Start Taking Attendance at Church and Make Those Disobedient Members Show Up!

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“- A. W. Tozer  link.

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Did you know that there is a brewing scandal in today's church? Did you know that it is soooo bad that, unless you are desperately ill, you must be in church on Sunday. That's right-"desperately" ill. And if you aren't, you might not even be a Christian? That's right. Salvation is not measured by a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is measured by church attendance of greater than 9 Sundays a year. Here's the background.

Thom Rainer's predictions for 2014

In an article on 1/1/14, Fourteen Predictions for American Churches for 2014 Part Onelink, Thom Rainer makes a number of predictions worth discussing but I am going to limit it to two for now. Watch for the new buzz word "higher expectation membership.He says

3. Decline in conversion growth. American churches that grow are more likely to get their growth at the expense of other churches. Evangelism is waning in many churches, and fewer non-believers are becoming Christians. 

6. Increased emphasis on high-expectation church membership. For decades American congregations as a whole lowered their expectations of church membership. One could be on a church roll in many churches and not even attend worship services for years. We will see a gradual reversal of that trend in 2014 as more churches move to higher-expectation membership. 

A major decline in conversions leads to a new focus on blaming church members for a decline in attendance at churches.

Interestingly, on 10/4/13, Rainer wrote Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance link. In it, he offers 5 solutions to declining church attendance which he claims have been of help in hundreds of churches which he did not identify. Darn…. it would have been helpful to know which ones to avoid. Focus particularly on #5.

  1. Raise the expectations of membership.
  2. Require an entry class for membership.
  3. Encourage ministry involvement.
  4. Offer more options for worship times.
  5. Monitor attendance of each member.

So who or what is really to blame for declining church attendance?

Here is the heart of the manner. Why is church attendance dropping in the United States? Could it be the increasing hyper-authoritarian leadership going on in one sector of the church while in another sector we have the antics of the prosperity pimp preachers? Could it be the growing disgust at the child sex abuse scandals and pastors who plagiarize?  Naw, the real problem is, get ready folks,… you've been down this path before…., YOU. And it is time to whip you into line.

TWW has written that the growth of mega churches is not due to conversions, as is popularly portrayed, but by simple transfer growth link. These churches bring in the people from boring little churches who cannot compete with the resources of the megas. These people get into the hot new worship experience of the mega performance churches, complete with cool sermons partially written by well-paid ghostwriters and delivered by well-coiffed, expensively dressed, hipster preachers. How can the little guys compete? These new members, however, are not new Christians, just transfer members. At least Rainer agrees with us: fewer nonbelievers are coming to Christ.

How do we create the illusion of church growth? Cook the books.

So, since conversion does not seem to be the most effective way to grow the churches, we need to get those who are already coming to come more. Then we can "cook the books" and pretend, for a little while longer, that everything is really OK.

The solution is to up the attendance rate by members.

In this article on 8/19/13 by Rainer, The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It, link, he elaborates why the problem is you, lowly church member.

Stated simply, the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago. 

Rainer, DeYoung and others do this by making members feel guilty even when they say they are not. Watch for the buzz words which I will highlight.

Kevin DeYoung enters the fray and gets some unexpected push back. In The Scandal of the Semi-Churched  link (ed. note: pay attention to the words "scandal" and "semi-churched"). DeYoung refers to Rainer's post in his article and it is safe to say that he is jumping on the bandwagon. He claims that he does not wish to be legalistic, but it seems to me that he didn't achieve his goal

The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.

He defines what constitutes obedience.

As our readers know, Dee likes specifics. I often ask what people mean by terms like "church discipline" or "complementarianism" which I contend are ill-defined terms. These words can be made to say whatever anyone wants them to say. Thankfully, DeYoung holds himself up as a role model for church attendance as he attempts to explain how to minimize being gone from church on Sundays. 

 I don’t want to be legalistic with this question. I’ve traveled on Sunday before (though I try to avoid it). I take vacation and study leave and miss 8 or 9 Sundays at URC per year.

It is important to realize that DeYoung is a pastor and he feels it is appropriate to be away from his main job (at least the Neo-Calvinists tell us that this is the case), which is the preaching of the sermon in church for 9 weeks a year. That works out to about 2 months of Sunday sermons per year. 

He now defines disobedience.

Now, with his "me good" defined, he goes in for the "you bad" kill.

You might want to think twice about investing in a second home that will draw you away from your church a dozen weekends every year. 

That's right. The new rule is this. It is godly for him to miss giving sermons 9 weeks a year but it is ungodly for you to be gone from church 12 times a year. 

I have to hand it to DeYoung, he endured 277 comments, many of which could be categorized as "not amused." However, today, I can only access one page of comments but it must be a glitch.

He now proposes solutions for the disobedient along with the ever effective "you might not be a Christian" threat.

Now let me list the 5 points he makes and see if you can see a pattern in his suggestion. I particularly like #5.

1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family?
2. Do you plan ahead on Saturday so you can make church a priority on Sunday?
3. Do you order your travel plans so as to minimize being gone from your church on Sunday?
4. Are you willing to make sacrifices to gather with God’s people for worship every Sunday?
5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian?

Did you notice? The finger points only at you. And you may not even be a Christian. It gets worse.

You should only miss church for a desperate illness.

In regards to his missing church as a child (and presumably now)

Except for desperate illness, we were going to show up.

I would have to assume that he thinks this policy is a net good or he would not have even mentioned it. What in the world is a desperate illness? Perhaps he is not aware that some non-desperate illnesses should keep folks out of church. Newly diagnosed pink eye, strep throat (in the early stages of treatment), flu like symptoms, etc. are a few examples.

Watch for derogatory, judgmental catch words like this.

Let's review the words used in regards to those who are missing more than 9 Sundays (certified gospel approved) a year.

  • Semi-churched
  • Scandal
  • May not be a Christian
  • Self deceived
  • Disobedient

Pretty bad, huh? Notice who is to blame. It is YOU. Every solution to the problem of declining church attendance is in your hands and if you miss 12 weeks a year, you might not be a Christian. This is the latest tactic in certain circles. Where is the finger pointing back at them? Could they have anything to do with it? Since it appears that we are having trouble getting non-Christians to grace us with our presence in the church, they want to go after the ones in the church.

Take attendance and pretend you care.

Now, back to Thom Rainer link. He has a solution and, in my opinion, it is a bad solution. In the above quoted post he elaborated on "taking attendance."

Monitor attendance of each member. This approach is often difficult, especially for worship attendance. That is why the traditional Sunday school approach of calling absentees was so effective. Perhaps churches can incorporate that approach in all groups. Members are less likely to be absent if they know someone misses them.

There is a reason that Sunday school classes stopped calling in many churches. Let me give you a personal example. Real caring is calling up people you really care about and getting into their lives, not by making some rote call with a checkmark next to the name. Here is how it worked in an SBC church class that I attended. We had about 40 people attend on a regular basis. The church then insisted on adding names of members to the list even though they had never come to our class. Then they could say that "everyone" at the church had a Sunday school class. We asked to have the names removed but we were not "allowed." 

So, out of curiosity, we started calling all the absent names on the list. The response was not pleasant. "Why are people bothering us?" Most of them did not come to Sunday school and did not wish to do so. We stopped these invasive calls and insisted on removing their names from the list. It was not well received by the bean counters who were probably reporting stats to folks like Rainer, Stetzer, et al.

We also really cared about those who did come to our class. We invited folks to lunch, brunch, activities, etc. We knew when people were in the hospital and visited them. We did make meals for the sick and homebound, not because we were taking attendance but because we really cared about those who wanted to be there.

My prediction: Go ahead. Start roll call on Sundays. Let's see how fast you can lose another 20-30% of church attendees. In fact, I think it is possible to lose a whole lot more than that. When that happens, you can feel really good by pretending that they weren't real Christians like the ones who miss only 9 Sundays a year.

Then, you can institute heresy Sundays in which you quiz everyone to within an inch of their lives on their understanding of your pet doctrine du jour. You will whittle out another 30% or so. Then you won't need to pay for more buildings and more staff. There won't be many left to care.

Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 43:14-45:10 Ephesians 3:1-21 Psalm 68:1-18 Proverbs 24:1-2

Comments

Start Taking Attendance at Church and Make Those Disobedient Members Show Up! — 399 Comments


  1. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    😛 Deebs…I think we have something mental going on here. I had a hunch to check your page and again…first post! 😛


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    Oh my–my family is sure to drive the powers that be nuts! We have no intention of joining so we cannot be “counted”. We do intend regular attendance, but not when we are sick. Or for that matter, when icy roads mean we would be risking our lives to try to attend.

    More and more I find one thing hilarious: the rank and file (at least in the SBC) did not come up with the ridiculous notion of the consumer driven church. But we sure learned it good, didn’t we? Now Baptists and former Baptists do view themselves as consumers. Which means if we don’t like your 7/11 music, or your long boring sermons, or your attempt to put yourself in spiritual authority over us, we feel free to leave.

    Maybe those are the reasons attendance is low? Maybe the consumer is voting with his or her feet and saying your “hamburger” is not as good as the “hamburger” in the place down the street?

    Said it before and I’ll say it again. I wish every person in the SBC, and every former one, would read E.Y Mullins and THEN go to church with a gleam in their eye that says “Preach Jesus to me, preach the Word to me, and even if I disagree with your interpretation from time to time we are cool. But try to get BETWEEN me and Jesus and you will get tossed right out on your ear.”

    Good post, ladies!

  3. Pingback: Lifeway president sees hard times coming | Civil Commotion


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    Eagle wrote:

    think we have something mental going on here.

    Mental-yup-I’m losing my mind.


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    Good gravy, I would just up and leave evangelicalism altogether if I had to contend with this kind of totalitarianism!

    Oh wait… I already did. 😉


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    @ numo:
    Disobedient, semi-churched lover of chocolate. Repent!


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    @ dee: I might think about it if you’ll share your chocolate with me. 😉


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    Two things to add to the discussion about what constitutes church and membership. With one Sovereign Grace church I knew I was there for Easter and felt and saw the push for membership. The membership push was so heavy, and so hard it reminded me of the same pressure I had to contend with when I was looking into Mormonism and trying to figure out do I want to to become LDS? Against all that the Mormon missionaries I worked with placed so much pressure on me to get baptized. Whenever I met with them they asked if I made a decision to get baptized. And I kept delaying (Thank Gawd!!!) One of the missionaries even told me that if I got baptized he would be willing to travel from Colorado Springs (his hometown) and dunk me. But the membership push in this Sovereign Grace church was a real flash back to my exploring Mormonism.

    I was also there another time when they brought in new members. It sounded like potential members needed to make themselves available to the congreagtion and anyone could investigate or ask potential members questions about loyalty. I was puzzeled when I heard that. If this is indeed the case of how membership is handled in Sovereign Grace, Sojurn, Acst 29 chruches, etc…. then they would be the envy of the East German or Romanian police state under communism. In addition many members re-did their own membership vows to the church. And it was Catholic in nature. I was stunned. When the doctrine or beliefs were called out the response by the congregation was “we do” IIRC.

    On church I have to tell you the experience I had with one person under this persuasion. When I was in the hospital for a medical crisis in July/August 2012 I spent the first few days in the ICU. At this time I was a raging agnostic and the Chaplin came by and asked if we could speak. I let him. He took a genuine interest in me, spoke to me, asked if I was a Christian. I told I was not – and explained my story. He listened and we spoke for a while and when he left I felt like I had a church service in that ICU room at Fairfax INOVA Hospital. It gave me a lot to think about. When I told someone about this incident who was of the Sovereign Grace persuassion he told me a Chaplin visiting amd spending time and praying for me in the ICU didn’t count as a chruch. I was curious and tried to press for details but it seems as if many members of Soverieng Grace are ellusive when you ask for the details. All you will hear is that “the doctrine is sound” etc… but when you ask specifically “what is sound about the doctrine” and get into the details…then you get someone who can’t answer the questions.


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    dee wrote:

    Eagle wrote:
    think we have something mental going on here.
    Mental-yup-I’m losing my mind.

    ME TOO!!! WE’RE BOTH LOOSING IT! (LOL)


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    9 weeks absent is acceptable for a pastor? Try finding a private sector job that gives 9 weeks vacation…good luck with that. Although my family and I are very regular in our church attendance (so much that we put DeYoung to shame), I would still expect more of an attendance committment from him before he demands *any* committment of his congregation.

    (Found your blog a few weeks ago, and enjoying it immensely. First time to comment…hopefully of many.)


  11. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    It’s funny to me that many rules can be made around the simple encouragement to not “forsake the assembly of the saints.” That is so open ended and gives tons of freedom. But the rules and regulations of these pharisees is suffocating. In time, they will collapse under the weight of their own made-up burdens.


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    “And if you don’t, our security cameras are so good We WILL Know Who You Are!”
    — Grinning Ed Young

    And in contrast, here are the Pope’s words on the subject of abusive clergy and their attitudes logged in this blog (i.e the heresy of Clericalism — that Clergy outrank laity in spirituality and holiness):
    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/03/22163762-pope-church-must-not-turn-priests-into-little-monsters?lite


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    Mandatory church attendance with shaming? That’s real desperation.

    And we know what will happen (because it happens in all organizations that have these types of rules): A certain group of high-ranking and/or influential people will be given a “Get out of jail FREE” card.

    So only the rank-and-file attenders will be monitored. At first, they will step up their commitment and attendance will rise, but eventually the plot will backfire, and people will get tired of it and will leave those churches to go elsewhere.


  14. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    I have a compromised immune system due to the dreaded diabeetus. I get unhappy when someone sick shows up in our office, because my employer has a fairly liberal paid time off policy AND most of the members of my group can work at home while ill if they feel so inclined to do so. Dragging your diseased self and/or family to church against your better judgment because you must puts other people like me at risk. But no, the almighty church attendance (the better to keep tabs on you and guilt you into throwing something into the collection plate) is more important than anything.

    Oh yeah, and nine weeks off? Nobody at my job, not even my coworker with 37 years on the books (she’s worked there since the day she graduated high school) gets nine weeks off. Must be nice…


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    Eagle wrote:

    In addition many members re-did their own membership vows to the church. And it was Catholic in nature. I was stunned. When the doctrine or beliefs were called out the response by the congregation was “we do” IIRC.

    In the RCC, I have only seen that litany response used at baptisms (the baptismal promises) and Easter Vigil (group re-affirmation of baptismal promises). And there it was not “doctrines and beliefs” but questions: “Do you renounce Satan? And all his temptations? Do you reject the glamor of evil?” and the like.


  16. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Dee wrote:

    I have to hand it to DeYoung, he endured 277 comments, many of which could be categorized as "not amused." However, today, I can only access one page of comments but it must be a glitch.

    An internet malfunction. 🙂


  17. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Deb wrote:

    Dee wrote:

    I have to hand it to DeYoung, he endured 277 comments, many of which could be categorized as “not amused.” However, today, I can only access one page of comments but it must be a glitch.

    An internet malfunction.

    doubleplusungood refs doubleplusuncomments.
    memhole.
    L! L! B! B!


  18. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    @ karis:

    Welcome to TWW! Great way to start off 2014.


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    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Beat you to it, but we were also on the same wavelength. 🙂


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    Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    Oh yeah, and nine weeks off? Nobody at my job, not even my coworker with 37 years on the books (she’s worked there since the day she graduated high school) gets nine weeks off. Must be nice…

    I had a nice chat with an elder of another well known, young TGC guy. He told me that they allowed said guy to be away for 25% of all Sundays. he told me that they believe he is a “pastor to the pastors” and it makes the congregation feel blessed that he will grace them with his appearance for 75% of the time. Since the discussion was off the record, I cannot reveal his name but you would know who he is.

    I told said elder that they didn’t have a pastor. They had a talking head or lecturer and he said they were content with that. Can you imagine? its like kids on a playground. “My pastor teaches your pastor. Nyuh,Nyuh.”


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    @ karis:
    Welcome to TWW. What a pretty screen name.


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    @ Deb:
    Could you get in the comments beyond one page?


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    Excepts from the interview with Pope Francis. Contrast them with the actions of the Megas, the Gigas, the Calvinistas:

    “Formation [of future priests] is a work of art, not a police action. We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps.”

    “Just think of the religious who have hearts as sour as vinegar. They are not made for the people. In the end, we must not form administrators, managers — but fathers, brothers, traveling companions.”

    “The ghost to fight against is the image of religious life understood as an escape or hiding place in face of an ‘external’ difficult and complex world.”

    “This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life-experiences of people.”

    “If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy.”


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    To our readers
    I am documenting this before it disappears. Here is a comment in the one page of comments that are accessible on DeYoung’s blog post quote above. Did you know that the pastor is an angel, symbolically? I am losing my mind. But I will take a screenshot as well.
    By Kirk Blankenship

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/12/13/the-scandal-of-the-semi-churched/comment-page-4/?comments#comments

    “The amount of anti-clergy stuff in the comments is both astounding and disappointing. The 7 churches of Revelation are brought up multiple times, but has anyone noticed that all seven letters are addressed to “the angel of the church of ____”? The word ‘angel’ (in a highly symbolic book) is a way of addressing the pastor of that church. Of course the message was for the whole church, but there is also a good reason Holy Spirit through John addressed the letters to the pastor (i.e. he was the shepherd of the flock). The Bible clearly talks about shepherds of churches and sheep within the churches (i.e. hierarchy), so to rebel against church structure is to throw off the words of the Spirit


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    While we were visiting my parents over Christmas we attended their megachurch. We were searching for a place for us to sit, and out of no where I was hug assaulted by a “greeter.” I made no eye contact and had no clue of who this person was. He’s lucky I didn’t punch him. I was so uncomfortable and all I could think about was why he felt like he had the right to touch me. If I were visiting for the first time I would never go back just for that alone.


  26. Notice: Undefined variable: button in /home/guswo2wr8yyv/public_html/tww2/wp-content/plugins/quote-comments/quote-comments.php on line 127

    Dee – I am speechless on the angel bit. Seems like these guys want to be placed on pedestals and be above reproach. Do not question God’s anointed!!


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    @ Kathi: I wonder what they would say if you looked at them strangely and said that you were getting over a case of contagious strep?

    Better yet: What would happen if you loudly said “Don’t touch me like that?”


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    Kathi wrote:

    I am speechless on the angel bit.

    My mother used to call me her little angel….she hasn’t for years…. I wonder why? 🙂


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    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I like this. I may try to quote it in a future post.


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    Dee – I’m one who always thinks of what I should have done way after an event has happened. The first thing that came to mind was I could have screamed, dropped to the ground in a ball and rolled back and forth. There were enough people there I would have created a sufficient enough scene.

    Of course, my husband, after seeing the look of horror on my face, just kept walking and laughed. He was a lot of help! 😉


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    Kathi wrote:

    Dee – I’m one who always thinks of what I should have done way after an event has happened.

    You’re not the only one.


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    @ Kathi:
    Promise me that if you ever try it, you will have your husband standing by with his video on, trained on the enthusiastic hugger’s face. I would pay big bucks for that!


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    Kathi wrote:

    While we were visiting my parents over Christmas we attended their megachurch. We were searching for a place for us to sit, and out of no where I was hug assaulted by a “greeter.”

    Actually, where I come from the term for “hug assault” is “glomp”. Variants include “the flying glomp”.


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    In all seriousness, my parents have expressed their concern about the fact that we do not attend church. They mostly dangle our children over our heads. Our kids sat with us last Sunday. They’re old enough now that they see the “show” on stage and hear the polite, but condescending, words being preached as God’s word and in Christian love. They love and believe in God and Jesus, but they don’t want to just be passive audience members. They are kind and compassionate people and will extend grace and kindness to others because they know how Jesus would want them to treat others.


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    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    athi wrote:
    Dee – I’m one who always thinks of what I should have done way after an event has happened.
    You’re not the only one.

    ‘Buyers’ remorse and hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully as we grow in grace toward others we will grow in grace towards ourselves and understand that we are never done learning from our experiences.


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    HUG – It’s good to know that others do that too. I often frustrate myself with “I should have…”

    The last time I did this was when we had a guy expose himself at work. I spent nights thinking of all the things I should have done differently.


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    dee wrote:

    @ Deb: Could you get in the comments beyond one page?

    I figured it out, and it does appear to be a strange malfunction. I believe I was able to access ALL the comments, but when you click NEXT, PREV, or a page number you are immediately taken back to the post and all the comments go away. Then you have to click on comments again, and it has shifted to another page.

    How odd!


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    @ Headless Unicorn Guy: he is *so* refreshing. And he talks like a human being – no xtianese jargon.


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    dee wrote:

    The Bible clearly talks about shepherds of churches and sheep within the churches (i.e. hierarchy), so to rebel against church structure is to throw off the words of the Spirit

    So… the Protestant Reformation was bad…? (or is there some other logical conclusion?)


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    I love this blog. I love that such an eclectic group of people can discuss some very interesting and sometimes tough issues, and do so with respect and lots of humor mixed in.

    On this issue of attendance…the thief on the cross that entered the Kingdom that day was probably not a regular temple attender.


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    linda wrote:

    “Preach Jesus to me, preach the Word to me, and even if I disagree with your interpretation from time to time we are cool. But try to get BETWEEN me and Jesus and you will get tossed right out on your ear.”

    Amen, Linda!

    But I’d be willing to bet that if the “guilt trip” doesn’t work, they’ll try to beef up the entertainment aspect of the service. 🙁


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    karis wrote:

    (Found your blog a few weeks ago, and enjoying it immensely. First time to comment…hopefully of many.)

    Welcome, karis!


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    Dear WW,

    Longtime reader, first time commenter. As a pastor of a Catholic Church, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have benefitted from this website. It has caused me to reflect deeply on how I shepherd my own congregation. Those of you who share your own stories of abusive pastors have especially been helpful (though I lament you have to tell them at all). Even across denominational lines, its easy to feel drawn into competition with the mega-churches and their pastors in my area. Hearing your stories reminds me of the important need to discern how I approach my role in my own parish. Thanks for being here. I will continue to follow this website closely and to learn from every one of you! God bless you all!


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    @deb and @dee —
    Thanks for the welcome!


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    @victorious — thanks!


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    In some ways this is an attempt to travel back in time. Because back in 1840 or so there was no need to take attendance. You just knew everyone and it was obvious who was there and who was not.

    But things have changed. Most churches need the water to run (think of a megachurch with a 500 seat privy out back), lights to turn on, elevators to run, cameras to records, etc… Plus street lights to work, police and fire to be on duty. Oh, that gas you have in your car, it requires as 24/7 process to produce it. Then again maybe “real” Christians should only buy gas from companies staffed by heathens. Want the building warm in the winter and the pipes to not freeze then I guess that natural gas needs to flow.

    Oh, yeah, how about all the doctors and other health workers go to church on Sunday AM. Nothing will go wrong during that period.

    Most people today who want things to get simple again don’t realize that we didn’t leave simple in 1960. We left simple over 100 years ago. Maybe 150. And if you explain how their daily world would work in 1840 you’d see real quick how many would drop the idea of mandatory attendance for church. And a lot of other silly notions about how things would be better if we just ….


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    dee wrote:

    The Bible clearly talks about shepherds of churches and sheep within the churches (i.e. hierarchy), so to rebel against church structure is to throw off the words of the Spirit

    Yes, take a screen shot.

    This sort of twisting of scripture needs to be documented cataloged and refuted… vehemently.


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    Could it be the increasing hyper-authoritarian leadership going on in one sector of the church while in another sector we have the antics of the prosperity pimp preachers? Sorry, Dee, but I believe this is a distinction without a difference. There is pedagogical teaching and there is somatic teaching. The prosperity preachers utilize the former to tell all their listeners that God wants to make them wealthy and powerful. The hyper-authoritarians (you know who I mean) utilize the latter by living wealthy and lavish lives and treating self and other triable chiefs as if they are better or subject to a different set of rules. Prosperity preachers are accused of selling their soul for a dollar, but can we not say the same of anyone who lives high on the hog while defending “friends” accused of covering up serial child-predation? Food for thought.


