Tag Archives: church

Lifeboat 14: Old Skool Church

“Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apsotles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he needed.” Acts 2:42-45

If God ever gives me permission to start a new church the name will be “Lifeboat 14.”  The story of Lifeboat 14, and it may be an urban legend but it’s still good, is that an hour after the Titanic sank it was still pulling survivors from the icy waters of the north Atlantic.  Some versions of the tale even contend that it was the only lifeboat to go back.  That’s the kind of church I want to be part of; one that doesn’t find safety and then run away from others in trouble.  I want to be part of a church family that finds safety in Christ and then goes right back into the dangerous territory from which they were saved to rescue others.  I guess you could say that we’re all in the same boat and we all came from out of the same boat.

I already have a sketch of the marketing plan for this church:

 

Our initial evangelism campaign would have some of these tag lines:

“Sinners not welcome…they’re invited”; “Homosexuals not welcome…they’re wanted”; “Addicts not wanted…they’re loved”; “Prostitutes not welcome…they’re rescued”; etc.

I’d like the doors of Lifeboat 14 to be attached to a building on the wrong side of the tracks.  You know which side I mean; the side that most good church people avoid.  It seems to me that churches belong in the bad part of town because that’s where the ship is sinking the fastest and people need to be rescued with the most urgency.

Picture this with me, there’s a town just south of where I live in suburbia.  It’s a smallish town caught between the urban blight of a major city just 25 miles to the north, the monotony of encroaching suburban subdivisions and the isolation of rural America to its south.  I would say that time has forgotten this town, but the onslaught of contemporary issues has swept over it like a tsunami.

To all appearances it’s a quaint little town, except it’s still full of hurting people.  Just one day monitoring local police radio frequencies reveals that workers are desperately needed for the harvest.  There are drugs to be had from the nearby city; there are race conflicts passed down for generations; there are alcohol issues stemming from decades of oppression; there untold strains on the infrastructure caused by an influx of seasonal workers.  I suspect that this could describe just about any of one thousand towns that are on the other side of the tracks.

In the center of town there’s an abandoned theater. The kind of theater that in decades past would have entertained young courters and their beaus with flickering images of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Jimmy Stewart, Liz Taylor and James Cagney.  Children of an earlier time would have whiled away their Saturdays watching matinees of Tom Mix, Roy Rogers and serial cliff hangers.  It must have been a grand place in a small town.  But now it sits abandoned, surrounded by abandoned buildings in neighborhoods depressed by the same issues that plague inner cities.

That’s exactly where I would start Lifeboat 14, right in the worst place possible to start a church.  In fact, after starting Lifeboat 14 there I’d like to launch a whole fleet of Lifeboats in other worst possible places.  An old theater is uniquely equipped for great worship (“Everyone was filled with awe…”); ample stage space, ready made seating, rigging for audio, lighting and other equipment, adequate traffic flow consideration and it’s culturally familiar.  It’s also centrally located in town to make it accessible for foot traffic and for deploying members into the community to serve.

Worship services would serve one purpose in two parts: 1) to get us so in touch with God that… 2)He would flow through us into the lives of those all around Lifeboat 14.  Immediately following worship we would serve the hurting, the hungry, the alienated, the ostracized and the abandoned.  It might be a soup kitchen, it might be a free clinic, it might be visiting shut-ins, it might be hospital visits; but whatever it is it would start immediately after worship.  Actually, it would be a continuation of worship and would be our act of worship throughout the week.  Why start immediately after church?  Because tomorrow is too late and let’s be honest, most of us forget how awesome God was in church while we try to get to Golden Corral before the Methodists.

And everyone would participate, everyone in Lifeboat 14 would be given an oar (“All the believers were together…selling their possessions…gave to anyone as he has need.”)  We would all be in the Lifeboat together going back into dangerous waters to rescue those who are drowning just like we used to be.  It’s become quite vogue in  recent years to say things like “Love God, Love People;” “Love Him, Tell Them;” and post signs at church exits that proclaim “Now entering the mission field.”  Let’s put our worship right in the middle of the mission field and reap the harvest with urgency and immediacy.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it is.  This church already exists.  It’s the church described in Acts 2.  It’s church we’ve been called to be.  Jesus intends us all to be in the same boat, the same lifeboat that goes back after others.  Having been plucked from the icy waters of death ourselves He compels us to row right back into harm’s way and rescue another and another and another.

If you’ll pardon my mixing of metaphors, in a day when we reminisce for the old days and traditions, let’s go real old school.  Let’s go Acts old school and let our “awethentic” corporate worship of an awesome God lead to the Lord adding to our numbers daily those who are saved.

Everybody in the boat!

How to Maintain Control in Your Church

It’s been a long time since I posted anything on leadership, so here goes. What follows is a link to a great site called lifehack.org and an article called “10 Great Ways to Crush Creativity.” lifehack.org isn’t a “Christian” site, but I do have to say that many of their principles are just Scripture applied (truth is truth).

Following the link I’ve listed “churchy” paraphrases of Mr. Sloane’s witticisms. These paraphrases are compiled from attitudes we at Worship Concepts Network have encountered at a few select churches among the many we have partnered with. The irony is that these comments were made at some of the churches that sought us out to help them increase their quotient of innovation, creativity and effectiveness. OK, I couldn’t resist the sarcasm, go figure…

Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity

1. That’s questionable etymology/hermeneutics/eschatology and doesn’t properly translate the original Hebrew/Greek/Pig Latin I studied for my MDiv/DMin/PhD/XyZPdQat Muchsmarterthan U. Seminary.

