Thoughtfulpastor

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Name: thoughtfulpastor
Date registered: March 16, 2012
URL: http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. thoughtfulpastor: The Kingdom of Heaven and Heathrow Airport — June 25, 2012
  2. thoughtfulpastor: Be Still and Know — June 24, 2012
  3. thoughtfulpastor: The Impossibility of Proving a Negative; Why Metrics Don’t Work As Evaluative Tools — June 21, 2012
  4. thoughtfulpastor: Hollow Be My Name — June 19, 2012
  5. thoughtfulpastor: Mystery Worship Seven — June 19, 2012

Most commented posts

  1. thoughtfulpastor: The Language of Power and Pentecost: Bishops, Clergy and Gardens — 1 comment

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Jun 25 2012

thoughtfulpastor: The Kingdom of Heaven and Heathrow Airport

Original post at http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/the-kingdom-of-heaven-and-heathrow-airport/


Perhaps the kingdom of heaven is a bit like Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, June 27 .

On that day:

  • I fly from Heathrow to NYC, ending my extended sojourn in the UK, and beginning my reentry into the US.
  • My nephew flies from Heathrow to Los Angeles
  • My nephew’s mother-in-law lands at Heathrow from Florida.
  • My son flies in from the Middle East mid-morning for two meetings at Heathrow and then back out again that evening for Berlin.
  • My daughter-in-law’s brother lands at Heathrow from Bogotá, Colombia for the funeral of their sister’s father-in-law.

Chances are none of us will see each other, although my nephew and I are trying to work out a meeting if possible, but we are in different terminals and I’ve just learned it will be quite difficult for us to get together in a secure area.

Just thought it fascinating the way the huge world of this extended family seemed to zoom in on Heathrow. I can also see how the fabled six degrees of separation would easily work for us–it would only take one or two steps away from the group at Heathrow on Wednesday to touch almost anyone alive right now.

We simply represent quite clearly the interconnectedness of the world.  And I think that is a means to teach us more about the hugeness of God who holds this whole creation together.  When we isolate ourselves, either by politics, gender, race, sexuality or theology or any other means, we may very well be moving away from the wholeness of the Godhead.

Perhaps the kingdom of heaven is a bit like Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, June 27, where members of this complex and extended family converge and disperse, each seeking to live faithfully to the light given, but each going in a radically different direction.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/06/the-kingdom-of-heaven-and-heathrow-airport/

Jun 24 2012

thoughtfulpastor: Be Still and Know

Original post at http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/be-still-and-know/


It is Sunday morning here in London.  This is the first Sunday since I’ve left on this Sabbatical that I have not been in a place of worship, but I knew when I awoke this morning that I needed to spend this morning in quiet prayer and also with family.

My oldest son, who made this trip possible and whose family have so graciously loved me, housed me, fed me and included me these last seven weeks, leaves today for a trip to the Middle East, and I won’t see him again before I leave England.  We’ve just had a couple of hours of sweet conversation, nothing important, just time.  Just time.

Earlier this morning, I heard from a friend of mine who is undergoing the challenge of watching her mother die and is herself suffering greatly in the process .  I wrote this to her:

I do understand the anguish of waiting and the almost complete emotional depletion that comes from wondering when this will be over.

One thing I’ve learned both from my mother’s death and my travels:  what will happen will happen, and all your anxiety will do is make you, and those around you, miserable.  Anxiety is of no help in any circumstance.  It just raises everyone’s stress level.

You can only live in the now.  All our efforts to live in the future are totally doomed–that is an impossibility.  The more you push mentally and spiritually for this to be over, the more likely it is that you will miss the grace moments of the present.  

Your dog is picking up on your anxiety and displaying it the only way she knows–to keep chewing at a piece of her own skin. It’s why many teens cut themselves–it is a way of releasing the huge anxiety of their lives.  

I’ll say this even more clearly:  you are hurting everyone around you, including your beloved pet–and your mother–by refusing to live in the present moment and letting God deal with what is to come.

Sit still, my friend.  Sit still.  Pay attention to your shoulders, your forehead, your back, your gut, your fingers and toes.  Your mother’s life and death are her problem.  Your life and death are yours.  Quit taking this from her.  She’s got to deal with it.  

