How The Church Can Combat Racism

According to recent research, 8 out of 10 churches in America are made up, predominantly, from only one people/racial group. 11am on Sunday, it seems, is still the most segregated hour in America.

Unfortunately, that's not all the research found.

The report also found that two thirds of church communities felt they were 'doing enough' to be ethnically diverse, and over half felt that no further diversity was needed in their congregation.

10 Ways To Hear From God

man-thinking-looking-off-in-distanceHearing what God is saying to us is important, I've never met a follower of Jesus who didn't feel this way. But what do we do when we don't seem to have our radio tuned to the right frequency? What are some ways we can seek to hear what God is saying to us if he's not writing his words with lightning in the sky? Below are some ideas of ways we can proactively seek to hear God in our lives:

1. Other people

God has a history of speaking through other people: prophets, writers of scripture, etc. Why would God call us to live in community if he didn't intend to speak to us through that community? I intentionally talk with a select group of people about my life in order to get their perspective - and they want mine in response. They have other gifts and talents than I have - which is exactly what God intended (see the Body of Christ chapter in 1 Corinthians 12). They can speak out of God's gifts into my life.

2. Music

best-headphones-under-100Music can stir our souls. It can inspire us and move us. I dare you to go watch Rocky or Star Wars on mute during scenes with music to see the difference. God made music to have these properties. Go crank up a worship album or classical music spotify playlist and let yourself be swept up into the thundering beauty of strings or drums or rhythm instruments.

3. Church

I know many people who love Jesus but don't love church. I get it. I was there myself at a couple points in my life. But church is important. Some kind of gathering based on faith in Jesus is crucial in our lives. Jesus tells us that where two or more are gathered in his name, he's there as well. The technical term for that is a 'commanded blessing'. God is saying, when you do the following thing, I guarantee I'll respond in this particular way. God has also given gifts to men and women like teaching and encouraging (see Ephesians 4:11). If you're not around these people, you're missing out on God speaking to you through their gifts. Being in a crowd of people who are seeking Jesus is a great way to make a connection with what God is saying to you.

4. Books

Books are amazing things. They can put thoughts of other people into your own head. Another term for this is 'gaining new perspectives'. Other people may see God in different ways than you have ever seen him. Maybe you are seeking answers to questions and others can offer you thoughts on some answers you have never considered. When I was dealing with a great deal of frustration as I worked at a job that I hated, I started to read a lot of books. They changed my life. Seeing God from other angles than my own showed how much bigger he is than I realize from where I stand.

5. Art

large-art-canvas-painting-3I have a canvas picture on my wall from the artist Banksy. It's an image of a freedom fighter with a bandana covering his nose and mouth, getting ready to hurl something. You'd expect there to be a rock or a molotov cocktail in his hand, but instead there is a bouquet of flowers. I love the picture. It makes me think, it creates questions within me. And it is in those spaces which are created that God can speak to me.

6. Nature

This is a personal favorite of mine. I love to go out in nature. My favorite time is when the world is asleep and the sky is full of stars. I look at them and realize that each one is huge ball of burning gas, millions of miles away. I can't even fathom the size or the distance or one, yet there are hundreds and thousands in my sight...and the God who made each one is bigger than the universe. It takes me to a place of utter and absolute awe. David writes in Psalm 19:1 "The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship." Nature is big and beautiful and it points me to its creator.

7. Thinking

As an analytical person, I like to go out on a walk (nature - #6) and invite the Holy Spirit into my thinking. If I have a problem I'm trying to solve, or I'm simply considering what I'm supposed to be doing in life, I'll just start to think about it; and I trust that God is able to guide my thoughts like a river in a river bed. God gave you your brain. He talks about renewing your mind when you follow him. The thoughts you think exist because God breathes life into you. This is why I specifically ask people, has God been telling you something or showing you something? Sometimes, he will speak to us through our own process of understanding.

black woman reading Bible8. Bible

I know, cheating, right? I intentionally didn't list this one near the beginning of this list, but there's no doubt it's important. God did not give us a textbook to study for a test. I love how N.T. Wright says that the Gospel is Good News, not Good Advice. God gave us written scriptures for a reason. He wants us to read them because he wants us to know some important things. I would encourage you to read the scriptures regularly and not just by opening your bible randomly. Read through the books. See the story God is sharing with us and inviting us into, not just a couple lines out of context.

