Thursday, July 14, 2005

Story-Time

Listen up, young'uns. Grandpa Jasdye is gonna tell ya some stories. They're not particularly great stories, nor particularly well-told. For that, you may want to check out Timi and Gabi's blogs. But, since you're here, this is what you get:

I volunteered to help a church that we sometimes attend (don't worry, steeplechasers. It's on Saturday nights. And I take along a group of teenagers. It's not infidelity. I stopped dating the church a long time ago.) run a concert on the block a few weeks ago. Got several of my youth (I'm a youth ministries director, kind of like a youth pastor without the skateboards I suppose.) to volunteer alongside. We were at a preliminary meeting for the volunteers when Pastor Phil warned us to be on our toes, because when the church is doing something right, the devil will pound. (Yes, I believe in demons. Not D&D type stuff. And I don't believe in them like I believe in God, but I believe that they're active, but not in some silly Stephen King way.)

He offered an example of when he had a speaking engagement at a church and the speakers blew out so he had to speak through a monitor. "And they had some ladies in the back," he ad-libs, "making cookies in an Easy-Bake oven."

"'Hold on! They'll be ready in just a minute. Mmmmh...' Baking by a light bulb."



(See, Destiny? It works better vocally, with the physical cues and all. Now I made all these people upset with me. Ahh, nothing new there.)

I'll edit in the rest of the story later.
Edit!

So, on the day of the concert we come to help in the morning and things are pretty cool. The teens enjoy being a part of the whole process and one of them has their first leading-to-Jesus moment that she was really excited about. Some punks made me upset by constantly hitting on a couple of the girls, but they did a good job of keeping them at bay. It's at times like those, though, that I wish that urban youth would just man-up, and I could just give them a thumping and they wouldn't need to cry to their gangs about it. But, over all, it was good stuff.

We took our break, picked up and dropped-off some other teens and when we arrived, there was a dude with a megaphone yelling about how nobody wants to hear about a white Jesus. Being one of the only non-Blacks in attendance, I wanted to ask who presented this white Jesus that everyone is supposed to be worshiping. Apparently, some others were wondering the same thing too. "Why is he so racist? What's wrong with him?"

"The real Jesus wouldn't want us to die and go to jail!" Amen, although I recognized that as a flip on the old stand-by, "Jesus don't want you to die and go to hell!" So, again, who is positing this false gospel?

"They are kicking us out of the neighborhood to make room for the whites to move in." Huh? The expressway is at least two miles away. Downtown is a drive and a half. Bus service is, at best, shaky. There's no other whites around there. Who wants to move to Lawndale? And since when did Lawndale Community Church or any of its ministries work against the neighborhood and its residents? I know of few other churches so actively involved in their community.

And the kicker,

"How many of y'all got jobs?" A dozen or so hands go up, most of the others being youth or children. "Put your hands down! You're lying, 'cuz y'all ain't White and y'all ain't Mexican."

I dropped my jaw.

Why do I feel like I already wrote this story?

By the way, this qualifies as my upsetting reply moment. And you'd probably have to be me in order to understand why I was so upset. He meant well, I'm sure:

I don't know what's so bad about mega churches. Jesus attended a mega church in Jerusalem, didn't he? And then he met with his small group.

I don't attend a mega church (ours averages around 500), but I don't see how a church that's alive and gets people excited, and provides tons of ministry opportunities, and connects people in meaningful ways through small groups, can be bad!

Churches become big because they come up with ways that actually reaches people and touches them and if that draws them closer to Christ then that's just flat-out awesome.

And my reply:

First... I want to thank you for stopping by my little ego-drive today and for leaving a comment.

I appreciate your sincerity and judging by a quick glance at your blog, I can tell that that is what you are about, bringing God into the public, so-called "secular," arena.

I also agree, as I did in my post and as I do in my thought processes, that the good things (people getting connected to God and each other) that happen within the mega-church movement are in fact, good things. However, I also believe it's paramount to not confuse good results with good, Biblical, Spirit-filled processes.

