Church Fellowship is Overrated

I love fellowship, if by “fellowship” you mean reading books alone in my office with the door closed.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Churches are all about fellowship. Fellowship is all about talking to each other and eating food. I’m cool with eating food.

I’ve never been a fan of talking. I never feel like I have anything relevant to add to any conversation. All my stories are lame and easily topped. My facts are usually wrong. My political insights are easily destroyed strawman opinions. Anything remotely good I share comes across as bragging.

I’d prefer silence at meals. As the great theologian, George Thorogood said, “When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.”

Amen.

The best times of Christian fellowship I’ve ever had are one-on-one conversation. Group gatherings drain me and lead to very little in the way of edification. Generally it’s just people talking over one another. Fellowship leads to headaches for me.

I prefer going home, sitting in my chair and fellowshipping with dead authors. Why does fellowship always have to be with living, talking people?

A. W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, C. S. Lewis, and so many others have such great insights that provoke so much thought and growth in me. It’s hard to convince me that going and talking about the weather and the football game would be better.

I’ve learned too much from dead people to ever be swayed into spending lots of time with living people.

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Church Growth Advice From a Church Shrinking Pastor

Church Growth fanatics should remember that the plants that grow quickest are weeds.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Pastors of small churches are often allured by church growth advice. Who doesn’t want to reach more people? But as soon as a pastor of a small church starts reading this stuff it becomes laughable. Taking my little church in this rural community and doing Southern California suburban church approaches? Riiiiiiight! Pretty sure these church growth antics would shrink my church faster than it currently is.

Get Rich Quick schemes abound. People get scammed in amazing ways by buying into shortcuts. Church Growth and Get Rich Quick schemes sound similar in approach, guarantees, and results.

Ever notice how many mega-church pastors take terrible moral falls? It’s a pandemic, and yet before they fall, all of us little pastors were told to follow their anointed means to achieve spectacular ends.

Why is it that a pastor who has more people suddenly becomes the expert on everything that everyone else must do? What verse in the Bible says, “If something attracts a lot of people it is good and anointed from on high?” There are none, yet there are plenty that talk about popular things being wrong. Remember the broad road with many on it? Remember where that road went?

Since when does popularity equal truth? Since never. Jesus was left alone at the end of His life. Paul stood alone. The prophets thought they were all by themselves, so much that Elijah claimed to be the only one left.

There is zero evidence from scripture that pastoral success looks like lots of people.

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Why Do We Rely on Church Tradition?

Do something stupid in church long enough and it becomes infallible, authoritative Church Tradition.
@FailingPastor

 

 

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Those are the alleged words of Vladimir Lenin, one of the greatest propagandists of all time. Lenin used his propaganda skills to gain power and wield it authoritatively over a helpless people.

One would hope only blatantly evil people would use such tactics to gain power. Unfortunately, hoping this would require you to be unfamiliar with human nature.

I’m stunned by people who believe things based on “church tradition.”

I mean, seriously, have you ever been to church? Have you ever hung around one for years, knowing its intimate details and goings-on? For the love of all things beautiful and good, why would you base your beliefs on what comes out of there?!

This is especially glaring for those who emphasize Sola Scriptura, the notion that Scripture is our sole authority for life and doctrine. Sole authority. “Sole” there means something. “Sole” means the only one!

“Well yes, but Scripture is hard to understand, so we need to get help. Relying on those who came before us is a safeguard for knowing what Scripture is saying.”

So, I need 2,000 years of insane people doing insane things in the name of Christ to properly understand the Scriptures? How about the Holy Spirit? Is He enough, or do I need all kinds of dead guys?

“Well, we test what the Spirit says by seeing if He said the same thing to others in the past.”

So, the only test of whether the Spirit is teaching me is if the teaching lines up with people I have no guarantee had the Spirit?

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Being Intentional About Not Using the Word Intentional

THEM: Evangelism should be intentional.

ME: Yes, the curse of accidental evangelism must be stopped immediately!
@FailingPastor

 

 

I am not a hip or cool pastor. I doubt “hip” and “cool” are even words “hip and cool” pastors use anymore. I don’t even try. Cool is subjective. Too many cool people look stupid to me. I don’t trust “cool.” It shifts with the tides of human esteem.

One of the ways people know I’m not cool is by looking at me. If that doesn’t do it, then listen to me.