9. Revelation

Maybe you've heard God audibly speak to you. Or maybe you've had a vision. Perhaps you've had a situation where a thought suddenly filled your head and you couldn't avoid it. If God wants to tell you or me something important, nothing will stop him from doing it. Usually, the part we play in this event is to choose whether or not we will be obedient. Jonah, of Bible fame, initially made a bad choice in his situation. I've had a couple times where I did the same thing. Jonah and I may have the stubbornness trait in common. I encourage you to just say yes if God shows you something clear as day.

10. Prayer

Okay, I know. We could call all of the previous points 'prayer', or we could say that prayer needs to be part of every other point. You may be right. But here's what I mean with this one: Prayer is about the heart more than the head. Thinking and writing and considering and reading all have a large component of intellect, and that's good. But Paul talks about Christ living in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17). And if Jesus lives in our hearts, then when we speaks to us, it will probably sounds like our own heart is talking to us. Prayer involves getting quiet enough to learn the difference. It would be easy to do all the other stuff on this list while trying to actually avoid the moment of getting quiet and vulnerable to let God say something maybe we've been trying to avoid hearing.

Prayer is being open to God, and listening to him. He can speak in many different ways to us (hence this list), but if we're not listening, the value is lost.

God wants the best for us, so we must learn not to fear what he asks us or tells us. So let us have the courage to be open to what he is saying at any given time.


800px-Concrete_wallWalls are built for a purpose. That purpose is either to a. keep something in or b. to keep something out.

An example of keeping something in would be the Berlin Wall. It was erected to prevent people in Eastern Berlin from emigrating out. The leadership there had created an oppressive government and had to resort to building a wall (along with mines and guard towers) to keep the citizens from leaving.

An example of a wall being built to keep something out would be the Great Wall of China. Built (originally) by a Chinese emperor circa 200 BC, it was rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty largely for the purpose of keeping Mongols out of China.

We (humanity) naturally want to build walls. We like to carve out our own place and protect it.

Those of us who have chosen to become members of the Body of Christ must resist this temptation.

We have often succumbed to the temptation to keep ourselves safe from the elements of the world that are less than savory. Elements that we can’t imagine could ever be sanctified. More specifically, to keep out the “wrong kind” of people.

And in doing so, the walls we built to keep ourselves safe and sanctified have become the walls of our own tombs.

Walls, as I have pointed out, are designed to keep people in and/or keep people out. The church should be in the habit of neither of these efforts.

Show me where Jesus built walls around his ministry. He had infinite grace to be among these “disreputable sinners” and “scum” (Mark 2:15-16 NLT). The only people who found themselves on the outside looking in were the very people who had built walls in the name of God: the religious leaders. The people who filled God’s temple with con artists.

Even then, Jesus did not lock them out. They repeatedly came to him, and had access. It was their own choice to ostracize Jesus. To build walls attempting to keep him out.

You should note something in common with the famous examples of walls I listed at the beginning of this article: they both failed. The Berlin Wall fell. The Great Wall failed multiple times at preventing invasion.

Our churches must not become stale and stagnant like water in a bottle. They must remain free and alive like a river.

By accepting everyone and empowering members to go out into the community, we build ties with the community. We become integrated, and we have the opportunity to make an impact. Just like a guy I read about: wait...what was his name? Oh, right. “Jesus”.

