The Surefire Way to Fix the Church’s Every Problem


Covered with Band-AidsApparently, my solutions suck.

One of the first things you learn about tackling intractable problems: People will hate your ideas for fixes. Not merely disagree with, but full-on hate.

You would think that when we bring difficult topics into the sphere of the Christian community the hate would go away. Well, maybe a little. What you get as a replacement is this: “Your fix will never work.”

Christians can be some of the most pessimistic and nihilistic people when faced with nasty issues. Anyone who even tries to speak to a tough issue has that idea chastised. It’s one reason why so much of the American Church is adrift.

What makes me more upset than having unusual ideas shot down by perpetual naysayers is that God never set up His Kingdom to be dominated by a loose collection of wandering idea people. Yet that is the model we Americans endorse.

Wakeup call: This mentality of a Moses-like character who emerges onto the national Christian scene to lead us in the way we should go is just a big pipe dream. Sure, now and then some Christian with a great agent lands a great book deal and writes a great book we talk about for two months before we forget what the hubbub was about. That’s not the way the King expects the Kingdom to work, though. Looking to any one human being for solutions won’t work.

I know it’s hypocritical of my entire post to say this, but here’s the only answer:

Every local church needs to sit down as a whole church—leaders, non-leaders, the elderly, the teens, whoever the church deems a communing member—and present to the assembly the problems facing the church and its local area. Then the whole church works together as One Body to seek, find, and present answers.

I don’t care what the problem is. I don’t care how difficult it might seem. Each local church needs to convene as a whole church and get solutions.

Of course, within a Christian context, this means operating as the Body of Christ plugged into the Head.

God gave each of us gifts, both innate talents and spiritual gifts. The entire Church model presented in the New Testament depends on that Body model Christ left us. If we do not operate as a Body, we do not operate as intended. If we reduce the Church to nothing more than a loose affiliation of individuals, then we should not be surprised when we achieve no results or cannot deliver solutions.

If we truly believe our own teachings, then it’s about time that each local church gets its leaders focused on what the problems are that face the church and put those problems before the whole church.

I don’t believe there is a problem too hard for the Lord to fix if we Christians in our local churches meet as a body (and THE Body) to hash them out, so long as we let the Spirit guide us.

I’m fed up with excuses for why such and such never gets fixed, aren’t you?

Last week, at another site, I took the author of an article to task for thinking too small. When I proposed a solution, the naysayers came out in droves.

But you know what? I don’t care if my offering is outrageous on the surface. Many solutions that eventually work start off outrageous. No, I don’t have proof such and such will work; all I know is that no one has made the attempt.

And if my answer is outrageous and left untried, how many other believers in a local church may have equally outrageous answers to tough problems that everyone beefs about but no one ever attempts to fix?

Why are we not brainstorming outrageous answers as a local church? Why do we always look to our leaders for solutions if that leader is the “foot” part of the Body or that one is a “nose,” but we need an “eye” solution? Wouldn’t the “eye”-gifted people possibly have better insight?

And why is it that we have no confidence that the Holy Spirit can speak spiritual answers through the bohemian single mom who just became a believer a couple weeks ago? Why is it the Holy Spirit can’t speak through the shifty-looking teen guy? How is it that the people in the seats have zero ability to cast light upon a dark issue, only the “experts”?

When we discredit what might be spoken through a “nonstandard vessel,” we’re not just discrediting the vessel; we’re discrediting our Lord’s ability to use whomever He so pleases.

I believe a surefire fix exists for problems the Church keeps saying can’t be fixed. Or if not a total fix, then a good bulkhead for keeping the worst of that problem at bay. We just don’t trust the Lord to work through other believers the way He said He would.

The Church and the Employment Dispossessed


Ageism & employmentIf 2013 was marked by any one trend, it was a sobering one: Many of my peers lost jobs.

For me, peer is anyone in that 46-56 age group. Somehow, we have been redefined as the new elderly—at least by some in the corporate world.

I don’t know if health care fears have driven some of this, but it is startling to see people who are supposedly in their peak earning years instead walking the unemployment line. Worse, the likelihood of such folks returning to the income level they enjoyed prior to being let go runs just about to zero.

