I was blessed to be part of the Crossings “Share Fair” 2010 event this past Saturday. To me it was just another wonderful example of a local body of Christ putting their faith into practice by coming up with creative ways to serve their extended community. The “Fair” was a great success this year as we gathered donations and gifts and networking with a local school, were able to get them into the lives of families in our area who are struggling. A HUGE thanks goes out to Larry Foster who handled the goliath share of the details which made everything come together. I also want say thanks to everyone who helped with the setup, teardown, and serving throughout the day. In all, “Share Fair” was just another reason why you rock Cypress Crossings. So keep up the good work and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Alright, show of hands here. How many of you actually enjoyed taking history classes in High School? Yup, that’s probably about right. History is not the most popular subject with a lot of folks and that’s ok. On the other hand, I’m one of those wired guys who actually enjoyed the study. Don’t know, but maybe it’s just because I liked blowing an hour going to the film room at Tascosa High to watch a WWII documentary instead of sitting through Geometry. But history does have important lessons to teach us in creating a more successful future. If we take time to examine the good and bad decisions and the lives of those who have gone before us, we can learn from their victories and mistakes. So it is with the CHURCH.
Recently we had our first “Official” membership class at the Crossings and it was a lot of fun. It was just neat to see so many new and old faces excited about what God is doing in our own little part of the Kingdom. It was neat to see people stepping up to the plate in heartfelt commitment. Now I understand that in the greater body of Christ there’s been some debate as to what to do with Church membership. Some claim it is not a Biblical principle and others hold the opposite position and see it as a great practicality for our day. On my part I lean toward the second camp, so I’ve listed 7 reasons at the bottom of the post as to why we’ve gone with a formal membership at The Crossings. But I think the greatest reason why I fall on the side of a designated church membership for the located body of Christ actually comes from a true story from our time in the former Soviet Union.
Deb and I still have a bunch of really great friends back in Nor. Cal who will always be a part of our lives and the Kingdom effort. One friend that is somewhat new to me is a great guy named Troy who has been involved in church planting and discipleship for a while and is really striving to know God. Troy and Dawn live on the edge for Christ and I really appreciate their wisdom and input. So, I was strolling down one of Troy’s blogs yesterday and came across a recent post he put up. I thought that it really fit some of the discussions we’ve had on Kingdomology and the CHURCH. In particular, do we really need to go to church every Sunday or is that just something archaic and for our grandparents. I’ve got some thoughts, but check out Troy’s post, chew on it for a bit, and I’ll get back to you in a few days.
I’ve always said that I could eat Tex-Mex food two or three times a week and I think that’s probably true. But tonight was a dinner full of memories as we got together with some friends in North Houston for Borscht and Blinchiki. Our chef, Oksana, is from Uzbekistan which used to be part of the Soviet Union. So it was a lot of fun trying to remember our Russian and the names of the great dishes we had while living in Moscow back in the mid 90s. I love trying foods from all over the world. Probably the worst thing I’ve ever eaten was on a college internship in Chile back in 88 and I’d say that the best food I’ve ever had was in Nagaland, India. But I think one of the greatest parts of these fun food festivities is not just the palate, but the friendships, culture, and Kingdom experiences that come along with them. Cultural because we are all different and I love that. But from the Kingdom standpoint, it is a reminder that the Kingdom of Heaven is not an American thing, but a God thing. The real Kingdom of God, or Heaven, is something that Jesus said is within us. It stretches all over the world and across time. It will continue to expand in the hearts and minds of God’s children until Christ comes back. So in a very real sense, the Kingdom is all over the world and transcends all cultures. Having grown up in Texas, you could say that Tex-Mex really is a “national” or cultural reality for me. But because the Kingdom of God is so big, there is really no one “national food” for Kingdom citizens. But rather, it’s kind of a multi course banquet. Now THAT smells good. Fish Tacos anyone?
There’s a lot you have to say and I like your honesty and being upfront. No need to play games here. So with everything you wrote, (and didn’t write) we’ll just tackle one point at a time.
As I noted earlier, there exists a counterfeit church today which is quite foreign from the real deal. But there is always an element of the real CHURCH in the world no matter what kind of institution is being propagated. You can read more about the authentic church here in Kingdomology under the CHURCH page. But in short, the Church has nothing to do with buildings or institutions. The authentic Church is more about God’s people called to him. When it comes to people, yes, you are quite right, there are a lot of people who make great claims about being good “Christians” but don’t seem to be any different than the rest of the world other than just being a religious pain in the rear because of self-righteousness. I get that. But here are some other points to consider.
Well it’s obvious that I’m nuts about following Jesus and wouldn’t have it any other way. As for me, I arrived at my convictions about Jesus not because I simply grew up that way kind of like a cultural thing, but because of a point in time where I was presented with the clear evidence of Christ, and then chose to accept it and follow him. But that does not mean that I think I’m any better than anyone else or even those who have chosen not to accept Christ or his teaching. In fact, there are times when I prefer to hang out with those who would consider themselves “outside” of the Church and even joke about themselves as being “pagans” or something like that. They’re at least honest in the sense that they’re not trying to fool anyone by being more spiritual than the rest of humanity. This is one of the many things I liked about living in CA.
We’ll I’m just about back into a consistent “blogging” saddle again as we’re finishing up our transition from the church plant back in CA to a work in the Houston area. We’ve landed with an exciting bunch of folks in Cypress, Texas where there are some real needs and huge opportunities for Kingdom advancement. This past Monday night we had a group of leaders over at our house to watch the movie Miracle on Ice. The flick was based on the true story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team defeating the Soviet Union and winning the gold medal. Personally it was fun to watch as I remember being glued to the tube when it happened in real life 30 years ago. But we didn’t watch it to reminisce, but to learn some church leadership lessons. We came up with at least these five principles. Enjoy and feel free to add anything.
I got a link from a friend the other day to another church planter’s blog and in one of his recent posts he talked about what kind of church he’d like to be a part of. I’ve read a lot of similar things in the past and can see where this guy is coming from. He’s got a lot of good ideas and shares his heart well. But I have noticed something that’s missing a lot these days, especially with anything connected with post-modern, emerging, or emergent churches, and that’s the issue of doctrine. (Dan Kimball seems to be a great exception to this tendency) While I understand that doctrine by itself is dead, I get the feel that there are a lot of folks who are throwing out truth for the sake of emotion, relativism, and pragmatism. But what we find in the first church is that they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” (Acts 2:42) In other words, they were concerned about truth and it seems that if we’re going to be authentic church today and not simply new clubs, then we have to seriously pursue the apostle’s teachings ourselves. In short, truth really does matter.
Well I was planning on getting to this issue sometime this year, but the Germans beat me to it. Last week in Berlin, the Lutheran Church of Germany announced that it had elected Margot Kaessmann as its first woman to lead the church where she received 132 out 145 votes in their general assembly. Some of the folks there described her as a “cross between Mother Teresa and Demi Moore”. I like Mother Teresa, but I’m not sure how being like Demi Moore qualifies someone for church leadership. Ok, honestly I really don’t know anything about Kaessmann and don’t have a lot of time to do homework on her. But of course it all does bring up that tumultuous question of how women fit into church leadership. Like just about everything else with theology and practical ministry, there are extremes. But where’s the balance? Where are the Kingdom principles? I don’t have all the answers, but what we’ll do for now is look at three Biblical observations and then follow that up with six practical points. So grab a cup of java and let’s go.