Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two Weeks In A Row

I'm most impressed with myself that I've been able/willing to sit down and excrete the happenings of my mind two weeks in a row. I think weekly is frequent enough because often whatever it is that I am thinking lasts a number of days so there wouldn't be much to write if I were to do so more often. Although I may not stick to this weekly thing for long, I think it's ideal.
The pressing issue on my mind this time around has to do with a pretty big change that's coming up. When I moved back to Calgary a year ago I had every intention of beginning my graduate studies and following through to completion in a relatively compacted timeline (relatively because it was always going to be a year longer than the technical length of the program) and while I still have every intention to finish my degree it may end up taking a little longer than originally anticipated. Of course things change, plans change over time. There have been a number of things that have been introduced into my life that I certainly did not anticipate and yet another one of those things will be taking place very soon.
Not all that long ago I was introduced (the way of introduction is not important at this time) to a woman that has quickly become very important to me and with whom I can see a pretty incredible future. That was something that I did not even imagine could, let alone would, happen within a year of returning to school to regroup. I have spent much time wondering, asking God what I did to merit such beautiful person inside and out in my life. But that old saying about looking a gift horse in the mouth may apply here (though she's nothing like a horse, hear me rightly). It's more a matter of simply being thankful for the progression that God has seen fit to give my life in the last year, which I did not think would ever come.
Another event that is soon coming will certainly change life for me as I exit the life of a church janitor into something a little more people oriented. I actually have no problem whatsoever with custodial services, I in fact enjoy being able to complete a list of tasks in a day, there's a certain satisfaction that comes along with it and I also think that it has been the perfect job for me in this last year as I have been able to disappear to do my work in the vast expanse of the church building and think upon all of the things I have struggled with for many years and to yell and scream and cry at God because of those things and to unintentionally hear Him out in the process. It's been pretty great in that respect. There are other things (mainly just one person and the disasterous wake he leaves behind him) that I have not really enjoyed.
Moving on from that, as I will be quickly, I'm very excited and grateful to be moving into a job that is something I feel will be very good for me in many ways. It's a bit more of a career move for me, which going from a pastor to a janitor may not have been quite as much. I'm very excited to be going in this particular direction. I will leave the actual job a secret for now, though there are a number of people who know, it's yet to be a complete process so I just want to be fair with it all. I will get to work with people again, building relationships to a certain degree and travelling a bunch as well. All things that I enjoy. And I look forward to the work environment as well, I think it will be quite a positive move.
Again, a year ago, these things were not even in the back of my mind, let alone the forefront. I thought I would be a single janitor working on his masters degree for the next three years and then life would begin to change afterwards. I guess some surprises are great to run with and some don't seem to be, but they probably still are good to run with, because what else are you going to do? Resistance is futile.
I suppose I could write more interesting things, but this is what's on my mind. I could be like someone I know who wrote about an experience she had whilst walking, seeing a woman twice who then disappeared, but that wouldn't really be news, women have oft disappeared after seeing me twice...oh burn on me. just kidding I know I'm one hot piece of man flesh.
Until we meet again.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's been a long time

Well, I'm sitting at the desk where I check my e-mail and goof off on facebook while I'm at work (I'd say it's my desk, but it's not, it's someone else's that I just use when they're not here) and I realized that I have not written a blog entry for a while. Now this wasn't a personal revelation so much as it was a reminder from a certain lady friend of mine that I haven't placed my thoughts in word form on this page for a while.
I think I'll write about something to do with church this time, I know I never do this so bear with me as I try...
As a result of a few significant conversations with different people in recent weeks I thought it would be good to get out some thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind for a while now so that I don't forget them and so they don't disappear. This past year has been quite a transition for me, out of a pastoral position where I thought I would be for at least another 5 years, out of being a super duper fat kid to just being a regular fat kid now, out of some pretty serious emotional and spiritual issues, into a masters degree (which has been going surprisingly well), into a relationship with a pretty incredible lady, and into some deep thoughts upon the state of christianity in my part of the world.

