I have this thing to do today.
It is not on my “To Do” list. It is not part of my job description. I haven’t been asked to do it. And, if I’m honest, I don’t want to do it.
It is very likely that nothing productive will come from this thing. It is going to require my time… lots of time, time I could use to do other things, productive things, things that are on my “To Do” list and job description. It is going to require my energy. This thing is going to cost me. And after I give my time and energy, I very well may have no “product” to show for it. It is very possible that nothing could come from it… at all.
Nothing that benefits me at least.
There is a small chance, however, that this thing could result in at least one person discovering the love of Christ and coming to the realization that they are worth being loved and being sacrificed for. That small chance could make all the difference in at least one person’s life.
That’s a chance worth taking. Even if it does take up a lot of my time and energy, it is a chance worth taking. Even if I have no product or any measure of usefulness at the end of the day, this is a chance worth taking. Even if this thing is not on my “to do” list or in my job description, this is a chance worth taking. Even though the odds suggest that this won’t work at all, this is a chance worth taking.
To share the love of Christ is always, always, always a chance worth taking. We, as a church and as church leaders, so desperately need to understand this concept.
“Serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13-14
Filed under: God, leadership, people, religion, worship | Tags: christmas, church size, david herndon, hoarding, mega-church, purging
Well, Christmas has come and gone, and what a fun day it was (Even though 3/5 of my family had a nasty stomach bug). The kids were impressed by Santa, and Mom & Dad even had a few surprises they didn’t expect. But there is an ugly side to Christmas when you have children: making room for the new stuff.
Last night the whole family spent most of the evening asking hard questions and making even harder decisions:
“Do you really play with the Lincoln Logs anymore?”
“You have 37 Thomas the Trains… couldn’t you live with just one?”
“If the Lite Brite is so special to you, then why does it have an inch worth of dust on it?”
In the end we had a pretty decent pile of toys that we can donate to someone who will use them and cherish them. It was difficult, but what’s the use of us having more toys than we can possibly play with?
I repeat this same scenario each year with my t-shirt collection. If I haven’t worn it in a year, no matter how special it is, I give it away in order to make room for new shirts. Sometimes this results in a good week of me wearing t-shirts from middle school and college that are a few sizes too small, just so I don’t have to get rid of them. Its a difficult process, but what’s the use of having more shirts than I can possibly wear in a year?
I often have to do this with some of the magazines I subscribe to. I come across certain articles that I intend on coming back to read again or use in some blog/public speaking form. Sometimes I don’t get around to it, and before you know it I have piles of magazines. So every once in a while I have to make the tough decision to give the magazines away to someone who will read them and use them. Its difficult for me, an avid reader, but what’s the use in hanging onto more magazine articles than I can ever read?
This process is called purging. We all do it in some form or fashion. It can lead to great forms of charity, and it can improve your quality of living. In fact, if you don’t purge at some point you will become labeled a hoarder. If I didn’t purge, every corner of my house would be filled with old t-shirts, stacks of magazines, and piles of Happy Meal toys. I might even make it on TV. Depending onwhat you are “hoarding,” you may even be called Greedy -keeping more than you need or more than you could ever use, refusing to share with others.
No one wants to be called a hoarder. No one wants to be called greedy. Certainly not Christians, right?
All of this was on my mind as I flipped channels last night. I came across a telecast of a church that meets in a stadium… like a real, 80,000 seat stadium. There are other churches I know that meet in convention centers and auditoriums, seating 5,000 and 10,000 people per service. There are other churches who strive to seat that many people in their services. I’m glad that many people are hearing the word of God, but at the same time I had to ask the question… does the American church have a habit of hoarding? Can any pastor, can any church effectively serve and disciple 5,000 or 10,000 or even 80,000 people?
I know its a difficult question to ask, but what’s the use of having more people attend your church than you can effectively serve?
I’m not sure I have a solid answer, but I do know this: At no point am I more convicted in my excess of food, than when I see someone who has none. At no point am I more convicted in my excess of clothing, than when I see someone who has none. And at no point am I convicted in my excess of money, than when I see someone who has none.
I see a very small amount of churches thriving today, and I see a very large number of churches struggling and dying. If I have more shirts in my closet than I can wear, then that just means there are clothes that are not being used for what they were made to do. If any church, large or small, has more people than it can effectively serve/disciple/send out, doesn’t the same rule apply?