2. Too many ideas muddy the waters; the church needs clear direction from the Senior Pastor. Jesus didn’t have a committe, He had disciples. (This, of course, ignores the fact that very few pastors are Jesus and that “we are the body,”not ‘he’ (i.e. the pastor) is the body.”

3. The congregation just doesn’t have the Pastor and staff’s leadership perspective. They couldn’t possibly grapple with this issue.

4. We already have a clear vision of the Great Commission; we just need to apply it like we did in the good old days.

5. Vocational ministry is a lonely business which requires 80-90 hours work per week;I just need to keep my nose to the grindstone. If I just apply everthing thing I learned from Tony Robbins/Steven Covey/David Allen I can do all the ministry of my church; after all, I am the Senior Pastor.

6. People are still people. Regardless of the current drop in involvement, our strategy has worked for the last ninety years. Besides, the internet and social-networking are just a fad much like radio and TV.

7. The Pastor-Parish Relationship Committee requests your presence at meeting convened to review the Video Game Night that resulted in Kool-aid stains on the Fellowship Hall carpet (in spite of the attendance by 300 teens who would not have otherwise darkened the doorstep of a church in one million years).

*The contemporary version of this is: That didn’t seem to be your sweetspot; we didn’t set you up for a win…let’s try you in this position that we haven’t equipped you for, you have no passion to fulfill and will probably result in your being miserable and leaving the church. That way we’ll be able to tell people that it wasn’t our fault at all, but was because you didn’t fit as a team player.

8. part a. That may have worked at other churches, but we don’t do things that way here. You might not be a good “mix” here.

8. part b. We’ve been pillars of this church for decades (centuries). Inviting the Lutheran/Mehtodist/Baptist/etc. church from down the street to join us in starting a soup kitchen might theologically confuse people.

9. Contempt breeds comtempt. (OK, we’ve never heard a church leader actually say that, but many of them promote only from within and then wonder why there aren’t any fresh ideas or that poor attitudes stay the same from one leader to the next.)

10. This isn’t rocket-surgery; it’s just ministry in an increasingly diverse and everchanging culture. The principles that we learned in seminary at Smarterthan U. forty years ago still apply; people are people, afterall.

Parental Warning – Explicit Material

No, really…this one is at least PG-13, maybe even R.

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Take me away with you – let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.” Song of Songs 1:2-4

“Egadz! Cover your virgin ears…get the kids out of the room. What an outrage! It’s scandalous! Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

Consider for one moment what would happen if some goatee sportin’, gauge wearin’, tat displayin’ emergent church type described a relationship with Christ like this from the pulpit. What if an otherwise demur young lady described her desire for God, in terms of the latest, hottest “Bond-girl” anxious to “bed” the super-stud “Bond, James Bond.”

Who among us would ever describe our longing for God’s presence like a hot, steamy foreign film; a scene between two breathless, passionate newlywed lovers that are so anxious to experience the ecstasy of union that the open-mouth, tongue probing kissing starts in the elevator…continues with the disrobing just outside the wedding suite doors and climaxes with…my, it’s getting warm in here.

Or, how about Jesus describing His church like a pin-up girl, keeping a poster of us up on His wall like a the ubiquitous “Farrah” placard of the seventies? Only, He really does have a mad, passionate (appropriate) relationship with a really hot babe…His church (His bride).

Let’s be honest, this type of thinking isn’t just remote to most Christian’s thinking, it’s revolting. Most of us find it an anathema and repugnant. No proper follower of King of kings would ever allow this thought to fly over our head, let alone build its nest in our hair (sorry, Martin).

Disclaimer: I’m not necessarily advocating that we flaunt these descriptions in the public market or shout them from every pulpit. But, we also shouldn’t regard them as completely foreign to a relationship with Christ; not necessarily the graphic descriptions, but the breathless passion they engender.

After all, right there it is in scripture…right there in the Bible. A lover “resting between my breasts” (1:13); “no wonder the maidens love you” (1:3); “my heart began to pound for him” 5:4).

Rather passionate and seductive, wouldn’t you say? Kind of takes your breath away if you let your imagination run with it a while, doesn’t it? And, I’ve left out the really graphic stuff.

But, that’s my point. When was the last time the thought of Jesus took your breath away? When was the last time you had a “crush” on Him? Do you let Him seduce you? Do your knees go weak when you think of Him?

It’s much safer for us to think of our relationship with Christ in business terms. Business contracts don’t make us blush. Corporate mergers don’t take our breath away, they let us stay dignified. They’re measured, thoughtful and considered…and certainly don’t make us weak in the knees.

Mad, passionate love affairs are undignified; drive us to act like fools; consume our every waking moment; overwhelm us to extravagance. Would anyone ever describe our relationship with Jesus using the words undignified or extravagant?

My daughter, Abbie, has some great quotes on her computer desktop that I think Solomon would have appreciated. I hope they describe my foolish, and completely appropriate, passion for Jesus.

“Love: a wildly misunderstood, although highly desirable, malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes the eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.”

When do I blush at the thought of Jesus?

“To him she seemed so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”

Is our infatuation with Jesus so strong that we don’t understand why everyone else’s heart isn’t wild for Him? Why aren’t we so mesmerized with Him that we’re afraid to approach Him? But, knowing that to approach Him only makes the spell stronger.

“Love is when the woman (or man) of your dreams becomes a reality and sleep stops being a priority.”

Do you ever stay up all night just to be with Him?

“Love enables you to put your deepest feelings and fears in the palm of your lover’s hand, knowing they will be handled with care.”