Our purpose is not to carve out a safe, secure, comfortable area in this world. It’s to expand the borders of God’s kingdom. A kingdom of grace, peace, acceptance, justice, forgiveness and healing.

Look at Revelation 21:25 - at the end of this age, when the New Jerusalem comes upon the earth, it’s gates never close.

If ‘keeping people out’ isn’t a priority in God’s eternal kingdom, is that something we should practice in our churches here and now?

I, for one, don’t think so.

The Value of Social Engagement

helping-handsYears ago, I had the idea that we in Christianity were not only not obligated to help make this world a better place, but that it was counter-productive to our goals. Sounds crazy, right? Well, let me explain how I got to that conclusion.

I believed that social engagement would make this world a better place. But our purpose as Christians is to get to heaven and take as many people with us as we can, right? So the better this world is, the less likely people will want to hear a sales pitch about escaping it.

As (admittedly) stupid as this conclusion was, you have to admit it was logical. If heaven is the point of believing in Jesus, then we absolutely should not be a force for improving this world.

It wasn’t until I began to understand that ‘getting to heaven’ was a dumb goal that I started to reassess my thoughts on social involvement.

Only once I started to see that Jesus gave us the exact opposite goal - bringing heaven to earth - did I realize that being a force for good in this world was not only acceptable, it was actually mandatory.

I noticed 1 Peter 2:12: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

It seems to me like God wants us to give Him a good name. God knows that how people view Him will depend on what they see coming out of the people who claim to know him, love him and follow him. Doesn’t seem fair that God has put himself in a position to be judged based on dumb stuff I do, does it? But God knows that’s how it’s going to work.

Churches can focus very hard on trying to get people saved, to get them into Sunday School. What if a church focused on being such a benefit, such a blessing to the community that people thought more highly of them? So that, perhaps, they will think more highly of God?

The old viewpoint I had on working to improve the world around us was, “aren’t we just making this life more comfortable, when in reality the hardships of the this life will force them to turn to God?”

But that doesn’t seem to be God’s approach. He made Abraham a vehicle of blessing. Jesus welcomed and accepted the “disreputable sinners” who came to him seeking a relationship.

At the end of the Bible, we see that God has created peace and unity in the renewal of the earth. Our job is to reveal God’s overall plan by working to accomplish it in the communities where we live and worship. How can people know what God wants to accomplish if we don’t put it on display as much as possible?

This is a value of social engagement: that, like Jesus, we do the things we see the Father do (John 5:19): restoring the world, providing avenues of blessing, and accepting the outcast.

That we would introduce people to the kingdom of God by spreading it here on earth as far an as wide as we can - indeed, as Jesus commands - to the ends of the earth.

Church and the Local Community

Imagine that you go to a church where nobody under 6 feet tall was allowed to attend.  It’s a normal church by all other standards, there is just nobody there who is less than 6 feet tall. How would that church be different than other churches? Might it start to focus on issues that taller people deal with more frequently, such as back and/or knee problems? Would that church ignore issues that shorter people have to face? Accessibility issues for little people, for instance?

Maybe the sermons at that church would start to become tailored for tall people, since short people aren’t a part of the community.

Over time, that church probably would not be as effective in reaching the community around it which is full of people who are under 6 feet tall, right? I mean, if you exclude people who live, work and play right in the community, the church stops looking like the community and then it loses its influence, right?

In order to be effective in the goal of spreading the gospel, I believe that a church must resemble the community where it is located.

Does your church look like the community it’s found in? Are the same gender ratios in your community found in your church? The same variety of color?  Do you have business people and homemakers? What about homeless people? How about people with special needs?

Who is being excluded from your church family, either on purpose, or because you’re not making it reasonably possible for them to attend?

It’s human nature to be drawn to people who are similar to you. But when we do that in our churches, we create county clubs. Cliques that exists just to make us comfortable. I’m pretty sure that is NOT what Jesus meant when he told us to go into the world and make disciples.