I avoid cool words like the plague. Cool words like “intentional.” Just the sound of it makes me want to barf. I’m amazed I was able to type that without puking on my keyboard. Massive levels of restraint here; I have my body under subjection.

Intentional means “to do something deliberately, on purpose.” The antonym is “accidental.” I looked this up in a dictionary, because of that whole “I’m not cool” thing I was talking about earlier.

So, here’s my question: who are these people who are doing accidental evangelism? Furthermore, please explain, with as many small words as possible, why these people must be suppressed?

I’m totally cool with people doing accidental evangelism. There’s a chance it’s way more effective than your pre-planned, cookie-cutter, intentional approach.

I know, I’m just being an old curmudgeon, an old curmudgeon, by the way, who is not cool. But still, I will raise my point and scold all you young, hip guys that words mean things and we should be careful.

I was once told that pastors need to be “thought leaders.” As opposed to Feeling Followers I suppose. Am I leading other people’s thoughts? Isn’t that typically referred to as “brainwashing?” I don’t want to be in charge of people’s thoughts. I want people to have the mind of Christ.

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The Case for Long Sermons

“And sixty-fifthly. . .”

–Me about to wrap up a sermon
@FailingPastor

 

 

I preach long sermons. I really do. I feel bad for people.

Here’s the thing: I’m actively trying to make them shorter. I’m amazed how my sermons can consistently be 35 minutes in practice, and yet stretch to over 45 when preached in church. I feel bad.

But not really.

When it comes to sermon length, you kind of have to fit into what the church allows. If people are used to going to church for an hour, or an hour and a half, that’s what they expect to have happen. There are allowable minutes for prayer, scripture reading, singing, special music, offering, all sorts of things. The sermon gets shoved in between that stuff.

That stuff may have a place (although I think offering should go the way of the dodo bird), but the preaching of the word really is the point of a church gathering. I’m shocked how many people don’t understand this. Then again, no one comes to my church, so . . .

The best advice I ever heard about preaching was:

If you don’t have anything else to say: don’t!

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The Case for Seeker-Insensitive Churches

The best way to keep people from leaving your church is to not let them in to begin with.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I understand why Seeker Sensitive churches exist. I get why churches market and use gimmicks to get people to attend. I also know that most people attracted by gimmicks and marketing leave the church, often after causing problems.

There is a small-business owner in my church who told me that he is picky about who his customers are. If a customer is too demanding or has a bad attitude, he doesn’t do what they say. They don’t come back. Everyone is saved a hassle.

“The customer is always right” is a statement based on a business model of making money no matter what. Keeping customers happy retains customers so you can make more money off of them. Jerks pay cash too!

The church, in my opinion, is not a money-making venture. Mine particularly. Although the church ignores them, there are several verses about church discipline. Not all people in your church should be in your church. The customer is not always right.

This is a tough pill to swallow for many. Some have a view of grace that says anything goes, everyone must be tolerated, and no judging should ever be done. I think the Bible disagrees with that.

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Some Thoughts About Having Church Buildings

“Church is not a building.”

–Christians who attend churches where a majority of the budget is spent on buildings.
@FailingPastor

 

The amount of money spent on church buildings is ridiculous. I do believe this is going to come up on Judgment Day.

There is nothing in the Bible about churches having buildings. At the same time, there are plenty of verses talking about not putting our treasure on earth, not seeking material wealth, not getting tied down to earthly things, and the classic passage where the disciples bragged to Jesus about the impressive temple buildings, only to be shot down by Christ.

I won’t say having a church building is a sin, nor that a church should not have a building, but I do hear an awful lot of pride expressed in buildings, the very same buildings that will, like the old temple, be toppled.

I did a wedding at a different church once where they just added a new addition. It was a separate building with a gym and classrooms. They proudly showed me every single room, even though they all looked the same.

When the Grand Tour was over, my tour guide asked me, “I probably shouldn’t have shown you all that! Now you are envious of our building!” This was said with zero hint that they were sorry. It was pride through and through. I said, “No, not really. I think I’ll be ok.”

“You still meeting in the same place?” is a question I get frequently. Without blowing my cover, we don’t have a building. What we do is pathetic in light of what all the cool churches are doing. It has cost us some people.

One family left because the new Vineyard church put in an arcade for the kids. “How come our church doesn’t do anything like that?”

“Because I think that’s stupid” was apparently not the answer they were looking for. They left. Hope their kids had a nice time at the arcade.

Continue reading “Some Thoughts About Having Church Buildings”