I know how many words you have in you.  Today is the time to stem that torrent of words and just let your mother speak, and let silences, holy silences, fill the air.  As they do, pay close attention to your body–not anyone else’s, just yours.  Listen to the way you are breathing, notice what your muscles are doing.  Be quiet.  Do not try to answer the questions or help anyone feel better.  

“Be still”, the Psalmist says, “Be still and know I am God.”

Be still.  Hear the wind, listen to the refrigerator cycle on and off, the same with the air conditioner.  Find the birdsong, hear the traffic flow.  Let their sounds hold you.

Stop the words.

Go to worship. Let the rhythm of the liturgy settle you.  Receive the sacrament with gratefulness, instead of pleading for God to fix this.  

Be still.  Receive the salvation of the Lord, which works the way God wants it, not the way you want it.

Be still.  See in your mind your mother’s reception in the Holy Place, the place where all that matters is the Presence of God, the Presence of the fullness of Love, and every anxiety on earth must also bow to perfect Peace.

Be still.  You will have to fight every normal impulse to do this, but you can fight and win here.  What you are doing is not working.  It is time to find the better way.

Let the silence hold you.  You don’t have to fill it with anything, for it is already full of God.  Your words and your anxiety have blinded you to this.

Watch your pet become well in your stillness.

Let your mother take her own path in your stillness.

Repent of your need to be God here, to decide life and death for others.  

Be still.

Quit trying to fix this.

Be still.

I am seeking to follow that same advice, knowing that on so many Sunday mornings, in preparing to take my place as Pastor, I am anxious.  How much does my anxiety add to the Kingdom of Heaven?  None. Not one bit.  How much does it distract?  Hugely.  It is a negative force.

So as I pray for the many who themselves may be facing anxiety on this Sunday, “Let us all be still.  God is indeed God, and will not let the world fall between those Holy Hands.  No matter what happens, we are in the presence of perfect love. “

Thanks be to God.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/06/be-still-and-know/

Jun 21 2012

thoughtfulpastor: The Impossibility of Proving a Negative; Why Metrics Don’t Work As Evaluative Tools

Original post at http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/the-impossibility-of-proving-a-negative-why-metrics-dont-work-as-evaluative-tools/


The Taunt

“Scaredy cat, scaredy cat!”

“Am not!”

“Prove it!”

The classic playground exchange: one child makes a pejorative accusation of another, the second denies the charge, and the first one says, “Prove what I just said isn’t true.”

And child number two is now put in the impossible situation.  For there is no way to prove to the first child’s satisfaction that he or she is indeed not a “scaredy cat.”

Let’s try another example, and I write this knowing the illustration can be called “sexist.” However, since I’m a woman, and it reflects poorly on womankind, I’ll take the risk:.

Many wives have said to their husbands (to their husband’s despair), “You don’t love me!”

What they are really saying, of course, is that “You are not doing what I want you to do so I feel good about myself so therefore you must not love me.”  By the way, this is why many people don’t think God loves them either–God just doesn’t always dance well to our imperative tunes.

Anyway, when the husband responds, “Of course I love you,” he plays the same losing game as the schoolyard children above.  As long as his wife is convinced that he doesn’t love her, there is no way he can prove otherwise.  He can’t prove the negative.

The Accusations of Racism

Right now, there are charges of racism being floated against members of the North Texas Conference and the South Central Jurisdiction Episcopacy Committee that evaluated Bishop Bledsoe’s leadership and effectiveness.  With those charges now coming from several places, the chances of a reconciling and healthy resolution to this situation grow increasingly unlikely.

Why?  Because we can’t prove a negative.

What would the North Texas Conference have to do to prove this negative?  This question needs to be asked.  What would it take to prove decisively to those who have floated such accusations that they are untrue?  Those who have made such charges need to answer the question: What would bring them satisfaction?

The Problem with Numbers

This situation has made glaringly clear the problem with making numbers (“metrics” is the more sophisticated term) as the basis for determining effectiveness.  A tiny gain in the number of people attending worship and 16 church plants has been given as proof that Bishop Bledsoe is effective in leadership.

Yes, those 16 church plants have helped very much bring an increase in worship numbers.  But here’s the problem:  most of the church plants started, or were at least in the planning stages, long before Bishop Bledsoe took office.  I know–my church is considered one of them–not as a brand new plant, but as a relocation and restart.