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    @ Fr. Bryan:
    Wow- welcome to TWW, Fr. Bryan. I think you may be the first priest to have commented here. Thank you for joining in.

    I have been blessed to have known a number of wonderful priests in my life. I even attended Fr John Bertolucci’s prayer meetings in upstate New York many years ago. Also, when I taught a class on the Reformation, Father Bernard (The HIghlands or Cistercian Dallas- I forget which) helped me out in carefully explaining the Catholic position on purgatory, communion, confession, etc.

    When I was a little girl, I grew up on Federal Street in Salem, Massachusetts. St James Church (Irish Catholic) was one block from my house. The priests and nuns (a school was also there) allowed us to race go karts in the parking lot during off hours.

    My father was Russian Orthodox. My mother was a lapsed Protestant.My Catholic friends decided I needed to become Catholic. So, they taught me what to say in confession, taught me the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and brought me to confession around Lent. I am absolutely convinced the priest knew who I was but he allowed me to go through confession. I can’t remember what my penance was but it had to do with the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary. I even got ashes on my forehead!

    The priests and nuns treated me so kindly and I have remembered that all of my life.

    You know, I was planning on contacting a local priest because I had some questions about a couple of theological points. Since I do not believe in coincidences, might you consider helping me? If not, I understand. I am so glad you are here.


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    @ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:
    Darn it! Another excellent comment from Dr Fundy! You point is well taken.


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    @ Mara:
    Screen shot taken and stored for posterity!


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    NC Now wrote:

    And if you explain how their daily world would work in 1840 you’d see real quick how many would drop the idea of mandatory attendance for church.

    I wonder how the local Baptist churches would function without the local IHOP workers for post church brunch!


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    Bunsen Honeydew wrote:

    I love this blog. I love that such an eclectic group of people can discuss some very interesting and sometimes tough issues, and do so with respect and lots of humor mixed in.

    Welcome Bunsen Honeydew. That is quite a name. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. We aim to be provocative!


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    @ Ozymandias:
    I saw that. I am so glad they quote Roger Olson as a counterpoint. I really like him which probably means I am a heretic.


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    @ dee:

    The word ‘angel’ (in a highly symbolic book) is a way of addressing the pastor of that church.

    Proof from the Greek, fellas? Anything? Aggelos means messenger. One could suppose the apostles could describe themselves that way. But they didn’t. Maybe that means something.

    Well, they beat out S. M. Davis. He said pastors were the equivalent of Levites for their congregations. So maybe in VF world, pastors can salvifically mediate for their congregations just like husbands can for wives.


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    Fr. Bryan wrote:

    Longtime reader, first time commenter.

    Welcome, Fr. Bryan!


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    1. Rainer & DeYoung might as well have just flipped a big fat bird to any husband and father in the military by proposing this idea. What if a dad in the congregation gets sent on a 6mo deployment? What if he has to go to Afghanistan? These guys need to read some history about their own theological forebears. The Puritans could never have done this because they probably had whalers in their congregations, and whaling voyages could be several YEARS long. You learn stuff like this growing up in New England 10 minutes from Mystic Seaport…except wait, that’s the heathen corner of the country where there are no megachurches. Silly me.

    2. Mainline churches have a completely different conception of membership than DeYoung & Rainer. I became a member of the Lutheran church at my baptism and can now transfer to any other Lutheran church, no class needed.

    3. It’s not only megas that lure people away with programs. We’ve seen this even in my area with the local Bible churches. The “hot” church changes every few years, seems to be based largely on the youth group. So you watch the membership of your homeschool group all switch to one church, talk about how awesome the programs are, etc. – then all switch to another one 4-5 years later.


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    Bunson! I’ve always loved you on Sesame Street.

    Dee,

    Here’s is a screenshot of the entire Kevin DeYoung article as well as the comment thread with Kirk Blankenship’s comments. The one about Angels = Pastors in the Book of Revelation is highlighted in yellow.

    https://www.evernote.com/shard/s302/sh/a4d6965d-9d75-451a-b230-08f7fc3ff541/b6196649dd26a60d9167a6b357c99aab


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    Are these guys really talking about how to operate a church? Sounds more like supervised probation to me.

    ‘The more they tighten their grip, the more members will slip through their fingers’

    To shamelessly paraphrase Star Wars


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    @Eagle – I’m so glad you didn’t get baptized into the LDS church. When I was in high school, my Dad invited some Mormon missionaries to our house, and we listened to the spiel and watched the obligatory movie about Joseph Smith. (In MHO, who joins a religion started by Joe Smith?!) Anyway, they asked us to pray for God to reveal the truth to us, and not long after that was when I first heard the gospel. Prayer answered!


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    @numo and Dee – I resemble the disobedient, semi-churched, chocolate-loving category myself! Seriously, if you want to taste good chocolate, find Fazer milk chocolate on the internet. My friend sent me mini chocolate bars for Christmas, and I’m so sad they’ll be all finished by tomorrow!


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    @Fr. Bryan – welcome! As an alumnus of Catholic University, I have a few friends who are priests and have friends and family who have a wonderful Catholic faith. In fact it was a nun who got me started in reading my Bible. Glad you are getting a lot out of the community here.


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    @ Janey:
    Is Blankenship some well known person in those circles? All joking about “angel”-ic authority aside, this is the internet and you will get crazy comments from people online. Why is this comment of note? (Yes, I agree that the theology is bonkers, but focusing on it might be like… http://xkcd.com/386/ )


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    I am glad to see “A.Amos Love” commenting on DeYoung’s piece. His prose has been a personal help to me here on The Wartburg Watch, and I hope that readers at that blog will at least reflect for a few minutes.


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    For maximum efficiency of determining not just who’s present, but who is most “spiritual”, why not have congregants write their name on their tithe envelope with the amount


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew:

    In our SBC church in the 60s you didn’t need to do that. You got a new set of 52 envelopes each year with your name already printed on them. 🙂


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    @ NC Now:
    To be honest it was mostly about end of year tax reporting. In this moderately sized church (at the time) there were less than a handful of people who knew the weekly and yearly totals. And that was so they could write up letters at the end of the year for tax reporting.

    Remember cash was much more prevalent at the time. And credit cards, outside of Diner’s Club and American Express, just didn’t exist.


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    Erik, I agree. I thought about copying it here but I thought I might be overstepping my bounds!

    Erik wrote:

    I am glad to see “A.Amos Love” commenting on DeYoung’s piece. His prose has been a personal help to me here on The Wartburg Watch, and I hope that readers at that blog will at least reflect for a few minutes.


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    Hester wrote:

    2. Mainline churches have a completely different conception of membership than DeYoung & Rainer. I became a member of the Lutheran church at my baptism and can now transfer to any other Lutheran church, no class needed.

    Depends on the denomination. The United Methodists (definitely mainline) are jumping whole hog behind some of these megachurch methodologies. I’ve seen UMC churches with these “join the church” classes, “high commitment membership” such as “tithe +2” (give your tithe, 1 hour of worship, and 1 hour of service in one of the church’s ministries). Since these are the “growing” churches in the UMC, the bishops are starting to push all UM churches to adopt these methods, including weekly standings of congregational attendance, giving, etc. to determine who is an “effective” pastor and who isn’t (the latter being reassigned to smaller parishes or even to lay status).


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    We attended a little church several years ago. One morning, one of the deacons said, “We missed you in Sunday School this morning.” To which I replied, “You did? Tell me, what’s my last name?” To which, he had no reply.

    Really, what we are seeing is desperate measures by desperate men. The “church” they lead was started by carnal means and momentum must be maintained by carnal means. The cults use two primary means to get and keep members: fear and flattery. If flattery doesn’t work (we are the only “true” church), then fear is employed (you’ll go to Hell if you aren’t faithful; or don’t tithe enough; or don’t teach a SS class; or (fill in the blank).

    To see these methods employed by the “church” is disturbing, to say the least. No wonder people are leaving – I have too.


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    @ Mike:

    You’re right, I should have clarified that. I had in mind Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc., as you probably guessed.


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    My husband and I recently visited a North American Baptist church. We were met in the parking lot by 2 greeters. We were presented with bulletins and ‘response cards’.

    These response cards are to be filled out ‘completely’ each Sunday with names of those attending. There is also a part called “Commitment Response Card”. At a prescribed time during the sermon, you are directed to check off which of several responses you intend to do. The choices are all measurable actions such as ‘attend small group’, ‘witness to 2 people this week’….you get the idea.

    These cards are then turned in with the offering and they are reviewed by the Senior Pastor and then given to “Your” Elder for review & further contact….

    We didn’t get the whole idea before we sat down or we wouldn’t have gone into the service at all.

    We left during the last hymn and went to our car at a race walk pace —literally—afraid of being chased by an Usher…

    We first felt like crying but ended up laughing–it was either find something to laugh about or feel out hearts break–again–in our search for a church without lists of rules.

    Really, it’s not funny at all and our hearts do ache.


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    I work at a hospital and that means a lot of weekend work for me, including some Sunday mornings. I guess I’d be in deep trouble if I attended a church which took attendance.


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    CrazyMolly245 wrote:

    My husband and I recently visited a North American Baptist church.

    Crazy. Would you mind telling which NAB church. I regularly attend an NAB church, and as is the case with most baptists, there is a great deal of heterogeneity in practice between different local churches. In other words, what you experienced is not some denominational standard.

    —–

    Also, the “12 weeks” stuff in the post is nuts. Many people that I know, myself included, do try to attend some church when on holidays. Going to “your own” church is not some mystical requirement for salvation. DeYoung is not thinking too clearly on this, to say the least.


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    Whoops, and I’m not calling you crazy… I screwed up,with the quoting system. Sorry. :/


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    If I had to chose between a Pope…I see there are two choices that exist today (That is if I exclude CJ Mahaney and what people say about him on SGM Survivors). There is Pope Francis and Pope Piper the First (John Piper). Of the two…I’ll take Francis! At least he doesn’t get ubber excited to tornadoes and issue an edict calling for the public burning of Greg Boyd. 😛


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    What’s next, doctor’s notes so that Sunday absences are “excused?”


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    Whenever I read these articles and quotes of, fill in the blank…….big wig pastor, I get the strong feeling they have no love for the sheep. Seems as if they are more concerned with having a big church, big following above all else. They bring no comfort or hope to a discussion, just lots of accusations of being a less then perfect little pulpit sitter. As for me and others, just give us Jesus and because you have not, we will not sit in your churches.

    My old church (dating back to the 1850’s) recorded in it’s records many a time when church was closed (sometimes two weeks in a row) because of deep snow. Or in 1938 (for two weeks) because of no electricity from a hurricane. No notations on how undisciplined, undevoted the church body was for not assembling together. They of course were more acquainted with the harsh realities of real life.


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    My husband and I come from devout Christian homes. We were in church every time the doors were opened, my husbands dad was even a pastor. We had every intention and have attempted to raise our children in much the same way, not just because we grew up that way, but we had our own convictions and expectations of what we wanted our christian home to look like.I can’t begin to tell you all the just awful mess we have seen these past 23 years as we have strived to do that. Here’s one little hint, we attended a SGM church for 10 years of that,the church before that was even worse, yes SGM was an improvement comparatively(imagine that) . We have 4 children. Out of the 4, 2 have a terminal illness. We were expected to keep up with all the meetings, during the week as well as regular Sunday meetings even with all the extra hardships we endure on a daily basis. We personally felt so unloved and uncared for that people would actually expect that from our family so over time we came to the realization that life was too short and we were waisting away emotionally and spiritually while we tried to keep up with the heavy demands and expectations of the church we attended. We still love God and are christians, we don’t attend church on a regular basis because we are just so darn tired physically and emotionally.We have given for so long to the churches we have attended just to look back and see so much time has been given to things and people we shouldn’t have invested so much time in. I know things we sincerely do for Christ are never waisted, but I feel many times we were just trying to keep up with what was expected/demanded. I have seen so many hurting people past over and not fit in because they couldn’t offer the church what was expected of them because their lives were too much in shambles to get “it together”. My heart would break for them and for my family as well. I knew I couldn’t invite people to our church because they would not be taking care of just hurt deeper.That’s when I knew there was a problem with our church/the church in general. The churches we have seen don’t work for those who don’t fit into he perfect “all is well” scenario. We had pressure to always deal with our sufferings in the “better than I deserve” way. I have always hated that phrase and have not ever used it. It really is so cold and a smack in the face to people who are suffering. We haven’t given up on church because we know it
    is God’s idea, but how it should look and function has definitely come into question after all these years.


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    Truth that makes us weep, as I’m sure Jesus has with the state of our heartless pastors. So sorry to read of your family situation and of your experiences with church membership.

    @ seeking truth:


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    seeking truth wrote:

    We haven’t given up on church because we know it
    is God’s idea, but how it should look and function has definitely come into question after all these years.

    “Seeking Truth”, thank you for sharing some of your story. I have found that so many friends can relate to it, and many here in this online community. I am so sad to hear how your family has suffered alone, especially with your children’s illness. I picture Jesus weeping with Lazarus’ family, even though He knew what miracle would later happen. Jesus weeps along with you, and surely He has been close to your broken heart.

    Some of the readers here at TWW have helped me see that “church” simply needs to be redefined. No believer stops “going to church”. We may be shunned or shun the “501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporations, the IRS calls church” ( as my friend Amos puts it ), but the Author of Life is persistent in writing the story of HIS church, HIS bride. God has not abandoned you or your family. In fact, I believe He has awakened your understanding of our idolatry of “church”. All of us slip into this. It is a cycle of expectation and disappointment, because there is no substitute for listening to the voice of our Shepherd as Jesus speaks directly to our souls.

    I also want to encourage you that God has a place for you in His Body. While I, and many of us, are still searching for it, we believe it to be true. For me, as I meet with believers in different expressions of worship, I have learned that no one is “right” or “biblical”. We all just find where we fit in this diverse living organism. EVERYTHING is subjective. Let’s stop pretending that any of us have full clarity or the best revelation about how God works.

    Finally, I am learning that we each have a responsibility to be “the church”. If God has shown our hearts what hurts us, then we can help heal others from the same attacks. When God opens our eyes to see something that tripped us, then we can now tell others about that obstacle. Dee and Deb have been faithful to do that here on The Wartburg Watch, and we are all better for it.

    “Seeking Truth”, and all at TWW, may the peace of Christ be with you and in you this 2014.


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    It’s funny because every Lutheran church I’ve been in has always had a small plastic booklet at the end of each pew called a “fellowship register,” “friendship register,” etc. that everyone signs during offering. It has a chart inside with boxes like “member of this church,” “visitor,” “communing today,” etc., I believe with an optional box to list your contact information if you want to be called. Basically they use this to get a head count of Sunday attendance and # of people who commune, so I suppose this is a form of taking attendance every Sunday. But I’ve never seen it used for control purposes like DeYoung and Rainer propose – only ever raw data (# of people at church) and how much wafers and communion wine to buy.


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    Kevin is way off base here. This is the problem (and it is a growing one) we now face in the church. It is an authority problem. We no longer can trust that preachers are speaking with any authority. A preacher’s authority comes from scripture, period. That is true for all of us when we are speaking on spiritual matters. All else is opinion. The opinions may be valid and have merit but that’s all they are. I once heard a preacher speak against women wearing sandals to church. I looked down at my wife’s feet. She had on sandals. We were out of there! Kevin has an opinion about church attendance. It’s his opinion. But what about Heb. 10:25? Does he really want to build his skyscraper on this one brick? He needs to rethink this. He could never crawl out of the hermeneutical hole this would dig for him. The amount of sermon time devoted to opinions is dramatically increasing. Some of us think this to be boring and may not can stomach it multiple times every week. Sorry, Kevin, but this is one opinion you should have kept to yourself.


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    Don’t forget, Dee, that a lot of Neo-Calvinists push the idea of being “married” to your church. So if we put these two ideas together, I suppose that means if you don’t attend faithfully enough, it’s “abandonment”? 😉 Which is Biblical grounds for divorce (though maybe not in DeYoung’s world).

    Also, I don’t know about anybody else, but my family often goes to church on vacation, usually to the closest LCMS congregation to wherever we are. So DeYoung can’t know for sure that someone skipped church, just because they were out of town…unless of course he wants them to only go to his church because that’s the one they’re “married” to. So I have to ask, are they “committing adultery” by going to another one? Even if it’s in the same denomination?


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    Mike wrote:

    Hester wrote:

    2. Mainline churches have a completely different conception of membership than DeYoung & Rainer. I became a member of the Lutheran church at my baptism and can now transfer to any other Lutheran church, no class needed.

    Depends on the denomination. The United Methodists (definitely mainline) are jumping whole hog behind some of these megachurch methodologies. I’ve seen UMC churches with these “join the church” classes, “high commitment membership” such as “tithe +2″ (give your tithe, 1 hour of worship, and 1 hour of service in one of the church’s ministries). Since these are the “growing” churches in the UMC, the bishops are starting to push all UM churches to adopt these methods, including weekly standings of congregational attendance, giving, etc. to determine who is an “effective” pastor and who isn’t (the latter being reassigned to smaller parishes or even to lay status).

    What a disappointment – but good information to know. We’ll be relocating in a couple of years and were going to investigate Methodist churches in our new town. We’re PCA now, and content to stay put since we’ve been there 20 years and only have a couple more to go, but I don’t want to join a new church that does not permit women in leadership.


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    I spent a couple of years on the staff of a large church. On Mondays the numbers were tabulated. On Tuesday mornings the numbers were presented to the staff. Two numbers were very important. One was the attendance but the second number was even more important. My conclusion after a short while on staff was that the primary reason the attendance number was important was its correlation to the second and more important number. Big church = Big business. Follow the money.


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    @ Kathi:
    It would have been within your right of self-defense to knee the perp in the groin (if he were male); shove them away forcefully, kick them in the shins, slug them in the nose, etc., etc. If a face to face hug, a bite on the ear is also very effective.


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    Erik wrote:

    Dee and Deb have been faithful to do that here on The Wartburg Watch, and we are all better for it.

    Amen! I view this as a community of believers who function as the Body of Christ is meant to function; loving, accepting, and supporting one another.

    God bless Dee and Deb and all who participate in sharing their giftings.


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    @ Victorious:
    Victorious wrote:

    God bless Dee and Deb and all who participate in sharing their giftings.

    Erik,
    I agree!


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    @ srs:
    srs,

    You asked, “Why is [Kirk Blankenship’s] article of note?”

    1. It shows that some pastors believe some very strange things about their superiority to the people in the pew. (Angel = Pastor, above) With the Internet this cult-leader-like positioning is more noticeable. It’s a reminder of Jesus’, Paul’s and James’s words that there are wolves among us.

    2. It shows how blatantly some pastors argue for special privileges over their flock — more than what’s called for in Scripture.

    3. A number of these authoritarians seem to be attracted to websites and church affiliations that promote control as a necessary and godly trait in pastors and church leaders.

    Christians for the most part, especially we Evangelicals (speaking for myself), have been taught to suppress criticism of our leaders, to be agreeable at all times, and to go with whatever the pastor recommends.

    I’ve watched control-freak pastors and elders destroy my home church over two decades. I predict that churches with these pastors won’t last even that long.

    My point is that some percentage of the people leaving church are doing so due to the dysfunction of the church, not a lack of personal commitment to Christ.


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    Hester wrote:

    …unless of course he wants them to only go to his church because that’s the one they’re “married” to. So I have to ask, are they “committing adultery” by going to another one? Even if it’s in the same denomination?

    Yes! That’s exactly what they told us at my former A29 church. We were told that going down the road to “try out” another church was like committing adultery in marriage. Even if it was deemed a “solid” church!


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    And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
    “Let all God’s pastors worship him.”
    Of the pastors he says,
    “He makes his pastors windbags,
    and his ministers burn out.”
    Hebrews 1:6-7 English Slandered Version


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    Moxie wrote:

    That’s exactly what they told us at my former A29 church. We were told that going down the road to “try out” another church was like committing adultery in marriage.

    Absurd! Will they stop at nothing??


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    @ Janey:

    “””My point is that some percentage of the people leaving church are doing so due to the dysfunction of the church, not a lack of personal commitment to Christ.””””
    …………………..

    So true.
    Strange these leaders have no spiritual discernment, all the while declaring they have the TRUTH in all things spiritual.


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    The hardline approach of these leaders smacks of desperation, doesn’t it? And hardline never works. Demanding that we act like family guarantees the destruction of family-ness.

    It is curious that their attitude coincides with national hardline economic thinking (sacrifice more so that leaders can have mansions) and harsh views against citizen privacy (make them sign attendance forms and tithing forms and membership forms, and follow up!).

    Looking solely at the attitude of the leaders, one would think that Evangelicals are what remains of the middle and upper middle class. But I doubt that is true. I bet Evangelicals are in the same situation as the rest of the nation.

    Families are made of two-jobs earners because that is the only way they can get through, even while they also continually slip behind. This means they are always tired, fighting feelings of defeat, strapped for cash/time/energy. Rather than be sympathetic and organize the community around new realities, leaders double/triple down. Keep church structure as it is, at all costs!

    Such ignorance, callousness and old-timey God-threats guarantee that the drain away from the church will continue and increase. It’s sad because we need each other in times like these. We really do.

    Who wouldn’t be glad to go to church if it acknowledged reality and offered compassion and mutual support? That’s what a good family does, after all.


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    Equal time for the “pastors as Levites” theory:
    “You Pastors have gone too far!”
    Moses, Num. 16:7b, English Slandered Version


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    @ Marie:
    When I read this, all I could think was, “These guys really do want to bring back Calvin’s Geneva.” Nope, no thanks, there are reasons why Calvin’s Genevan “paradise” didn’t work and if DeYoung and the rest are too wrapped up in themselves and their doctrine to see why, then they deserve to have parishioners slip out the back door.


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    @ Marie:
    Great comment! It may come to that with this crowd.


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    @ seeking truth:
    Your comment is so heartbreaking. I’m grateful that you have a community here who empathizes with your circumstances.


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    From Rainier’s prediction #6:
    “One could be on a church roll in many churches…”
    Ain’t dat da truth!

    From DeYoung,: “I’m talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church…”
    Stop right there, Kevin– in the Bible, can you name ONE person who EVER “went to the trouble of joining a church?”  If not, why not? If “trouble”, why “trouble”?

    From  Bulbek: “I think the crucial difference here is between “a local church” and “the local church”. Every one of the scriptural contexts you cite is addressed to the entire church in a locality. The existence of separate groups, with different role-models and theological heroes, was rare, and when it occurred it was roundly condemned. The current setup of isolated denominational groups, all calling themselves “churches” but having abandoned assembling together and sometimes even steadfastly divided against one another, presents (to my mind) a remarkable picture of well-intentioned sinfulness and rebellion.
    The fact that so many believers have been taught to love this form of sin, to the point of holding it to be needful, and to treasure and protect it and teach others to join them in it, does not make it right. This unbiblical model of “local church” is so prevalent that finding biblical local fellowship is hard, but that does not mean nobody should try it. One of the greatest protections from abusive leadership would be a biblically functioning local church. (It would be almost impossible then for ambitious and gifted individuals to build their own private fiefdoms, comfortably sequestered from real accountability.)
    Which leads to a second point: there are many reasons for stepping out of the patchwork of “local churches” other than running away from hurt. Numbers of us have moved on in search of something that we know must exist because Jesus himself prayed for it and promised it.”

    This commentary on Hebrews 10:25 points us in the proper direction, IMO, rather than the others by DeYoung and Rainier. 


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    JeffT wrote:

    Are these guys really talking about how to operate a church? Sounds more like supervised probation to me.

    Supervised probation! Funniest comment of the week!


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    Heather wrote:

    I thought I might be overstepping my bounds!

    Here? Reprint whatever you like.


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    Mike wrote:

    “high commitment membership” such as “tithe +2″ (give your tithe, 1 hour of worship, and 1 hour of service in one of the church’s ministries).

    Could you keep us posted on this trend in the UMC.This is fascinating.


