Archive for the 'ecclesiology' Category

Published by Brian Slezak on 07 Mar 2009

Online Church Fear

I’ve become very bad about reading anything, but Clif put up a post that sparked my interest and it actually sparked a post of my own. I read some of the other posts Clif linked to, and I recognized some old rhetoric applied to a new subject. The new subject is online communities, with the old rhetoric being how destructive “online church” could be to Christian community.

The old rhetoric, believe it or not, was aimed at sermons available via on-demand audio and video. I read posts and heard conversations about how this enabled people to sit at home and watch the sermons rather than “going to church!” People were essentially asking, “What if people stop coming to church,” or to freshen this question, “What if people stop having a full and authentic Christian life?”

Mutant Sub-ChristianMy opinion is that this thinking is founded in fear. Fear that providing a church experience consumed while sitting at home will create some new sub-human mutant race of almost-Christians with hideous skin quality and large eyes adapted to viewing 320×200 video in low light who sit around in tattered underwear. Aaaaahhh!

I am certain that just as many people were fearful of projectors in the sanctuary and on demand audio streams as are now fearful of churches providing fuller online experiences.

So what have churches learned from providing sermons online? I can tell you that Resurrection has found that it reaches people in ways no one could have ever imagined. People around the world, not just in the nearby state, are able to connect to a Christian message and find the narrow path, some for the first time. I wish I could post the hundreds of positive, uplifting thanks we have received by providing this service.

I will suggest that if you are out there discussing the negative ramifications of providing church experiences online, you must recognize that you can not imagine all the amazing and powerful ways God may use that experience.

Acts 5:38-39 – “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these people alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these people; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

I admit that fear aside, the remaining question needing an answer is whether an authentic community born and maintained solely online can be a theologically grounded authentic Christian community. If inauthentic online Christian communities could exist, should we be paralyzed with fear that they might happen? Can’t they be horribly inauthentic offline as well?? What might also happen is that God uses those experiences in profound ways that we could have never imagined. Do this for godly purposes, not human purposes. Leave the imaginary sub-human mutant Christians behind and hand it over to God to throw down or lift up.

Published by Brian Slezak on 12 Jun 2008

Living the Gospel

For some time now, my wife and I have been attending Living Water Christian Church, in Parkville, MO. (About a 40 min. drive for us. Ouch!) This week’s e-mail from pastor Laura held my attention pretty well. In it, she relayed a conversation with her son:

My son Rob had a conversation with me recently, in which he was bemoaning the state of “organized religion.” He said, “People in churches can’t be real, they have to pretend to be someone they’re not.” I stopped him before he could go any further and said, “Living Water may not be a perfect church, but we have lots of people who have been honest about who they are and what they struggle with. We have made it clear that we accept and welcome everyone because all of us have baggage.”

That spurred this post, which is somewhat my own response to the Robs of this world. I wholly agree with Laura about Living Water, though I know where Rob is coming from, even though my “old guy” years give me a different perspective. For what I would guess is the majority, there is the life we live outside of church, imperfect, flawed, sinful, and via the human condition we simply accept this, and just drudge forward. Rarely we change our ways, or even acknowledge our failures. Then there is the life we live at church, where we are baptized in Christ, eat the bread and drink the juice, act as a better Christian for an hour or two, and try to befriend people we don’t know and build a community.

So what’s with the double-agent lifestyle? Where is the accountability? Why can’t we be like Rob and others envision, where if we say we buy into it … we actually BUY into it? To err is human.

This made me recall a conversation I had with Chuck Russell regarding accountability groups. Essentially these are small groups where individuals hold each other accountable to a very high degree for living a good Christian life. Why are these groups not wildly popular in every church? I think it is because people don’t want that. It’s to effective! “I seriously have to give up my sinful ways behind closed doors and live *that* life? For the love of God that sounds boring!” 🙁

For the love of God, we turn away, and are loved regardless by His grace.

Our flaw may be small, only a seed, or it may be a full grown tree with deeply set roots. Christianity is a walk – not a switch that is turned on and off. We accept Christ as our savior, strive to overcome our weaknesses, but we do not change overnight.

How does today’s church affect our lives in practicality? It may start with that person in the mirror.

Published by Brian Slezak on 15 Feb 2008

Spiritual Health in Relation to The Dying Church

Yesterday in Resurrection’s staff chapel, the message was given by a congregant who detailed how he and his wife visited Resurrection, got connected, and started an amazing God-inspired journey. Without going into the detail of his entire story; it was quite good; one thing he said stuck me and got me thinking. When describing his first visit to Resurrection he stated, ” … and they seemed like they actually cared that we were there [that day].”

What struck me about that statement was the simplicity. Somebody cared that they were there. I immediately thought back through my journey of visiting churches. …. He’s right. At most churches my wife and I would visit, the people other than the “assigned greeter” and the staff did not care if we were visiting. By a very high majority, the other people of the church had come to church only for themselves, and were not interested, maybe even scared, of making us feel welcomed.

And I don’t let myself off the hook so easy either. I’m a confessed computer geek and introvert. I’d rather develop a web application than walk up to strangers and strike up a conversation. ;-( But sometimes when I walk into church, I need to forget myself, remember my assignment, and follow Christ.

So now I’m thinking the root problem with The Church is an epidemic spiritual decline. Too many churches are developing immature Christians who never grow into a state of following Christ. Primarily people start going to church to satisfy themselves, and it should be the job of that church to stimulate growth from that stage to the next – going to church for someone else. It seems ironic that a religion rooted in a truth that the life of Christ was not lived for himself but for everyone else, that we have such a hard time teaching Christians to live not only for themselves.

Although I have not read a word of Reveal, I have heard many Resurrection staff talking about its message. Time for me to do some reading perhaps.