It was a difficult night with my boys, but through the process of anti-hoarding we rediscovered some toys we had forgotten, we made room for some new toys to really be appreciated, and there are some little boys somewhere else that may be playing with toys for the first time.
Let’s have a discussion… Share your comments…
Filed under: God, religion, worship | Tags: church, david herndon, genesis 11, matthew 28, the great commission, tower of babel
For the past several years I have been on somewhat of a spiritual search that all starts with the question “How are we suppossed to do church?” I’ve read books. I’ve read blogs. I’ve written blogs. I’ve visited small churches, mega-churches, home churches, traditional churches, contemporary churches, modern churches, post-modern churches, churches for the un-churched, churches that don’t want to be called churches, and everything in between. I’m pretty sure there is even a church out there just for pets and their owners. They all look different. There are pros and cons to all of them. They all have qualities that seem to draw people in and they all have qualities that seem to send people running. Quite honestly, I often feel that we’ll never get it right, which only makes me more obsessed in asking the question, “How are we suppossed to do church?”
Yesterday (during church nonetheless) I realized that for all of these years I have been asking the wrong question. Its not about how we DO Church. The question should be “How do we BE the Church?”
In Genesis 11:1-8 we find the account of the tower of Babel. You know the basics: everyone speaks the same language and they decide to build a massive city and a tall tower. I’ve always been taught that they people were trying to be bigger than God, but the scripture does not say that. It says the people took on this task so that they could stay together and be successful together – not exactly sinful motives. They were just trying to live the good life. I’ve also always been taught that God was punishing the people for their wrongdoing when he confused their language and scattered them throughout the earth.
But was that punishment?
Perhaps God was encouraging them. Perhaps when he says “nothing they plan to do will be impossible,” its not a negative connotation, but a positive…. Maybe he’s saying, “My people are awesome! Look what they did!”
Perhaps God was empowering them. Perhaps when he scatters the people across the earth, it is not a prison sentence as much as spiritual enabling for them to fulfill God’s mission. Perhaps when he confuses their language he’s really just gifting them to accomplish more. Maybe he’s saying, “Go be awesome everywhere… not just here.”
When you read the tower of Babel followed by Matthew 28:16-20, God’s methods start to make sense. Jesus’ great commission for us is to make disciples, and often our primary method is to gather a group of people, erect a building, sing worship songs together, read His word together, and repeat. We often forget that Jesus did not start this command with “come together.” He started the command with “Therefore, GO.”
Not this: Come. Gather. Sit.
But this: Go. Scatter. Move.
The truth is, we can DO Church in an immense number of ways that are acceptable to God. But there is only one way to BE the Church.
Being the Church is far more important than doing Church.
(props to John Stephens for teaching a great sermon on the tower of Babel)
Filed under: life, religion | Tags: christianity in america, david herndon, statistics, united methodist church
I read two statistics recently that really stopped me in my tracks as a Christian and as a United Methodist.
Statistic One: Between the years of 1990 and 2008 the percentage of Americans who are Christians dropped 10% from 86% to 76%. That may not seem like a huge drop, but take in the fact that the population of American grew during that time. This is a clear sign that Christianity is decreasing in spite of the fact that population is increasing. If Christianity were growing then the percentage should at least be the same if not increasing. The fact is that fewer people are becoming Christians and the trend does not speak well of the future.
Statistic Two: The death rates for United Methodists is a third higher than the national average of Americans. This doesn’t mean that if you become a UM then you increase your chance of dying anytime soon. It simply means that the United Methodist Church is not growing. Even more simply put – we have a lot of elderly members, but we’re not adding any younger members. Its like this: if you fill a sink up with water and then pull the drain, you will eventually have an empty sink. Unless, of course, you leave the faucet on – resulting in a constant flow of new water. It seems the United Methodist Church as an open drain but has turned the faucet off.
I’ve also been thinking about my own community. I hear a lot about a few churches that are growing (in number/size), while I hear about more churches that are dying. If more people were becoming Christians for the first time, wouldn’t we all see growth? It seems to me that the growth is a result of Christians leaving many churches to attend a few. I find it hard to celebrate the growth of two churches when ten others are falling apart. The “growing” churches are increasing in number, but I don’t think we’re increasing in number of Christians as a whole.
