Friday, February 23, 2007

Apologies Are A Part of the Journey

I felt sorry for the CEO of the airline jet Blue. David Neeleman had been making the rounds from news channels to late night talk shows falling all over himslef because of the way they handled the Valentines Day storms and did not get it together until after Presidents Day. It reached an excrutiating point when David Letterman greeted him with a soft drink in a plastic cup and a bowl of peanuts and just pounded him with questions about why people were left on the plane on the tarmac for 10 hours. Neeleman squirmed, sweated and stammered his way though yet another apology. As hard as it was to watch it had ot be done. Blunders of that proportion require answers, apologies and plans that it will not happen again. Why doesn't the church get that?

I quickly drew some analogies from this incident and the church. We don't owe our congregations an apology as much as we owe the world and sinners an apology. Jet Blue published an apology in the New York Times recenlty and from that wrote my own apology:

Dear Sinners, Seekers, and Skeptics,

I, we, the church owe you an apology. We owe you an apology for many things like The Crusades, the Inquisition, and Televangelists.

What we are most sorry for is how the church interacts with you. You have often come to us looking for answers and we gave you rhetoric.

We’re sorry for giving you good rules instead of good news.
We’re sorry for giving you programs instead of relationships.

We’re sorry for giving you our four point shpeal instead of a listening ear.
We’re sorry for give you judgment when you were looking for mercy.

We’re sorry that we invited you to a building and to a service instead of inviting you into our lives to examine our faith in light our doubts, struggles, and fears.

We’re sorry that when you came looking for Jesus we gave you religion.
We’re sorry we made Jesus our candidate instead of our Savior and Lord.

We’re sorry we did not serve in more soup kitchens, aids wards, and relief efforts to the worlds poorest and desperate.

We’re sorry we thought the gospel was too pristine to get our hands dirty and too fragile that we could not dialogue over it.

The world cannot expect the church or any one organization to solve all the world problems. God has planted his church here to not only relieve suffering but as a light house for lost souls.

We’re sorry we have not lived up to the Great Commandments. To love God with all our might and show you what it means to have relationship with the heavenly Father.

We’re sorry that we did not love you as we loved ourselves and thereby deny you a physical offering of the spiritual truth we so adamantly believe in.

We’re sorry for not living up to the Great Commissions. We’re sorry we build more country clubs for the spiritually bloated and less hospitals for the spiritually starving.

We’re sorry that we beat around the bush about we truly believe.
We’re sorry we denied you access to the truth and your option to examine it.

We’re sorry our light burned too dimly for you to find your way out of that dark tunnel called sin.

You deserve better. You deserve a educated, passionate, and civil presentation of the best news in the whole world: God loves you and desires to have relationship with you through His Son Jesus Christ.

To paraphrase a recently apology given by the airline carrier Jet Blue: “Nothing is more important than gaining your trust, and all of us here hope you will give us the opportunity to once again welcome you onboard and provide you with the positive example of what it means to be a Christian and to show you what God has expected from us all along.”

Friday, February 16, 2007

When You Need To be Discipled

Hey Everyone,

Got alot on my mind today but wanted to stick with the topic above. What happens when the all knowing, never wrong, discipler needs discipling? I find myself in a quandry. After 20 years of ministering to young people I feel a strong need to get out of the picture so I can regain my own faith or as Scripture says, "examine yourself to see if you are still in the faith." I hate to make it life and death but it's bigger than that. It's spiritual life and death. For me I have to risk everything to regain something that used to be so precious to me. I used to cry for the lost, pray until I was hoarse, and serve/give until it hurt. Now I just hurt.

The "church" has taken it's toll on me. the religiosity has crept in like a cancer. It has eaten away at my once idealistic motives and turned them dark. I am reaching a point where all the years of adulation and compliments are coming to a pinnacle. I am not proud or arrogant. I am only going to admit that the destiny that Christ has held in his hand since before I was born is about to be realized. By faith I wil open my hand and heart to what is in THAT hand. It will only be released when I have taken that step. No more doubts or fears as to whether I am good enough. I believe that question has been answered. The next question is "what will you do with it?" This does not mean I will be the next big thing. Far from it. in fact my success may have alot to do with my anonymity. My abilty to fly below the radar. To slip into a room and watch God work through me and then slip out with students not remembering what was said or who I was as much as what God did among them.

Scary as all this may seem, it must be done. My need to feel alive (spiritually) again and be the father and husband I need to be are all interlinked. My love/hate with the church is but one story in a library filled with such stories. Mine is not special but it is my own. To embrace once again a strong work ethic and to work for change and not for money (all though need it.) is what I seek and somewhere along the way is some one who will disciple me the way Christ discipled his own.

Father God, protect me and my family from wrong and prideful choices. Make me an example of what it means to fly head long ino the storm to find peace at he center of it. I'm couning on your unfailing love and faithfulness. Lead me Lord.

Your Son,