First, on a historical note, the temple that Jesus attended in the early 1st Century was not by any means a Mega-Church. It was THE Temple. The only temple (cf. John 4:20-22). There was no market-driven strategy. There was no competition. People came simply because the Temple in Jerusalem was the Only place to worship the Only God. To suggest, however, that the Twelve were Christs' small group is to trivialize the awesome transformation and revolution happening in the relationships between Jesus, the masses, and his committed followers. Again, nothing against small groups; they are great and often life-transforming. But Jesus wasn't just meeting some guys over tea and fritos.

The times, however, are a-changing. And no one should negate that. When the times change, the Church should recognize its role in the environment. It should never lose a hold of its vision or purpose (Mtt. 28:18-20), to restore sight to the blind, give hope to the hopeless, shelter the homeless, protect the innocent, the fatherless, the widows, etc, but in the love of and from Jesus with an eye on eternity.

I'm not saying that mega-churches do not do that, but the focus is taken off Jesus and these commands and put onto the consummer. The seeker is the consummer and we must do whatever is necessary to get their attention, even if it means compromising the Gospel message and that which is considered offensive (picture a senior pastor of a mega-church getting up and saying that all congregants must drink this blood and eat this flesh to get into heaven. Not gonna happen in a consummer-driven church). Jesus knew he was going to be a stumbling block, that when he calls us, he calls us to die with him.

I cannot see Joel Osteen (OK, so I named one, and an easy target, but he is setting up a dangerous pattern) saying to all that would follow him that, "Foxes have holes and birds have nests in which to rest, but I don't even have a pillow or a box spring. I'm homeless." Or to another would-be attender who wants eternal life, "Sell everything you have to the poor and follow me." Or how about, "Hey, people are gonna hate me, what'd'ya know? I'm gonna die. And if you want any piece of what I'm about, you're gonna die too. So, yeah, come follow me."

The more I follow the life and teachings of Jesus, of course, the more I realize how short I fall on EVERY single issue. I have to look at my own complacency and laziness and definitely the fact that I want people to like me; I fear man more than God. But that shouldn't stop anyone for calling the Church to question.

And, just because a church is active and even theologically correct does not mean it is alive (cf. Rev. 2:1-7).

Hey, don't be a stranger,
Peace,
jason

So, yeah, you could tell I was itching for a fight. He didn't bring it, though.


14 comments:

  1. aww doesn't that mean i love you? i think, if i remember lol. i thought it was like ich lieb dien or somethin..w/e

    oh...my goodness, i'm glad i took the time to read this.

    that's ridiculous! this is what they said at CHURCH?!?!! oh God, the devil is attacking CHRISTIANS righ now. ugggghhhhh...

    and good job with the reply-but now, Salem baptist would be a 'mega church' -it is FOR SURE not against God though..nooo way jose. everythin they say is true and honest and by God..it checks w/the Bible-you ever watch them on tv? you should some time if you can't make it in..don't we do work with ur church? new hope?

    anyway...i'm sorry you had to hear all that. goodness. God bless and I hope that God clears the minds of the ppl who heard that "message" straight from Hell. spawn of satan in the brightest.

    ur white?? hm for some reason i thought u were black. thas not racist im jus sayin. sorry for stereotypin? idk.

    anyway i gotta nap and get ready for work. long night ahead. big fight i gotta prepare for.

    much love bro.
    -AC

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  2. i don't tend to think or act in a very organized manner, but i find that a little goes a long way. so i use very little organization, like every once in a while i'll number-point comments:

    1) you go to salem? really. yeah, i'm familiar with them and the youth pastor, willie comer, even though i don't know him personally. i think my brother might. in fact a group from your youth group came down to that concert.

    2) the concert and the events described happened outdoors.

    3) i'm not saying mega-churches are bad, or against God. i'm merely saying that they sometimes can limit God's power, to put it shortly. that it turns worshipers into choosers, so now the focus is less on God than on our needs. we are no longer 'members' of a church, we are no longer tied to a particular local body of christians, but now we 'attend' certain churches in order to get *our* needs met. imagine saying to your parents, "i've decided that you don't meet all my personal needs, so i'm going to start attending such and such's household, because they have a swimming pool and a food court." it's something that we're already doing in marriage.