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    Randall Slack wrote:

    We attended a little church several years ago. One morning, one of the deacons said, “We missed you in Sunday School this morning.” To which I replied, “You did? Tell me, what’s my last name?” To which, he had no reply.

    Great retort. Great comment.


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    @ Molly245:
    Wow! North American Baptists are getting in to this? Unbelievable.


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    singleman wrote:

    I work at a hospital and that means a lot of weekend work for me,

    In fact, DeYoung got a lot of pushback from folks like yourself. He did say that churches should have a variety of service times.


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    Deb wrote:

    Dee wrote:
    I have to hand it to DeYoung, he endured 277 comments, many of which could be categorized as “not amused.” However, today, I can only access one page of comments but it must be a glitch.
    An internet malfunction.

    Is this along the lines of a wardrobe malfunction?


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    Mike wrote:

    Depends on the denomination. The United Methodists (definitely mainline) are jumping whole hog behind some of these megachurch methodologies. I’ve seen UMC churches with these “join the church” classes, “high commitment membership” such as “tithe +2″ (give your tithe, 1 hour of worship, and 1 hour of service in one of the church’s ministries). Since these are the “growing” churches in the UMC, the bishops are starting to push all UM churches to adopt these methods, including weekly standings of congregational attendance, giving, etc. to determine who is an “effective” pastor and who isn’t (the latter being reassigned to smaller parishes or even to lay status).

    Sad to say, some of that is true. The UMC wants us to encourage people to get more involved (which isn’t a bad thing), but clergy have to record a whole LOT of stats–many conferences have what we call “dashboards” which record giving, attendance numbers, baptisms, and other numbers. And if you’re not “effective” you definitely pay the price. But you don’t lose your status if you are an elder (that would take a trial), though you could lose your license if you’re a licensed local pastor (LLP).


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    @ seeking truth:

    Seeking Truth, I am sorry to hear about your experiences, and especially about your family situation.


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    Oh, and one more thing–the UMC, though it can seem a bit monolithic, has a lot of variations between the Annual Conferences. Trends you see in some, you won’t see in others. What you might see in my conference (North Carolina), you might not see in Cal-Pac (California-Pacific), which tends to be leftward theologically. And what happens in our megas (Ginghamsburg, Church of the Resurrection) many times makes it nowhere near our smaller congregations. There’s just so much of it that’s useful in a congregation that is a tenth of their size (or smaller!)


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    NC Now wrote:

    @ Bunsen Honeydew:
    In our SBC church in the 60s you didn’t need to do that. You got a new set of 52 envelopes each year with your name already printed on them.

    That happened in my parents United Methodist Church, too. I never heard a tithe message per se, there, but all member families were asked to turn in an annual financial pledge card.


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    dee wrote:

    singleman wrote:
    I work at a hospital and that means a lot of weekend work for me,
    In fact, DeYoung got a lot of pushback from folks like yourself. He did say that churches should have a variety of service times.

    dee wrote:

    In fact, DeYoung got a lot of pushback from folks like yourself. He did say that churches should have a variety of service times.

    If you were to sit down and read your Bible cover to cover would you even come to the conclusion that such a thing as a “church service” even existed? I’m not saying it is a bad thing but for someone to doubt their salvation based on their “church attendance” is “SCANDALOUS.”


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    @ seeking truth:
    I am so, so sorry for the pain you have endured. Your story is so moving. We would love to retell your story in the form of a post if you would be interested. of course, it could be done anonymously.

    In any event, know that I am praying for you.


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    Erik wrote:

    Some of the readers here at TWW have helped me see that “church” simply needs to be redefined. No believer stops “going to church”

    We are all members of the church. Authoritarian leaders would like to tell us it isn’t so but they are wrong. Many here did not leave the church. The church left them.


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    @ Eagle:
    What are you doing up at 3:38AM EST??? Get your sleep.

    Signed
    Your East Coast Mom


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    E.G. wrote:

    CrazyMolly245 wrote:
    My husband and I recently visited a North American Baptist church.
    Crazy. Would you mind telling which NAB church. I regularly attend an NAB church, and as is the case with most baptists, there is a great deal of heterogeneity in practice between different local churches. In other words, what you experienced is not some denominational standard.

    I’d rather not say which church it was; it was in Northern California. Thanks for the clarification about it not being a denominational standard! That’s an important distinction. We’ll keep that in mind as we keep looking for a church home. Thanks again!


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    Steve wrote:

    It is an authority problem

    Agreed!!


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    Hester wrote:

    on’t forget, Dee, that a lot of Neo-Calvinists push the idea of being “married” to your church. So if we put these two ideas together, I suppose that means if you don’t attend faithfully enough, it’s “abandonment”? Which is Biblical grounds for divorce (though maybe not in DeYoung’s world).

    Great comment.Hester wrote:

    o DeYoung can’t know for sure that someone skipped church, just because they were out of town…unless of course he wants them to only go to his church

    He does believe that you must be in the local church on Sunday.


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    Steve wrote:

    Follow the money.

    Yep. The church reminds me of business school.


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    @ Steve:
    Thank you all.


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    Moxie wrote:

    We were told that going down the road to “try out” another church was like committing adultery in marriage. Even if it was deemed a “solid” church!

    Head bangs into wall, multiple times.


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    Patrice wrote:

    The hardline approach of these leaders smacks of desperation, doesn’t it?

    They have a problem. People are not coming to Christ and the only way to get more people is to force them to come to church.


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    Dave A A wrote:

    “You Pastors have gone too far!”

    Ditto


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    @ dee:

    If he’s still at the left coast, that’s only 12:38am. A bit more reasonable anyway.


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    Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    there are reasons why Calvin’s Genevan “paradise” didn’t work and if DeYoung and the rest are too wrapped up in themselves and their doctrine to see why, then they deserve to have parishioners slip out the back door.

    Great comment. Wait and we shall get the “Calvin’s Geneva was wonderful” crowd.


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    Steve wrote:

    I spent a couple of years on the staff of a large church. On Mondays the numbers were tabulated. On Tuesday mornings the numbers were presented to the staff. Two numbers were very important. One was the attendance but the second number was even more important. My conclusion after a short while on staff was that the primary reason the attendance number was important was its correlation to the second and more important number. Big church = Big business. Follow the money.

    Boy does this sound familiar. We knew that bottoms in the seats meant more money. Most folks don’t “tithe” regularly but will throw a 20 in the offering plate or write a check while sitting there. We eventually put kiosks around the mega so folks could use their credit cards while on campus.

    Attendance is about control and with that comes the money. Yes, they are desperate. And they are attributing this lopsided false doctrine of attendance to God and that is scary….for them.


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    dee wrote:

    @ Molly245:
    Wow! North American Baptists are getting in to this? Unbelievable.

    As I replied to Molly, as with all baptists, the NAB is a pretty diverse group with practices and culture varying considerably from church to church. In fact, the current cohesiveness of the denomination is quite low compared to the past due to the fact that the underlying culture (German immigrants) has been largely assimilated into North American culture. Add to that the death of our Bible school in Edmonton a few years back, and what used to be a fairly tight group of churches is now very loose.

    (Note that our seminary in Edmonton is still somewhat functional, but struggling. Our South Dakota seminary is still running well.)

    In addition, the staffing at our denominational office is now at a bare-bones level at best. (And the head of the denomination just resigned to move onto other things.) In some regions/associations, diligent area ministers are keeping the connections together and are able to exercise some degree of oversight. But that’s a case-by-case thing.

    In other words, individual churches are much more disconnected than ever and so the diversity of practice is likely at an all-time high. In most cases, the reasonable culture of the past prevails. But obviously, from that story, not across the board.


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    @ Darcyjo:
    Thank you for chiming it. Have you seen the adoption of any of the Acts 29/megachurch models or methods in the UMC?


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    @ Bridget:
    He’s home in DC. As his east coast coordinator, I know these things. 🙂


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    Steve wrote:

    I’m not saying it is a bad thing but for someone to doubt their salvation based on their “church attendance” is “SCANDALOUS.”

    Thank you for making me laugh.


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    E.G. wrote:

    In addition, the staffing at our denominational office is now at a bare-bones level at best.

    I think this may be true for many denominations. I was married in a North American Baptist church in Lynnfield, Mass and loved my pastor and church. He was the opposite of controlling.


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    dee wrote:

    I think this may be true for many denominations. I was married in a North American Baptist church in Lynnfield, Mass and loved my pastor and church. He was the opposite of controlling.

    Most NAB churches use the NAB statement of beliefs as their foundational document. It is very generous in terms of doctrinal specifics, which translates into (usual) acceptance of various viewpoints.

    On other topics – even currently hot-button ones – there is variety in practice. For instance, some NAB churches ordain women (which I fully agree with) and some don’t. There is no specific denominational oversight on that, although my guess is that the denominational leadership is generally in favor of a mutualistic outlook and tries to steer churches that way.

    As an example of our diversity, we are the historical home of Walter Rauschenbusch, the “father” of the “social gospel.” More recently our churches and seminaries have trained folks with as diverse viewpoints as Roger Olson (Arminian) and Francis Chan (Calvinist).

    I like to think that we are somewhat of a model of big-tent evangelicalism.


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    dee wrote:

    @ Darcyjo:
    Thank you for chiming it. Have you seen the adoption of any of the Acts 29/megachurch models or methods in the UMC?

    Church planting is a lot more encouraged than it used to be, but we’ll never be much like the Acts 29 folks (thank you, Lord!) For example, Craig Groeschel of Life Church used to be UM, but was discouraged from being a church planter at the time,and so he left the denomination to do it. Men and women who feel called to this particular form of ministry are encouraged, and if they show promise, are helped with funding and sent to areas where they can get a good start. The rest of us are encouraged to help them as we can with donations and help as they need it.

    Some of our biggest churches came from church plants, but the senior pastors (Adam Hamilton or Mike Slaughter, for example) came up through the same ordination system as the rest of us. You won’t have some bright young dude without a seminary degree and/or supervision plant a church and call it UMC. You won’t have someone come into a church as a hidden Calvinist and stage a coup, you won’t have women driven out of leadership–as I heard at licensing school, “we ordain women and baptize babies. If you have a problem with this, this is not a church for you.”
    Lord knows we have our problems as a denomination–I could go on for a good while about that. But these are some of the good things, as far as I am concerned.


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    You know, my problem with the way DeYoung and others define church is that their definition is so much MORE than what we see in the Epistles. The word originally meant “called-out ones”. Not a building, not a program, not a pastor over a HEEEUUUUUGE flock of sheep but a group of people following Jesus Christ. Back in those days, they didn’t have special buildings but probably met in the largest room in someone’s house, or moved stuff out of the way in a workshop. The groups were abysmally small by megachurch standards. But they were the called-out ones.

    I look at them and I look at today’s megas and *yikes.* I can’t help but agree with what Woody Allen’s character said in the movie “Hannah and Her Sisters”: “If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”


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    Oh, a couple of things about shepherds and sheep.

    1) Shepherds didn’t have huge flocks of sheep because they couldn’t keep up with them, they’re hard to move around if there’s a lot of them, etc. (I’ve been in a traffic jam caused by herding sheep from higher pastures to lower pastures in Utah and yes, they blocked the road for quite some time!) These pastors of megas should take note.

    2) Shepherding was an equal-opportunity profession. Women were shepherdesses and took care of herding livestock just as men did. Think about how Jesus talked about the Good Shepherd–it wouldn’t have appealed just to men, but it would have resonated with women who herded animals.


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    Last time I checked my New Testament (that was this morning, by the way-Heb. 10-particularly verses 24-25), the church, ugly as it can be at times, was still God’s program for winning the world. I did bounce around between three different, very unhealthy, churches for a few years before I found my present place. It’s not perfect, but it is a good place. The reason it is a good place is because the members are committed to it (“members” = consistent attenders). Culturally, we have gotten used to being able to vote with our feet because there are so many churches to choose from, as well as media options where we feel we “attended” church. I’ve found the media options good while traveling or ill, but there is nothing to compare with the relationships that come from being intimately involved with God’s people. There are some horrible churches out there, and I don’t think anyone has a responsibility to be involved in those (unless you think you can make it better), but a committed believer will find a church somewhere. And, there is always starting your own (I attended a house church when I moved to a new housing development where there were no churches nearby). I speak from experience, by the way. I was an overseas missionary for a number of years, working with both new church plants and “mature” (matter of opinion at times) churches. Despite their flaws, God was using those places of worship to bless His people.


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    I could write a lot but I’ll be brief. The 2nd Helvetic Confession says “the Word of God preached is the Word of God.” That was taught in Sunday School in my former church and when folks rankled several caveats were added like, “When the Word of God is rightly preached it is the Word of God.” So who is to judge “rightly”? When one church in the denomination says one thing and the other one (around the Beltway) says the other, what is one to think? This is what one can best call “High Church Presbyterianism.” Yes, this (former) church also takes weekly attendance and will mail or email you the bulletin if you missed (but they also kept track of you). I think it’s creepy. My friend who traveled a lot one summer was greeted upon her return with, “We haven’t seen you here much lately” instead of “We missed you. Are you doing well?” The root of the “High Church Presbies” is that they believe in Word, Sacrament, and Prayer (not to mention discipline), to the point where they don’t think the Holy Spirit works independently from the Church. (Maybe they take attendance each week to find out if He is there as well). I could write a short book on pastoral vacations and “non-attendance”. There is truly a double standard. They are above the average parishioner. When Francis Schaeffer used to visit his church folk in western PA (who were mostly blue collar workers) he would bring some item of furniture or the like to work on while they talked and worked together. Today pastors want a bigger suite of offices. Ugh!


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    Moxie wrote:

    It’s funny to me that many rules can be made around the simple encouragement to not “forsake the assembly of the saints.”

    Indeed; that’s often the first out-of-context scripture that a churchgoer will slap my face with when I tell them I’m a None.

    But here’s the thing. I have never yet come across a churchgoer whose “church” is not a fully separate sub-group of the local church in their town/city, with separate finances, doctrinal basis, national and regional affiliations (if any) and stated “mission” from all the other “churches” meeting nearby. All those churches have forsaken assembling together, and have forsaken it with great focus and determination.


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    Reading items 1-4 on Kevin DeYoung’s “personal church attendance inventory list” produces bone-deep exhaustion in me:

    1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family?
    2. Do you plan ahead on Saturday so you can make church a priority on Sunday?
    3. Do you order your travel plans so as to minimize being gone from your church on Sunday?
    4. Are you willing to make sacrifices to gather with God’s people for worship every Sunday?

    Reading #5 makes me angry:

    5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian?

    I am convinced at this point in my life that it is imperative that we all stop, breathe deeply, and count to 10 prior to ever – EVER – asking anyone this question.

    Great thread and belated best wishes to the TWW community for a peaceful 2014.


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    anonymous wrote:

    I was an overseas missionary for a number of years, working with both new church plants and “mature” (matter of opinion at times) churches. Despite their flaws, God was using those places of worship to bless His people.

    Thank you for this good encouragement and admonishment. Well said.


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    dee wrote:

    I think this may be true for many denominations. I was married in a North American Baptist church in Lynnfield, Mass and loved my pastor and church. He was the opposite of controlling.

    Looking at the NAB website, they only have one church in New England, in VT. Perhaps you were married in an “American Baptist” church, a different denomination that has many churches throughout New England, and across the nation. The national ABC is headquartered in or near Valley Forge. Confusion may arise with the name “American Baptist”, since this in the mid to late 1800’s was called the Northern Baptist denomination. It resulted from the pre-civil war split from the SBC.


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    @ Erik:

    Erik

    Yes – What a Concept – Much agreement when you write…
    “I am learning that we each have a responsibility to be “the church”. “

    “to be the church” – And, Kevin DeYoung kinda says that’s “Truth” – but persnickety ‘Truth.”
    Persnickety – Dictionary – placing too much emphasis on trivial or minor details;

    Seems Kevin has a hard time admitting…
    WE, His Sheep, His Disciples, are the church – WE, His sheep,… do NOT go to church…

    Kevin writes in his post…
    “I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah),
    but being persnickety about our language…”

    How can WE, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, His Church, Go someplace WE are?


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    @ dee:

    From DeYoung’s church website:

    “Worship Schedule

    Please join us on Sunday. We have worship times at 9:00am, 11:00am & 6:00pm. Please note, beginning June 2, we will offer only one morning service at 10 am. We will return to the regular two service schedule this fall. Child care is provided. Sunday classes meet each week, with many options for people of all ages. We also provide van pickup through MSU’s campus during the school year.

    Jan 05 2014

    10am ~ Combined Service for this Sunday
    Acts 20:1-16
    Kevin DeYoung preaching

    6pm
    Prayer Service
    Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 52
    Ben Falconer preaching”
    (Taken from the University Reformed Church website)

    Two service times in the summer–are two considered a “variety of service” times? Many health care professionals work 12 hour shifts Fri-Sun and are either sleeping or working during those two service times. By the time my 12 hour shift ended on Sunday, it was almost 8 pm.

    But-they are back to a whopping three service times in the fall…except for this coming Sunday….only one morning service time. I am not getting this supposed variety that DeYoung states churches must have. Where is it?

    So two is a variety…as well as three? Since going to a midweek service (if one even exists) doesn’t count as a Sunday service practically mandatory for one’s salvation, what is a weekend worker to do? Sacrifice sleep? Change jobs? Do weekend workers exist in DeYoung’s world?

    Dee wrote~

    “He does believe that you must be in the local church on Sunday.”

    We are doomed, then.

    I personally believe, as I worked on Sundays as an RN, I was ministering to people just as Jesus did…the sick, lonely and discouraged. I think that is very much a Jesus approved church service. I even occasionally got to watch a televised church service with patients if I wasn’t too busy…don’t tell DeYoung that- as that is surely a not approved service, lol.


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    Hester wrote:

    Don’t forget, Dee, that a lot of Neo-Calvinists push the idea of being “married” to your church. So if we put these two ideas together, I suppose that means if you don’t attend faithfully enough, it’s “abandonment”? Which is Biblical grounds for divorce (though maybe not in DeYoung’s world).

    A pastor once told me that if my family resigned as members, and simply attended services that “it is like getting a divorce, but still dating.” He added that is also being “a taker”.


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    Diane wrote:

    I personally believe, as I worked on Sundays as an RN, I was ministering to people just as Jesus did…the sick, lonely and discouraged. I think that is very much a Jesus approved church service

    When Jesus tells you one day that you cared for Him when He was sick, it is exactly because of your Sunday hospital “church services”. Others will be surprised and ask “when were you hungry, in prison, etc”?


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    raswhiting wrote:

    Confusion may arise with the name “American Baptist”, since this in the mid to late 1800′s was called the Northern Baptist denomination. It resulted from the pre-civil war split from the SBC.

    Interestingly, the NAB stemmed from the ABC (as an ABC mission to German immigrants in the 19th century). So we are the “children/grandchildren” of both the ABC and SBC. As such, we exhibit certain characteristics, culture, and governance of both… Along with our own time-developed distinctives.

    Just a bit more of our “big tent”-ness that I hope that we continue to retain.


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    @ Janey:

    Nah, I asked why his comment was noteworthy. I just didn’t understand why it surfaced up for note above every other crazy comment one can see on the internet. I did not know he was a pastor. I completely agree with all the points you made.


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    Just curious . . . would giving birth be considered a “desperate illness”? Several people on Facebook have been having a discussion about the day of the week they were born. My husband and my best friend were both born on Sunday.


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    dee wrote:

    I have been blessed to have known a number of wonderful priests in my life. I even attended Fr John Bertolucci’s prayer meetings in upstate New York many years ago.

    If this is the same Fr. John Bertolucci who admitted to being a pedophile, I wouldn’t considered it being blessed to have known him or call him a wonderful priest.


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    anonymous

    You write @ Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 12:05 PM…
    “Last time I checked my New Testament (that was this morning, by the way-Heb. 10-particularly verses 24-25), the church, ugly as it can be at times, was still God’s program for winning the world.”

    After leaving “Todays Abusive Religious System” The 501 (c) 3, Religious Corporations. I have a little different take on the today’s “church” and “God’s program for winning the world.”

    I now believe {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}} is “God’s program for winning the world.” 😉
    Because, I now see “Todays Religious System” as an invention of man. NOT in the Bible.
    Wow – Am I allowed to say that? 😉

    And, as I read, and re-read, the NT, every verse with the word “church” in it for myself.
    I had a rude awakening. 🙂

    Almost nothing of what I was taught about “church” in “The Corrupt Religious System”
    Is in the Bible. NO really… 😉

    Seems, when “I checked my New Testament” – I found…

    NO one ever *Led* “A Church.”
    NO one ever *Joined* “A Church.”
    NO one ever *Went to* “A Church.”
    NO one ever *Tithed* to “A Church.”
    NO one ever was married in “A Church.”
    NO one ever “Taught” Go To “A Church.”
    NO one ever brought their friends to “A Church.”
    NO one ever applied for membership in “A Church.”
    NO one ever gave silver, gold, or money, to “A Church.”
    NO buildings with steeples and crosses called “A Church.”
    NO – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews – in “A Church. 😉

    Seems – that’s what happens, and is taught, in the church of man. Yes? – The…
    501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax $ deductible, Religious $ Corporation. The IRS calls church. 😉

    Should His Disciples call an IRS Corporation – The Church of God?

    In the Bible, Believers become “the Church of God.” – His Ekklesia – His Called Out Ones. 🙂

    Today, when I think of His Church, His Ekklesia, His Called Out Ones…
    What comes to mind is No longer a Building, an Institution, a Denomination, a Corporation.

    What comes to mind today is…

    The Redeemed of the Lord
    Kings and Priests unto God
    The Bride of Christ
    Sons of God
    Servants of Christ
    Disciples of Christ
    Ambassadors of Christ.

    People…
    God’s People…
    Assembled – or Home Alone…
    Being His Sheep, Hearing His Voice – and Following Jesus. John 10:27.


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    The senior pastor at my former church in Dubai preached at 28 of 52 Friday morning services in 2013. (Church is on Friday’s in Dubai.)


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    A. Amos Love wrote:

    People…
    God’s People…
    Assembled – or Home Alone…
    Being His Sheep, Hearing His Voice – and Following Jesus. John 10:27.

    Thank you for this, A.A.L.


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    In case you’re interested, here’s the NAB statement of belief:

    http://www.nabconference.org/about-us/our-beliefs

    Thanks E.G.! The statement of belief looks great & I appreciate your time in letting us know this is not a typical NAB custom! We will keep NAB as an option in our search and not throw the whole group out over one aberrant church. Thanks Again.

    PS–I’m still messing up the response system myself.


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    To Kevin DeYoung’s credit, he is allowing plenty of comments – somewhat unusual for the Gospel Coalition blogs. 279 at my last count. I also learned a new word while reading all the comments to his blog: “puerile” (used to describe the notion that you might NOT actually be a follower of Christ if you miss more than 9 Sundays a year at your local church). I’ll have to work that new word into my vocabulary. My current 50-cent word is “verisimilitude” as in “Pastor DeYoung’s arguments for church attendance lack verisimilitude”.


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    @ Erik:

    Erik

    You write…
    ‘helped me see that “church” simply needs to be redefined.”

    How about “redefined” from what we’ve been taught – Doctrines of men and Traditions of men.
    And Go to the Bible for ourselves to “define” His Church?

    Here’s one explanation for my thinking today about the word “Church.” Ekklesia.

    When someone asks – Hey Amos – Where do you “Go To Church?”
    I often reply – I can’t “Go To” some place that – I am… Some place that – WE, His Sheep, ARE…

    Mostly I get a quizzical look. Then I continue…
    You might NOT realize it – but – You Just asked me – Where does Amos “Go To” Amos?
    More strange looks – And you can see the gears in their brain grinding to a halt. – Huh???