This is not good. It’s not good for those people, nor is it good for America.

And it may be worst of all for the Church, since these are the folks who had the incomes that funded their local congregations.

I talk about a lot of Church issues on Cerulean Sanctum, but I think no other “daily living” issue is more ignored by the American Church than our work lives. The advice most churches dispense on being a Christian who works is to start a workplace Bible study and to practice ethical work habits. That’s as far as it goes.

But when churches start discovering they have many people in their late 40s and early 50s trying to find work and not succeeding, SOMETHING must give. This trend is not one we can continue to ignore. Technology is putting more people out of work, and tech job availability is not compensating for the losses. Worse, one recruiter told me that anyone with gray hair who walks into a tech company looking for work is just wasting his or her time. Even worse? The same recruiter told me it’s not just tech companies anymore—it’s every company.

Again, this is an enormous issue. Which Christian with a national presence is talking about it? In fact, which Christian with a national stage is saying anything about issues of health care costs, stagnant wages, the increasing ranks of the un- and under-employed, and this creeping down of when someone must consider himself or herself “done” with a career, even when he or she doesn’t want to be done?

I continue to get the sense that while the Church in America has no qualms talking about spiritual issues, issues of everyday living (such as work) are going unaddressed, and those issues cause the most worry and grief in people. They are looking for answers, and the Church is not providing them.

Problem is, Jesus didn’t leave behind an answerless Church. It may be true that in this world we will have trouble, but Christ has overcome the world. For Christians to throw up our hands and do nothing is not the way of the Lord.

Why I Didn’t Go to Church on Sunday


Leaving, walking out of churchYesterday was a Sunday. I skipped church.

I didn’t go because I knew what the message topic would be, and I’m burned out on that topic. Seared to a crackly crunch burned out. That the topic just happens to coincide with a major initiative push within the church only further carbonized me.

Honestly, I think I’m also burned out on topical preaching. The Church in America largely moved to topical preaching with the advent of the megachurch model, and as a result, we have no idea how all of Scripture fits together anymore. The Bible has been reduced to a book of wise sayings about certain topics. That the entire narrative arc of God’s interaction with mankind and our relationship  with Him has gone missing as a result of piecemeal teaching of topics is lost on far too many church leaders.

If we want to know why people are leaving the Christian Church in America, part of it is because they never hear the whole story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. An entire generation has been raised in the American Church without any concept of that old, old story. As a result they have no clue how they fit into that story. And as a result, whenever a competing set of topical advice comes along to war with the Bible’s topical advice, not much resistance to the upstart competition is offered.

Facts are useful only if we see the big picture. If your car isn’t running, do you want a mechanic who can only quote crankshaft specs at you? Or do you want one who understands how an obvious problem in the crankshaft may cause a hidden problem with the transmission? We want people who understand how the whole system works together, don’t we?

So it is with the Christian faith. Unless we understand how it works together so elegantly as an ongoing story of God’s love for us, we won’t have the ability to flex with and withstand the times. We might understand a topic in part, but the whole will still be lost on us, the nature of relationship buried under advice on how to do this and don’t do that.

You know what I want to hear about on Sunday? Jesus.

Can we talk just about Jesus for once? The Bible says that knowing the Father and the Son IS eternal life. Since that is true, knowing our trinitarian God could not be more important. There is no topic that trumps it. No amount of teaching on marriage, money, or mammon can surpass knowing Jesus.

And the funny thing is, if we really teach Jesus, the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration all begins to fall into place. It all starts to make sense. It all works together in a synergy that creates faith, wisdom, and spiritual strength. Even those piecemeal topics start sticking with us. Because now they have a framework, a foundation. And that framework/foundation is Jesus. Only when we understand Him and His story does everything else make sense.

You know what else? Your story of Jesus has value to me. Not just the pastor’s story, but yours. Mine has value to you too. Wouldn’t it be great if we could hear those stories? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see your story and mine fit within that greater Story?

Yes, I think they would be so excellent to hear. Now if only we could find some time in church on Sunday to squeeze them in.