There's probably more to say about the transition of the last year, but I'll leave it at that for now, it's a lot of transition and a lot of unexpected experiences. I've had the opportunity to be a part a few different churches in my lifetime, two of which have employed me on varying levels. These two particular churches are essentially polar opposites in many ways and when I think about either one I get that "grass is always greener" feeling. One is a fairly substantial size and runs based on a business model and the other is slightly less substantial in size and operates in a smaller community where the "business" style of church just wouldn't fly. One has a book of policies and the other has pot lucks, one has strategic 1, 3 and 5 year Plans and the other plans ahead almost on month by month basis. They are clearly polar opposites in how they operate, it just causes me to think. It's interesting how different bodies can thrive in different environments. While my personal experience is thus far limited to a couple specific churches, it seems to me from books that I read, people I talk to and things that I hear that this could be said about pretty much all churches all over the place, they're different and they "cater" to a different type of crowd.
I've been finding myself asking a lot of questions about the way "we" operate as christians in churches. Some questions are as simple as "why?" and others are a little more complex as they seek to discover motive and purpose behind certain things. A friend of mind said the other day that the purpose for the general "sunday morning service" is simply to get people in the seats and stick an offering basket in front of them so they'll give. Harsh? maybe, but unfortunately it's all too often more true than not.
Perhaps one who might read the lengthy blogs of my recent history would find me to be a cynic, or bitter, I do not desire to be that or to come across that way, it's not bitterness that drives me it's a disconnect from what is and what perhaps should be. Clearly I'm not perfect in my assumptions or ideas, in fact I will venture to say that I'm dead wrong in some of my thoughts and feelings toward the "church" in general and even in some of my theology, but that is something that is true of us all regardless of whether we would like to think so or not.
That being said, I do believe there is at least some merit to what I'm saying.
I've written before of asking questions of the existing structure of church, questioning the integrity of some organizations and leaders and ultimately the true motivation behind the modern day "church". Is it really to spread the "good news?" (I know I use "quotations" a lot).
This leads me to my next question...what exactly is the message that is getting across to those we say we want to "reach"? Is it really the love of Jesus and the power of salvation found only in him? or is it something else entirely?
I caught myself wondering/thinking the other day how much christians have contributed to the culture of disbelief (I don't like the word "unbelief" because it makes those who don't prescribe to Christ sound like less human or something). Some might be offended that a person would even bring up such a blasphemous idea (or what some might consider to be so), but I think it's a legitimate question. The very first CD I ever owned, before I even had a CD player to be able to listen to it, was Jesus Freak by DC Talk which I won in grade 7 for burping the alphabet in one continuous belch, impressive I know. On that album, as a part of one of the tracks they had a quote from someone, I don't know who because the album cover is not in front of me but here's how it goes: "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." Apparently that was Brennan Manning who said it, but i just looked it up to find that out.
Anyway, I'm sure many have heard it, and many might even agree with it, but I think I would take it to another level. I would venture to say that beyond denying Christ by our lifestyles, there is a certain distaste for the "christian empire" that seems to be continually being built. It's almost as if power, money, fame and success is being sought by those who are "leading" instead of humility, generosity, service, and other such things that may go along with it. I wrote a paper for one of my classes this year on the affect of the evangelical church on North American culture, and the reciprocation therein. What I discovered was somewhat alarming but not really at the same time. People who were turned off by the success driven nature of many from the "boomer" generation who made a profession out of their faith. Perhaps this kind of thing causes people not to necessarily become atheists, but more agnostic or even simply anti-christian in their beliefs because they don't want to become like what they've seen "christians" being.
That's a rant that I didn't intend to delve into but I'm alright with it.
The stuff that's really on my mind has more to do with church reflecting the nature of Jesus Christ instead of broken humanity. I know there will always be an element of brokenness because we are not perfect and we cannot therefore represent the perfection that is Jesus' love. We can however back away from striving to achieve success in the 'evangelical empire' and seek to reflect the love of Christ in what we do and say. The question i am asking these days is more like "what if" instead of the "why". What if there was a community of believers who existed on purpose without a building in which to meet? What if the leader didn't rely on the congregation for a pay check (though there's nothing wrong with doing so, it's biblical, it's all good)? What if they didn't meet every sunday to "worship" like you see with regular churches? What if teaching came through e-mail or blog or a video feed online? What if the weekly "service" was actually serving somewhere in the community? What if the fellowship of believers happened on a daily basis through relationships and "small group" type settings in people's homes? What if the focus of the community was discipleship (including biblical teaching, prayer, worship, etc.)? What if a group of people abandoned the traditional form of "church" and sought to be a Christ-like community? What if people could be the church without having a "church"?

These aren't questions that seek to destroy what currently exists as church communities or to defame them, instead they seek to discover what a fellowship of believers is and should look like that may not include all of the elements found in what we currently know as church. I'm sure communities like this exist already, and probably even well known ones, but this is where my mind is at these days.
I do not want to be the kind of person who tries to deconstruct or tear down the thoughts or ideas or practices of others, rather I want to be the kind of person who honestly seeks truth and if some people or ideas are found to be a little or a lot off base, that is really not my concern. Truth is what I seek, Christ is who I seek.