A few weeks back I pondered the difficult question of adoption and abortion. I asked the church why adoption isn’t standard practice in the face of abortion.
Well, one church has answered. Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta promised in a recent sermon that his church would “care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.” They’re partnering with the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services to make that acutally happen. It’s a bold statement and doesn’t get into any of the many complicated issues involved in adoption (it’s not exactly as simple as bring a baby to the church), but I love it. It’s a strong step forward for the church.
If the church is going to value life, I think they need to truly value life. And that means stepping forward to care for babies that would otherwise be unwanted. That means walking alongside moms and dads who would consider abortion because they don’t think they have the resources to care for a baby. That means doing whatever it takes for life, whether it’s keeping families together or creating new ones.
I just blogged about an exciting new slogan for the Episcopal Church over at Church Marketing Sucks: “Come Watch Us Argue Over Gay People.”
Considering I attend an Episcopal church, the process of writing the blog entry and the article it links to (an NPR story on the continuing battle over gay bishops) hit close to home. The point I made over at Church Marketing Sucks is that theology comes before marketing.
That’s not exactly what the Episcopal Church is doing (I was writing to warn of that danger in general, not pointing to an explicit example of it). But I think they may be putting procedure before marketing. Granted, I’m not as familiar with all the ins and outs of this debate as I should be (but I’m more familiar than I’d like to be), but here’s what I mean:
The gay bishop debate is all about procedure. At no point did the Episcopal Church sit down and decide theology (that I’m aware of). Instead, they began debating theology through procedure. Should we or should we not ordain gay priests? How about gay bishops? What about blessing same sex marriages? What underlies all these procedural arguments is theology.
So why not just debate the theology? It seems a lot simpler to me to just get to the root of the problem.
Continue reading Come Watch Us Argue Over Gay People
CNN has a great story of a guy who found a job through his church. Michel Butler was an unemployed husband and father of 3. His industry tanked and he had to find a new job. He joined a career workshop at a local church, brushed up on his skills and then plugged back into his network of college friends and former employers. He eventually ended up with two job offers and took a six-figure marketing position.
It rarely works that well for everybody, but networking is how you find a job. The money quote is in bold below:
[Butler] was also smart to dig into his networks, said Ford Myers author of the upcoming book, Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.
“The wrong thing to do is sit at home in your pajamas and apply to jobs online,” he said, “it’s isolating and depressing.”
Reconnecting with college friends, former coworkers and even other unemployed workers in the community can pay off big time. “That’s called networking and that’s the single most important activity anyone can do when they are in transition,” Myers said.
For Butler, those connections led to not one, but two job offers.
I love hearing these kinds of stories. The job market sucks right now, and it’s hard, but this is how you find a job. And this is exactly the kind of thing the church needs to be doing right now.
Anne Lamott’s latest Salon.com column on forcing her son to go to church (you’ll have to watch a quick commercial to read the whole article, but don’t worry—it’s quick and painless).
The church crumbles and falls. You stand there aghast. What do you do? Some walk away, leaving the crumbs to rot. Will you turn your back? Will you walk away? Where are the ones willing to roll up their sleeves? Who will muddy their hands and mend the hurt and pain? Or will we watch the crowd disperse and when no one’s looking slap some putty in the cracks and call it good? This can’t go on. I’m just a kid, what can I do? Sometimes I wonder who really knows what they’re doing. You wonder why the world looks on and laughs, well look around you. You won’t even mend the cracks. Where’s the unity? Where’s the body? We can’t move on without a foot, without an eye, without an ear. A heart is not enough. A mind is not enough. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The parking lot of the church is paved with apathy. The pain is deep and it’s not easy, but you can’t just throw your hands up in the air and leave us here to make it on our own. We need you. Stick your definitions in the trash and wipe that self assured look off your heart. You are not right. God is right. The narrow minded will be blown away when all is revealed. How dense can you be? How foolish are we? Jesus, light of the world, shine your love upon this broken vessel.
Easter Sunday. The day more people show up in church than any other day. And this morning was no exception.