    I continue… In the Bible – Folks did NOT – “go to church.” – Or tell anyone – “go to church.”
    In the Bible – They became The Church of God. In the Bible – Believers, ARE – His Church.
    His habitation. His body. Where God lives, and moves, and has His being.
    God NO longer dwells in temples made with the hands of man. He wants to live in you.
    The Kingdom of God comes NOT with observation – The Kingdom of God is within.

    I love the body of Christ – The Church – And talking about it to unbelievers and believers. Most today think – church – is a building with a steeple on it. Or – A Pastor, in a Pulpit, Preaching, to People, in Pews. BUT – That’s NOT in the Bible.

    How many, still in the world, still dead in their tresspasses and sins, will know that “church” in the Bible refers to us, you and me, believers, God’s kids, Kings and Priests, Brides, Servants, Sons of God, Ambassordors of Christ, Disciples of Jesus? And they, the unbeliever, can become the Ekklesia of God? The Church of God?

    One reason they don’t know is because of the way – Believers – use the word “Church.”
    We’re taught to invite folks to “Our Church.” But – that’s NOT in the Bible.
    We tell them – Go to a good Bible believing Church. But – that’s NOT in the Bible.

    What if we asked some one to a meeting of – the sons of God – who are “Led” by the Spirt. And then tell them – Yes, you can become a son of God,”Led” by God. And, you can “Hear His Voice,” the voice of the creator, and “Follow Jesus.” You can be His Disciple – learning from Jesus directly, NO middle man.

    Jesus wants to be your friend. You can be a King and  Priest unto God. You can be – An Ambassodor for Christ – delivering His Message of Love to a broken world. You can lay hands on the sick and see them recover. This is available to ALL who believe. NOT just to a special clergy class. NOT just to those who have taken “Titles” NOT found in the Bible. Available to ALL who believe.

    IMO – We have deceived the very people we are trying to reach out to.

    The world has NO idea what “Church” really means. Neither do most believers.
    Go ahead – ask some folks to describe, or point to, “church.” See what you get. 😉

    Jesus – He is the head of the body, (the ekklesia, the called out ones.) The Church.

    Instead of asking people to “Go to church” – Why not ask them to become His Church?

    God loves me and forgives me all my sin.


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    @ Bridget: So is 3:30 a.m. if you’re a night owl or just plain can’t sleep.


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    @ numo: ever checked the timestamp on some of my comments? 😉


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    University Reformed Church membership covenant:

    “We will give cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.”

    I couldn’t help notice the order that your unbiblical tithes (DeYoung is a big tithe supporter, iirc) support– “the ministry” whatever that means, then church expenses, then the poor and THEN spreading the gospel. hmmmm

    His church is undergoing a 2 mil renovation…so it looks nicer (that must fall under “the ministry”, or church expenses. Interesting video about it:

    http://www.universityreformedchurch.org/about-us/building-renovations.html


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    A. Amos Love wrote:

    What if we asked some one to a meeting of – the sons of God – who are “Led” by the Spirt. And then tell them – Yes, you can become a son of God,”Led” by God. And, you can “Hear His Voice,” the voice of the creator, and “Follow Jesus.” You can be His Disciple – learning from Jesus directly, NO middle man.

    Yes!


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    @ Joe:
    Oh my goodness. I did not know about this. I had not looked him up since those days. It is absolutely awful. It must be the same priest since there are reports around the Albany area which is the area that i was in.

    Here is a summary

    http://bishopaccountability.org/assign/Bertolucci_John_Patrick.htm

    ” Bertolucci was removed from active ministry in June 2002 due to a known history of sexually abused boys in the Albany diocese. The diocese is said to have first known of the in 1988. Bertolucci was a nationally known author and leader in the Charismatic Renewal Movement, and he was a televangelist on a nationally syndicated cable television show. He has admitted to sexually abusing boys. He is last known to be “living a life of prayer and penance” in his family home in Catskill, NY.”

    I am saddened and in shock. I am so, so sorry for those kids. I think i will have to write something about this in the near future.

    Thank you for telling me about this, Joe. I really, really appreciate it. I am devastated.


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    Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    The senior pastor at my former church in Dubai preached at 28 of 52 Friday morning services in 2013.

    Such sacrifice! He is missing in action almost 50% of the time. Perhaps, he too, is a pastor to the pastors? VIP? And the church pays him as a full time pastor? What a gig if you can get it.


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    Joe wrote:

    I wouldn’t considered it being blessed to have known him or call him a wonderful priest.

    You can be darn sure that those comments will never be uttered again from my mouth. Things are getting so bad that I need to Google names before I mention them.


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    @ raswhiting
    My sister is in a TABCOM–American Baptist Church–and that denomination is a bureaucracy. (I thought Baptists were independent?)


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      __

    Doze Proverbial Pastoral ‘Bull’ Dozers Pl ayin’ Church Again?

    hmmm…

    My @zz is firmly planted by the streams of living water, n’ I was so intensely listening to da Wonderful Word Of God, I didn’t hear a damnable word they spoke…

    Whops!

    Do ta do,

    …did I miss anything?

    -snicker-

    hum, hum, hum…my house is built on nuffin’ less than Jesus Christ n His righteousness…

    (grin)

    hahahahaha 

    Sopy 


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    NY Times has written about the Calvinist resurgence. It’s obviously gaining steam.


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    @ dee: I’m so sorry, Dee.


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    @ Darcyjo:

    “For example, Craig Groeschel of Life Church used to be UM, but was discouraged from being a church planter at the time,and so he left the denomination to do it. Men and women who feel called to this particular form of ministry are encouraged, and if they show promise, are helped with funding and sent to areas where they can get a good start. The rest of us are encouraged to help them as we can with donations and help as they need it.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so, just curious, what are some reasons why a person (such as Mr. Groeschel) might not be encouraged to plant a church/churches in the UMC, despite their strong desire to do so?


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    N@ elastigirl: hmm. The local conference here has banned at least one person who “felt called” that way; he used to talk about women not being intelligent enough to pick baby names.

    So…take it with a grain of salt.


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    @ numo:
    Thanks. Please pray for the families and the boys he hurt so badly. I think I am going to write a post about this.


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    Darcyjo wrote:

    Craig Groeschel of Life Church used to be UM, but was discouraged from being a church planter at the time,

    It sounds like the UMC has some wise people in leadership….


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    @ dee: I will. I might even have met him at some point.


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    @ Southwestern Discomfort:

    “If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    given his omnivision, and the fact that I don’t think there is throw-up in heaven, i’m sure he’s wearing this expression much of the time.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=quizzical+look&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=dHXIUuaFA8zzoASj5YKIAw&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1097&bih=513#q=quizzical+look&tbm=isch&facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=txuf8yjaTntPSM%3A%3BqO4PpyRLLwatBM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.chicagotribune.com%252Fmedia%252Fphoto%252F2011-09%252F64412025.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.chicagotribune.com%252Fnews%252Flocal%252Fchi-rush31eyebrows20110901092254%252C0%252C7991885.photo%3B600%3B391


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    @ raswhiting:
    Actually, the SBC split from the other Baptist organization, not the other way around, over the issue of whether an owner of slaves could be appointed as a missionary.


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    @ dee: indeed! See my reply to elastigirl.

    The UMC doesn’t work like this, and he sounds like he was trying to force them to change. Uh uh!


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    @ elastigirl: it’s not how their setup works, for one thing…


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    @ dee:
    It’s bizarre how people can live two completely different lives. The betrayal of it! I am sorry, too, Dee.


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    @ elastigirl: they have mission churches, and that’s how they roll.


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    anonymous wrote:

    the church, ugly as it can be at times, was still God’s program for winning the world

    With all due respect, how do you conclude that the church is or ever has been “God’s program for winning the world?” from Hebrews 10, especially vss.24-25. I’m not arguing that the church isn’t important nor that God uses it to accomplish His work on earth. There is very little point of contact between the contemporary church (especially in the U.S.) and the New Testament. The validity of church today derives its authority only from the scriptures; all else is tradition. Choirs, Sunday School, youth groups, organs, praise bands, multi-site campuses, etc. are just part of our culture. The fact that Kevin has no authority when he opines on church attendance can be easily demonstrated as others have noted. Examples include health care workers, police, military, and many others. It is also worth noting that today’s mega church pastor can find virtually NOTHING in common with the New Testament.


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    @ Patrice:
    Yes. No matter what the other half of their life might be.


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    @ anonymous:

    “but there is nothing to compare with the relationships that come from being intimately involved with God’s people.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    (I think I dislike the term “God’s people”, but aside from that…) No argument on that one. I just don’t think titles, offices, salaries, Sundays, “order of service”, facilities, bands, and certainly not taupe paint, TV monitors, and silk plants are inherently a part of it.

    my 2 friends & I who pray together once a week in a kitchen connect with God and each other & kick more spiritual butt than I ever had a sense of doing at any official church event.

    of course, our activities keep no one called pastor or director busy and employed. and don’t generate any revenue. so I imagine some (I don’t mean you, anonymous), wouldn’t really approve. (but I suspect they would have difficulty seeing everything at the bottom of their motives)


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    The traditional Baptist method of “church planting” was that a church would start a “mission” church with some assistance from the denomination, either regionally or nationally. The host or mother church would hire a pastor for the mission church, assist with funding, usually help conduct a vacation bible school and revival meetings, canvass nearby neighborhoods to the plant location, and recruit several families from the mother church to be the core of the mission church. After a period of time, perhaps a year or two, the mission church would apply to be constituted as its own entity, and would also apply for membership in the local association, state association, and national association. The church in which I grew up did this multiple times, as often as once a year, doing ground work in two communities and attempting to get one on its way each year or so. In the early 1950s, some of the plants were up to 60 miles away. Later the vast majority were within the same metropolitan area or near it. The state organization usually helped to identify locations and provided guidance on identifying a mission pastor.


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    @ Keith:

    “My current 50-cent word is “verisimilitude” as in “Pastor DeYoung’s arguments for church attendance lack verisimilitude”.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    I kind of thought DeYoung’s “persnickety” was worth at least 25-cents. Haven’t heard that one since Mrs Olsen said it while on the one-&-only Ingalls/Olsen camping trip on “Little House On The Prairie”.


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    elastigirl wrote:

    @ Darcyjo:
    “For example, Craig Groeschel of Life Church used to be UM, but was discouraged from being a church planter at the time,and so he left the denomination to do it. Men and women who feel called to this particular form of ministry are encouraged, and if they show promise, are helped with funding and sent to areas where they can get a good start. The rest of us are encouraged to help them as we can with donations and help as they need it.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Different time period. In 1995, he was an associate pastor at a UM church in Oklahoma City, the next year he planted a church. From everything I’ve heard (and at the time, I was not clergy), a lot of conferences were not convinced that this was the way to go for our denomination. Nowadays, someone with his gifts and drive would probably be welcomed in most of our conferences. What a difference a few years can make in how some organizations look at a practice! 🙂
    so, just curious, what are some reasons why a person (such as Mr. Groeschel) might not be encouraged to plant a church/churches in the UMC, despite their strong desire to do so?


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    numo wrote:

    N@ elastigirl: hmm. The local conference here has banned at least one person who “felt called” that way; he used to talk about women not being intelligent enough to pick baby names.
    So…take it with a grain of salt.

    BWHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yeah, brother, that’d do it. 🙂


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    @ Darcyjo: As it should! Of course, he started his own church, which is very large now.


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    @elastigirl–
    The folks who I know from my own conference who are church planting are pretty stable folks, since our process mostly (not always) manages to sort out the really unstable folks. However, you have to have a lot of determination to be sent to an area to start a church in a storefront or funeral home (Church of the Resurrection started in one) and go out looking for folks who aren’t already attached to a church (though sometimes a church will send folks off to help support a new church, it’s how my home church got started). We actually have churches in our conference who are a part of what I’d call a family line of planted churches–a daughter church of a daughter church, and that one a daughter as well. Saw that at a recent meeting.

    So, church planters are a stubborn bunch, but again, they’re folks who come through the UM ordination process. A lot of the folks who plant churches in organizations like Acts 29 would never make it through candidacy with the UM. It might have been the time period, or Craig just might have disturbed a bishop or two. Who knows? 🙂


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    @ Patrice:
    Thanks. I am so grateful to Joe for telling me about this.


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    Mark 3: 1-6 Jesus heals on the sabbath; the Pharisees hate this and plot his destruction

    There are Christian people doing good on Sundays and they’re not doing it in a building called a church.

    Also, have you ever pondered why God rested after the creation? He’s God. He didn’t need the rest so there’s obviously some point or example there. Unfortunately though, Sundays are often not a day of rest especially if you go to Sunday School or teach a study, then worship service, sing in the choir, and then perhaps go again at night. That’s especially hard on the person who works all week, even on Saturdays, and only has Sunday off. Because of this, I understand the person who wants to sleep in and do “church” at home.


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    nothing new here: This is just a page right out of the RCC:

    from the list of mortal sins of the RCC (wikipedia)

    Deliberate failure to go to mass on holy days of obligation unless excused for a serious reason (for example illness or to care for infants) or dispensed by one’s own pastor

    And from http://gwcatholicforum.blogspot.com/2007/03/is-missing-mass-mortal-sin.html

    Missing Sunday Mass is a serious sin. If it involves full knowledge and full consent, then it is a mortal sin. Remember, all three conditions (grave offense, full knowledge, and full consent) have to be present for a sin to be a mortal sin. God says to “keep holy the Sabbath”. Jesus showed us how to worship by gathering his friends around a table, and celebrating a meal. He commands us to “take this all of you and eat it…do this in memory of me”. As followers of Jesus, we are obligated, then, to keep holy the Sabbath by celebrating the Eucharist (Holy Mass). It is a grave obligation.

    I think that most Catholics, if not all, who have use of right reason, know that they need to go to Mass each Sunday. Is it full knowledge? Probably not. In other words, I don’t think too many Catholics really know in full about the history and importance of the Mass, the theology of the Eucharist, the moral implications involved with the Commandments, etc. Once someone enters into a deeper understanding of the Mass and its central place in the Christian life, then one moves closer to full knowledge.

    Finally, one has to freely choose to skip Mass on a Sunday (or Holy Day of Obligation) for it to be a mortal sin. When someone is physically unable to get to Mass (e.g., illness, no transportation), they are not freely choosing to miss Mass. In these rare cases, they are “dispensed” from the obligation.

    Zeta


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    Erik wrote:

    A pastor once told me that if my family resigned as members, and simply attended services that “it is like getting a divorce, but still dating.” He added that is also being “a taker”.

    “Taker” is an Objectivist term.
    As in “Makers” and “Takers” (AKA the better known “Producers” and “Moochers”).
    As in Ayn Rand-speak.


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    @ Orion’sBelt:
    Is this not because of the sacramental nature of the both the Eucharist and Reconciliation (confession, penance) before Mass?


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    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    I had to research what Ayn Rand wrote, but do not find any connection there. What I do find, is a direct connection to Mark Driscoll’s rants about “church consumers”. It is one of the driving themes behind the “membership covenants” being pushed in Acts 29 type churches.


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    One mega church I was involved with had senior/junior pastors. They split the preaching. But they also had lots of guest pastors. Both ended up preaching about 4 months of weekends per year. And since they did this consecutively, they both had 8 months of free weekends each for conferences, etc. Nice gig. And the pew sitters we constantly told how busy there were. Doing what? Preparing all those sermons and conferences talks. They did nothing else. No funerals, hospital visits or weddings unless you were a local/national celeb.


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    http://www.olneybaptistchurch.com/obc-members.html

    If you’d like a hearty dose of laughter, glance around this SBC church in Maryland. Did you know that the “C” in “CHURCH” stands for “CONTRIBUTE your time, talent, and tithes”? Or “that Church attendance is critical (Hebrews 10:25), and you should make attendance at OBC church services (Sunday school, Sunday morning worship, Wednesday night Bible study or AWANA) a priority.” ?? Seems like Kevin DeYoung has some competition.

    (I know. We shouldn’t laugh. But, honestly, doesn’t this stuff just seem silly after awhile?)


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    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.


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    @ numo:

    I was trying to put Dee at ease. I’m often awake at strange times myself 🙂


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    Dee, sorry for the sad news you found out about your former friend. We just never know what might be hidden . . .


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    Bridget and Mom :-p I couldn’t sleep…..that’s why I was up.


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    Sounds like a recipe for more spiritual abuse….

    House-church potlucks are sounding better right now. a few times every 5 years.

    So what are the nightshift workers supposed to do? “If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat” Forsake God??


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    PS….If I am correct Moses spoke with God at a burning bush. Not at a four walled sanctuary.


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    Orion’sBelt wrote:

    This is just a page right out of the RCC

    But that’s the point. As a Pastor of a Neo-Calvinistic Reformed Church, DeYoung should be against RCC beliefs and practices. Truth is that the Neo-Calvinists just want to create their own version of church tradition and structure. They have really changed anything except the names.


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    laura wrote:

    If I am correct Moses spoke with God at a burning bush.

    He also had to take his sandals off because he was on holy ground (in the middle of the desert).


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    This is real encouraging to the disabled community, many of whom find it difficult to actually get to church, much less sit through a service. Many churches are simply not accessible to those who have physical challenges. I know that I am getting much closer to using a wheelchair at least part-time and that affects every single choice I make, even something as simple as finding a grocery store that is easily navigated. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t care what anyone else thinks of my church attendance or lack thereof. I also worked at a grocery store about three years ago when it first opened and we all worked Sundays, no questions asked. At first it was hard but then it became the highlight of my week. Customers would take a few minutes to share what they had learned from God so I wasn’t missing church at all.


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    From your June 7, 2013 post:

    “Next week, the SBC meets in Houston. They will have an opportunity to make their voices heard on significant issues of our day. There is an elephant in the room. It is the response of the church to child sexual abuse and cover-up. If they ignore it, and continue to push incompetent leaders, the SBC will become irrelevant to a culture that sees little to admire in the church. It is sad when the church looks more and more like an old boys club at Penn State. And it is obvious that the public is becoming increasingly “not impressed” and they are voting with their feet. I heard one pundit say that the evangelical vote is not(sic) longer influential. Perhaps evangelicals are becoming less monolithic as they become less dominant.”

    The elephant-in-the-room became too big for me to ignore any longer. I stayed in my church (not SBC, but another “denomination” plagued by behavior unbecoming to a . . . Christian). I had a lot of conversation with the pastor about this little “problem” which looked very much like an old boys club. My pastor invited me to stay and continue to dialog and hopefully stay in the church’s fold. It was obvious that he would not change his mind but perhaps I would change mine, if we continued to dialog.

    Angry? Yes. Disillusioned? Yes. Disappointed? Most certainly. Ready to “join” another church? Absolutely not.

    My church days began as a baby in the cradle roll. My parents brought me up in a Christian home that fully understood Sundays meant church, both morning and evening services. Wednesday night? Yes; prayer meeting was required. When I became a teen, Friday night at youth night and all socials.

    Prior to marriage, I found myself in a nondenominational church that was very authoritarian. I well remember the morning a young woman brought her clipboard and pencil up next to me while I was playing the organ during worship. I was unaccustomed to a visitor next to me and asked her what she was doing. She told me she was taking attendance. I about fell off the organ bench. I will never believe attendance was taken for any reason other than for the purpose of control. I should have switched off the organ and left out the side door never to return. But I didn’t. I chose to stay. I understand why some choose to stay. I left all my friends. My life revolved around the church calendar. I’m older now and I hope a bit wiser. I hope to never find myself in these “church” situations again. Hopefully I’ll take a breath and begin to ask questions. In Ronald Reagan’s words, “Trust, but verify.” Good advice for world leaders and would-be church-goers and church-members.


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    @ Eagle:

    Eagle wrote:

    I was also there another time when they brought in new members. It sounded like potential members needed to make themselves available to the congreagtion and anyone could investigate or ask potential members questions about loyalty. I was puzzeled when I heard that. If this is indeed the case of how membership is handled in Sovereign Grace, Sojurn, Acst 29 chruches, etc…. then they would be the envy of the East German or Romanian police state under communism. In addition many members re-did their own membership vows to the church. And it was Catholic in nature. I was stunned. When the doctrine or beliefs were called out the response by the congregation was “we do” IIRC.

    Methinks the pastor you may be referring to was the senior pastor in the SGM Pasadena church.


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    Hester wrote:

    Don’t forget, Dee, that a lot of Neo-Calvinists push the idea of being “married” to your church.

    The neo-Cal idea of being “married to your church” is a horrifyingly twisted idea. The church is the bride of Christ, so what these people are intimating with their imagery is that of committing adultery with God’s wife.

    I’m not sure I want to go there.


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    Seneca “j” Griggs wrote:

    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.

    Or, if your mindset is that justice in not important the little guy is oh-so expendable, you can stick your head in the sand and cover over the out-of-control sins of certain men in leadership and smile, very self-satisfied, while you attack people who actually care about mercy and justice and the gospel.


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    Seneca “j” Griggs wrote:

    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.

    OR…

    If this is your mindset…
    Rule #1 the leadership is always right.
    Rule #2 when the leadership is wrong, refer to Rule #1
    … Then is becomes quite easy to “disregard justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42).


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    Seneca “j” Griggs wrote:

    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.

    Back on the anniversary of the deaths of JFK and C.S. Lewis, you posted a comment blasting JFK for his adultery. But when TWW posted on Doug Phillips’ adultery, you simply said “I am not a better man than Doug Phillips.”

    I agree with you Seneca. You aren’t.


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    Nicholas wrote:

    he doesn’t have a moral bone in his body:

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that he doesn’t have a moral bone in his body. But I would say that his priorities are well out of sync with some really important things that Jesus said.


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    @ Just Watching:

    No it was here in the DC area. Its been talked about a lot on SGM Survivors recently… hint hint…


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    That New York Times article was quite a work! The stench from CHBC is so bad that it wafts from Capital Hill all the way to Fairfax! And while I am happy that Olson was quoted that article avoided so many issues and problems coming from that side of the church. Since the NY Times did a piece on Driscoll a few years back I’ve disappointed that they didn’t dive into all the scandals and issues coming from the movement.

    Its fitting they quote Mark Dever….he’s nothing but a fluffer for neo-Calvinism. 😛


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    Here’s the strength of this blog and I find it unique. Its strength is diversity and its very existence shows why the Neo-Reformed is nothing but a fart in the wind. (Little play on Ecclesiastes) The Neo-Reformed are closed minded, idol prone, and fail in spectacular ways. Their failures are so profound that they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Gospel is right in front of their noses and yet with glasses they still can’t find it.

    They eliminate debate, attack their enemies and thrive in an “us” vs. “them” mindset. While the Cold War has been over for years there was been a new Iron Curtain that has been resurrected by fundamentalism 2.0. All they need to do is start to execute women in soccer stadiums under the order of Mullah Piper and you have recreated the Taliban government of Afghanistan. They have done everything else to dehumanize women. I would even go so far as to suggest that Larry Flynt probably shows more respect to women than a SGM pastor ever will. If you doubt me…use the way back machine to look up the story of Esther from SGM Refuge.

    Here’s why this blog shines…it shines because its diverse. Its led by two outstanding orthodox women. They have more leadership potential than a Neo-Cal pastor any day! 😛 It includes people from all backgrounds – Catholics, Lutherans, Nones, Atheists, agnostics, and so many more. People learn from each other and at the end of the day are better for knowing the information that they do. This blog does a good job of communicating to the masses. I see Dee and Deb as the cyber Paul Revere in many ways.

    If the Neo-Cals would have half the humility expressed on this blog then things like the SGM lawsuit, cultural issues church problems, etc.. wouldn’t be an issue.


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    Nicholas wrote:

    Seneca “j” Griggs wrote:
    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.
    Back on the anniversary of the deaths of JFK and C.S. Lewis, you posted a comment blasting JFK for his adultery. But when TWW posted on Doug Phillips’ adultery, you simply said “I am not a better man than Doug Phillips.”
    I agree with you Seneca. You aren’t.

    Doug Phillips stepped down after his sin was revealed. That seemed appropriate to me. Like Doug Phillips, I’m a broken human being in need of God’s grace. Our sins may take different paths, but sinful I am. For reasons not at all clear to me, God has shown me much grace over the years. I certainly did not earn it.