I started working on this in 2007–but I also can’t take credit because I was building on the good work of the people of this church and of my clergy predecessors, who began to dream about this in the early 1990’s.  It’s all part of a long term system, and I am just a part of that system, not the sole driving force.

Bishop Bledsoe began his term as Bishop on September 1, 2008.  Most if not all of those church plants that are showing good numbers have been doing ground floor work for far longer that Bishop Bledsoe’s years in leadership in the North Texas Conference.

All of us in leadership roles need to recognize that we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.  Our results are highly dependent on systems and plans in place years before. Numbers reflect an extremely small part of leadership effectiveness, particularly when being evaluated over a short term time period–and four years is a very short time frame for a complex organization saddled with ponderous change challenges.

“Isms” Must Stop

I personally ache with compassion for Bishop Bledsoe as a fellow human being.  He’s in a very, very tough spot right now, with minefields all around him. It will take enormous wisdom and grace to work through this. But it can be done, and can be done redemptively, even if painfully.

I also say that all “isms” are contrary to the Gospel of grace and reconciliation offered to us by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the one who ate with sinners, touched the unclean, and offered the first news of his glory of his resurrection to the least believable of witnesses–a group of uneducated women.

No “isms” have a place in kingdom of heaven living.  Nonetheless, issues of call, character and competence do have a place.  We must not move someone from a leadership position on the basis of an “ism” but we can and should move someone on other grounds with sufficient reasons.  If a person, by reason of any “ism,” is no longer subject to evaluation of call, character and competence, then what we have is a whole new and disturbing paradigm of unaccountable leadership, itself based on an “ism.”

Monday Morning Quarterbacks

I recently noticed in an online conversation where some people with no first hand knowledge of this situation, little second-hand knowledge, and only a surface look at the headlines have decided that there is “something rotten in Texas.”

They display Monday morning quarterbacking at its best.  The observer at the game, never having considered what it is like to face a line of well-trained giants who are out to slam him to the ground, who has to get an awkward ball to an invisible receiver who is also surrounded by highly motivated giants prepared to outmaneuver him by any means necessary, readily berates the quarterback for having missed a perfect opportunity to score.  Amazing.

We do this all the time in the church and pretty well every other place.  We set up committees or task forces to take care of necessary work or shoulder an important responsibility, elect or nominate competent people to serve on them, wait for the results of their work, and then call them a bunch of idiots who ignored the facts so very obvious to those who sat on the sidelines.

I remember one time watching a car chase that took place over several hours on Dallas freeways, with multiple law enforcement officers giving chase, trying to pull the driver over without harming other drivers on the road.  I watched it via helicopter cameras, and could indeed see some things the pursuing officers could not see.  Later, I happened to turn on a talk-radio program where I heard callers expound on the incompetence of the police. Each caller was insistent that he/she would have pulled over the miscreant so much better, so much quicker, and so much easier.  Right.

All of us do this, and I’m included in that “all of us.”  I/we are so quick to criticize and assume we could do better than those actually in the battle, on the field, driving the pursuit car, or charged with evaluating the performance.

It doesn’t help when we start lashing out with highly emotionally laden words and accusations that are impossible to prove untrue. Remember, you can’t prove a negative.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to remove phrases like this from our verbal repertoires:

  • “You don’t love me.”
  • “You are a racist.”
  • “You are an ignorant redneck.”
  • “You are untrustworthy.”
  • “You are a bad person.”
  • “You are a coward.”
  • “You are stupid.”
  • “You are a heretic.”

Now, every day, we probably do face unloving, prejudiced, ignorant, deceitful, evil, cowardly, stupid, heretical people.  But I doubt that a single one of them (or us) is going to hear a statement like one of those above and say in return, “Oh my gosh–you are right!  I should have seen this all along!”

