Apr 12 2013

Chreaster

n., one who attends church only on Christmas and Easter, or adj., ‘Chreaster dad,’ via Wes Molebash‘s Insert [IMG].

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Feb 23 2013

church

I recently got to observe a discussion between pastors on the subject of church discipline, and I got to hear a word that everyone knows used in a manner I had never heard it used before. I have a long explanation before I get to the term. As you likely know, a term is a word used in a specific context.

Portions of the New Testament describe church discipline, a process by which the church as a local body deals with someone caught up in serious, unrepentant sin. I say ‘process,’ because that is how it is supposed to work: as a series of steps designed to bring the believer back to right relationship with God and, therefore, fellowship with the church body as well. It is not simply a ‘you sinned, now get out,’ kind of thing.

Yes, I am aware of some churches that have either really gone overboard, either abusing their authority, or doing nothing, continuing to permit rampant sin (see Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, where he addressed an issue where a man was married to his own stepmother—and the church at Corinth was apparently cool with it). But I hope to give an accurate overview of the way the process is supposed to work according to Scripture.

  • The first step is simply you as a mature believer approach the individual in a spirit of humility as a friend/brother. Most of the time, that is all there is to it. The church body as a whole is largely oblivious, because the issue has been addressed on an interpersonal level. Despite the belief of many who despise the church, we really don’t like the idea of dragging people out and shaming them, any more than we would want that done to us—or our parents, children, or friends. I think Someone a long time ago might have taught on this concept, but maybe not….
  • The second step, if the person is unrepentant, is taking a couple of witnesses with you to again confront the person, to again implore the person to abandon their sin, and if they will not, to confirm the truth in order to obviate any ‘he said, she said’ business.
  • The third and final step is to take the issue before the church and expel the member from the local congregation.

The results of not performing this duty are bad for the person and bad for the church: the believer is left to continue wallowing in sin and therefore reap its consequences, and the church justly reaps the charge of hypocrisy, because of known sin within its own body that it refuses to deal with.

In the same way that ‘computer’ may apply equally to either an entire personal computer setup (with monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc), or just the computer part (not the monitor, keyboard, or mouse), ‘church discipline’ may refer to either the entire process or just the third step.

I know there is a question I have raised and not answered: what qualifies as serious sin? Well, that was the topic of the discussion—what merits the third step of church discipline?

I was at a youth worker’s conference, and Heather and I were sitting in a coffee shop with our pastor, his wife, and their (and now our) friends (another pastor and his wife). Besides us three couples, there was this guy that looked kind of like a pudgy, part-American Indian Indiana Jones with glasses, fedora, and leather jacket. My pastor and the other pastor brought up a couple of example cases to see how he would handle them. Indy presented his guidelines on how he would handle them based on the available Scripture. He made it a point to inform that there were other pastors who would disagree with him, that they would think he was not being firm enough, but I thought he was very balanced, firm, fair, and generous.

Finally, to get to the actual term. Indy used the word ‘church’ as a verb, expressed as shorthand for ‘church discipline.’

Pastor: “What would you do in the case of x?”

Indy: “I would do y.”

Pastor: “But don’t you think x is serious?”

Indy: “Yeah, but do you church him for it?”

 

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Nov 10 2011

Quotable: Adam Clarke

“Even the success of apostles depended, in a certain way, on the prayers of the Church. Few Christian congregations feel, as they ought, that it is their bounden duty to pray for the success of the Gospel, both among themselves and in the world. The Church is weak, dark, poor, and imperfect, because it prays little.”

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Oct 15 2011

Dog

My dyslexic friend got kicked out of church for singing ‘Our Dog is an Awesome Dog.’

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Aug 26 2010

VBS Hangover

A friend of mine coined this term to describe the fatigue experienced by those church members that worked Vacation Bible School and which contributed to their tardiness the following Sunday morning.

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Aug 24 2010

“There’s a guy outside…

Church was over and Tim came and got me and Rob.

“There’s a guy outside and he says he wants to talk to a ‘church leader.'”

Rob and I look at each other and go outside. The guy is tall and thick-built, middle-aged. He has a medium-sized brown and white dog.

“I drove out here from St. Louis looking for work….”

It’s a long story and haltingly told, he said, because he was so tired and lethargic. He said he had work lined up, he was just waiting for a callback. He had panhandled enough money for gas, but he had nothing to eat.

Our church doesn’t have a food pantry, but Rob and I said we would check the kitchen and see what we could find. We found some leftovers from breakfast the day before: biscuits, bacon, sausage, homemade apple spice cake, orange juice. We cut the biscuits and heated them up with the bacon and sausage, and put everything in a grocery bag with a tract and a couple of cold bottled waters, some napkins, jelly, and utensils. One of my students included some donuts he purchased that morning. Finally we poured him some hot coffee from our inter-service carafe. It wasn’t fine dining, but it was fresh and hot.

Mr. St. Louis didn’t seem very happy and quickly left. He refused the coffee so I enjoyed that myself. Within a couple of minutes Rob was back in the kitchen–with the bag of food. Apparently as he walked back to his van St. Louis had said bitterly:

“Thanks for the leftovers. Hope there’s no mold on them!”

He had left the whole bag on the sidewalk. He didn’t even take the non-leftover bottled waters.

Of course we had realized that he might have been expecting us to give him money, but, on the other hand, there have been people who passed through professing hunger who were only looking for something to eat–and who never asked for a dime.

Still, St. Louis’s unabashed rudeness was kind of a surprise. I mean, it’s one thing to try to grift a small church, but it’s another thing to act indignant when they don’t fall for your grift. Of course, if you are willing to grift a church, there’s probably a very short list of things that are beneath you (though, apparently, eating leftovers is on that list).

It would be easy to say that in the future we just tell people who show up at church for purposes other than worship to hit the road, but we’re not going to let the occasional thief keep us from giving to others in need.

The whole experience still kind of irked me even after we went home for lunch.

And ate leftovers.

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Jan 13 2010

Gorgeous

Last summer we built a large set for our church’s Vacation Bible School program. While we were outside spraying our 100 faux stone blocks, my wife brought me a sandwich.

“Thanks, gorgeous!” I said

Another woman who was helping with the project said:

“I wish someone would call me gorgeous.”

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Aug 28 2009

Test of faith

A friend of mine from our Baptist church and I recently took at trip and we stayed the night at the house of a Baptist couple. By ‘night’ I mean ‘four hours.’

Anyway, we got up the next morning anxious to get back on the road. Our hostess was insistent on fixing us something for breakfast. I turned down the wonderful offer of bacon, eggs, and pancakes in lieu of quick-and-easy cold cereal.

“Do you want some coffee?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” I replied.

“No thank you,” said my friend. “I don’t drink coffee.”

She looked at him thoughtfully before she asked:

“Are you sure you’re saved?”

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