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      __

    Wartburg, 

      HowDee!

      I am glad to see dat more N’ more Wartburg Watch readers are actually reading their bibles (for themselves) and appear to be challenging the pastoral putridcation of what ‘passes’ for Christianity today.  

    What?

      Jesus said that those who believed in Him, would be saved and have eternal life,and be saved from the wrath to come, that the Holy Spirit of God would come to live in their members and help them on all supernatural fronts to be the becoming-overcoming, people of God’s own household.

    YeHaaaaaaaaa!

    (smily face goes here)

      Jesus said nuffin bout ourz in-volve-ment in a 501(c)3 non-profit organization masquerading as the church He intended to build, preventing the gates O’ hell from prevailing against it. 

    huh?

      …maybe all this proverbial excrement is happening to these 501(c)3 non-profit organizations (so called ‘churches’) because they are not Jesus’ idea of what He had in mind for those who believed in His name.     

    hmmm… (could b.)

    …maybe dem folks, theyz gonna look pretty stupid when the proverbial door closes, the wedding feast begins, and they are left outside (searching) ‘for want of oil’ for their lamps, n’ like chickens, squawk’in’ “let me in, let me in…”

    N’ Jesus replies, “No Cigar!” 

    but, but, but…

    Skreeeeeeeeeetch!

    (bump)

    crash.

    (sadface)

    fill my lamp, oh Lord, keep it burnin’,
    fill my lamp,keep it burnin’, oh Lord…!

    Nuffin’ nuffin’ nuffin gonna keep me A-way…

    hum, hum, hum…

    (grin)

    Sopy 
    __
    Spiritual sound check?: “Give Me Oil In My Lamp”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM3nLXuhCQE
    Bonus: Jesus Declares: “I Am the Light of the World”, N “The Truth Shall Make You Free…”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R5VwxvUUvI


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    @ elastigirl:

    If you live with someone a tad OCD, it’s a great word in one’s repertoire. As in, please don’t get so persnickety about how I load the dishwasher.


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    The area many people who avoid church altogether or for seasons in their life becasue of a complicated, personal issue going on. They just don’t want to have to put up a fascade and deal with questions. Unfortunately, church can be a lot about appearances. How ironic then that the person who really wants to be genuine is condemned for their lack of attendance.


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    Off topic.

    Why does the Gospel Coalition want to create its own Bible translation in other languages, in light of the fact that Wycliffe and other Christian organizations have already done it?

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/io/project/tgc_expanded_translation_initiative

    When I see a group that wants to create its own Bible translation where good ones already exist, one of two words pop into my mind: “Money” and “Cult.”


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    @ Steve:
    I agree that the contemporary US church is very different, in form, from what was found in the NT. But, looking at quotes in the NT from Jesus (“I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”), the way the Holy Spirit comes in Acts and the church begins, the growth of the church in Acts to reach all peoples, and the return of Christ and the church being the culmination of the book of Acts, it’s quite obvious that the “church” is God’s program. It can take many forms, but most forms of “church” include believers coming together, in large or small groups, to worship God, enjoy corporate prayer, hear from His Word, and fellowship. There is also the need for mutual support in between meetings. I believe that when we abandon “church”, we abandon God’s plan for ourselves and the world. I don’t believe we need to show up every time the doors open, and if one is ill, works Sundays, or____________(fill in the blank) that regular Sunday attendance will always be an option. However, I DO believe that folks ditch church out of all the things they see that are wrong instead of making the commitment to find something that works for them. We are very much a consumer culture when it comes to church instead of obeying God and following through on what He has already shown us we need to do. I am part of a larger church that has had its problems over the years, but as we worship, serve, and pray together, we keep finding God’s way to impact each other and our community for the gospel. My church is not neo-Calvinist, SBC, SGM or a mega-church, so I’m not commenting from any agenda, by the way.


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    anonymous wrote:

    @ Steve:

    I agree that the contemporary US church is very different, in form, from what was found in the NT. But, looking at quotes in the NT from Jesus (“I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”), the way the Holy Spirit comes in Acts and the church begins, the growth of the church in Acts to reach all peoples, and the return of Christ and the church being the culmination of the book of Acts, it’s quite obvious that the “church” is God’s program. It can take many forms, but most forms of “church” include believers coming together, in large or small groups, to worship God, enjoy corporate prayer, hear from His Word, and fellowship. There is also the need for mutual support in between meetings. I believe that when we abandon “church”, we abandon God’s plan for ourselves and the world. I don’t believe we need to show up every time the doors open, and if one is ill, works Sundays, or____________(fill in the blank) that regular Sunday attendance will always be an option. However, I DO believe that folks ditch church out of all the things they see that are wrong instead of making the commitment to find something that works for them. We are very much a consumer culture when it comes to church instead of obeying God and following through on what He has already shown us we need to do. I am part of a larger church that has had its problems over the years, but as we worship, serve, and pray together, we keep finding God’s way to impact each other and our community for the gospel. My church is not neo-Calvinist, SBC, SGM or a mega-church, so I’m not commenting from any agenda, by the way.

    Excellent, thoughtful post.( Well written too.)


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew: you’re *so* on-target re. the overall exhaustion of Sundays for many who go to church. It’s maddening.


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    @ Janey:

    It’s the same reason they highly supported the ESV translation.

    Trustworthy Content

    We will be working with the best reform-minded teachers and theologians to get their writings and sermons translated into other languages.
    There are also indigenous theologians and leaders outside the West who are themselves creating solid, biblical content with a fresh perspective from their own cultural background, to inspire the global church. We want to provide a platform for their work to be more easily accessed.

    Other translations aren’t trustworthy, they are not “reform-minded”, they do not draw atttention to TGC. Instead of financially supporting organizations who have been working on translations for dozens of years, they will do their own. To me this sends the message that it’s not about spreading the Good News of the Gospel, but about spreading the news of the reformed gospel and reformed minded teachings, including complementarianism.


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    @ Janey:

    PS – Add to my previous response that they will be spreading the good news that attendance should be taken. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t cross the creek because of high water 15 out of 52 weeks . . . get your physical body on a church bench.


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    @ Eagle:

    I like the Driscoll Controversy website itself, but not the man who runs it. He is a “Reformed Baptist” fundamentalist named E.S. Williams who denies that Clinical Depression has a chemical cause: http://www.depressionandthebible.com/?page_id=18

    Williams claims that antidepressants work no better than a placebo (another lie) and that the Bible alone is the cure for depression.

    If I were to express what I really thought of E.S. Williams and people like him, my comment would go into moderation.


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew: when I went to That Church, my Sundays were more arduous than an average day at work. I signed on for some of that (music), but still!

    (Btw, I was kicked out of said “church.”)


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    I get that gathering and having relationship with other believers is important and Biblical.

    I get that some ministries can be effectively carried out by the individual. For other things it helps to have the cooperative effort (and finances) of a group of like-minded people.

    For the life of me I just don’t get how a Calvinist (of all people) can throw out the “if you do or don’t (put your criteria here), are you REALLY a Christian?” I mean, Calvinists believe that God, from the beginning of time, set out who would and would not be saved and nothing can change that. So what is the purpose of a pastor playing the “false assurance” card to “convict” (or guilt) the person into changing their behavior? If the person is elect – they are saved regardless. If they are not elect, then no behavior modification will change that.

    It gives me a headache…. and I was RAISED in the Reformed Church of America. I suspect Pastor DeYoung somehow believes in the center of his soul that our personal choices DO play a role in what God is trying to do in our lives.


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    Nicholas wrote:

    @ Seneca “j” Griggs.:
    Think Phillips is repentant? Think again: http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/11/29/doug-phillips-disowns-former-vision-forum-executive-assistant-to-president-peter-bradrick-calls-him-destroyer-when-confronted-about-sins/

    I don’t know a thing about Phillips repentance. I know he stepped down as he should.


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    @ anonymous:

    anonymous

    “I believe that when **we** abandon “church”, **
    *we* abandon God’s plan for ourselves and the world.”

    I think when you say church and I say “Church” It just ain’t the same thing. 😉

    The WE, that I know, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, His Church, that I know, and fellowship with…
    Did NOT “abandon” the Church of God, The Body of Christ, The Redeemed of the Lord…
    Where Jesus, is the head of the Body, The Church. The Ekklsia, The Called Out Ones.
    Where Jesus calls Himself, The ONE Shepherd, The ONE Teacher, The ONE Leader.

    WE, His Sheep, His Disciples, His sons Led by the Spirit, that I fellowship with have abandoned The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporation, the IRS calls church. 😉

    Where Mere Fallible Humans, with “Titles,” want to be the head of the body, running the show.
    Where Man, in his folly, takes the NAME of the Lord thy God in VAIN… Exodus 20:7.
    Where Man, takes “Titles,” – shepherd/leader/reverend – that in the Bible, belong only to Jesus.

    WE, His Disciples, His Ekklesia, His Kings and Priests, that I know, and fellowship with…
    NO longer call an IRS corporation – His Church. 😉

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


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    @ numo:

    Wow! Kicked out???

    I grew up in a church that was pretty demanding of it’s lay people. Sundays were tiring. However, said lay people usually had jobs 5-6 days a week. The pastoral staff had Mondays off. It became a semi-joke that if someone died or you ended up in the hospital on a Monday, you were up a creek, pastorally speaking, until Tuesday.


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    @ Keith:
    Your logic is unassailable!
    CPELS (Calvinistic Pastor Elder Leader Shepherd): “God makes us coaches accountable for the team. He gave us the keys to the locker room!”
    ME: “Your game plan could use some improvement.”
    CPELS: “Examine yourself, to see if you’re really on the team!”
    ME: “And, I’m not, what must I do to be saved?!?”
    CPELS: “DO?!?! You are believing a false gospel! Now I KNOW you’re not on the team!”
    ME: “An there ain’t NUTTIN I can do about it” (to quote Diana Ross)
    CPELS: “There ain’t NUTTIN ANY of us can do about it. I’m just a starving man telling folks where they can find food. I’m the worst sinner I know. Dr Mohler is REALLY smart! He has a whole titanic-load of books! But you are UNTEACHABLE!”
    ME: “Get outta my life, why doncha, Babe– you just keep me hanging on!”


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    Keith wrote:

    For the life of me I just don’t get how a Calvinist (of all people) can throw out the “if you do or don’t (put your criteria here), are you REALLY a Christian?” I mean, Calvinists believe that God, from the beginning of time, set out who would and would not be saved and nothing can change that. So what is the purpose of a pastor playing the “false assurance” card to “convict” (or guilt) the person into changing their behavior? If the person is elect – they are saved regardless. If they are not elect, then no behavior modification will change that.

    Ever heard of “having your cake and eating it too”?

    And the dynamic of “How do *I* know that *I*’m REALLY one of the Elect?” which leads to searches for external evidence to PROVE that you’re REALLY Elect. Historically, one of these was “God Blessing the Elect with Riches”, which over time morphed into “I must be Elect because I’m Rich”, then into the Prosperity Gospel. This seems to be “I must be Elect because *I* follow every jot and tittle of the Rules!”

    Then comes the Calvinist One-Upmanship: “AND YOU DON’T!” And the Zero-Sum Game comes into play, where the only way to prove to myself that *I* am Elect is to prove to myself that You’re Not. Which soon morphs into the Devil’s Theology (nya ha ha, My Dear Wormwood), fueled by the need to reassure myself that I’m not Predestined to Eternal Hell.

    “In the Devil’s theology, the most important thing is to be absolutely right and to prove everyone else to be absolutely wrong. This does not lead to peace and harmony among men.” — Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”


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    anonymous

    Is it possible, in your 501 (c) 3, IRS Corporation “church,”
    The folks you pay, to shepherd, to teach, to lead, are taking the Name of the Lord in Vain?

    Ex 20:7
    Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
    for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    I used to think – “Taking His Name in Vain” – meant saying – “G… D…. it,” or some such thing. Using God’s Name as a curse word. But today, I think it has to do with someone taking for themselves – the names and “Titles” of God — In Vain.

    Because, one day, I do a little word study for – Name – and – Vain. 😉
    I check out Strongs Concordance and the Dictionary.

    NAME – In Strongs – is #8034 – shem – When I check for these definitions I find…
    1 – a definite and *conspicuous position… – (*conspicuoua – standing out, clearly visible)
    2 – an *appellation (**appellation – Dictionary – a name or “Title”)
    3 – by implication honor, authority, character.

    Now, When Exodus 20:7 says, Thou shalt NOT take the Name… Could WE, understand that as…
    Thou shalt NOT take the Name – a definite and *conspicuous position – of the LORD thy God?
    Thou shalt NOT take the Name – an *appellation – a Name or “Title” – of the LORD thy God?
    Thou shalt NOT take the Name – the honor, authority, character – of the LORD thy God?

    VAIN – In Strongs = #7723 = shav’ – When I check for these definitions I find…
    1 – in the sense of *desolating; – (*desolate – Dictionary – bleak and dismal emptiness)
    2 – evil (as *destructive), – (destructive – Dictionsry – causing great and irreparable harm)
    3 – figuratively *idolatry – (idolatry – Dictionary – worship, admiration, reverence for something)
    4 – *vain – ( vain – Disctionary – having an excessively high opinion of one’s, abilities, or worth)
    5 – *vanity – (vanity – Disctionary – pride in or admiration of one’s own achievements)

    Ex 20:7
    Thou shalt not take the *Name ( Title, conspicuous position, honor, authority.)
    of the LORD thy God in *Vain; (Idolatry, pride, high opinion of one’s, abilities, causeing harm,)

    And here are 3 – “Names” – “Titles” – of God, you can find in the Bible…

    Shepherd – Leader – Reverend —- Aren’t these *Names* “Titles” of the LORD thy God?
    That many, in the 501 (c) 3, Religious $ Corporations, the IRS calls church, take for themself?

    1 – Shepherd – God/Jesus is called – Shepherd
    The Lord is my *shepherd.* Psalm 23:1.
    …returned unto the *Shepherd* and Bishop of your souls. 1 Pet 2:25.
    …they shall Hear MY Voice; and there shall be …and “ONE” *shepherd.* John 10:27

    2 – Leader – God/Jesus is called – Leader
    And do NOT be called *leaders;* for “ONE” is your *Leader,* that is, Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB.
    God exalted him at his right hand as *Leader* and Savior… Acts 5:31 ESV

    3 – Reverend – God/Jesus is called – Reverend
    …holy and **reverend** is his *name. Psalm 111:9 KJV — (*name. = shem)

    Hmmm? What about – Todays – shepherds – leaders – reverends – ?
    Aren’t these *Names* “Titles” of the LORD thy God?

    Are they taking “God’s Name” — And taking that Name – in Vain? Oy Vey!!! 🙁

    Could this be a reason for the high rate of depression, family failures, and burn-out…

    For the pastor/leader/reverends trying to run the show? Taking His Name in Vain?


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew: yes. And shunned, though people were told lies as to why it all happened. And I was accused of lying about something that I didn’t do in the first place.

    The powers that be refused to listen to me, or to anyone else. Part of this involved being “disciplined” for having been awarded SSA disability. They refused to heed any medical input, and I was literally told by the guy in charge that he “didn’t have time” to listen to my explanations.

    It was like being in hell on this earth, and recovery has taken 10+ years. It was a *very* abusive place, but they were good at hiding it.

    btw, if you wanted to talk with the “pastor,” you were lucky if you only had to wait for 1-2 months.


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    Keith wrote:

    For the life of me I just don’t get how a Calvinist (of all people) can throw out the “if you do or don’t (put your criteria here), are you REALLY a Christian?” I mean, Calvinists believe that God, from the beginning of time, set out who would and would not be saved and nothing can change that. So what is the purpose of a pastor playing the “false assurance” card to “convict” (or guilt) the person into changing their behavior? If the person is elect – they are saved regardless. If they are not elect, then no behavior modification will change that.

    Love this perfectly logical, dare I say – REFORMED – response. 🙂


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    Just thinking about the fact that there are no long lists of rules in the NT about how to “have church.”

    Or, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

    Also: “what does the LORD require of thee? To show justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

    *Jesus* wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the idiotic “requirements” and would likely be tossed out on his ear for doing something that messed with the order of service.

    DeYoung’s proscriptions have CULT written all over them. Even in the OT, people weren’t required to do all this stuff. It’s just sickening to me, and so very un-Jesus-ish.


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    numo wrote:

    “what does the LORD require of thee? To show justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

    Amen! 🙂


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    @ numo:

    Just read this in Jeremiah this morning.

    Jeremiah 2:8 “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
    And those who handle the law did not know Me;
    The rulers also transgressed against Me,
    And the prophets prophesied by Baal
    And walked after things that did not profit.

    This reminds me of Calvinistas so bad.
    Especially – “Those who handle the law did not Me.”
    They really are not qualified to handle the law or the prophets or the gospel or any part of the Bible, really.


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    @ Mara:

    I mean – “Thos who handle the law did not KNOW Me.”
    sorry for any confusion.


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    After a recent punking by leadership in an ELCA church, we’ve spent some time studying what exactly the NT does say about church.

    If you are saved, you are in it. If you are not saved, you are not in it no matter how many charitable organizations have approved, dunked, anointed, or whatever to make you a member.

    But we also realized that simply by “going along” with the clergy SYSTEM we make even these that truly are abusive jerks victims right along side us. They of course go a bit nuts when they lose control of us. If we walk away, how do they pay the mortgage?

    We’ve opted out of that system. We enjoyed a wonderful SS class at the local SBC today. All equals, with one layperson teaching but all welcomed to jump in with a thought, a scripture, a teaching, and even a song. Sounds like “church” to me.

    And then we left. I’m sure the pastor is puzzled. But I don’t want to be guilty of encouraging sin on his part in order to feed his family, or pay his mortgage, or have health insurance. He cannot speak as freely “hired” as he could volunteer.

    Now, I know the scriptures and the places where some get the idea of the clergy system for pay. But I could also refute those places by using the context they are set in. I don’t want to be a rebel reengage lone ranger Christian. But when the curtain or veil was rent the day Jesus was crucified, the only needed sacrifice was finally made and we….need….no…..priests. I’m still under authority–that of Christ. I still respect all my brothers and sisters in Christ, including pastors and those enslaved by the clergy system. I’m certainly willing to hear concerns and open to correction should the Holy Spirit choose to do so by having someone mention something to me.

    But I am NOT going back under human authority. JESUS is Lord, not any duly ordained human being.

    And what is best of all is how much more we are learning, are experiencing God, are serving Him, and are seeing others attracted to HIM, not some specific church or pastor.


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    Renegade, not renengage above.

    And also, Sundays are now days of peace, joy, and time with the Lord and family rather than hectic strained endurance races.


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    Orion’sBelt wrote:

    Missing Sunday Mass is a serious sin.

    True.
    I was raised Catholic and was taught that missing Mass intentionally is a “mortal sin,” meaning if you die between committing it and Confessing it, you go to Hell.
    Having said that, I’d like to point out that you can attend ANY Catholic Mass. This is not about attendance at a particular building. Yeah, you can go on vacation to anywhere anytime and if there’s a Catholic church there, you can fulfill your obligation.
    It’s between you and God, not between you and your pastor. Even the Confession part can be done anywhere.
    Sheesh, churches taking attendance – crazy.


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    @ numo:

    I am so sorry about the horrible experience you’ve had. Unfortunately, it seems to be a common story. It’s amazing to me how “sins” worthy of discipline are now including things that are awfully personal (medical issues, like you say) and things with judgment and subjectivity. Why not leave things of those nature between that person and The Lord? Why do we not trust the Holy Spirit to work on people in certain matters?

    What you are speaking of is also why, sadly, I’m finding non-Christians as better friends–less judgment and overall strangeness about personal preferences.


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew: Indeed (less judgement, etc.)

    I also got in trouble for asking questions about why the Nicene Creed was not included in That Church’s statement of faith, not finishing a Bible study that the head honcho ordered me to do, etc.

    Mark Driscoll’s “They are sinning through questioning” certainly applies here.


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew:And thanks so much for your concern. I’m SO glad to be out, and by that I mean removed from the evangelical/charismatic subculture, which is, on the whole, very small and crippled in many respects.

    I can’t live like that, and I don’t think God has *ever* expected *anyone* to put up with the humiliations that so many churches inflict on the people who go to them.


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    @ seneca “j* griggs:
    I read that comment under the post about Christa Brown and the suggested SBC database. I know that people can disagree about the method for tracking pedophile clergy but I find your comment disturbing.

    Do you really think that the folks who are suggesting the database are doing so because they smell money? How about I say this and see if you cry foul? You are against the database because you want to protect pedophiles.

    That is the same sort of comment back at you. Get my message?


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    numo, what (6a#j9w7) church was That Church, (if it had denominational ties)? Thank God you’re out of there. Love the last sentence of your last comment, btw.

    linda, thanks for that lovely comment you made recently.


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    @ Nicholas:
    Good comment. I reject his obvious lack of education on the effectiveness of psychotropic medications when prescribed under the care of a thoughtful psychiatrist.

    He is as nutty and wrong as Kevin Swanson (known on this blog as “Womb Tomb” Swanson) who contends that women who take the Pill have “hundreds” of dead fetuses inside of their wombs. He is another nut from the fundie crowd.


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    Thinking again about numo’s last sentence on last comment, God is the lifter of our heads, God’s kindness leads us to repentance if we need to repent. To treat fellow humans as if they are cattle for the sake of power is bad enough, but to abuse fellow believers in the name of Christ? Jesus came to set us free, free indeed.


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    @ Nicholas:
    Doug Phillips does not appear repentant to me. The accounts of his alleged supposed confession early last year and then alleged further discovery of “antics” show a bizarre leader of this former group known as “Vision Forum.”


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    A. Amos Love wrote:

    What about – Todays – shepherds – leaders – reverends – ?
    Aren’t these *Names* “Titles” of the LORD thy God?

    Hello A. Amos Love,

    I doubt we will resolve our different perceptions, on the shepherd/church issues, but would be interested in knowing how you interpret Eph. 4:11 where shepherds are listed as having been given for the building up of the Body of Christ. Who do you think these shepherds are?

    Also, what is your understanding of the assembly in 1 Cor. 14 the spiritual gifts might be exercised or expressed? Where (with other believers) might that happen do you think?


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    The Germans sent Lenin into Russia… I think we need to do something similar with HUG. Dee…can I propose we sign up HUG covertly for the next SGM, Acts 29 conferenc? We need to get someone into the inside that can ask away and do analysis. After a couple of sessions I think the Neo Cal machine will be swept into the dust bin of history!


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    Thank you to all of those who expressed compassion towards my family and our experience. Dee and Deb thank you for providing an environment where people can come and feel safe and loved right where they’re at………….I’m still considering your offer to share more of our story. Thanks again


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    dee wrote:

    @ Nicholas:
    Doug Phillips does not appear repentant to me. The accounts of his alleged supposed confession early last year and then alleged further discovery of “antics” show a bizarre leader of this former group known as “Vision Forum.”

    Indeed you may be right. I wouldn’t know.


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    dee wrote:

    @ seneca “j* griggs:
    I read that comment under the post about Christa Brown and the suggested SBC database. I know that people can disagree about the method for tracking pedophile clergy but I find your comment disturbing.
    Do you really think that the folks who are suggesting the database are doing so because they smell money? How about I say this and see if you cry foul? You are against the database because you want to protect pedophiles.
    That is the same sort of comment back at you. Get my message?
    *
    DeeI think the lawyers would smell money.. There are a couple of problems with databases like that. A) You have someone on the database that shouldn’t be there. Big lawsuit. B) “Larry Jones” of North Carolina is rightfully on the data base but “Larry Jones” of Texas is not. There you have a problem.
    Then one last issue: Just because a pastor is NOT on the database does not guarantee he isn’t a dangerous pedophile. A church consults the database, does not see their prospective staff’s name and assume he’s clean. NOBODY want to hire a pedophile to a church staff position. NOBODY. But having a database doesn’t guarantee you won’t do exactly that. Like with so many laws, “the devil is in the details.” It sounds so easy; “Let’s just establish a database; that will take care of everything.” But then you end up getting sued for a variety of mistakes or omissions. NOBODY wants to hire a pedophile to a church staff position. NOBODY.


