Making Church Matter

Questions for Church-world

November 15, 2009

Friday evening I was with a bunch of Pastors and other Church leaders.  Saturday I spent the morning at a Church conference, for Pastors and Parish staffs.  These recent back to back experiences got me thinking and reminded me of some things I struggle with when it comes to “Church-world” and “Church people.” Here are some of my struggles…

Why are so many Church people so critical of other Churches, especially Churches that are successful AND doing things in ways they don’t do things.  Why do they need to make fun of what they don’t even understand? 

Why are so many Church people so self-congratulatory of themselves and their friends? Why is so much effort and expense expended in the effort to thank themselves for whatever it is they think they’ve accomplished and brag about what a big deal their contribution is. 

Why do so many Church people lie about their Churches and the success of their efforts and the real (not so good) state of affairs.

Why are so many Churches all about the people in the Church, and really about the insiders inside the Church?

Why do Church people and Church communities continually invest in broken systems that don’t work? In the Catholic scene these would include Religious Education and Youth Ministry.  It doesn’t matter that we have invested hugely in these systems without the promised or desired results. They do not produce disciples as they are currently operating in most places. Currently about 80% of Churched kids, kids who are in our religious education and youth ministry programs, walk away from Church when they graduate from high school…and sometimes long before. Yet, Churches just keep replicating the same programs year after year. If the system is broken, why not acknowledge it and stop saying its serving God?  It is not serving God, its actually dishonoring God.

Why do so many Churches invest so much energy and money on stuff that doesn’t matter and ignore the things that have the greatest impact?  Lets face it, most Churches (yes, most churches) have bad music and all too many have irrelevant weekend messages. Those are the basics and they get them wrong or treat them as unimportant.  Why?  Don’t know,  but I do know music and message take disciplined effort and it is much easier to run around and act busy doing lots of needlessly fussy, ultimately meaningless things, like worrying about made up rules and providing 24/7 care and comfort for the demanding few and running programs that don’t work anymore (see #3).

Why do Church people have such animosity for people who aren’t like them?  Sinners liked Jesus and he liked them, even though he was nothing “like” them. But in “Church world” why do we have to have such contempt for people who are not where we are theologically, dress differently than we do in Church, like different kinds of worship music, do Church differently than we do.  Our Host Ministers from time to time will get a visitor who says “Is this a Catholic Church?” But the contempt in their voice reveals they’re not asking a question, they are delivering a judgment.  Why in Church world does different mean wrong, bad, evil.
Why do Pastors and Church leaders listen to people who tell them what they should be doing…but have never actually done it? Of course there are people who walk into Nativity every weekend and know what a Church should be and what I should be doing as a Pastor. 
But  they really don’t know anything, they’re giving voice to their opinions.  Why do Pastors and Church leaders listen to people who don’t know what they’re talking about?

I’m just asking.

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