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Sunday, June 12, 2011

A post about church for Gorges Grouse

Today I heard a really good sermon. I actually went to church to hear what I consider to be one of the last of the old-style good preachers (that I know of.)
He said in the introduction to his sermon that is was close to 40 years since he had knelt with his wife at the front of the church and dedicated their marriage to God, and I think it was some 30 years since he had been ordained to the ministry. I missed a little bit while I was annoying my nephew.
But, what made me think of Gorges was the title to the sermon which was, "The Million Dollar Church." Gorges has expressed his frustration with different churches in the past and I tend to agree with him.
It is very hard to find a "good" church, it is easier to stay home.
The pastor was talking about the great value of a good church. The Million Dollar Church seemed like a pretty catchy title as the idea of a Million Dollars sticks in one's mind as representing a lot of money or value.
The message listed six characteristics of a valuable church.
First, the church is for the building up of the saints and the continuation of the gospel.  He noted that the book of Revelations talks about the victorious church which stands true to God and wins in the end. He noted that all we see in the news is the defeated church but what we need to build is a church founded on a Bible-based way of life. Stop playing around in the "world" and live according to the Word of God. Parents decide they can accept a few little things, their children accept a lot, and the grand children have no faith at all.
He stressed a literal interpretation of scripture, again using the "slippery slope" argument but quite passionately. Where do you draw the line with your interpretations and relating the meanings to "today's culture."
His second point was evangelistic fervor.  The Million Dollar church must have a burden and compassion for lost souls. "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few."
Quoted a message from another pastor whose name I didn't get.  I think it was Jim Newsom, probably this Jim Newsom and not this guy who is a jazz musician.
The quote basically was that if your church is spending your efforts on winning the lost, that compassion for lost souls will turn to a criticism and evaluation of individual church members and your church will turn inward into legalism and self criticism.
The third point was the importance of christian brothers (a little sexist language but he is old school) to stand together. This means helping each other spiritually and also financially in tough economic times.
"Brothers in Christ must stick together through thick and thin, showing each member that they truly care."
The fourth point was about spiritual energy. You come to church to worship God and to become spiritually energized. The Church brings you the word of life to help you make it though the week. You come together with other Christians and share a common purpose and support each other. Without the fellowship of saints you will go dead spiritually. You can't make it on your own. You need to create a spiritual energy to sustain yourself.
Fifth point was that the pastor should have the welfare of the church at heart and you should be able to trust your pastor to lead you spiritually. He did not address how tough it is to find a pastor that is not a flake... Or that actually believes what you are asking him to guide you in.
Six was a church you can trust to guide your children. Many adults compromise on a church  only to see their children being influenced negatively by the church. Safeguarding your children is so very important.
I found it a very good sermon, one of the best I've heard in a while. He was energetic and full of passion. Tears came to his eyes at particularly passionate times. He walked around the podium, he rested his foot on the rail and spoke earnestly, he shouted at the right times, and he spoke with enough volume he did not really need the microphone. AND he tied it all up at 11:55 with five minutes for the closing song and prayer. A truly masterful performance!
I also appreciated the content. I don't know how to find such a church or really how to build such a fellowship of believers. Of course I am the cold cynic who needs to be on the outside looking in and not the one advocating for evangelical fervor. I think it speaks volumes to the sad state of the church in America when people like myself actually want to do something.
There was a very good potluck afterwards, which I skipped as my wife and child stayed home and I just didn't feel like explaining anything. Good hymn singing, friendly people, good fellowship.
On the way home I was listening to John Doe and the Sadie's tribute to country music. I got to thinking about the soulessness of post-christian America. I think someone left a comment about opium being the religion of the masses instead of religion being the opiate of the masses and I think the common man has really been failed by modern society.
Look at people around you. We think we are so clever as to not need religion but we will be controlled by some ideology or some religion whether we want it or not. The white trash folks you see tweeking and stealing your tools would be much better off controlled by our traditional belief system rather than random drug uses and screwing like rabbits.
Christianity had built in safeguards, reformation abilities, and it gave individuals a conscience. Look at how the liberals make fools of themselves supporting the Wiener texter. Years of women standing up against sexual harassment can be ignored when it is one of your own doing the harassment!
We focus on the priests having sex with boys, Salem witch trials, slavery, women's rights, and ignore two things. First, Christians do not approve of sex abuse, murder, oppression, and they have given their lives to oppose it within their own religious framework. Secondly, nonChristians have slaves, kill people, oppress women, hate homosexuals, and do all sorts of depraved acts, and they conquer countries, it is just that they are a diverse group and are not targeted as a whole. And they have no stance against such things.
I don't have the evangelical fervor. I don't care what you believe. You can tell me I believe in the Sky Fairy and I don't care. You can point out my double standards and my foolishness. I admit I have them. Just know that you are being controlled and will be controlled and being smug and deluding yourself won't make a bit of difference.
Oops, I got off subject...
The point was this was good a good sermon which addresses issues Gorge has commented on in his blog. If I could find a tape of it I would send it to him.
I may have been listening to too much old time music lately. The Louvin Brothers come to mind.
I leave you with this...

