Church Leadership Social Action

Worth fighting for

The last few days I’ve been following the story of Shaun King, an Atlanta church planter and friend of YS, who recently discovered his former boss & pastor has admittedly molested and raped some children.* After doing some further research Shaun learned that other church leaders were aware of the situation but remained silent.

Not Shaun. He took to Twitter to expose the problem. Here’s how he kicked things off:

Bishop Johnathan Alvarado of Total Grace Christian Center is a child molester. In the name of Jesus I declare this must end RIGHT NOW. @shaunking – March 13th, 2011

Here is the crux of his demand:

I have heard the worst, learned of his admission of guilt, yet he continues to serve and preach. Kids get the raw end of this deal. No more. @shaunking – March 13th, 2011

And he didn’t back down from there. He has continued to press on. Laying out his case and defending it with more evidence. Even if you don’t like Twitter, please take a few minutes to read through Shaun’s tweets from the past few days.

You will see righteous anger in action. As he says, “I will STAND FOR KIDS 100 out of 100 times.

It is the embodiment of Ephesians 5:11-13:

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

I know many are offended by Shaun, his tactics, and think that he is somehow giving the church a bad name. Are you kidding me? If these allegations are true, (and it seems the pastor admitted to them) young men were raped, families paid off, and the pastor went right on preaching? That’s a disgrace and we need to applaud Shaun for speaking out! To be silent, to deal with that in private, is disturbing. If you’ll protect a rapist… who wouldn’t you protect?

This morning I’m asking for 3 things:

  1. Pray for Shaun, Rai, and his kids. Pray for the victims and their families. Many in church circles are denouncing Shaun for speaking out. And sadly other people have sent him death threats. Pray that God protects Shaun as he stands in the gap for children in his community. Pray that justice prevails, not in the court of public opinion, but in a court of law.
  2. Reflect on the types of things worth fighting for in your life. What are things that you, as a child of God, would cause you to stand up and fight for, putting your reputation on the line for, even to the point of receiving death threats as you expose light to darkness?
  3. Act, act, act. I believe there are countless stories like this hidden in the confines of the church today. Expose them. Today. There is a devil-inspired lie that “true believers” settle things without the courts involvement. I’ve even heard people say that it’s a sin to sue a church. That is a lie. Examine 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 yourself. Rape is not trivial. Breaking the law is not trivial. Extortion is not trivial. On and on. Examine the context and reason Paul wrote those words. But yet this untruth has lead to countless victims and the continued victimization by people originally called to represent Jesus. Expose them. Do not take refuge in the reality that God will judge them. It is your responsibility as a believer to bring light to dark places. Search your heart, discover what is worth fighting for, and act. Today.

*I’ll admit in sharing this story that I’m confused on some of the details. I don’t know how a person can rape children and settle that in court without criminal charges against the accused. I firmly believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty. If someone could help me understand Shaun’s statements that the person has admitted guilt and not received a criminal complaint, please enlighten me. Is this a statute of limitations thing?

Christian Living

Stop learning and start acting

Photo by Meredith Farmer via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’m surprised how much listening and reading we are expected to do as Christians.

  • Listen to a sermon each week – 35-45 minutes
  • Read from the Bible each day – 15-30 minutes
  • Listen to people read Bible verses and sing songs at church – 60 minutes
  • Attend a weekly mid-week service, small group, or youth group – 30-60 minutes
  • Listen to podcasts of even more sermons – 60-90 minutes per week

Is the Christian life just about listening and reading or is it supposed to be about learning?

Because if it’s about learning– I don’t learn very much by listening and reading in other areas of my life.

  • I have only read 1-2 books and maybe watched a couple of television shows about parenting, but I’ve learned how to parent.
  • Outside of the Bible, I can’t think of any non-fiction book I’ve finished… ever. I start books but never finish them.
  • I go to a job each day where I learn lots each day, and I’ve never read a book or listening to a lecture on almost any of it. “On the job training” has defined my work life.
  • I’m learning how to garden, but I haven’t read a book about it and I wouldn’t even know where to start to find a lecture about it.

On and on. In most areas of my life I learn mostly by doing and almost never by sitting passively and listening or reading the same book over and over again.

The Christian life is so passive. It is repulsive. We believe all of the right things and act on none of it.

Who is all of this instruction for?

The people hearing it or the person teaching it?

If I’m honest, I learn way more when I’m asked to teach from the Bible than I do if I just sit on my hands for 30 minutes and listen. And yet pastors teach and everyone else is expected to just listen… and even if we learn something no one is ever going to ask us to put it into action, nor follow-up with us, nor hold us accountable. Each Sunday is a new data dump. There will never be a test. We’ll never be asked to write papers. No one ever asks us if we are actually learning.

If the Christian life were a class– church is the lecture series we audit.

Did Jesus die so I could go to church and listen to sermons I’ll never put into action?

Is that what we really believe? All of the empirical evidence seems to point to that. Our systematic theology says no, but our practical theology says yes.

For all the messages that have been preached to me, the thousands of hours of Bible study, and the thousands of hours of mid-week teaching I’ve received you’d think, the hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into me– at some point, someone would look at me and say, “Dude, you know everything you need to know. Get out of here and live this stuff. Stop learning and start doing!

That’s never going to happen. Why? Because we measure passive activity and mislabel it as success. We lie to ourselves by rewarding the wrong people, we label passive reception of God’s word as good, and putting the Word to action is tertiary.

It’s not supposed to be this way.

James, who knew Jesus’ teaching well, was right. He addressed this danger directly.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25

Get out and live the Gospel. Stop learning and start acting on what you’ve learned.

Jesus didn’t die for you so that you could go to church and hear people preach. Of course you don’t believe that.

Live otherwise.

Church Leadership

Boring Old Church

Photo by richardmasoner via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Perhaps the reason your church isn’t growing is because you are boring? Your church is boring. Your faith is boring. The Jesus you’re presenting is boring.

People’s faith isn’t challenged by your ability to keep them busy. It is transformed when they are sent out to do God’s work in their daily life.

The last thing most people need is another sermon. The last thing they need is another worship experience.

The first thing they need is to apply the last thing you taught them. I guarantee you that your next worship service will be exciting if your community of believers is coming to worship Jesus after they have dipped their toes in the River of Grace and seen Him act.

That is exciting. That grows… Quickly.

No more songs about moving mountains until you show people– God moving mountains!