We offer light by being light, not by being agents of darkness ourselves.  Yes, racism and all other “isms” must be addressed.  But they must be addressed in kingdom of heaven fashion.  Remember these words:

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.  (Matthew 5:21-24, The Message Translation)


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/06/the-impossibility-of-proving-a-negative-why-metrics-dont-work-as-evaluative-tools/

Jun 19 2012

thoughtfulpastor: Hollow Be My Name

Original post at http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/hollow-be-my-name/


Fatigue wrapped its ugly arms around me earlier today–the worst I’ve experienced since starting my Sabbatical. Think it came from a weekend spent in the Cotswolds where I had a wonderful time reconnecting with a beloved nephew and his family and saw glorious countryside–and parts of New College Oxford where scenes from Harry Potter are filmed.  But . . . I completely lost the rhythm of walking/reading/writing that had characterized my days recently and that had led to such a sense of physical and spiritual well-being.

My best recourse when I reach this point is to move.  This body is made for walking.  I headed for the nearby Downs where there are miles of walking trails through forests and fields.

And, as I often do when the walking rhythms take hold, I began to pray.  I realized suddenly that I was about to load on God all my petty complaints and little frustrations and bigger concerns and all the other trivia that often occupies my mind.  I stopped and regrouped.

When I started again, I began with the prayer Jesus taught his disciples.  It was time to acknowledge God’s holiness, and move from thinking I am the center of the universe to the spot where I can and will worship the Center of all the cosmos.  Then I hit the phrases that always stop me: may God’s will be done, may God’s rule overcome, here in this limited earth time/space as it already is in the fullness of the heavenly places.

Over the weekend, my nephew and I were helping his older daughter, 5, practice praying the Lord’s Prayer.  She is learning this in her school here and wanted to show us what she’d learned.  In typical five year old fashion, it went something like this, “Our Father who aren’t in heaven, hollow be my name.  My kingdom come, my will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Working on reining in our laughter, we gently corrected her and encouraged her in her great progress.

Personally, I think what I heard from her is really what most people do think.  God’s not really in heaven, glory and honor have nothing to do with this–the whole thing is hollow, and what we really want is our own will to be done.

But the prayer does, in its non-five year old form, call for God’s will be done.  What is God’s will?

I’ve been pondering again the words to Mary’s Magnificat, the words she spoke after her pregnancy was confirmed by Elizabeth, herself pregnant with John the Baptist:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,  for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;  he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

It’s that middle paragraph that stops me cold:  scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, lifting the lowly, filling the hungry but sending the rich away.

Could that be God’s will?  Seriously? Put down the power?  Turn the weapons of mass destruction into means of food production?  Remove the carnivorous nature of the wolf so the lamb can safely nestle there? Celebrate the huddled masses, the poverty-stricken, desperate, illegal immigrant population as welcomed sojourners? Hug the lepers, touch the unclean and discover that the gospel comes best from the most unlikely sources, from voices that have historically been silenced?

Surely not.

Surely God’s kingdom is my kingdom–where I get what I want, and I stay the center of the universe.

Or maybe we’ve missed the boat completely.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/06/hollow-be-my-name/

Jun 19 2012

thoughtfulpastor: Mystery Worship Seven

Original post at http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/mystery-worship-seven/


Note:  this is part of an ongoing series.  Mystery Worship One is here;  Mystery Worship Two is here; Mystery Worship Three is here. Four is here. Five is here. Six is here.

Sunday, June 3, Trinity Sunday, was also the day of celebration for the Queen’s Jubilee.  I toyed with attending worship at Westminster Abbey, where she was crowned, but decided against it and headed for the 11:30 Sung Eucharist at the historic and beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Arriving early after train, tube and ½ mile walk, I found Matins still in progress, but an usher suggested I sit in the back and move forward later.

Chairs: movable, hard molded plastic.  A small kneeling cushion hangs on the back of them , but the rows are set so closely together that being able to kneel was problematic.  The thorough service bulletin, intended for visitors with everything included, indicated we would stand during most of the service and only in one spot was kneeling even suggested. Practicality rules!

The seating area was a long way from full, but I would guess about five or six hundred in attendance. What sounded like three Anglican priests on vacation seated themselves behind me and conversed jovially before the service began.  The one immediately behind me, as it turned out, had a very nice and full singing voice, making it easy for me to follow the hymns.

We stood for the Processional as numerous priests, deacons, acolytes and choir came in. Priests were quite royally robed in gold, deacons in red, choir in white over black cassocks. No boys choir today, but the Vicars Choral sounded wonderful.

