins are sins of "omission," rather than the tragic overemphasis we have placed on the sins we "commit."

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