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    anyone know of a good church in charlotte, nc?


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    @ RB: it’s non-denom, and the head honcho was ordained in the C of E, which makes his reaction to my query about the Nicene Creed *very* disturbing.

    When I got booted, there was definitely a strain of harsh Calvinism slipping into things, but it probably came more from this guy’s Scottish background and lifelong fascination with English Puritan divines than anything neo-Cal.


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    @ RB: btw, my experience is one reason I’m very much in favor of good denominational structure with clear checks on abusive/authoritarian “leaders.”

    I’m a revert to Lutheranism (ELCA).


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    @ Steve:

    …what these people are intimating with their imagery is that of committing adultery with God’s wife.

    Or that the local church is Jesus and believers are married to it/Him. Either way it’s wrong, disturbing, and a terrible and confusing metaphor.


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    @ numo:

    Would this happen to be in a state that starts with the letter O ?


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    @ Seneca “j” Griggs:

    Wrong again Griggy. There are many stories of SBC pastors getting hired after public allegations of sexual abuse: http://stopbaptistpredators.org/scandals/sbc_ministers.html

    One of the most recent ones is Darrell Gilyard. The responses of men like Steve Gaines, Philip Gunn, and others has been to protect the pedophile (like John Langworthy). And Eddie Long’s church (not SBC but Baptist) has chosen to retain him as pastor. And the president of SBC-affiliated Baylor recently wrote a letter in support of a pedophile.

    If lawsuits and outside government intervention are the only thing that can bring reform in this area to the SBC, SGM, IFB, and any other denomination, then so be it. And legally the SBC should be treated as a single organization, as should all the IFB “fellowships.”


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    @ Seneca “j” Griggs:

    Likewise, Doug Wilson (popular with Calvinistas) welcomed Steven Sitler back into his church and even found a wife for him. How nice. I’d be willing to bet that Wilson’s also found a job for Sitler related to Christ Church, New St. Andrews, or anything else in Wilson’s little empire.


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    numo, we were in ELCA for a few years. I always admired their adamant stance on faith in grace. I remember one person saying that children need to be taught that perspective very early on, which I totally agree with. Sad to me, that almost all churches start out their public teaching of small children with a focus on rules, because of the fact that children need structure. Yes, they do, but “the law is a tutor to bring us to Christ”. It seems dangerous to me to not have the overarching view be the love and grace of God, rather than the extrinsic system.


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    I forgot to mention that when SBC churches knowingly hire men alleged to be child abusers, they dismiss the information as “slander” and “persecution” against the managawd.


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    SENECA!!!!

    How is that marriage counseling coming along? I still think you would make a fantastic marriage counselor. Your guidance (which can work like oxycotin…yes that numbing…) can come down to one of 3 things.

    1. Submit women!!
    2. The man is always right…I don’t care how many times you skull is fractured
    3. Your sinning through questioning! 😛


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    @ Eagle:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson has arranged other marriages as well.


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    Back in the late 60’s, our mainline denomination church (and every other church in town) started having sign-in lists on the pews. I remember my mom saying it was their way of keeping up with who was and wasn’t there. And I also remember thinking that was fairly paranoid of her to think that way. This is one of the dozens of times I thought she was wrong and she ended up being right.


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    @ Bunsen Honeydew: nope,in D.C., fairly close to Capitol Hill Baptist.


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    @ RB: love and grace were what was taught when I was a child, going to Sunday School in a then-LCA church. My Sunday School teachers were good at communicating that, and so was my mom. We had some really intriguing (to me) Vac. Bible School books, once you got to 4th-5th grade level. One of them was all centered on bios. (J.S. Bach was included, which I really liked, being musically inclined) – basically, the stories centered on grace, mercy and love.

    Nobody in the xtian Ed dept ever said anything that was frightening, though I was pretty hazy on Jesus’ death (am sure most kids were) and was often troubled by how it came up over and over in the liturgy. We also had some old, ominous-sounding music in parts of the service; long gone from the current settings of the liturgy. (I’m PA Dutch and so was much of the congregation – stubborn about change! 😉 )


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    @ RB: I’ve seen some relatively recent books for young kids published by the ELCA, and liked them a lot. Great emphasis on God’s love; no scary/judgy-type stuff.


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    Eagle wrote:

    SENECA!!!!
    How is that marriage counseling coming along? I still think you would make a fantastic marriage counselor. Your guidance (which can work like oxycotin…yes that numbing…) can come down to one of 3 things.
    1. Submit women!!
    School starts next week. I’m gonna ace this stuff. Watch out world, Seneca Griggs M.F.C. It’s now more than a pipe dream.
    2. The man is always right…I don’t care how many times you skull is fractured

    3. Your sinning through questioning!


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    Nicholas wrote:

    @ Seneca “j” Griggs:
    Likewise, Doug Wilson (popular with Calvinistas) welcomed Steven Sitler back into his church and even found a wife for him. How nice. I’d be willing to bet that Wilson’s also found a job for Sitler related to Christ Church, New St. Andrews, or anything else in Wilson’s little empire.

    I don’t know Doug Wilson. Who is he?


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    Nicholas wrote:

    @ Seneca “j” Griggs:
    Wrong again Griggy. There are many stories of SBC pastors getting hired after public allegations of sexual abuse: http://stopbaptistpredators.org/scandals/sbc_ministers.html
    One of the most recent ones is Darrell Gilyard. The responses of men like Steve Gaines, Philip Gunn, and others has been to protect the pedophile (like John Langworthy). And Eddie Long’s church (not SBC but Baptist) has chosen to retain him as pastor. And the president of SBC-affiliated Baylor recently wrote a letter in support of a pedophile.
    If lawsuits and outside government intervention are the only thing that can bring reform in this area to the SBC, SGM, IFB, and any other denomination, then so be it. And legally the SBC should be treated as a single organization, as should all the IFB “fellowships.”

    Is Darryl Gillyard SBC?
    Is Baylor is affiliated with the SBC.
    Is Eddie Long SBC?
    I’m under the impression that neither of these 3 are affiliated with the SBC. But I’m not SBC so I could be wrong.


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    In other news, I thoroughly enjoyed Downton Abbey last night. Basically, I’m an Anglophile. My bucket list includes driving down the highway in my classic Austin-Healy, pipe clenched between my teeth, Tam on my head and an old tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. I don’t think it could get any better than that.


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    @Dee
    I found Jesuit author John Powell on an accused list once and it was a similar feeling, “whaa?”. PS don’t know if I can legally state the comment above – he is deceased – and I don’t believe it got to court.


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    numo wrote:

    Even in the OT, people weren’t required to do all this stuff. It’s just sickening to me, and so very un-Jesus-ish.

    Yes, wasn’t the OT attendance requirement only 3xs a year for males for the feasts? Sounds like all this modern attendance is a Christian Talmud of sorts.


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    @ Lola: ii hesitate to speak ill of the Talmud, myself… There’s a lot of good stuff in it!


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    @ numo:
    Yes, I am currently discovering Judaism and am about to start digging into the Talmud…


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    I beg to differ.

    We do not need a list of allegations to use against pastors. An allegation is only that. It may be true or not. Here in NC recently there was a high profile case in which a poor female of a racial minority made allegations against several members of the Duke U lacrosse team. The district attorney, some Duke faculty (if memory serves) and lots of just plain folks flew to the defense of the young woman. She was clearly seen as the victim and the underdog and seen as telling the truth. And besides, how easy is it to resent the young and handsome and rich lads of Duke U lacrosse. WRONG decision. It was all a lie which very nearly destroyed the lives of several young men and which did irreparably damage the reputation of the DA who believed it and apparently tried to use it for his own advantage.

    An allegation is only an allegation.

    Also, there are other ways for churches to protect themselves. The local mega SBC church where one of my children is a member requires everybody, church employee or volunteer, to consent to and undergo an extensive background investigation before they can do anything at church that might put anybody at risk, including even “helping” with SS or VBS in any position at all. The investigations are done by a secular professional company which is in business to do that for employers, churches, school systems, etc, not just some in-house good ole boy. The permission to do that includes more than just a public record search, but I do not know exactly how far the company goes. There have been some refusals from would be volunteer members, but I do not know how many.

    Since there are ways to solve this with less risk of damaging people by untrue allegations, and since that can be done without giving the SBC bureaucracy any more power than they already are trying to get, then why on earth would it be OK to try to tear into the central functioning of the SBC by trying to make it function like an actual denomination (which it is not) while destroying the autonomy of the local church which does seem to be closer to the NT picture than having some central controlling authority based on money, control and theological quibbling over tertiary issues?

    Rather, clean up the SBC and take a hatchet to the politics, continue the autonomy of the local church and also clean up the local church, educate and empower and utilize the laity, and for crying out loud CALL THE COPS when there is an allegation of crime.


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    The more effective solution than any of the above is that, if a church identifies someone as having (or reasonably susupected) abused a child, or having abused an adult under their supervision (e.g., Gilyard), the church should not give that person a clean referral, and should refer the matter for investigation by the civil authorities. Second, every church should strive to arrange the physical spaces where children are so that anyone can see into the space to see what is happening. Similarly, offices where staff meet should also provide visibility from the outside of the office or conference room. And, as I have said before, pastoral staff should not presume that they are the only or best person to counsel any person; an outside, novel to the counselee counselor is more likely to provide unbiased counseling focused strictly on the needs of the counselee.


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    An Attorney wrote:

    The more effective solution than any of the above is that, if a church identifies someone as having (or reasonably susupected) abused a child, or having abused an adult under their supervision (e.g., Gilyard), the church should not give that person a clean referral, and should refer the matter for investigation by the civil authorities. Second, every church should strive to arrange the physical spaces where children are so that anyone can see into the space to see what is happening. Similarly, offices where staff meet should also provide visibility from the outside of the office or conference room. And, as I have said before, pastoral staff should not presume that they are the only or best person to counsel any person; an outside, novel to the counselee counselor is more likely to provide unbiased counseling focused strictly on the needs of the counselee.

    Emminently Practical.


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    Nancy wrote:

    I beg to differ.
    We do not need a list of allegations to use against pastors. An allegation is only that. It may be true or not. Here in NC recently there was a high profile case in which a poor female of a racial minority made allegations against several members of the Duke U lacrosse team. The district attorney, some Duke faculty (if memory serves) and lots of just plain folks flew to the defense of the young woman. She was clearly seen as the victim and the underdog and seen as telling the truth. And besides, how easy is it to resent the young and handsome and rich lads of Duke U lacrosse. WRONG decision. It was all a lie which very nearly destroyed the lives of several young men and which did irreparably damage the reputation of the DA who believed it and apparently tried to use it for his own advantage.
    An allegation is only an allegation.
    Also, there are other ways for churches to protect themselves. The local mega SBC church where one of my children is a member requires everybody, church employee or volunteer, to consent to and undergo an extensive background investigation before they can do anything at church that might put anybody at risk, including even “helping” with SS or VBS in any position at all. The investigations are done by a secular professional company which is in business to do that for employers, churches, school systems, etc, not just some in-house good ole boy. The permission to do that includes more than just a public record search, but I do not know exactly how far the company goes. There have been some refusals from would be volunteer members, but I do not know how many.
    Since there are ways to solve this with less risk of damaging people by untrue allegations, and since that can be done without giving the SBC bureaucracy any more power than they already are trying to get, then why on earth would it be OK to try to tear into the central functioning of the SBC by trying to make it function like an actual denomination (which it is not) while destroying the autonomy of the local church which does seem to be closer to the NT picture than having some central controlling authority based on money, control and theological quibbling over tertiary issues?
    Rather, clean up the SBC and take a hatchet to the politics, continue the autonomy of the local church and also clean up the local church, educate and empower and utilize the laity, and for crying out loud CALL THE COPS when there is an allegation of crime.

    Agreed


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    For those that don’t know, many SBC churches are free grace, not Calvinistic. Some of those hold closely to dispensational end times beliefs, but some do sort of dispense with the dispensational stuff and yet hold a firm free grace position.

    Not all are cals or arminians.


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    Seneca “j” Griggs. wrote:

    In other news, I thoroughly enjoyed Downton Abbey last night. Basically, I’m an Anglophile. My bucket list includes driving down the highway in my classic Austin-Healy, pipe clenched between my teeth, Tam on my head and an old tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. I don’t think it could get any better than that.

    On this, sir, we can completely agree. Although I would be in trouble if I didn’t bring my wife and daughter along.

    Really enjoying the discussion on what constitutes a “church.”. We were talking this over with friends, and it seems that early church often took place around a table ( and a meal, much like the Last Supper). This was replaced with the Eucharist, where the table becomes an altar, and the meal is replaced with a drama. Then the Reformation replaced the altar with a pulpit, and the meal became a sermon. For centuries we Protestants have done this, and it is a hard habit to break. But I have discovered that in most organic or house church settings, the one constant is that we meet around a table, and share a meal.

    Please correct my history if I’m off a bit.


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    Gary wrote:

    Seneca “j” Griggs. wrote:
    In other news, I thoroughly enjoyed Downton Abbey last night. Basically, I’m an Anglophile. My bucket list includes driving down the highway in my classic Austin-Healy, pipe clenched between my teeth, Tam on my head and an old tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. I don’t think it could get any better than that.
    On this, sir, we can completely agree. Although I would be in trouble if I didn’t bring my wife and daughter along.

    Gary, you can have your wife in the Healy or your daughter; but you can’t have both. sigh


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    @ Nancy:

    I followed the Duke case fairly closely. I'm sure you know that Crystal Mangum was recently found guilty of murdering her boyfriend.

    I do agree with your concluding remarks:

    "clean up the SBC and take a hatchet to the politics, continue the autonomy of the local church and also clean up the local church, educate and empower and utilize the laity, and for crying out loud CALL THE COPS when there is an allegation of crime."


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    So if you’re sick with a highly contagious stomach flu, or pink-eye, you should definitely come to church and inflict that on others. Got it. (Oh, and don’t forget to drag your child in when they’re running a fever, because the nursery workers and other parents will just love that).

    His harping on travel really got on my nerves. No, it’s not always plausible or possible to arrange your life so that your travel plans are over by Sunday morning. I used to live in an area where visiting either set of parents (mine or my husband’s) required hours of driving, so yes, we missed quite a few Sundays because it took a whole weekend just for a mere 30-ish hours of visiting time. Most people work during the week, and those 2 days are all they have.

    And you may not be a Christian? Really? Aren’t there a whole lot of other signs that would probably become apparent before church attendance, if one were not really a Christian?

    I had to laugh at his statement about the dangers of false guilt vs. the dangers of self-deception. “There is a real danger of feeling like everything is your fault. But really, it IS your fault.”

    And finally, I have to say a word on this: “Real caring is calling up people you really care about and getting into their lives, not by making some rote call with a checkmark next to the name.” <—This is so, so true. I have seen first-hand how neglecting this principle can turn a church from caring to creepy. I joined a congregation once that was really big on church being like family, and being in each other's lives. I was excited at first, because in theory I agree with that idea. But it got awkward fast. The church insisted on a level of openness, trust, accountability and involvement that usually have to be built up over a period of months or years getting to know someone. Having that level of closeness expected from day one actually felt controlling, when coming from a genuine long-time friend it would not have felt that way at all. The leaders had good intentions, but they didn't realize that they could not control what friendships develop, who ends up trusting each other, and how long those relationships take. They also sort of downplayed the importance that long-time friends outside their church should have on our lives. I was like, um sorry, but I've had these other friends for like 15 years….I'm pretty sure they get first dibs on my life. And they're also Christians…they just aren't on the roster at this church.

    Like I said, I don't think the leaders had bad motives (this was the model of church they'd been taught). They just had this incredibly strange expectation that trust will autmoatically be manufactured in a church environment, and that is something that only the Holy Spirit can build between people over time.


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    In other news, the New Horizons space probe is now “only” 4.41 AU from Pluto, and 29 AU, or over 4 billion kilometres (4 terametres if you prefer) from earth. New Horizons is due to cross the orbit of Neptune on 25th August.

    More focused comments will resume later today.


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    @ Victorious:

    Hi Victorious

    Hope you enjoyed the Holy Days… I expect you enjoyed The Holy One – Jesus… 🙂

    You write…
    “I doubt we will resolve our different perceptions, on the shepherd/church issues…”

    Oh ye of little faith… 😉
    With men it is impossible, but NOT with God: for with God ALL things are possible. Mr 10:27.

    I mean, I’ve changed my mind and doctrines and “Truths” over the years. Haven’t you? 🙂

    You also ask…
    “would be interested in knowing how you interpret Eph. 4:11
    where shepherds are listed as having been given for the building up of the Body of Christ.

    “Who do you think these shepherds are?”

    Well, I used to think “These Shepherds” in Eph 4:11, referred to me… 😉

    My shepherds told me, Amos, I was one of these shepherd/teachers. A Gift to the Body. And I believed them. Oy Vey!!! 🙁 Even Got myself ordained. 🙁 Yup I was “Special.” 🙁 Well, I NO longer think I’m special, or called to be a shepherd. I wound up teaching error, Traditions of Man, and NOT the Bible. Leading believers astray like most of today’s so-called shepherds.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people hath been “lost sheep:”
    *Their Shepherds* have caused them to *go astray,*

    Very Humbling. When God shows you – you’re leading people astray.
    Getting believers to Follow – Mere Fallible Humans – And NOT Follow Jesus for themselves.

    My Sheep – Hear My Voice – and I know them – and They Follow Me.
    John 10:27.

    I have decided to Follow Jesus – NO turning back…

    http://www.crosswalk.com/music-video/jadon-lavik-i-have-decided-to-follow-jesus-official-music-video.html


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    @ Victorious:

    Victorious

    You ask about shepherds in Eph 4:11…
    “Who do you think these shepherds are?”

    Let me ask you the same question – and some additional questions. 😉
    And I’ll give you my theory on these shepherds in the next comment…

    Eph 4:11-12 KJV.
    And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
    and some, evangelists; and some, *pastors and teachers;* (*shepherds and teachers)
    For the perfecting (equipping) of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
    for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ:

    Was wondering…
    1 – “Who do you think these shepherds are?” From the Bible?

    Because, in the Bible…
    I can NOT find one of His Disciples who *called themself* – shepherd/leader/reverend.
    I can NOT find one of His Disciples who *called another Disciple* – shepherd/leader/reverend.
    I can NOT find one of His Disciples who was *Hired or Fired* as a – shepherd/leader/reverend.

    Was wondering…
    2 – What did His Disciples know then? – That – shepherd/leader/reverends – miss today?

    Was wondering…
    3 – How many apostles, prophets, evangelists, do you know, have you met, personally?
    ……How many apostles, prophets, evangelists, do you have in your fellowship?

    Was wondering…
    4 – What are you taught by your shepherd/teacher is – “the work of the ministry?”

    ….. That would be important if Victorious is “equipping the saints?” – Yes?
    ……That would be important if Victorious is doing “the work of the ministry?” – Yes?
    ……If you have to think about that? – Or research what is “the work of the ministry?”
    ……If you, or the folks, reading this do NOT know, NOW, what is – “the work of the ministry?”
    ……Then, have your shepherds, “Their shepherds” done what Eph 4, says they are to do?
    ……If you do NOT know, NOW, what is “the work of the ministry?
    ……Then is your shepherd? The same as the shepherd in Eph 4:11? Or, an imposter? 😉

    5 – How are you taught by your shepherd/teachers to – “ edify (build up) of the body of Christ?”

    ……If your shepherds are equipping you to edify the body of Christ – What does that mean?

    Oy Vey – so many questions…

    Jesus loves us this I know…


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    @ Victorious:

    Victorious

    Seems to me, these shepherds in Eph 4:11, did NOT tell anybody they were shepherds. 😉
    ALL His Disciples called themselves “Servants” NONE called themselves shepherd/leaders.

    Today, those with “Titles” in the 501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax deductible, IRS Corporations
    Make an “Idol” of their “Title,” and tell everyone they are the – shepherd/leader/reverend.

    Seems to me, In the Bible, shepherds are NOTHING like todays pastor/leader/reverend.
    Any shepherds given by God – Were Anonymous – NOT known or revealed.

    But – I cudda missed that – In the Bible…
    Can you name one of His Disciples who called them self – shepherd/leader/reverend? 😉

    In The Bible – Can you find – Anyone – Any shepherds who…
    Shepherds who had “Titles” – “Pastor/Leader/Reverend?”
    Shepherds who called themselves – “Pastor/Leader/Reverend?”
    Shepherds who promoted themselves – as a “Special Clergy Class?”
    Shepherds who promoted *His Sheep* as lesser “Lay people?”

    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “Leaders?”
    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “Church Leaders?”
    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “Spiritual Leaders?”
    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “Christian Leaders?”
    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “Leaders to be Obeyed?”

    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “Spiritual Authority?”
    Shepherds who promoted themselves as – “God Ordained Authority?”

    Shepherds who separated from the flock, wearing different, special, clothes?
    Shepherds who were – Hired and Fired – by congregations?
    Shepherds who would move from one congregation to another?
    What’s up with that?
    Shepherds who would “Exercise Authority” over another Disciple?
    Shepherds who had their own private parking space. 🙂

    Well, you get the drift…
    NOT much of what todays shepherd/leader gets paid for or does…
    Is In The Bible… 😉

    You ask about shepherds in Eph 4:11- “Who do you think these shepherds are?”
    I do NOT know who these shepherds are. – Do You?

    And in Eph 4:11 – “These shepherds are” – NOTHING – like todays pastor/leader/reverend. 😉

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


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    @ Nick Bulbeck:

    It’s gotta be COLD out there! Even colder than Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin) I betcha! I was not happy yesterday when the Packers got beat by the San Francisco 49’ers with a field goal in the closing seconds of the game.


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    Nancy wrote:

    Since there are ways to solve this with less risk of damaging people by untrue allegations, and since that can be done without giving the SBC bureaucracy any more power than they already are trying to get, then why on earth would it be OK to try to tear into the central functioning of the SBC by trying to make it function like an actual denomination (which it is not) while destroying the autonomy of the local church which does seem to be closer to the NT picture than having some central controlling authority based on money, control and theological quibbling over tertiary issues?

    The SBC is an actual denomination. And the NT does not teach local church autonomy. Jeri Massi discusses this in detail in her book Schizophrenic Christianity. And in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (a disciple of the Apostle John) we find the exact opposite of local church autonomy.


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    Nancy wrote:

    Since there are ways to solve this with less risk of damaging people by untrue allegations

    False allegations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare: http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/csa-acc.html

    The database idea for the SBC would not “risk damaging people with untrue allegations,” but at this point, the SBC would need far more reform than just a database. And if the SBC doesn’t reform itself, it will be forced to do so by others like the Roman Catholic church was.


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    linda wrote:

    After a recent punking by leadership in an ELCA church, we’ve spent some time studying what exactly the NT does say about church.

    If you are saved, you are in it. If you are not saved, you are not in it no matter how many charitable organizations have approved, dunked, anointed, or whatever to make you a member.

    But we also realized that simply by “going along” with the clergy SYSTEM we make even these that truly are abusive jerks victims right along side us. They of course go a bit nuts when they lose control of us. If we walk away, how do they pay the mortgage?

    We’ve opted out of that system.

    Linda – Like your style. You sound like a hoot and a half. Driving these guys nuts.

    “We have no intention of joining so we cannot be “counted”. ”

    “But I am NOT going back under human authority. JESUS is Lord, not any duly ordained human being.”

    I think I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with you – And talken bout Jesus…

    Be Blessed in your search for Truth…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


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    I have read a transcript of a tape recording of a four year old describing what was done to her — forced oral sex by a teenage boy. All of the adults involved and the boy denied it had happened, but the investigator insisted that she be interviewed by a trained child sex abuse interviewer. The description is graphic, including the taste in her mouth, etc., etc., and is clearly not something a four year old would know unless she had been abused. The key was, she reported it to a person outside the household who got the authorities involved, leading to a rather thorough investigation.