Before the service started, the priests behind me noted that the sound system was quite problematic and mentioned some impossible sum to try to fix it.  Yep, definitely problematic.  Every time someone spoke, itself hard to hear, a soft buzzing sound accompanied the words along with an echo. Tough on hearing challenged people.

The service itself was lovely, perfectly orchestrated, and exquisitely sung. The message was a nicely done Trinity Sunday sermon with the primary illustration of the human inability to actually comprehend God likened to that of an oyster trying to describe a ballerina.  Just can’t be done, but God has chosen to become small in the person of Jesus so we very limited humans might gain some entrance into the mystery.

Any baptised person who regularly receives communion in home churches was invited to receive the sacrament. Multiple stations around the nave, plus well-trained ushers made for an orderly and quick reception. Gluten-free wafers were also available.

I seated myself for the ten minute Organ Voluntary (Praeludium in G major) after the final blessing and Recessional, but most people left before it was over. By that time, the idea of finding the loo held great appeal, so I approached a female usher and made my request. Her response: “Yes, of course, but you still must leave the building, and go along to the left down to the crypt.”

I walked out and turned left.  About 80 yards away, I saw a small door at ground level.  After two sets of stairs, I turned left again, followed people into the double door entry and found myself in a large cafe with a gift shop.  Feeling sure my goal was near, I wandered through the cafe until I found the welcoming sign and joined the long queue of women who had arrived before I, waiting patiently for one of the six tiny stalls.  Apparently, that is the total number of available facilities for this necessary function in the entirely of St. Paul’s.  Oh my.  And heaven help the physically handicapped.

As beautiful as the service was, it left me cold.  Earlier this week, I had attended a noon Eucharist at an old, beat up mouse-infested church where the worship area is turned into a homeless shelter each evening.  There, I had sensed the power of God.  Here, I saw the power of humanity.  But I left determined to walk the 528 steps to the top of the dome!


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/06/mystery-worship-seven/

Jun 13 2012

thoughtfulpastor: Dead Soil Produces Dead Souls: Thoughts on the Toxic Church

Original post at http://thoughtfulpastor.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/dead-soil-produces-dead-souls-thoughts-on-the-toxic-church/


I hear the word “toxic” bandied about all the time, both applied to people and to churches.  The word means poisonous, of course.  Poison is “a substance with an inherent property that tends to destroy life or impair health” (from dictionary.com).  So if we are in a “toxic” relationship or toxic church, we are in a situation that promotes the opposite of what most of us want to experience, which is life and health.

Not too long ago, this question popped up in an online discussion board primarily for United Methodist clergy:

“Why do so many conferences allow problem churches to continue being problem churches? Why do conferences not discipline problem churches?”

Five Factors

Now “problem churches” is a euphemism for a toxic, death inducing environment.  As I thought about it, I came up with five factors that I think help identify a death-inducing or toxic church environment

  • a tightly held lay leadership structure
  • insistence on seeing the pastor as their employee
  • little or no numerical growth in membership, worship attendance and giving
  • lessening impact of ministry in local community, AND
  • continued payment of apportionments.

I know lots of other benchmarks are being used to describe churches that are alive versus those which are dying, but let me explain my reasoning here.

A tightly held lay leadership structure says quite clearly, “there is no room at the table for you.”  I still remember those highly insecure junior high school days of walking into the school cafeteria and hoping, just hoping, that some group of girls would make room at their table for me.

I was never popular and had a lot of social insecurities.  Those were always agonizing moments for me and left a deep impression.  I think I’m not alone.  Most of us would like to be able to walk into a room and have welcoming faces immediately open up a space for us.  Healthy, secure people do that.  Of course, hardly any junior high girls are that emotionally healthy or secure, so it rarely happens there.  But in a church where people are called to grow up in Christ, it should be the norm, not the exception.

When the atmosphere says, “There’s no room at my table,” something has gone terribly wrong. Junior high immaturity rules–as in Lord of the Flies.  God forbid–but it happens all the time.