    4) so, i don't really watch preachers on tv. just a habit i don't wanna get caught on.

    5) does what mean 'i love you'? oh, the picture that's supposed to be of 'bring it on' that switches to the name of the german sponsor of some sort. yeah, i have to change that. too bad, great pic.

    6) people assume i'm black. and you know what happens when we assume...

    7) i was thinking about napping today. it's my day off. maybe i'll just watch napolean dynamite.

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  3. and i gotta find another picture again. this one... meh.

    and no, i haven't seen it, but i don't wanna ruin the joke. i have, however, seen the male knockoff, drum-line. tellin' ya, that movie was effective. never saw so many drumlines open up, like girls' soccer after the women won the gold.

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  4. that's better. still not the one i wanted, but, what'chagonnado?

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  5. LOL the bring it on picture is glorious.

    yeah i "go" to salem. i can't go to church yet so i have to watch them on tv but as soon as God allows me to go to church i will be going, definitely. nothing'll stop me.

    oo man no i wasn't hatin on u or nothin, i understand what you're sayin, totally. but Salem is an example that if you stick to God, you won't go wrong. what a blessing.

    lol, LOL, i still cant' believe i thought you were black, hilarious-thanks for ur comment on my xanga, but my boy jonathan was JOKING. lol, don't say nothin to him. lol.

    i am so tired. oh, what's gabi's blogspot thingie? i thougth it was introspect, but i guess not.

    -AC

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  6. what? you can't joke about that! ohhhh... well, i'll give that to God.

    what you mean you can't go to church? have you been kicked out, excommunicated? church freeze!

    and check out furtherup.blogspot.com. gabi's supposed to be a part of that... sometime.

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  7. and now that i read his reply to my reply to his dumb-a** statement, i wanna pop him in his one eye. but i'll take your word for it, i won't say nothing (same reason i don't care for relevant magazine)

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  8. allyyyy2:43 PM

    LOL! i love you, thanks.

    and yeah i did the introspect thing..i had typed INTROSPECT instead of INTRO-SPECT .. yea she jus kinda disappeared, I pray she's OK!

    ignore my friend. seriuosly, he's like that lol, but he's a christian for sure..God used to speak to him and his pastors had visions about him too but jon screwed up big time and ignored GOd until later on but now he's workin on it..long story, but he's part of the fam, so R-E-S-P-E-C-T him! lol.

    ok, i'll check it out.
    are you gonna come visit me at work?!

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  9. what?? no, silly. i don't have a car, so unless they trade you to the jewels here in wicker park, i def ain't goin' out there. even to tip over all the cans and spill juice on the floor.

    and i did respond to him. i'm sure you saw that. he was egging for it. i tried to be respectful, though. but he was telling me 'bring it.' and i said, 'oh, it's already been brought.'

    gabi's prob just taking a blog/email/whatever else sabbath. we all need to every once in a while.

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  10. and please, ali, do not say "I love you" to men on the internet. especially old(er) men. even in joking, w/ the addendum of LoL, it sends out all kinds of weird signals.

    not your fault, not my fault, but that's the kind of messed-up (to the extreme) world we live in. sowwy.

    peace,
    j.

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  11. I just realized you said 'meh'

    Ahhhh...my work here is done.

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  12. almost.

    as soon as you reply to my five unanswered emails, i'll give you your passport back and you can leave dreaded canada and go to a warm country, like maine. or jamaica.

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  13. OK, I will say I love you to whoever I want. I am to love everyone so I'm gonna show my affection, got it?!

    I got GOD on my side, i am not afraid of this stupid world and it's most CERTAINLY not gonna stop me from showing my feelings.

    take that devil.

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  14. what'd you call me?

    oh, child. i'm not peter and you're not Jesus. (although i've certainly had my simon peter moments of rock-headed stupidity)

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Be kind. Rewind.