The church should resemble the community because the more we relate and connect with them the more we bring the Kingdom of God to them.

In order to influence the local community, we must resemble it. Because a church that excludes parts of the community will find itself detached from the community as a whole. It will be ignored because it does not relate to or understand the community.

Just as a church with a height restriction would be laughable, so is one that only accepts the “best, brightest, and wealthiest” among us.

When Life Sucks

Can we get real for a minute? You know how when people ask you at church how you’re doing, you automatically say something to the effect of ‘I’m doing pretty good, how about you?’, even when you’re about as far away from ‘doing good’ as you can possibly get?

Your life may be falling apart around you:

- A relationship breakup

- A health issue or sick loved one

- Finances are a mess

- Can’t figure out what God’s plan is for your life

- You’re struggling with an addiction/major issue

But we still feel like, as Christians, we’re supposed to know how to be content in the midst of these situations. To be ‘doing good’ no matter how bad things get. I mean, look in the bible:

Paul said he figured out how to be content in any situation, then he backs it up by signing praises while chained up in a dungeon.

Joseph stays faithful to God while spending years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Job…I mean what can you say? This guy, in the midst of a specific and directed attack by the devil, refuses to curse God; despite the fact that he knows he didn’t deserve his treatment.

So we feel like we’re supposed to have a stiff upper lip, unquestioning blind faith, and above all, never to say thinks like ‘life really sucks right now.’

Having just completed a season - multiple years - of my life that pretty much felt like a barren wasteland, I have a new perspective on these times.

Here’s that perspective: you learn and grow way, way more during the times in your life where it seems like all the marrow has been sucked from your bones. When life seems to be only shades or gray, rather than vibrant color. When the soundtrack of life is more like fingernails on a chalkboard than a tuned up orchestra.

When life is good and well and easy, it’s pretty natural to coast.

I completed an offroad triathlon about a week ago. In the bike ride portion, there are some sections that are flat and easy. It’s hard for me to push myself to the breaking limit in those sections. Usually, I’m tempted to sit back and just pedal at a normal pace.

But in the sections that are steep, covered in loose rocks and dirt, filled with deep pits and large, sharp rocks that want nothing more than to wreck your bike, I don’t need any extra motivation to go all out. There’s no temptation to coast, because I can’t. The only way I can climb those insanely tough sections is if I give more than I thought I had.

Those are the parts of the race that ‘sucks’, and those are exactly the same parts that makes the accomplishment worthwhile. I don’t tell people about the easy sections later when I talk about the race. I talk about the parts that nearly broke me, but that I overcame.

I prove myself worthy by overcoming the hardest challenges the course can throw at me.

It’s the same in life. When, by God’s grace and mercy, you make it through the darkest days, the uncertain days, the days where hope seems to be a cruel weapon rather than the rope that keeps you from falling; those are the days that define who you are. Those are the days that strip away the things that are holding you back, keeping you complacent.

I didn’t want to spend two years of my life being refined and prepared. But as I am about to complete the transition into the life that I asked for, I see now that God did exactly what needed to be done. Only he knew what changes needed to occur in my life, so only he was qualified to put me in situations to bring those changes about.

In time, you will gain understanding as to why he has allowed you to bear the burdens which are in your life.

So when life sucks, please, remain faithful to God. I promise he is remaining faithful to you.

The Church Diet

Last week I started a fitness challenge at work. The person who improves their body fat percentage the most will win the competition (and a fair pot of money along with that). So, in addition to increasing my exercise routine, I decided to reduce my carbohydrate intake. I’m a total carb addict - I LOVE cookies, cinnamon rolls, pasta, bread, etc.

Here’s the thing about carbs: the body can burn them to give you energy. But if you take in more carbs than you burn through exercise you become a little think I like to call ‘fat’.

Your carb intake and your physical activity level need to match in order for you to be in shape.