All of these thoughts bring me to one very big, very important question:
Why is the percentage of Christians in American falling? Why aren’t more young people joining the church? Why are a few churches growing while twice as many are dying? What is the Church doing?
I don’t really have any answers, but I think it is a good question to ask. I think all of us who call ourselves Christians should take a long look at our individual lives and ask: What are we doing to further kingdom of God?
So what are you doing? What do you think we should be doing differently? Please share…
Filed under: God, religion, worship | Tags: bishop king, david herndon, rituals, south georgia united methodist church, worship
Bishop King is the Bishop for the South Georgia United Methodist Church, and he has a pretty good blog. Check out this excerpt and be sure to read more by following the link. Its good stuff…
“We cannot assume that people will automatically know what is appropriate. Going to the movies is one of my favorite getaways. I find it interesting that multiple reminders regarding personal behavior are necessary in a public place. Before the movie begins, the audience is reminded to be quiet and turn off their cell phones so others can enjoy the movie. Now there’s even a reminder to not “tweet” during the movie.
The point is that people have to be taught, and the more important a value, especially to those who are a members of the household of faith, the more intentional we should be about nurturing the essential faith elements that help to keep us centered in God’s plan for us and the world family.”
This month’s free song is not really a new song. Its been a full year now since I released Into Danger/Out of Rescue, and “Church or a Brothel” was the first song on the album. So to commerate the 1 year anniversary, I’m putting up the first demo version of the song. It is quite a different version of the song, and I’m pretty fond of it. I hope you enjoy it too. For a free download of this song and more free music, visit The Writer’s Closet.
“Church or a Brothel” is one of those songs that came out of nowhere. Several years ago I sat down one day just to play music as a sort of release. I’ve been in ministry for over ten years, and I had one of those days when I felt like no one got it anymore. I felt like the church had become a source of entertainment and social mobility instead of a place of refuge and spiritual mobility. And as a church worker I honestly didn’t feel much different than a prostitute – expected to do whatever the customer wants as long as he pays me at the end of the day. I saw so much need around our community and in our world, but so little desire within the church to do anything about it. My frustration overwhelmed me, so I just started singing. This is the song that came out.
Not long after sending this demo to Jason Harwell, my good friend and president of Rebuilt Records, he said we should record an EP. So we did. We felt like there was more message to the project than the songs were offering, so I wrote a collection of essays. We put them together and it became Danger/Rescue. Then came the big question – what am I going to do with this thing?
The song was just the beginning. It was a small shift in my perspective. Am I doing ministry because it is what I’m passionate about? Or am I doing ministry for what I get out of it? What does real ministry look like without the personal reward? What does ministry look like when instead of paying, it costs you? I began realizing that this song was not as much for the church as it was for me. It was/is God speaking to me, asking me, “What are you willing to do to bring change to this world? How far are you willing to go?” So about this time last year I resigned from my full time career and began traveling around, singing my songs, telling my story, and asking the question – What’s it take for some change?
Now here I am a year later, and I can honestly say I have no regrets. It has been a great year with a lot of new faces and a lot of lessons learned. I feel less like a prostitute and more like a minister. It has not been easy. There were so many times that I doubted, so many times I felt like I made a huge mistake, and so many times I felt like I just was not good enough. But it never really was about doing it right as much as it was about doing it. God has come through 100% each and every time, and He was proved that all things are possible with God. My faith has grown, and more importantly I feel like I’ve helped others’ faith grow. I feel like change has occurred, is occurring, and will continue. What more could I ask for?
Thanks to everyone who has supported my family and the Rebuilt family over the past year. You have made this adventure possible, and you have been a true agent of change in this world. Thank you!
Filed under: God, religion, worship | Tags: church scandal, craig gross, david herndon, hillsong, porn, pornography, praise and worship, rebuilt records, ron jeremy, xxx, xxxchurch.com
As a Christian and as a musician, I try to stay in tune with Christian music. So you can imagine my sadness when I recently heard of a “scandal” in the praise and worship sector of the industry. I don’t want to use names and point anyone out. As you read this post you may realize you’ve heard of this “scandal” and know exactly who I am talking about. But I don’t want the people involved to be the focus of this blog. This focus is something far more important, as you will see.
