Archives For Church

Heaven tourism books were pulled from LifeWay Christian Resources this week. The Christian retail giant will no longer carry titles like 90 Minutes in Heaven, Heaven Is for Real, and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.

The D.l.moody Memorial Church In Chicago

The latter book caused a stir when its subject and coauthor, Alex Malarkey, admitted that he lied about having a vision of heaven as a 6-year-old.

So that’s that. Another Evangelical blockbuster bites the dust.

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A clock is something you can take apart, analyze, clean, improve, and put back together. If it works properly, it will produce the same result every time.

A cloud exists all around you, perceptible but intangible, ethereal yet powerful. It produces a different effect on nearly every person nearly every time they encounter it.

Clockwork Background

For decades we’ve treated the church as if it were a clock when it’s really a cloud. The result is a mechanized religion that defines spirituality in terms of voting records and a church that is more commodity than community, a product to be consumed.

How did this happen?

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An urban legend circulating around the church holds that pastoral ministry is the most highly stressed, undervalued profession on earth, and all pastors are miserable. In support, this factoid is nearly always given: “1,700 pastors leave the ministry each month.”

Open Door

You’ll see that number touted on blog after blog—always without a citation. This unverified datum flits around the Net like a vampire bat, sucking passion from ministers and their churches.

And it simply isn’t true.

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Every leader is a story-teller, and every church is living a story—whether they realize it or not.

The story you tell about yourself rises from your vision for the world, and it largely determines the way people respond to you. You are enacting your perception of a larger conflict, a story of either victory or defeat.

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The good news is that you can choose your own story. Here’s how.

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“I love Jesus, I just don’t like church.” Anyone who has ever been part of a local congregation has probably felt that way. Christianity in its abstract form is a beautiful faith based on the perfect life of Christ. In reality, it’s a bunch of imperfect people, doing their best to follow a high calling while stepping on each other’s toes almost constantly.

It is challenging to be part of a local congregation. That may be why so many Christians are quitting going to church.

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Most recently, Donald Miller expressed a similar view, saying, I think, that he simply doesn’t connect with God through the things we usually do at church, namely singing, preaching.

I have felt that way myself.

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Super Bowl XLVIII was a huge disappointment to the faithful in Denver and the legion of Peyton Manning fans everywhere. The Seattle Seahawks trounced the Broncos 43-8.

This anticlimactic result isn’t unique. The Super Bowl is always a letdown, no matter who plays or wins. That’s inevitable, given the spectacle it has become.

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Many people find church a frustration too, and for exactly the same reasons.

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People need a place to belong before they are willing to believe. For most of my life, I have thought about disciple making in exactly the opposite way.

First, I thought, people must come to accept Jesus as the son of God, their savior. Only then can they really understand who Christians are or feel at home in the church.

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In other words, I believed the church was for insiders only.

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