In church, we see a lot of biblical encouragement, solid biblical exposition, fellowship, etc…these are good things. If they are done in proper proportion to the overall outreach of the church. Without the outreach, the church will get fat and lazy off these things.

Jesus was a man of action.

After receiving the Holy Spirit, so were John, Peter, Phillip and others.

Paul, already a man of action was called by Jesus to take action for him rather than against him.

How did we get to the point where we think it’s okay to call yourself a follower of Christ if you sit on your butt in a pew for a couple hours each week?

I read a book called Heretics by Jonathan Wright last week, and among other things, it tangentially examined the differences between Christianity before it became a political movement and after that occurred.

Like all political movements, Christianity quickly became a vehicle for seeking power to many people (especially the leadership). It cost many brave women and men their lives to question the political disposition of the church. (Not to say all people who were killed as heretics were seeking the good of Christendom, but there were those that wanted to follow God rather than man.)

Putting effort into building up other Christians is a good thing, if it is a part of strengthening them to be a part of ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done’ in their families, communities and the world at large. But if it’s just done to make people comfortable, that’s wrong. It’s like gorging yourself on cake when the people outside the palace are starving.

Take it from Marie Antoinette (or whoever actually said ‘let them eat cake’), that kind of attitude isn’t going to get us very far.

Either the church needs to stop feeding itself in an effort to get happy, or it needs to get out and exercise a little more.

How To Have An Unhealthy Church

I’ve learned something about being in a community recently: that if a group of people aren’t fighting together for something, they’ll end up fighting each other. People need a purpose. They need a goal. If you don’t give them one, they will pick one for themselves.

We all need challenges to overcome in life, mountains to climb.

I have signed up for 3 races this summer: The Xterra EX2 Off-road Triathlon, the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder, and the Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan.

Somebody asked me recently why I participate in these crazy events.

The reason is because I can only grow if I challenge myself. I only get stronger and faster when I must in order to overcome challenges that are greater than I can handle today.

I do it because I want to find my limits, and then destroy them.

When I think about a church community, I think about one of those great ancient galley ships that used dozens or hundreds of people rowing as their propulsion. Momentarily setting aside the fact that the people who worked in them were normally slaves, imagine that your church is one of those ships.

What would happen if everybody just set their own agenda? Rowed when they wanted, however they wanted? At best, the ship would meander in circles, never actually getting anywhere.

If half the crew wanted to go forward and he other half wanted to go backwards, the ship would literally just spin in circles. People on the boat may mistake the motion for progress, but the reality is they’re all just wasting energy. When they wearily recognize all their effort has been for naught, they will naturally start looking for other people to blame. Hello, church split.

The way it reaches its destination is by everyone rowing together, as one person with some guidance from leadership

Without a destination, you’ll never go anywhere.

Without a purpose, you won’t do anything that isn’t comfortable or easy.

Just like I set race challenges for myself, does your church have challenges? Is everyone committed to these challenges? Are these challenges making a difference?

In other words, if your church closed down and never met again, would there be negative consequences, other than you not getting to see people you’re friendly with?

If you want an unhealthy church, don’t have goals. Don’t have a purpose that everybody in the congregation is aware of and given the opportunity to participate in. Just float in the river of existence, dealing with the crises that will inevitably pop up when people starting trying to paddle in different directions.

If you follow that simple direction, your church is sure to be unhealthy, meaningless and eventually die.

Is the Church Autistic?

The defining attribute of an autistic person is that they grow inwardly rather than outwardly. My daughter, Elle, is autistic. My wife and I have to work very hard to engage with her and to get her to engage with us and the world at large. She doesn't feel any particular pull to do it on her own.

Instead, Elle greatly enjoys watching TV and playing computer games. Then, she will repeat, over and over, script from the shows/games that she likes.

She'll draw pictures of the characters in the show. She'll pretend to be one of the characters (her favorite character is Quack from Peep and the Big Wide World).

