Categories
haiti hmm... thoughts Social Action

Ephesians 5:14 and You

A young man prays in Carrefour, the epicenter of the January 12th earthquake

“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14

I first memorized Ephesians 5 with Kristen in 1995. We were dating and we had discovered that memorizing Scripture together was a way to channel our, um, energy for one another. It worked!

This passage of Scripture has been illuminated to me in new ways since I returned from Haiti a few days ago.

On the one hand– I need to shake the trip, to focus on the action items ahead of me, to move on with being a leader, husband, and father here in San Diego. I am needed here and there is no denying it. That much is clear.

On the other hand– everywhere I go I encounter something I cannot reconcile with what I have seen. Yesterday, I spent most of my day in a coffee shop sipping mochas and working on a freelance project for some friends. I am proud of the work I did yesterday. It turned out great. I love the opportunity it provides both for my family and the organization this work will benefit. But as I walked through my neighborhood I couldn’t help but think of the contrast to what I was doing just a week prior. Last Saturday, sounds of thousands praising Jesus and shouting prayers filled every neighborhood in Port-au-Prince and Carrefour. Even as night fell and we rested in our mission station we could hear the loud speakers in the distance… people singing and praising well into the humid darkness. Yesterday, back home in my neighborhood– nearly silence. The only sounds heard were children playing soccer in the park.

One place was awake. The other asleep.

Paul doesn’t leave me there, he continues, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.Ephesians 5:15-17

My prayer while in Haiti were verses 15-17. I overlooked verse 14. My teammates kind of poked fun at me because I barely slept the whole week. I’d go to bed after they were asleep and they’d wake up and I’d already be up. It’s was this verse… I was doing what I could to make the most of every opportunity. I could sleep on the plane.

But it is verse 14 which stirs me now. Now I have to sort out how I can be awake to both realities.
Categories
hmm... thoughts Music

Pressing Play on Life

I woke up thinking about this song. Flashback to the 90s, right?

In so many ways life has felt like it was on pause since September when I went to LA for convention. I’ve just been consumed by work. It swallowed me.

And yesterday brought so much release. (Er, if the illustration of “swallowed by work” holds true, I guess that means work vomited or pooped me out? Let’s just not take the illustration there.) When I got home yesterday, I just felt like life could return to normal. I went to Target to Christmas shop. I took a little nap. I took Kristen out to a very nice restaurant and a movie. And this morning… it’s time to grab the leash and take Stoney to the beach.

Back to life, back to reality…

I’ll spare you the video of me dancing. But just so you know, I’m dancing.

Categories
Church Leadership hmm... thoughts Manifesto

Two views of the local church

church-views

There are two sides to every coin, aren’t there? I’ve had this post stuck in my head for several weeks– and I think the illustration says it all.

Church leaders: Complacency sneaks in. We surround ourselves with people who go to church. We spend a lot of our time at the church. Our perspective becomes that the community revolves around activities at the church. Pretty soon we become ambivelent about the neighborhood we live in. Our schedule is defined on what’s convenient to those who come to church. Our agenda becomes to serve them.

We perceive our ministry as a “city on a hill” when in fact the people living in our neighborhood are completely unaware of our existence. Before we know it, we are so comfortable with our programs, budgets, staff, and people who come to church we forget reality.

The reality is that in most communities about 5% of the population attends a church. And yet we are comforable with that. Go ahead do the math yourself. Spend 30 minutes calling every church in your community and get actual attendence numbers. Next, simply divide that number by the population of your community. In most places that number is 5% or less of people who attend church on any given weekend. And we all know that just because someone attends church on Sunday doesn’t mean they are Christians, right?

Why not take some time to get to know how 95% of the population views your church? Think of it like this. Count the next 20 cars that drive past your house. Only the 20th car will attend a church this weekend. In the illustration above there are 18 houses in view of that church. And none of them will attend that church this weekend. If your theology is like mine, you recognize that Jesus died for all 20 of the people in those cars and all 18 of the people who live in those houses. But who is our ministry serving? The 5% who show up. Most of our money and time is spent serving Jesus from the perspective of the 5% and not the 95%.

That perspective should change things. 1 in 20 people will attend church this weekend. Any church. Even that church that is so bad you won’t even meet with the pastor to pray.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. Romans 12:3, The Message

And yet church leaders reassure themselves that numbers don’t matter! This is the state of the church and people say we don’t need to fundamentally change how we do ministry. We worry about offending the 5%. We worry about changing too much too fast while our sworn enemy puts up victory statues all over. We follow leaders who look at this reality, shrug their shoulders, and move on with their lives. We go to denominiational meetings which agree to spend more money on organizations which are smaller every year. In short, we invest all of our time and energy in a broken model.

And then when someone really breaks through. And that community reaches 6% of the population so we flock to hear how they did it? Got a book? Teach a seminar? Our perspective is jacked up, isn’t it?

New leaders are needed. I dream of church leaders coming to the forefront who are drastically interested in the 95%. I long to surround myself with leaders who keep the 5% in perspective. We celebrate those lives changed! But I want to be with men and women who think differently. Where are the leaders who look at those 5% as just the beginning? Where are the people who recognize that a model cannot be built around an individuals talents? Where are the leaders who know they need to start a swarming movement?

Point me to those people. I am tired of those who are satisfied with the failure of 5%.