It basically goes down like this. A very prominent group in worship music brought on a new worship leader with an amazing new worship song. It is a beautiful song of crying to God for freedom and healing. The new worship leader, the author of said song claimed to have cancer and said this song was written to ask God to heal him of his “disease.” He even performed the song on stage while hooked up to an oxygen tank once or twice. Of course this brought a lot of attention, the song took off and has been part of thousands of worship services since, and everyone was moved by this young man’s story: dying of cancer, yet still praising God.
I heard that the young man eventually confessed that he in fact did not have cancer. That was the last I heard of the “scandal” until last week, when I was able to talk with a friend who was close to the situation. It turns out the young man really did not have cancer, but he was suffering from a disease. His affliction will not be found in any medicine journal, but it is a deadly foe. The song was indeed sincerely written from a heart desperate for healing. The young man’s affliction? Pornography.
This young man had become addicted to pornography, yet he was so ashamed to admit it and he so feared being rejected by his church that he thought it would be better to fake cancer in order to share his song and his struggle. I find the true story even more moving than the cancer story. It makes me appreciate the song even more. Unfortunately the Church (and I mean that on a global scale) sees it as quite the opposite. The Church would rather this young man be really dying of cancer than have to deal with the issue of pornography. And to me, that is the real scandal. I mean, we can’t have some porn addict leading us in worship. Or can we?
Why is the Church so afraid to deal with this issue? Thousands upon thousands of men (and women) struggle with pornography. Many are leaders in the church – from Sunday School teachers all the way up to the Senior Pastors. Yet the Church would rather not deal with it. The minute someone stands up and says, “I have an addiction to pornography,” the Church lights their torches and sharpens their pitchforks. Sure, a pastor may offer some private counseling, but would rather keep it “hush, hush” instead of seeking the help of the entire Body. It is not the most popular idea to hold a bake sale to raise money to get Joe the Porn Addict the treatment he needs for healing. It is much easier to be compassionate for a person who is dying of cancer.
Its no wonder this young man felt compelled to lie. I have no doubt that if he were honest from the beginning and confessed that this amazing song was written by a porn addict, instead of a cancer patient, we would never hear one note of this song. In fact, many churches have pulled this song from their song list now that the truth has come out. Even now, the Church, instead of reaching out with an arm of love and mercy, is throwing this young man to the lions.
There is something fundamentally wrong when the one Organization that should be attacking the issue of Pornography the strongest, runs and hides from it. Is this the way of Christ? What do you think God values more: the young man who is strong enough to confess his sin as shameful as it is, or the Church, who for the sake of “purity,” pretends porn does not exist? Is the Church afraid we might lose some credibility in the world if we admit that Christians watch porn too? I believe the Church would be so much more effective in the world if we would own up to problems like porn instead of trying to hide it in the closet among pediphile priests, thieving ushers, and drunken pastors. We don’t leave much room for the redeeming power of Christ when we try to pretend sin doesn’t exist among us.
It makes me thankful that there are groups like Craig Gross and XXXchurch.com. They hold events like Porn and Pancakes in order to minister to men with porn addictions. They attend porn conventions in order to share the light of Christ with this misguided industry. They raise money for porn actresses so they can escape this slave-like career and start a new life. They hold public debates with porn directors like Ron Jeremy. Even now they are trying to plant the first church ever on the Las Vegas strip – the motherland of porn. And yet so many “Christian” organizations denounce them.
Wake up, Church! Keeping your nose stuck in a bible and quietly wishing this issue will disappear ain’t gonna cut it. If we want anything to change, we’re have to get honest, we have to talk about it, and we have to take action. We should be doing everything we can to help this young man and the thousands of others who have fallen into porn addiction. We should offer refuge in the form of specific counseling and support groups. We should educate in the form of bible studies and small groups. We should speak about it from the pulpit. We should acknowledge the problem and teach what God’s word says about the issue.
Paul teaches us that God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but rather a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. Shame on us when our biggest fear is that we may actually have a sinner in the church. Shame on us when, instead of actually exercising Christ’s character in love and compassion, we would rather just talk about it. A church ruled by fear – now that’s a scandal.