Everyone comes out, dressed up in the best they have. I don’t quite understand that, either an attempt to out-do one another, or trying to show God just how good we are. Look at me in my three piece suit. Check out my snazzy Easter Bonnet. I must be good if I’m dressed this nice. Is this some kind of left over Puritan tradition, or did Jesus really put on his sharpest tunic before clearing the temple?
I also find it odd that little or no attempt is made to make things understandable to the “unchurched” person. At my church every Bible passage was read from the Kings James Version, which even to my “Christian” ears sounded undecipherable. Before the offering was taken, my pastor told the visitors that they need not give. He explained that the people of the church had committed themselves to a budget, and this was how they met that budget. Of course then he went on to say that it’s everyone’s rightful duty to give–effectively undoing what he had just said. And then there was the responsive reading. We had just finished singing “He Lives,” and before beginning, the man leading the responsive reading said, “And if you don’t believe he lives, here’s proof,” and he proceeded to read the passages describing Christ’s resurrection (again in the archaic King James Version). Now certainly to a Christian, that’s proof. But he was clearly talking to the unsaved that were there that day. Proof? Quoting Bible verses at somebody is proof? I couldn’t help but question that.
You can tell I had a rather cynical attitude the entire time. And what happened? How effective was this sub-par outreach? After the sermon, two people came forwarded and accepted Christ, two more had raised their hands, but didn’t want to come forward, and nearly a dozen raised their hands asking for prayer in dealing with spiritual issues in their lives. Perhaps I should shut my cynical mouth, and realize that God is going to work no matter how things are done. Of course that doesn’t mean we should put no work into a service, thinking that God will work despite our laziness. But perhaps it does mean that I should be a little less judgmental of what I think is a church service that doesn’t speak to the unsaved.
“I can’t believe the news today / Oh, I can’t close my eyes / And make it go away / How long… / How long must we sing this song?/ How long? How long…/ ’cause tonight…we can be as one / Tonight… / Sunday, Bloody Sunday / Sunday, Bloody Sunday / Sunday, Bloody Sunday” (“Sunday, Bloody Sunday” by U2)
“The problem’s not Hollywood, the problem’s not Washington / The problem’s a weak divided church of schizmed Christians.” (“Unite” by the Supertones)
How is it that I can walk into a church and feel judged because of my grubby blue jeans and scruffy tennis shoes? Do torn jeans instead of a suit and tie make the difference between a Christian and a hell bound punk? I certainly don’t remember Jesus pausing to comb his hair and put on his best tunic before marching into the synagogue. When is this going to end? When will the church be able to stand as one unified body? Or will we continue to squabble as the world looks on and laughs?
Snow. Ah the beautiful white fluff that covers everything and turns driving into the hobby for the desperate. We got the first big snow of the year today. Well, it’s probably the biggest snow storm we’ve had in a while. I love snow. Yeah, it’s cold. Yeah, it’s wet. Yeah, it makes the roads really slick so I can’t go see my girlfriend–but I still love it. I think tomorrow I’m gonna build me a snowman.
The only thing I don’t understand about the snow, is people’s panic. My church canceled all services tomorrow because of the weather. Who cancels church? You don’t cancel church. You can’t cancel church. You know people are going to show up at 10:30 tomorrow morning, wanting to worship God. But the doors will be locked, and we’ll all be snug in our nice warm homes. Cancel church? I thought church was like Meijer’s and 711–they never close.
Oh well. Just for kicks, I have to mention this: Tonight I watched one of the coolest movies ever. It hasn’t received much acclaim, and I think it probably got slammed at the Oscars. But that’s okay, all the good movies do. The Man Who Knew Too Little with Bill Murray. It has to be one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, go rent it now. You can’t write a better comic premise. Adam Sandler and the late Chris Farley can have their misplaced anger, profanity, and sex jokes–but they’ll never have anything as funny as the comic possibilities presented in “The Man Who Knew Too Little.” It’s even too cool to try and explain. Go watch it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a snowman to build.