5 comments:

  1. You remembered all that? WOW; that guy musta been GOOD! Sounds like he made some good points. You know, Budd, the thing I don't like about NOT going to church is that some folks might think that I'm turned off by Christ, instead of by the behavior of many so-called Christians. I doubt if I return to church without my wife and she's still hurting from all those knives she got in the back at our last "house of God," so it may be a quite a while. Thanks for your thoughts and for the link. God bless you my friend.

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  2. What a great post. If only we could have ministers who THINK like that (never mind preach). I wholly sympathise with your own comments, as I am in a bit of an anti-clergy, anti-churchianity rant at the minute. I know so many good folk that are church-damaged goods, by self-righteous church leaders who are self-obsessed with 'strong leadership'.

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  3. Gorge, I hate to ruin your image of me as a person with great powers of concentration but-I took notes. Usually I draw cartoons to make the kids laugh but this time I actually concentrated. I thought of your frustration with the opening words of the sermon. There are quite a few people who are wandering around in search of a church. It seems you are stuck with either a mega church where the folks are wearing shorts to church and screwing each other in real estate deals after wards while their kids turn out to be Disney Princess type christians-tattoos and purity rings, and giving monica's after youth group or crazy pastors who burn the Koran or predict the end of the world. The alternative is the socially conscious churches that care about world events and have earnest women in leadership and are inclusive and everyone worries about gay people being oppressed and those pesky jews being mean to the Palestinians. I'm not sure the sermon made me feel any better. Mostly it articulated what is wrong with the American church.
    No one believes in it anymore...

    Philip, thanks for the comment. I'm not sure how to solve problem. I suspect that part of it is we do not want to give up the things in our own lives that would allow us to become a force in building a church as outlined in the sermon. I think we are supposed to witness to our neighbors but frankly I'm a little screwed up myself and I just can't speak with the conviction I need. If we followed the early church model we would be spreading the Word inspite of the lack of leadership! Make our own churches!

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  4. Very intersting post. I enjoyed reading about the conditon of the "Today's Church". I also enjoyed the Louvin Brothers sing. God bless!

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  5. We're lucky to have a wonderful pastor at our church. No preaching social justice, thank goodness.
    The pastors we had before this one were a husband and wife team. I never really warmed up to them. One of the reasons was that they never prayed for our military at Sunday service. This bothered me. Anyway, one Sunday they gave out suggestion cards to the members to ask questions or make suggestions. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to ask for prayers for our military to be included on Sunday. So, on the next Sunday the woman pastor mentioned that she had gotten a suggestion about prayers for the military (she didn't mention who gave it to her). She went on to explain that they didn't include prayers for the military in the church service because they did not support war. She then proceeded to say a half-hearted, quasi-prayer and after that never did it again. Needless to say, I wasn't sorry to see them get transferred out. I can see why some people get turned off by church.
    I enjoyed the song.

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