Archive for the 'social issues' 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 11 Nov 2008

Morality FAIL – Health Care

cross 1Is the over-inflated cost of health care in the United States an instance of capitalism gone bad?
Is it the role our government to intercede when anything goes bad?

These were a couple of questions that went through my mind the other night as I was doing a poor job at falling asleep. I think I ended up generating more questions than opinions. 🙂

There is money to be made off the sick. Doctors are highly paid, and hospitals have boards and stake holders that receive compensation in non-profit and for-profit organizations. When the actions of a non-profit hospital become about maximization of surplus, (non-profit lingo for ‘profit’,) and inflated reimbursement to executives rather than providing health care for the community, I think they put their 501(c)(3) status in jeopardy. The government collects taxes, and if your organization’s purpose is to provide charitable services, they can waive those taxes.

The previous paragraph aside, and assuming everyone agrees that all people deserve access to medical care, how do you build a system that allows equal access to that care regardless of a persons station in life? Some may measure equality by the cost of the service. I think we should measure equality by the access to the service. On the surface, it doesn’t seem fair that someone with great wealth should pay more for health care than someone with little wealth. I can see how someone would look at that and say, “That’s clearly not fair,” and I suppose they would be right. It is not equitable in value, but it is honorable. I think it is a morality failure for those with more to not help those with less. It is a morality failure to abuse health care for personal gain rather than using it to care for humanity.

We need more incorrupt people managing health care rather than more legislation attempting to regulate moral behavior. Maybe the former is just a pipe dream?

Published by Brian Slezak on 19 Aug 2008

Support a Breast Cancer 3 Day Team

Some of our good friends , who are committed and passionate about supporting breast cancer research, are participating in a three day walk up in Minnesota. Pania and I have supported them in the past couple of years, and I’ve heard Viminda speak about why she does this. You can hear in her voice the authentic desire to minister to this community who needs support. The team consists of family, and each of them is is highly driven to walk in this event. When is the last time you wanted to walk 60 miles in 3 days for no personal gain? 🙂 You can read about the project, and how it is helping make progress in this fight.

If you’ve ever thought that you don’t have time or strength to be part of a cause like this, you can be a part of this with them by donating to their team before the end of this month. If you find yourself without their passion, join with them by supporting them financially. If they can’t raise enough money or pay out of their own pocket, they will not be allowed to walk. 🙁

As I’ve said, they are good friends of ours and their team consists of mother, daughters, and niece. We have vacationed with them, been on mission trips with them, and been in small group with them. They come recommended. :p

Published by Brian Slezak on 23 Jul 2008

My Closing Thoughts on the DZ Mission Trip

I wanted to provide a last post to lay down my thoughts about the trip and event as a whole. Without a doubt, I feel the mission was worth the time and money to visit the Navajo people and serve them, even if for a short time. Could we have done a lot more and been more efficient? Oh sure, hindsight is always 20/20. Would we have had the same cultural experience if we were more efficient … probably not. In all ways it was worth it, and I really hope I can return again some day.

Ironically, the Monday after I returned I found a post on a blog I casually read titled Are Short Term Missions a Waste of Money? In the post, Andrew addresses the Washing Post article, Churches Retool Mission Trips. I’d suggest taking a moment and reading those posts, they are both thought provoking.

I’m guessing this topic is an age old question that has been asked since missionary work was formed. I’m also guessing that people gave Paul a hard time about how far he traveled at such great expense of time and or money, only to get thrown out of a town on his butt. Is it a shame that Paul didn’t decide, “Hey, I can make a lot more impact at a lower cost of time and risk if I just focus on the local community?” In the Washing Post article, a Florida pastor was quoted in saying,

“It became too hard to justify the expense of flying the kids overseas”, Brinton said. “If you’re going to paint a church, you can do that in Florida as easily as you can in Mexico.”

Ouch. While I am sure it is easier to pant a church within a 5 mile drive of your house than one in Mexico, I think the cultural experience is going to be a bit different. The article sites some great examples of mismanaged mission efforts, and I agree that there are probably a decent number of trips that need to be canceled, heavily trimmed, or completely reorganized. But as a member of the race of broken people, I can’t see the brilliance in ignoring everyone outside of our comfortable range of influence and hoping that there is someone closer to do the job for us. Continue Reading »