About number two, that insistence on seeing the pastor as their employee:  When that is the case, then the pastor’s primary job is to keep the people happy.  And when that becomes the primary clergy responsibility, disaster, i.e., toxicity, is inevitable.  The state of happiness (nowhere mentioned in Scripture, by the way, as a hallmark of holy people) is an ever-moving target and is used all the time for emotional blackmail.  Pastors, whether in an sent system like ours, or a call system like some other denominations, must be able to speak out truth–and truth, while utterly freeing, often makes people uncomfortable.  A pastor’s job is to create a place where people may grow spiritually and offer the fruits of that growth to the world.  That very well may mean plowing the fields periodically and ripping out weeds when necessary.  It may not make people happy, but it is necessary.

For the third factor I lumped all of our many numerical metrics under one category. While these factors, little or no growth in membership, worship attendance and giving must be used to assess a church’s health, they should not be given more attention than they deserve.

In some locations, demographic factors are so strong that those numbers are meaningless.  A church showing some growth in all areas but is in an area that is itself growing rapidly could be far more ill than a church with no numerical growth but with numerical stability yet surrounded by a demographic in steep decline.

The fourth category about lessening impact in the local community needs to be understood this way:  a church can continue a strong giving and emphasis on distant missions and still be highly poisonous if that distant mission emphasis is not matched by local transformation and effectiveness.

There is a truth to this cliché, “Charity begins at home.”  Most churches are rooted in their communities, and when those communities either do not trust the local congregational offers of help, or the local congregation is detached from more intimate community needs, than something has gone very, very wrong.

The fifth one, the consistent paying of apportionments (or whatever regular larger connectional giving the particular church has been in the habit of funding) may come as a surprise.  Generally, we say that a church NOT paying apportionments is in trouble.  But here’s why I think it is the opposite: as long as the problem church continues to pay its apportionments, it provides appointments for clergy (in the particular system of the UMC), keeps the money flowing for Conference officials pet projects and paychecks, and therefore eliminates wider incentives for action at a higher level to deal with the growing toxicity.

The Structure Supports the Problem

In other words, our very structure supports these kinds of problem churches and hinders real action, so they continue to offer death, not life to any who come in contact with them. The drive for scriptural holiness no longer energizes the community.  For the most part, hearts of people sitting around those closed-off tables have been hardened to the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, he necessary rebuilding of church culture into an open, servant-hearted, generous place would destroy what has been there a long, long time.  Thus the resistance to meaningful, in-depth change will be so huge that any clergy seeking to bring that kind of transformational pastoral leadership will have to be run off quickly.  This is rarely done consciously, but is generally done consistently.

I want to quote my favorite gardener, Howard Garrett, AKA “the dirt doctor,” here on one of his pet issues:  using toxic chemicals to get rid of pests in gardens and fields.  He writes:

Research has shown that pests are attracted to weak, unhealthy plants that got that way from the use of toxic pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Healthy plants with proper trace minerals and sugars are mostly immune to pests.

Toxic chemical pesticides have a purpose. They keep unhealthy plants alive by killing the pests that nature has sent in to take them out. These toxins are harmful to pets, wildlife, livestock and humans; they contaminate the air, soil and water, and they are costly and time consuming to apply. They do one other thing as well. They make money for the people who manufacture, promote and sell them.

Insects are nature’s cleanup crews. Their job is to move in and take out unfit plants. Preventing or even interfering with that natural process without solving the cause of the stressed plants serves no one but those who sell the toxic pesticides. There’s a purpose for everything, including salt fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. They keep sick, unhealthy plants alive so more toxic chemicals can be sold! Simple as that.

Could it be possible that we need to keep sick, unhealthy, toxic churches alive so we can hire more over-priced consultants to sell us that latest quick fix for them?

Liken the problem church to ground that has been poisoned by chemicals of some sort.  Despite the best efforts of gardeners or farmers, nothing healthy can ever grow there. That soil has to either go through extensive decontamination processes or actually be removed and replaced by something that is healthy and alive.

It is the same with the church: the poisons have to be removed; they cannot be accommodated.  Otherwise, the dead soil in the church only produces dead souls.

The only really effective discipline would be to close the church, sell the property, and start afresh, building from the ground up a new culture. But new church starts do not participate in apportionment giving for quite a while.  So again, there are parts of our system that actually encourage toxicity and hinder the hopes of more transformational ministry.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2012/06/dead-soil-produces-dead-souls-thoughts-on-the-toxic-church/

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