She's a wonderful daughter and I love her. But if you don't engage her, she'll most likely ignore you, and she'll simply retreat into her own mind. The stuff she says will seem like complete gibberish .

In order to get her to break from living fully in her imagination, we have to get her talking about real things. Well press her for details about her day at school, we'll ask how you make lemonade, we'll ask what her favorite holiday is and why. In other words, we have to draw her out of her internal world and into the world all around her.

Sometimes, we have to cut off TV and video games for a while when she's retreating into those things a bit too often. Not as punishment, but in order that she can't simply seek refuge in a place where she won't have to put forth the energy to deal with people.

Does this remind you of the church in America? 

- Has trouble relating to people who aren't in the church.

- Likes to focus on something that really doesn't apply here and now (the afterlife).

- Doesn't want to engage, but would rather retreat into its own little world?

- Speaks with language that nobody else will understand (I'm not talking about tongues here, but rather the use of 'Christianese' like 'binding the devil' or 'the prayer of salvation', etc).

We can easily forget the the Body of Christ doesn't exist simply to get together for 2 hours each Sunday and make each other feel better, but rather that we are supposed to be going out and making disciples.

We build buildings, call them churches, and often restrict most or all of our activities in these places. This seems to me more like putting your light under a basket than being a city on a hill to me.

I think there are a lot of believers and a lot of churches that really are taking Jesus' mission to make disciples seriously. But I also think we need to increase the trend of engaging with the culture without losing our identity in the process.

By building walls to keep 'secular culture' out, we've also locked ourselves in. When we grow in a closed greenhouse, what good does it do to the meadow all around us?

Maybe it's not fair to call the church autistic, maybe it's just introverted.

As an introvert myself, I know it takes a lot of effort to socialize and engage with people, but I also know that it's important to make that concerted effort.

As I'm reading the book of Acts right now, I see the church growing, expanding, engaging. I wonder how we've arrived at the place where we are now - exclusive, stagnant or shrinking, stand offish.

We've got to get our from behind our church walls, and put ourselves out there, vulnerable, letting the Holy Spirit bear his fruit in our lives where it can actually make a difference.

Dual Citizenship

I started reading a book called You Lost Me by David Kinnaman today. It’s one of those books which is depressing to read because it presents truths that you wish didn’t exist. It’s about young adults who leave the church - and often their faith - behind because of how frustrated they are. The worst part is that their arguements are pretty darn valid. In the book, Kinnaman refers to an idea which the church promotes a lot: being in the world, not of it.

We’ve all heard the saying that we are “in this world, not of it” many times, I’m sure. It comes from Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in John 17.

But I think when we in Church say it, we tend to have the idea that we need to add the word ‘but’. We are in this world BUT not of it. The obvious emphasis being that we need to remember the fact that we are above and beyond this valley of tears we call earth. We are looking forward to eternity in glory with the creator of all, the source of light and truth and love and peace! We just have to endure this nightmare a little while before we wake up and all is well.

And I think that’s the wrong mindset. In the prayer we refer to, Jesus says this: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15 - emphasis mine)

I think that instead of saying “In this world BUT not of it”, we should say that we are “In this world AND not of it”. We’re not trapped here in the previews, waiting for the movie to start. The movie has begun! God’s kingdom is here. God’s kingdom is now.

The two concepts of “in this world, not of it” are not either/or, they’re both/and!

Songs like “When I die / Hallelujah by and by / I’ll fly away” speak to an escapist mentality that clearly wasn’t the intention Jesus had for his followers.

Let’s not view this life as a prison sentence where we are waiting for our parole. Paul balanced these dueling ideas when he said “To live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)

There wasn’t a “bad option” that he wanted to avoid. Both were good. Heaven AND earth. We are in this world AND not of it. Let’s not seek to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.

We must build relationships in this world to have an impact. And relationships mean seeing eye to eye with people, not looking down on them. We are in this world just like everybody else is in this world. Let’s connect on that level, so that we can speak of the one who can make us to also be ‘not of it’.