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    @ An Attorney:

    Thanks for your comment. The girl’s own parents and family failed to do their own duties in that case, but an outsider and the authorities didn’t fail to do theirs.


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    linda wrote:

    After a recent punking by leadership in an ELCA church, we’ve spent some time studying what exactly the NT does say about church.

    Just curious linda, can you elaborate (if it’s not too private) on what you mean by ‘getting punked’ by the ELCA denomination?


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    A Amos Love–thanks!

    I think I drank pretty heavily of the old time SBC, pre 1979. And then growing up in remote oilfield camps, I learned early on that one can have a rich vibrant faith in Christ without need of any mediator. Now, we did hire a preacher when we could afford one and one was available. And we did fully support travelling evangelists.

    Right now, we also attend those special evangelistic meetings when they happen in our town, which isn’t but maybe 4-5 times a year. If we had a true preacher, bent on preaching Jesus rather than trying to be some sort of authority over our souls, I’d be glad to attend and listen.

    I keep coming back to the idea the organized church is a voluntary association of believers for the propagation of the gospel. I enjoy participating on that basis, and will continue to do so where and as I can.

    But as your post made so clear, some are trying to usurp the role of Christ and it must not happen. Truly they are taking the Lord’s name in vain.

    It amazes me that God always has His leaders, His preachers, teachers, and counselors on the job. And it amazes me how often those are NOT the duly ordained and hired ones. I’ve watched one church in our town for around 10 years. There is an older gentleman there that just quietly, behind the scenes keeps the whole shebang running. He leads folks to Christ. He counsels. He teaches. Often he pays the bills, cleans the toilet, and shovels the snow. Truly, he is “an elder.” No title, just the job. And I’ve watched a succession of preachers come and go, never quite getting a handle on what that flock needs.

    I have a priest–His name is Jesus. I have a Shepard. His name is Jesus. I have a whole slew of teachers, complete with their library of 66 books.

    I’m weary of those who want to get between me and Christ, or between others and Christ, or try to dispense Him as if they are in control. But I sure welcome those that are ready to work alongside other believers in leading the world to faith in Him.


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    The church we’ve been visiting had this article (http://www.9marks.org/journal/twelve-reasons-why-membership-matters) in the bulletin yesterday. At the time I didn’t realize it was nothing but a blog post at this 9 Marks website. I’m not familiar with this whole 9 Marks thing. Does anyone have an opinion on it. I did find it interesting that point #1 was absolutely wrong (this made it difficult to take the remaining points seriously).


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    A. Amos Love wrote:

    Hope you enjoyed the Holy Days… I expect you enjoyed The Holy One – Jesus…

    I did, thank you! I read all of your posts and remember the bulk of it from previous interaction with you regarding the topic of pastor. I was unaware that you were formerly a pastor and appreciate your admission that you believed you were special.

    While I do see the fallacies taught today in churches, I see some of the “traditions” as beneficial if the gift is used with humility for the edification of the Body. It must also point solely to Christ as the Good and Great Shepherd as our primary leader and example to follow.

    Blessings to you and thank you for always responding graciously.


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    Re: “semi churched”

    These Mandatory Church Attendance guys are getting more and more legalistic as time goes on.

    Remember when they used to only scoff and sneer at ‘Easter and Christmas’ Christians (that is, people who only attend services at those holidays)?

    They used to be okay with “Joe Whippershopple” only showing up every other Sunday, or maybe a handful of services per year, but now THAT’S not even good enough, sheesh.

    Oh, oh, oh, and I HATE it when preachers guilt the “Holiday Attenders.”

    I remember when I was in my twenties, I went with my father to visit a Baptist church, and it happened to be their Easter service.

    Dad and I were sort of church shopping at the time. We were thinking of finding a regular church to start attending.

    During that service, the preacher told a jokey put down, like, “And how about them people who claim to love Jesus but who only show up on Easter or Christmas services?”
    – he made some cracks like that.

    This was during my dad’s and my first visit (and I think our last. I may have visited again a few years later, after they moved to a new physical location, and I think they got a new preacher by the time I returned).

    But I was so put off by that, I did not want to go back to their church.


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    Shaming or scolding someone who’s already having doubts about Christianity (such as myself) is not going to work or scare them back in the door of a church.

    So I found this especially ironic:

    5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian?

    I was a Christian since accepting Christ as a child, but have been rethinking the whole faith the last couple years so maybe the answer is now “no,” it’s kind of up for grabs currently. So what is this guy going to say now?

    And since when does Scripture lay down weekly, regular church attendance as a requirement for salvation?

    Regarding the “desperate illness” remark.

    I bet you anything he means “physical” illness.

    The prejudices against Christians who have mental health problems is steep in Christendom, or the possibility thereof is rejected outright as “real” Christians will never have mental health sicknesses.

    For people who suffer from clinical depression, it can be quite the chore to get out of bed, brush their teeth, shower, dress, and head off anywhere, including church. I can see them skipping many church services.

    If these guys are going to be this creepy insistent on mandatory church attendance, why not go all the way, and once church members are in the church,

    – suggestions for mandatory church attendance

    – Put ankle monitors on church members and visitors, like courts do with criminals under house arrest, to keep track of them at all times

    – After the members shuffle in the door one Sunday, dig a big old moat around the church, filled with alligators in the moat

    – “super glue” the congregants to the pews

    – tell church memberes all to wear their P.J.s to church, and once in the door, tell them they are on a permanent sleep over (they can never go home), and do this while playing
    ‘Hotel California’
    in the background on the church’s fancy, expensive sound system (you know they have one).

    Also:
    For so long as certain factions of Christianity keep brushing the childless and adult singles under the rug, as though we don’t exist, or only permitting single ladies to work in children’s nurseries, and not allowing us to use our talents where ever they may be, do not expect adult singles (especially women) to keep going to church, no matter how much you threaten or scold.


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    Eagle wrote:

    When I told someone about this incident who was of the Sovereign Grace persuassion he told me a Chaplin visiting amd spending time and praying for me in the ICU didn’t count as a chruch.

    What does that person make of Christ’s comments that, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” ? (Matthew 18:20)

    Oh snap, I guess Jesus did not know what he was talking about. 🙄


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    I think there are several ways of putting this series of questions, but consider the following.

    1) Are you making it a priority to equip the congregation for the work of service, as distinct from them resourcing you for same?
    2) Are you investing too much in the pulpit-centred Sunday experience, as distinct from the believers breaking bread daily in one another’s homes?
    3) A.W. Tozer is said to have observed that “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference”. Could the same be said of your ministry within the local church? Do you occupy a higher platform, and fulfil a more significant function, than the Holy Spirit?
    4) Have you considered that you may not have been called by God to the job you are doing?


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    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “And if you don’t, our security cameras are so good We WILL Know Who You Are!”
    – Grinning Ed Young

    *hmmm*
    I wonder if you could paint up a dummy to look like yourself, get a church buddy to drop it off at the church for you in the pews…

    While you sit at home watching TV and eating pop corn, and meanwhile, your mannequin look- alike is sitting through the sermon?

    This whole approach worked for Clint Eastwood in “Escape from Alcatraz,” if anyone is having doubts about my fiendish plans for skipping Mandatory Church Attendance without being caught.

    The Alcatraz Dummies

    Good enough strategy for prisoners, should be good enough for Christians at churches that act like prisons.


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    @ Steven:
    We have written extensively on 9 Marks. We believe that they are authoritarian in their approach and unyielding in their rules. Here are a few posts to get you going.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/10/30/my-my-dubai-9-marks-played-hardball-while-lifeway-david-platt-stretched-the-truth/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/08/07/if-you-must-demand-authority-you-dont-have-it/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/05/29/9marks-and-meaningful-church-membership/


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    @ dee:
    PS Steven
    It is our opinion that you can never, ever leave a 9 Marks church unless you are leaving to attend an approved church. They will refuse to remove you from membership. You will see this in the story about Dubai.They are the Hotel California of the evangelical set.


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    @ dee:

    In all seriousness, if I am remembering right (I – or someone else – may have even linked to this on TWW in the past?), some young lady went to a church where they were big into hugging, enthusiastic hand grabbing, other physical contact in introductions to church services.

    That, coupled with some of the preacher’s comments, prompted this lady to send a polite note to the church (via e-mail, I think).

    She placed a copy of it on her blog. It was a perfectly nice, polite letter.

    She explained to them that she had (I think) P.T.S.D., or some other issue, which made hugging, hand shaking, with new people etc, very difficult for her. I think she may have had abuse in her background?

    Someone else from the church replied to her. Instead of apologizing and being understanding, they scolded her and were condescending.

    They told her it’s all on her, that if she ever wants to return to their church, she will have to get over the fear or being hugged tightly by strangers during services.

    They said her difficulty with being hugged/hand shaking was a sign of her reluctance to forgive those in her past, etc, etc.

    The whole response from the church staff was one big exercise in victim blaming.

    I think she wrote back once or twice more to that person to get them to understand, and the church/person never did understand her position, so she never went back, and she warned them so long as they continued on like that, they would be driving away other people like her.


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    srs wrote:

    So… the Protestant Reformation was bad…?

    How is a preacher standing between God and humanity any different than what the Reformers were having a fit about (ie, Catholic priests /Popes standing between laity and God)?

    What about the “priesthood of the believer,” or the fact that the Bible says each believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit?

    Doesn’t the Bible say that preachers are to “feed the sheep” (care for, instruct), not “lead” or “rule over” them?


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    dee wrote:

    We have written extensively on 9 Marks. We believe that they are authoritarian in their approach and unyielding in their rules. Here are a few posts to get you going.

    Thanks Dee. We were really blindsided by this insert in the bulletin. We also noticed that when new members were inducted yesterday that there was an 8 point “covenant.” I wasn’t fond of most of these but one jumped out: you had to covenant to “tithe.” I was surprised at this. I am really confounded by how it is that people willingly take on a yoke that is not remotely biblical. It seems that you really do have to check your brains at the door if you want to be “happy” in a church; it just isn’t for the thinking and discerning person. Thanks again for the links. Steve


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    @ Lin:

    That reminds me! I forget where I came across this, maybe a Christian TV show about the supernatural.

    The incident the show talked about happened maybe some time in the 1940s or as late as the 1960s.

    Anyway. A bunch of Christian folks were supposed to meet on a Sunday night for choir practice or services or whatever, but each one of them had to call the other to cancel, for various reasons (and not all of them were “desperately ill”). Some of them showed up at the church late.

    The church blew up that night. I think it was a gas line problem or whatever.

    If all those people had shown up to church or shown up on time, they would have been killed, or injured. This story was presented as God’s providence, God looking out for all these folks, etc.

    It looks like there are times when not going to church will be to your benefit. 🙂

    I found a copy of the story, and Snopes says it is true:
    Choir Non-Quorum

    Claim: When a Nebraska church exploded in 1950, no one was injured because every member of the choir was late arriving for practice that evening.

    [According to Snopes, this is a TRUE story]

    … But every one of the choir’s fifteen members escaped injury, saved by a fortuitous coincidence: All were late for practice that night. Considering the sanctified site of the explosion, it was not surprising that some attributed the near miss to divine intervention.


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    @ seeking truth:

    I’m very sorry for all the hardships you and your family have endured, and that your church treated you as they did.

    They should have been offering you and your family help, rather than expecting you to serve the church.

    That is very one-sided, for churches to take, take, take and never give.


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    dee wrote:

    We have written extensively on 9 Marks. We believe that they are authoritarian in their approach and unyielding in their rules. Here are a few posts to get you going.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/10/30/my-my-dubai-9-marks-played-hardball-while-lifeway-david-platt-stretched-the-truth/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/08/07/if-you-must-demand-authority-you-dont-have-it/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/05/29/9marks-and-meaningful-church-membership/

    Dee,
    I linked to JA’s blog from your second link regarding Jonathan Leeman. Coincidentally, he actually wrote the material that was a bulletin insert yesterday that I referenced above. He actually is making a case for “authority” in a local church from Genesis 1:28. That is astounding. It is tragic that the church has been hijacked by people like this. If he can do that with this verse then the Bible is absolutely meaningless. We simply aren’t free to engage in such loose handling of the scriptures (nor for any other piece of literature, including the newspaper.) Yours and JA’s blogs have revealed to me that we (the church) are in very deep weeds. I also met someone yesterday who is a “fan” of CJ Mahaney. I know virtually nothing about him but my suspicion is that what I find out won’t be good. I really do hope that a serious solution/alternative to all this is forthcoming from someone/somewhere. Keep up the great work. Steve


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    Moxie wrote:

    Yes! That’s exactly what they told us at my former A29 church. We were told that going down the road to “try out” another church was like committing adultery in marriage. Even if it was deemed a “solid” church!

    I haven’t been to any church at all in a few years, so if we’re going to over-utilize the marital relations analogy as Christians are prone to do:
    Hey look at me, I’m practicing celibacy (in more than one way) and have the “gift of church singleness”, woo hoo.


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    Patrice wrote:

    Families are made of two-jobs earners because that is the only way they can get through, even while they also continually slip behind. This means they are always tired, fighting feelings of defeat, strapped for cash/time/energy. Rather than be sympathetic and organize the community around new realities, leaders double/triple down. Keep church structure as it is, at all costs!

    They also install “giving kiosks.”
    “Easy Tithe” Giving Kiosk


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    (off topic, well, maybe not)

    This comes from WND, a site some people hate, but I think some of their editorials or reporting is okay (they put the title in all caps; I pasted it as is, I didn’t feel like re typing it):

    DON’T QUESTION THE PASTOR, HE’S FAMOUS

    Exclusive: Jim Fletcher warns of the cult of celebrity in churches

    I haven’t read it yet.


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    @ Daisy:

    Shoot, the link got messed up in my post above (sometimes the copy function does not pick up the ‘h t t p’ part of a web address when I paste it. I suspect that’s what happened).

    DON’T QUESTION THE PASTOR, HE’S FAMOUS


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    anonymous wrote:

    Despite their flaws, God was using those places of worship to bless His people.

    As has been pointed out in posts above yours, church is not necessarily a “where” (building made of bricks) or not necessarily, or strictly, a “when” (Sunday morning for an hour and a half), but a group of people who believe in Jesus.


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    @ Diane:

    Another thing too, when I went alone to a Baptist church several years ago for about two or two and a half years, I preferred Wednesday night services.

    I went to the Wed night service, about every single week, for 2 – 2.5 yrs.

    I did attend that church on Sunday morning services several times but felt more at ease on Wed as there were not as many people, the bright lights were dimmed, casual dress, etc.

    But in this DeYoung guy’s view, my weekly 2 – 2.5 years attendance did not cut it because it was not on Sundays? 🙄


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    I just want to say again that this online community stirs up my thoughts tremendously. Whether it be the posts from Dee and Deb, or the comments from readers, I am always challenged to consider what I actually believe. I love that! If we actually believed the Body of Christ has many different parts, we would stop secluding ourselves among our limited confines of familiarity. It bugs me so much that pastors tell their congregations to avoid different-minded people. They disguise avoiding social media as a way to holiness, but it actually an act of control over influence. “If God is for us”…then what are they so afraid of???

    You will all find this piece by Micah Murray a very worthwhile read. He titled it “Beware of thinking Biblically” and it deals with that false sense of confidence of knowing the “Biblical” way. I am currently processing though years of shame because I held “unbiblical” perspectives. By the way, Jeff VanVonderen is a wonderful resource for straightening out the head from screwy legalism.

    http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/03/05/thinking-biblically/


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    elastigirl wrote:

    I kind of thought DeYoung’s “persnickety” was worth at least 25-cents. Haven’t heard that one since Mrs Olsen said it while on the one-&-only Ingalls/Olsen camping trip on “Little House On The Prairie”.

    That is back in the day when the General Store had penny candy and women wore whale bone corsets.


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    @ Orion’sBelt:

    It looks like according to just about all branches and styles of Christianity I am going to hell when I die, assuming there is a hell.

    As I was saying on Julie Anne’s blog earlier today, even the Protestants that claim to believe in “salvation by faith alone” only believe that is true for folks initially.

    After you accept Christ, lots of these denominations believe you can go to hell for any sin, for not repenting of sin, or for not “cooperating with the Holy Spirit” in your salvation here on earth.

    Sounds like, in a lot of churches and systems of theology, a person has to be perfect and do lots of works, even after accepting Jesus as Savior, to even have a shot at Heaven. I won’t qualify for that.

    As a child, I just believed if I accepted Jesus as Savior, God wiped the slate clean, I was totally forgiven once for all, and I was going to heaven no matter what, and my salvation didn’t rest on me or anything I said or did or did not do, not even after believing in Jesus. That was my understanding as a kid.


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    @ Erik:

    It’s funny that in their acrostic that helping people and having a heart for people comes below the “give money, your time, and tithes to the church.”

    They could have put the “helping / loving people” thing in the first “H” of church, but then that would have taken precedence over the “give us your money” part, I guess. 😆

    The truthful acronym for most churches,the letter C would stand for “Ca-ching!”
    (cash register sound)


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    Seneca “j” Griggs wrote:

    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.

    What if that was not your mindset initially but that you are critical of churches (or Christians or preachers) and see their flaws now because… stay with me here… you were wounded by one before?


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    Daisy wrote:

    Seneca “j” Griggs wrote:
    If you wish to, you can always find fault with a church or with the pastor or leadership. It’s pretty easy if that is your mindset.
    What if that was not your mindset initially but that you are critical of churches (or Christians or preachers) and see their flaws now because… stay with me here… you were wounded by one before? Daisy, I am sorry about your wounds.


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    @ Seneca “j” Griggs.:

    Assuming you ever watch entertainment that is not strictly “Christian” in nature.

    When you watch movies, like say, “The Matrix,” do you root for Neo (who is widely considered the good guy) or do you find yourself empathizing and rationalizing the actions of Agent Smith (who is widely considered by most to be one of the “bad guys”)?

    When watching Bat Man films, do you root for Bat Man or the Joker – do you try to “understand” the Joker and why he acts all evil, and then feel sorry for him?

    In Star Wars, when Darth Vader “force choked” officers to death, did you find yourself saying,

    1. “Oh wow, I feel so horrible for that officer,”

    or,

    2. “Vader, as a leader in the Empire, was in total bounds to force choke that guy. Nobody should question his decision. That officer had it coming!”


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    Nicholas wrote:

    Williams claims that antidepressants work no better than a placebo (another lie) and that the Bible alone is the cure for depression.

    I used to have clinical depression.

    Anti dep meds never helped me, and I’ve read studies that they don’t help a lot of people, but… I don’t discount them. They do help some people.

    Bible reading alone / faith / prayer did not alleviate my depression, either. To suggest that someone with depression rely only on Bible reading, prayer, church, or some other religious activity, is being ignorant.

    Anyway, I did not know that about the person behind the Driscoll Controversy site, thank you for the information.


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    @ Keith:

    Very good points! If you’re one of “the elect” it shouldn’t matter if you attend or not, it has no impact on your salvation (according to Calvinist theology).


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    @ Daisy:

    You are hilarious! I argue that “The Matrix” is actually one of the most “Christian” films there is. What a metaphor for new birth and renewing of the mind. And….Keanu Reeves can act on the same high school drama team quality as just about any “Christian” movie! 🙂


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    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And the dynamic of “How do *I* know that *I*’m REALLY one of the Elect?” which leads to searches for external evidence to PROVE that you’re REALLY Elect

    I remember reading about that in history classes in public school and in an American Lit class in college.

    In American Lit, we had to read a lot of stuff by religious guys from the 18th century. Some of the works in our book (which was very thick) was proceeded by history lessons of the era.

    Based on that and the previous schooling, and some side reading I did in Encyclopedias, I remember that those guys really wound themselves into pretzels not knowing if they were the “elect” or not, and they thought the only way to figure it out was to do lots of good deeds in this life, etc etc etc.

    I got depressed and tired just reading about it.


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    numo wrote:

    Just thinking about the fact that there are no long lists of rules in the NT about how to “have church.”
    Or, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

    Also, why is DeYoung caught up on Sundays being the one and only acceptable time “for church,” when Paul wrote,

    Romans 14:5
    One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.


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    @ Seneca “j” Griggs:

    You raised a few good points there, but I’m not sure any (or most) of them firmly stamp out the idea of a data base being a good idea.

    Even now, in some schools, churches, or any place of employment that has anything to do with children, I’ve read experts on child abuse advise not using only one method to catch these guys, they say there should be multiple layers and tools.

    A database of pervs could be another layer, not just the only one.


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    @ Eagle:

    I always wanted to get married and never was.

    I see Christian women now who confess to having had very active sex lives with many partners prior to being married, some even worked in the dirty movie business, and such.

    I’ve retained my virginity into my 40s and was a good Christian girl my whole life, and no spouse for me.

    Based on Christian teaching I heard and read growing up, it was implied if you did what I did (was a good girl and prayed), you’d get a spouse.

    But you see people who worked as pole dancers, strippers, who say they were very sexually active prior to marriage, or that story of that male pedophile who got married (the preacher fixed him up), and it makes you wonder about how Christians teach about marriage.


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    sad observer wrote:

    Like I said, I don’t think the leaders had bad motives (this was the model of church they’d been taught). They just had this incredibly strange expectation that trust will autmoatically be manufactured in a church environment, and that is something that only the Holy Spirit can build between people over time.

    That sounds like one job I had after they hired a new project manager. She was not trustworthy.

    She loved to stir up trouble. She’d take any personal information she learned about people against them on the job.

    But there was this forced happiness thing going on, an emphasis on “team work.” Her and the other boss there tried to force us to be a “team.” It felt so fake and forced.


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    Seneca “j” Griggs. wrote:

    Daisy, I am sorry about your wounds.

    Thank you for your concern.

    However, you seem to think that people on blogs such as this one nit pick at churches and pastors just for kicks and giggles only, or that they don’t have any sort of right to do so, or no understandable reasons for doing so.


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    @ Erik:

    I enjoyed Matrix part one, but Matrix 2, 3 were mostly just bad, other than a few cool fight scenes. 🙂

    And yes, most Christian entertainment (movies at least) is dreadful. HUG and I have exchanged several posts about it on older threads on this blog.

    One of my favorite cheesy scenes from a sub-standard Christian film is this one:
    “Jesus, man!”

    Anyway, I wonder about people who overly empathize with people who are obvious dirt balls, or who may be okay people who have done real dirt ball things.

    IMO, there’s a time for the, “we’re all sinners,” and “I empathize,” and a time to chuck that aside and hold someone accountable.

    I just wonder, if you are a person who has a tendency to feel sorry for preachers and churches who act crummy getting criticized for being crummy,

    If this behavior extends to entertainment choices, like finding yourself sympathizing with, or weeping for…
    Lex Luthor or General Zod while watching Superman movies. (At least in the Christopher Reeve as Superman versions.)


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    @ Muff Potter: iirc, it has to do with the ELCA’s resolution on LGBT clergy, and what an individual congregation chose to do (accept; it’s on a congregation by congregation basis).

    Many have left the ELCA over this, and J. Piper and others opined that a tornado that struck the church where the synod was deliberating on the resolution was God’s judgement on the ELCA.

    Of course, when tornadoes and wildfires and floods and earthquakes and other disasters hit places where J. Piper and his friends live, they are never, ever about God’s judgement…


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    I read here a lot and have posted in the past but then I get to reading comments and start thinking that I have nothing anybody wants to hear even though I might think I have something to say. I knoq I’m atupid and that many posters are way smarter than me and that people will always read their comments just because of who they are but I atill want to say something even though I am in tears right now and I know nobody is going to listen to me.

    If you say you are a Christian, then you are a Christian. I was taught to take peoples’s word for it. The quality of Christian you are is between you and Jesus. Your behavior is up for judgement I.e. if you are abusive towards others you should be called on your behavior and you should clean up your act. But personal little quirks such translation preferences are not things to jydge.