Christianity: Spiritual Microsoft?

I think it’s healthy and valuable to do a broad, sweeping overview of your life from time to time. I’ve started doing that with church/Christianity lately.

What we’re doing doesn’t seem to be working well. I look at all the crime and poverty and famine and war and violence and oppression and selfishness in this world and I wonder why it seems that the Kingdom of God is shrinking rather than expanding.

And why the church seems to be an impotent force in the world at large.

Why do we gather in a “church” building for a few hours on Sunday?

Why do we have “worship leaders”? I never see Jesus including music in his ministry. So why do we feel it’s a requirement?

I’m not saying there should be no music in church. I’m just wondering why we say “okay, church will be 2 hours and the first hour is music”, or something like that in almost every church. It’s like we came up with a template and decided to copy/paste everywhere.

And why do we call that music time ‘worship’ and the music leaders ‘worship leaders’? I love singing to God, and I have been a music leader at various churches for over a decade, but worship? To me, worship is living a life that is devoted to God just as much Monday through Saturday as it is on Sunday. Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God (Ephesians 5:19) are one part of living a life of worship to God, but without the full life commitment, they’re just nice songs.

Why do we appoint (and often pay) somebody to study the bible and pray, then tell us what we should believe from a pulpit?

What’s our goal? What’s our point?

Is Christianity like the Microsoft of the spiritual world? A good, solid choice that will work for most people and doesn’t need to really do a lot of expanding because it’s pretty popular already?

I’m serious. What is this thing we’re doing???

Church shouldn’t be like groundhog day. Doing the same thing over and over and over. Shouldn’t there be some progression and innovation? What are we doing wrong?

We need challenges, a vision, goals. At least I know I do.

I learned this about myself a while back. I decided that I needed to get in shape, so I started running and doing situps and pushups. It was great for a few weeks, then I slacked off.

A few months went by and I decided to get serious again, so for several weeks I ran and did pushups and situps. Then, it faded.

I finally realized that I needed a goal. So I signed up for a race called the Warrior Dash. I knew that 9 months from that time, I was going to have to complete an event that I wasn’t ready for. I knew that if I didn’t exercise and get in shape, I would embarrass myself in front of my friends on October 21st, 2010. So I spent the next 9 months getting in the best shape of my life. By the time the race happened, I was vastly over prepared for it.

Until I had a goal, a set reason to exercise, I couldn’t motivate myself. I feel like a lot of churches are like this. They don’t have a goal other than some murky ‘We’re going to get 250 people saved in 2012’ type goal.

Is that God’s goal for us? A numbers quota? That we recruit enough people into our club so that the shareholders are satisfied?

What are we trying to accomplish? Why can’t the 1 or 2 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ come up with some kind of unified purpose? I mean, come on! If every Christian committed to some particular plan, is there anything we couldn’t accomplish? If Christianity said: “nobody is going to starve to death from now on”, and we put our money and energy behind it, don’t you think we could make it happen? Or getting clean water to everyone? Or clothing the naked? Or caring for the sick? Or taking in the outcasts?

Instead, we have our little cliques, and most of our time is spent infighting.

I don’t have some great solution. I understand that getting people to give their time, energy, money, etc is tough. I understand that getting people to work together is harder when you start getting bigger groups, probably darn near impossible.

But I also think the way we’re doing church, for the most part, doesn’t seem to be working. Yet that seems to be where we put most of our focus.

We keep the system going because it’s easy. Maintain the status quo and almost everybody is happy.

Rather than saying “I don’t like the way we do church, so I’m going to start my own church and ‘do it right’”, I’m starting to wonder how I can start to undo church. To break down walls rather than put up new ones. I want to break free from the system, because I don’t think it can be fixed. I don’t think God exists in a ‘system’. At least not one I can come up with.