    Attendence keeping harkens back to grade school and demonstrates a need to micromanage on a level that even God doesn’t do. It’s one thing to count so you know if you need more chairs or songbooks or to know how many hosts may be needed for Communion (I’m using Catholic terms so I might confuse people and I’m Catholic so I use what I know) but quite another to use numbers to humiliate and bash people over the head because they don’t fit your narrow impossible standards definition of Chriatian.

    Even the Catholic Church who says that deliberately missing Sunday Mass is a mortal sin understands that there are many reasons why a person can’t make it to Mass and are even excused insome cases from attending. Being sick, especially for those that have compromised immune systems is allowed. Okat, that’s not explaining it well. Say Bob has a autoimmune disorder or even diabetes which makes him susceptible to every little sniffle and Sally has a cold. Sally is allowed to miss Mass not jyst because she is sick but also to protect Bob. And Bob can miss Massduring high sickbtimes to protect himself. Bob should also talk to his priest. Neither would be guilty of mortal sin because loving your neighbor does not mean sharing your sickness with them. If you were the caretaker of Bob and he has more extensive needs that he can’t really be left alone, then you as the caretaker of Bob are allowed to miss Mass to care for Bob.

    Parents are allowed to miss Mass to care for children. And mothers whovhave just given birth allowed to miss due to the needs of the baby and protecting mother and baby fromgetting sickbin those first few weeks of life.

    Care workers, firstvresponders are allowed to miss because their jobs are vital . And working Sunday is allowed because you have to pay the bils and Catholic Church recognizes that. And yes, mental healthbissues and chronic health issues and bad weather are all valid reasons to miss Mass.

    This is where having a spiritual director and/or confessor that you know well and who knows you well really helps. It’s honestly going to depend and most priests are going to err on the side of xaution and try to help you rather than hurting you or humiliating you. They want you to succeed not fail.

    Sorry for all the typos and mistakes. At least the tears have stopped. And the tears didn’t really have anything to do with this site. I guess just where I am emotiobally right now and it’s not a fun place.

    And Dee and Deb, you can delete this comment if you feel it’s necessary..


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    dee wrote:

    Orion

    There are differences in the justification for requiring attendance, yes. But the idea is the same – you attend or your soul is in danger. And the RCC has not the best history on abuse of authority over the years, so I think it probably fits here.

    OTOH, The point the RCC makes I find most compelling is that many people have died, sacrificed their lives for the right to attend, to meet together as Christians. How can we take that opportunity and waste it without it being a sin.

    Zeta


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    Dear Pacbox, I am so sorry to hear you are not in a good space. Sending you warm fuzzies from the southern hemisphere. I have always appreciated your comments and this one is full of love and common sense and understanding of what it means to be human.

    ‘Father-like He tends and spare us,
    Well our feeble frame He knows.
    In His hands He gently bears us
    REscues us from all our foes.
    Praise Him, Praise Him,
    widely as His mercy flows.’


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    Daisy wrote:

    Orion

    Daisy wrote:

    As a child, I just believed if I accepted Jesus as Savior, God wiped the slate clean, I was totally forgiven once for all, and I was going to heaven no matter what, and my salvation didn’t rest on me or anything I said or did or did not do, not even after believing in Jesus. That was my understanding as a kid.

    What you believed is correct. Salvation is a free gift based on faith in Christ. It is not based on what we do. There is a caveat to this however. To believe in Christ is to be changed by Him into His image over time. Belief in Christ that does not change us is not belief. Nevertheless, your salvation is not a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather a walk with the risen Christ wherein you and He become one through the Holy Spirit and His desires become your desires. How that works out is unique and between you and Him, but certain things consistent with His revealed nature of love and righteousness will gradually become part of who you are, and other things that are part of the sinful human buried with Christ in Baptism will gradually fall away from who you are.

    Funny thing is, a whole bunch of those folks that run around telling others what they ‘ought’ to do to be ‘good’ Christians never actually demonstrate that true changed nature that is the hallmark of true faith.

    Likewise, many people that draw the ire of those I mention above actually demonstrate that nature of Christ far more concisely and beautifully, all the while ‘breaking the rules’ laid down by the self-righteous.

    It’s kind of an odd paradox really.

    You hold to that initial idea or what Salvation is and run with it, with Him. It will serve you well. Just stay true to your conscience and what He leads you to be as measured in Scripture and as He reveals it to you. An honest heart seeking Christ and reading the scripture will find the right path.

    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”. Rev 3:20

    “For God so loved that world that He gave his only begotten son. Whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.” John 3:16

    Zeta


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    @ Muff Potter:

    24 hours later and I am still down about the Pack’s loss.

    Their dinged-up, cobbled-together defense played their hearts out.

    I am also coping with the guilt of being a Title Town, U.S.A. traitor because, well … I have to admit … Colin Kapernick is really something special.


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    @ Pacbox:

    I hear you, Pacbox. And I’ve always enjoyed your comments. 🙂


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    Daisy wrote:

    It looks like according to just about all branches and styles of Christianity I am going to hell when I die, assuming there is a hell.
    As I was saying on Julie Anne’s blog earlier today, even the Protestants that claim to believe in “salvation by faith alone” only believe that is true for folks initially.

    Hi Daisy,

    You’ve motivated me to write my first ever comment, even though I’v been reading this site for some time.

    I think I know where you’re coming from as this is something I’ve been struggling with for a while now. In the end I thought whatever requirements we come up with for salvation, they need to work with the thief on the cross. I think you’re right – acceptance of Jesus’ forgiveness is sufficient. This is the good news the disciples and the early church were so excited about – it’s all so simple!

    Problem is, we just can’t accept that that’s all that’s required. There must be more right? And so we add on layers and layers of requirements in order to make us acceptable to God. This was Luther’s realisation – that there is NOTHING we can do to make ourselves right with God. Nothing. Jesus has done EVERYTHING required, all we need to is accept that gift. That’s all!

    That being said, I’m still having difficulty accepting it because it’s all so … easy. It goes against everything we’re taught – value of work, can’t get something for nothing etc. Perhaps there’s pride involved as well – I’d like to feel somehow that I was able to play a part, or maybe God likes me a bit better than someone else because of what a good “christian” I’ve been …

    It’s so hard because we can’t accept it’s really so easy


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    elastigirl wrote:

    @ Pacbox:

    I hear you, Pacbox. And I’ve always enjoyed your comments.

    T.hanks Like I said bad head space right now. At least the holidays are over and those were actually pretty good this time around (dysfunctional family and abusive mother are thousands of miles away and so I don’t have to deal with them; family holidays were painful growing up). My birthday is coming up and I haven’t had a lot a good ones even away from family. So I’m anxious about that. Turning 32 doesn’t bother me; it’s all a matter of perspective. It’s having friends make plans and then having friends cancel last minute over something so inconsequential it could have waited three days. And I don’t want to say anything about fhow I’meeling like I’m not important enough or that I’m hurt over being dumped like that because I’m terrible at the friend thing and I don’t want to lose the few friends I have so I just keep my mouth shut. It’s easier to let others do what they want and for me to suffer in silence. So bad headspace until about the middle of February. And I’m still unemployed so that doesn’t help either.

    I’m not saying this to gain sympathy or have people feel sorry for me. It’s just where I am.


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    @ Pacbox:

    i can relate. i suspect just about everyone can.

    sucks, huh.

    one thing I’ve realized — the cozy lives everyone but me has seemed to have… don’t exist. but i hope you find cozy love, peace, & joy as you walk your road.


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    Hey Pacbox, I’m not a pray-er anymore, but how about…I’m believing for you that you will be able to engage and seek out opportunities that will help get the employment you need. “This suckiness too will pass”. You’re not alone Pacbox.


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    We had some earlier comments about people in the Bible not calling themselves by leadership titles. At least in this passage, Peter did.
    1 Peter 5 ‘Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”


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    @ Pacbox: if I could somehow take away at least some of the pain you’re feeling, I would do it.

    gentle hugs,
    numo


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    Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    It’s gotta be COLD out there! Even colder than Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin) I betcha! I was not happy yesterday when the Packers got beat by the San Francisco 49′ers with a field goal in the closing seconds of the game.

    Certainly true – although we have to be a bit careful about how we define the temperature of a vacuum, you can think of it as being around -200°C that far from the sun.

    Sorry to hear about the Packers – I have no footballing affiliation in the US but can empathise since Liverpool have recently lost two “6-pointers” in succession, moving us from top to fourth in the table.


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    Moxie wrote:

    That’s exactly what they told us at my former A29 church. We were told that going down the road to “try out” another church was like committing adultery in marriage.

    The very idea that one is (even analogously) “married” to a single sect within the church such that one is under covenant to that body of believers and no others, is no mere “error”.

    Divisiveness and factionalism are denounced in the NT in much the same tones (and often in the same breath) as drunkenness, gossip and sexual immorality. Any leadership that teaches this is teaching and practicing institutionalised divisiveness, and is leading others into the same fashionable sin. They get away with it because it is fashionable. A pastor who had an affair would not be sacked from a congregation that openly celebrated sexual libertarianism and practiced 60’s-style “free love”; but that congregation probably wouldn’t be widely accepted as a “proper church”. They’d probably be denounced as a cult.


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    linda wrote:

    I have a priest–His name is Jesus. I have a Shepard. His name is Jesus. I have a whole slew of teachers, complete with their library of 66 books.
    I’m weary of those who want to get between me and Christ, or between others and Christ, or try to dispense Him as if they are in control. But I sure welcome those that are ready to work alongside other believers in leading the world to faith in Him.

    Yup – I like your style – And reasoning… 😉

    Had a friend who said almost these exact words – Often,,,
    About those with the “Titles.”
    And the Power, Profit, Prestige that comes with the “Titles.”

    “I’m weary of those who want to get between me and Christ, or between others and Christ,”

    And Jesus calls himself
    The “ONE” Shepherd – The “ONE” Leader – the “ONE” Teacher…


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    Victorious wrote:

    Blessings to you and thank you for always responding graciously.

    Victorious

    Thank you for this…
    “Blessings to you and thank you for always responding graciously.”

    Many rants, questions, challenges, are NOT popular – A kind word is nice to receive. 🙂

    And, I also have appreciated your graciousness and thoughts.

    Malachi 3:16 KJV
    Then they that feared the LORD
    spake often one to another:
    and the LORD hearkened, and heard it,
    and a book of remembrance was written before him
    for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

    1 Tim 2:4 KJV
    Who will have all men to be saved,
    and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    Praying that WE, His Sheep, His Bride, both, ALL, come to the knowledge of the “Truth.”

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


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    raswhiting–You are correct about the passage you quoted. That said, I don’t believe any today qualify as one of the apostles as did Peter.

    But yes, terms like overseer or bishop or elder are very much used. Thing is, they were recognition of how God was already using someone, not titles dispensed on the basis of education or being hired for a job.

    Lots of people used to tell our little sandhills church they were called to preach. We’d listen–once. And we knew who were preachers and who were deluding themselves.


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    Victorious wrote:

    While I do see the fallacies taught today in churches,

    Don’t know if this is a benefit to you or not.

    My exodus from “Today’s Religious System” the 501 (c) 3, IRS corporation, took quite awhile. It began with the warning of Jesus about the Traditions of Men Making Void God’s Word.

    Mark 7:13
    NLT – And so you “cancel” the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition.
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    Little by little, as I checked out different teachings, doctrines, commandments, by the System. Found out much of what I was taught, and taught myself, was “Tradtion of Men,” And NOT the Bible. As I reseaeched “church” in the Bible, NOT much matched up with what I was taught. 🙁 Printed out every verse with “church.” Read the verses over and over again. Read what others had to say, and why…

    1 – Some, like Cooper P. Abrams, III, seem to say “ekklesia” – only means
    ….. “assembly” or “congregation.”
    ….. http://bible-truth.org/Ekklesia.html

    2 – Some, like “Ekklesia Ministries” seem to say “ekklesia” – only means
    ….. “the called out ones.”
    ….. http://www.ekklesia.ws/ekk_defined.htm

    3 – Some, like Wayne Jacobsen, say “ekklesia” – can be both.
    …. The idea of “called out” and an “assembled” body are NOT
    …. mutually exclusive expressions. The single term can embrace both ideas.
    …. http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1500-ekklesia-revisited

    4 – Some, like Strongs Concordance and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, and others…
    …. Seem to say “church,” “Ekklesia” is – both – “the called out ones” and an “assembly.”
    …. Seems before there can be an assembly, the folks, believers, His Sheep, His Disciples,
    …. have to be “called out” of where they are – then enter into that assembly.

    Church – Strongs – #1577 – ekklesia – a compound of 1537 and 2564;
    #1537 – Ek = Out of. — #2564 – Kaleo = To call
    Church – 1577. ekklesia = “a calling out,” a popular meeting, a religious congregation, assembly.

    Thayers – ekklesia –
    1 – a gathering of citizens “called out from their homes”-
    ….. into some public place – an assembly.

    I have come to believe #3 and #4 – Both “the called out ones” and “assembly”
    ….. are “both” likely options. 😉

    Do WE, His sons, His Sheep, His Called Out Ones, stop being part of “The Body of Christ,”
    His Church, when NOT assembled? Home Alone? In Prison? Soitary Confinement? Traveling?

    Do WE, His sons, His Ambassordors, stop being part of “The Body of Christ,” His Church?
    When WE, His Bride, NO longer darken the steps of the 501 (c) 3, IRS Corporation churches?

    For myself, I found quite a few verses that can be both. Some verse that refer to “called out ones.” Some verses that refer to “an assembly.” But, never found one erse referring to church as an Institution, an Organization, a Denomination, or, a Corporation

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.


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    raswhiting wrote:

    We had some earlier comments about people in the Bible not calling themselves by leadership titles.

    Was wondering…
    Who taught you about “Leadership?” And “Leadership” – “Titles?”
    Since “Leadership” is a word NOT mentioned in the Bible?

    And Jesus, in the Bible, taught His Disciples NOT to be called Leaders
    For you have “ONE” Leader – Jesus.

    And, in the Bible, NOT one of His Disciples called themself leader. 😉
    All of His Disciples called themselves “Servants.”

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders?”
    And someone calls them self a “leader?” or tells others they are a “leader?”
    Allows others to call them leader?

    Are they one of His Disciples?” 😉
    .


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    IMO, the level of/desire for control demonstrated by these leaders is certifiably mental. I am saddened, concerned but sadly not surprised.


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    Rafiki wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    24 hours later and I am still down about the Pack’s loss.

    I wonder how manmy people have comittited suicide in Wisconsin, where following the Packers is a religion! When I lived there it was salvation by Bret Favre alone!


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    @ Pacbox:
    I will pray for you.


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    @ raswhiting:
    Doesn’t sound like the leadership practiced in many (most?) churches today. Seems rather low key, being along side people, rather than running the show.


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    @ Pacbox:

    I do usually read everyone’s posts, but I don’t always comment.

    Please don’t feel that if you don’t get a comment on a post that it means it’s being ignored.

    (I usually don’t scroll past a person’s comments without reading unless it’s someone I’ve had problems with in the past and don’t want to argue or tangle with.)

    If it’s a super long comment (by anyone), I might skim it and not read closely.


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    @ Pacbox:

    I’m sorry you’re having a rough time and that your friends ditched you. 🙁


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    @ Eagle:

    Monday Night Football, Lambeau Field, early December, unholy cold, Pack vs. Seahawks, notable because it was Mike Holmgren’s first trip back to Green Bay after departing as (beloved and Super Bowl-winning) head coach.

    Packers fans gave him a standing O when he came onto the field with the Seahawks – very gracious. Had it been any other city they would have verbally abused him and pelted him with rocks!

    Come to think of it (and – sort of 🙂 – keeping on the topic of this thread): my first visit ever to Lambeau Field WAS darn near a religious experience!


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    Oy, do I feel like an idiot. Like I said, bad headspace. At least today is not so bad but then I’ve only been up an hour and a half. It’s not quite 6pm here and yes I currently have a messed up sleep schedule that doesn’t help either. But no tears so far which is nice since I left the tissue I bought in the trunk of my car and I’m currently too lazy to go get it. And it’s raining which is no excuse cause this is Oregon in winter. It does that.

    I just have to get through the next few weeks and my birthday and then things should be better. Working would also help but I’m working on the job search.

    I kind of hate it when I get emotional like this along with the bad headspace and post things for people to read and then come back and end up cringing and being so embarrassed at what I wrote and calling myself such an idiot for being so stupid. Bad headspace. I want people to respond and yet I don’t want people to respond if that makes sense.

    Oh well,off to eat some Oreo Truffles and drimk tea and read. And search for jobs.


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    Hi, Pacbox. Oh, please don’t feel that way, I know exactly what you mean. We are to bear each other’s burdens. Obviously, this is the remote kind, but in the Holy Spirit, nonetheless. I have sleep issues, too, and that makes it harder in and of itself. Is your messed up sleep schedule because of that? For my 60th birthday, I’m going to get a shingles vaccine and get myself to a doc re: the sleeping. Personally, I’m glad you shared, I think it was a very healthy thing to do. You’re appreciated here, going through something or not.

  366. Pingback: Wednesday List Link | Thinking Out Loud


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    @ Daisy:
    According to the only ‘Branch’ of Christianity that really matters, I doubt you will end up in hell – not unless you were never a believer in the first place or deliberately and permanently abandon the faith (and that begs some questions).

    I find it difficult to believe that after the simple child-like faith in Christ you talked about being all that is necessary to be put right with God, churches can then try to rob you of your assurance by making the church or attendance of church the means of salvation. There are plenty of people who attend church who are not saved! External form without internal reality.

    How can anyone read the bible for years and not see that putting believers back under rules and duties and ceremonies to retain or earn merit before God is just nonsense? Faith is negated by being turned into a work.

    I hope in your struggle to keep going, you will be able to take your eyes off the falsity of so much that calls itself church, and keep them on the ‘way the truth and the life’. I know this can sound glib, but if you start to put your faith in the church (and even ‘good’ Christians), sooner or later you will be badly let down, and this can be very difficult to cope with, all the more so as you don’t expect your problems to come from those you ought to be able to rely on most.


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    Take good care of yourself, Pacbox. And I don’t fault you at all for trying to find someone who’ll listen.

    All the best to you. I’ll be praying.


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    @ Pacbox: please don’t be so hard on yourself – this time of year is rough for lots of people. Believe me, you’ve got company – and people who care about you – here.

    Hope you can get your sleep problems worked out soon. I find that lack of good sleep plays hell with my emotions, and currently have to be extra-careful to get a decent night’s rest plus some brief naps in order to cope better. (Hard time of year for me, too.)


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    @ Pacbox:

    Naaah, don’t feel bad. We all have bad days and sometimes it helps to vent about them a little with other people.

    I wish you success in your job hunt. 🙂


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    @ Ken:

    There are a lot of denominations and individual Christians out there who do teach that faith alone in Christ isn’t enough.

    They teach that accepting Christ only gets your foot in the door so to speak, and after that, your behavior can cause you to lose your salvation, or you have to be baptized, or show up to church regularly and partake in some kind of service or act or another – they add all sorts of other requirements on to things, so you have to work to maintain your salvation.

    I accepted Christ as Savior before the age of ten, and my understanding at that age was what some would call “once saved always saved,” though I did not know that term at that young age.

    As I got older (especially after the internet came along), I started seeing more and more Christians say that faith in Jesus was not enough, and it could not “keep” me saved. Some of these guys believe in something called “Conditional Security.”

    You can’t do anything to earn your salvation, so I don’t see how you can do anything to work to “keep” it, either.

    Then there are debates over ‘Lordship salvation.’ Some Christians say faith is not enough, you have to make Christ Lord over your whole life or your conversion experience is not enough or is not genuine.

    I just see so many individuals, denominations, and churches tacking on additional requirements, when all Jesus ever said was “believe.”

    The message I heard and received as a kid was not terribly complicated, but some adult Christians want to make it complicated.


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    Janet Mefferd mentioned this topic on her radio show of Jan 6, after interviewing an author about his book about atheism (his interview is probably around 30 minutes long):
    Jan 6, 2014, Hour 2

    I am wondering when these authoritarian churches are going to start sending out their own T-1000s to track down church skippers. 😆

    When it comes to that, we are going to have to get a Kyle Reese from the future, or capture and reprogram an 800 series cyborg to protect the wayward.


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    Aw, I dont think my Mefferd link worked before.

    The part about church attendance comes after the interview with the author:
    Jan 6, 2014, Hour 2 (corrected link)

    I hope this link works.


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    Daisy–lady, I could not agree with you more!!

    I became a Baptist because the local church taught just what you are saying. And to naysayers–yes, we can as Christians shoot ourselves in the foot with sin, damage our lives, our reputations, our witness, and our eternal rewards but we cannot lose our salvation. We have Jesus’ own word on it in the scriptures. And that isn’t license to sin anymore than the fact it is legal to drop a ten pound hammer on your toe is license to do that without consequences.

    Daisy–there are some excellent writers you might enjoy. Hershel Hobbs, E.Y. Mullins, surprisingly the Calvinist Michael Horton also takes your side in his book “Christless Christianity.”

    Perhaps Pastor Wade could give us a good booklist for those holding to the historic SBC faith.


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    Janet Mefferd Show-1/9/2014
    Show summary:
    “Hour 2 – Dr. Thom Rainer from LifeWay Christian Resources discusses his predictions for the American church in 2014.”


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    I didn’t take this taking roll thing literally/seriously until yesterday. In the constitution of a prominent church in our community is the requirement of attending worship services at least 24 times per year. This assumes that they’re counting.


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    Many years ago I actually was an attendance taker at our church. (for members) As the church had congregational polity on all matters of the church.The congregation had also enacted a rule, members must attend worship service at least 27 Sundays a year, in order to be eligible to vote at the yearly business meeting. (excluding illness,etc.)
    Apparently before my time of membership,a few members would show up at holidays only and then again at the annual business meeting to vote.


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    I read a lot of the comments here but not all of them so please forgive me if someone has said anything to this affect so far …

    I have found that pastors that are not regularly filled by and listening to the Holy Spirit fall back on their fleshly idols that mightily exist in all of us and say things that lead to legalism.

    LEGALISM is a serious and debilitating disease in the church. It needs to be regularly fought against and called out whenever it rears its ugly head. It destroys the work of the Spirit. It bears the fruit of anger and selfishness. It is the ENEMY OF GRACE.

    I spent 25+ years in Sovereign Grace Churches. When Pastors stopped listening and following the Spirit and instead listened to and followed men (CJ Mahaney, Dave Harvey, et al.), then Legalism set in (quick note: I’d venture to say that 95%+ of the pastors that DID regularly listen to and follow the Holy Spirit have already left or were tossed out on their ears for calling out these leaders). It DESTROYED relationships, fellowship and families. Grace was nowhere to be found. Funny thing that a church with “grace’ in its name didn’t show it to other pastors or members. That’s what happens when you kick the Holy Spirit out of the door and try to do things “man’s way”!

    The church belongs to Christ and Him alone. Not the pastor that is TEMPORARILY there to HELP the sheep. Jesus knows the heart … He knows who is fellowshipping and who isn’t. Pastors should forget the legalism and focus on the HEART of the individuals in the congregation. SGM made GREAT legalists. They exceled at it! Unfortunately, although it may all look great on the outside, the vast majority of people were dried up and dead in their souls.

    I’ll never again trade in the grace of Jesus for the legalism of man. So, go ahead and take attendance. I don’t fear man, the pastor or the deacon. I fear Christ and Him alone. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I will do my best to follow scriptures and to please the Lord.


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    Some churches are encouraging members to not attend church. 😆

    Catholic Churches Help Congregants Avoid Flu / Germy Chalices

    If more Baptist and evangelical churches took the approach of telling me not to attend, it might make me want to change my mind and go back. Reverse psychology, I guess.

    I do know that guilting me, threatening me, or bullying me about it is not going to work.