Posts Tagged ‘baptist’

It’s almost Six Degrees of Separation to source this riveting article, but I’ll give it a shot before I get rolling:

vanishing churchThanks to Another Brick on the Wall “Spiritual Pathway Ministries“, by way of the whole article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and discusses a Bob Pearle book entitled The Vanishing Church: Searching for Significance in the 21st Century.

All clear? OK, and away we go…

For the past couple weeks, we have plastered on the Wall a few ruminations about “Big Box” megachurches and even its progeny, “minichurches”.

And now this article about Pearle’s Vanishing Church stands in my shadow threatening to whoop up on anyone who talks smack in my direction.

He doesn’t hold that churches are literally “vanishing,” since there are all kinds of churches, often filled to overflowing, in our neck of the woods [North Texas]. “What I’m saying is that the biblical New Testament church is vanishing from society today,” he said. “Anything and everything is acceptable as long as it builds a crowd. Jesus wasn’t as interested in building a crowd as he was in telling the truth.”

Amen! And why all this brouhaha over exponentially growing houses of worship? It’s simple math:

On one hand, we have church overflowing of concert-quality worship, hypersensationalism, a disconnected waltz through the scriptures and a sermon that is more Tony Robbins and less Tony Campolo.

going-back-to-churchAnd on the other, we have a warehouse full of crushed velvet, ornate furnishings and lots of bling… and that’s just the “Frozen Chosen” sitting in the pewser, chairs.

Add the two together and you still get a bunch of folk en route lights and sirens to Luby’s Cafeteria who still can’t tell you what scripture was shared in the pulpit.

From seeker sensitive to televised tabernacle, the missing part of the equation seem to be allegiance to God’s Word. Well, better yet, just God’s Word.

Pearle — who rejects the label of fundamentalist — says declining membership in many mainline Protestant groups results from watering down core biblical teachings. He believes that evangelicals who do that will suffer the same fate. “You have to hear the bad news that we are sinners, before your receive the good news of salvation,” Pearle says.

People, we need a Savior, which is why we should celebrate Jesus Christ daily. We are “saved” and set free to worship God. However, most of us would rather go check out some dude crush expletives in the pulpit for shock value or hear the “Aw shucks the big guy upstairs sure loves you” show.

Now, THIS is the stuff worth shouting about in the sanctuary, regardless what size it is! Anyone?

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So, there’s this new poll the Pew Forum developed that is about as soothsaying as a press release advising Christians that the Pope is Catholic, Billy Graham is really Baptist and those funny looking hats Rabbis wear really aren’t frisbees, coasters or pasties.

The grandiose discovery? Black people are more religious than the rest of the U.S. population.

While the U.S. is generally considered a highly religious nation, African-Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religion’s importance in life,” the report says.

black-church“Oh please, HiScrivener. White folks are uber-sanctimonious. And have been to a Catholic church in the barrio lately?” Listen, I get that, but I double-dog dare you to do this…

Walk up to any crackhead. I’m not talking potentially homeless and panhandling. I’m talking crusty lips, ashy-mouthed, looking to borrow a TV to sell for a dimebag of rock crackhead. Then… talk about Jesus, and watch what happens.

They sit up and instantaneously – as if prodded by a TV camera at some pulpit pimp’s megachurch that I won’t waste space discussing here… at least now – and begin extolling the praises of God.

Now I could get into a long sociological and ontological discussion as to why religion seems to stick to blacks more, as opposed to any other race… and I really could… but I won’t.

Suffice to say, while white folk were um, burning up the town, there were other folk who had nothing but Jesus. Including, you know, freedom. Anywhoo… here are some highlights:

  • 79 percent of blacks say religion is important. No let’s get this straight. “Say” is the operative word because some of those same “I love the Lawd” folk will also cuss you out in a minute and drink you under the table. Amazing how conviction works, eh?
  • While 39 percent of all other folk attend church weekly, 53 percent say the same. Heck, some people I know go to “ch-uuch” three or four times a week.
  • 2/3 of blacks oppose gay marriage, while less than 50 percent of whites agree. And in other news, 93 percent of blacks voted for Obama and chucked the whole “gay marriage” thingy out the window despite those pesky convictions.

I have another highlight not found in the poll, and it shouldn’t be a surprising statistic in the slightest:

  • 100 percent of Republicans will buy this poll in its entirety to figure some novel strategies for outreach, growth and scrapbook parties in say, four years. I’m just saying.

One of my most immense pet peeves is the inane question, “What religion are you?” Argh!

I understand people outside of the Church, and some of the lukewarm fish inside of it, don’t know – or don’t care – to understand the difference between denominations and religion. But, there is a huge difference.

And then add to the mix, “What faith are you?” Oy! I’m liable to go back to seminary and fasten a seat belt because my head is spinning like a drunk in the middle of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.

So says HiScrivener: Faith is an ardent belief in a deity. Religion is a codified doctrine to follow a deity. Denominations are defined by the methodology people choose to celebrate their deity.

jesus-relationship-not-religion

According to this story in the New York Times, people are truly searching for a relationship with Jesus Christ, rather than fancying a stroll into some religious house of worship, apothegm and dunderheads.

For at least a generation, scholars have noted that more Americans are moving among faiths, as denominational loyalty erodes. But the survey, based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans, offers one of the clearest views yet of that trend, scholars said. The United States Census does not track religious affiliation.

So, being a Zionist, can I wake up and decide to become an Orthodox Jew just to feel a little closer to God? Come to think of it, my pastor just doesn’t bring me into the Holy of Holies anymore. Perhaps, I watch my Gandhi DVD, get a little flummoxed at his stance for non-violence and throw away my crucifix to become Hindu. How about that? Besides that, I love hamburger and I get to worship cows. Nice.

Isn’t that what religion, faith and denominations are all about? Bowling for Jesus? A slot machine to insert your dimes and pray for all cherries, and DING DING, salvation is yours? Seriously! This world doesn’t seem to have a clue, and you know what Church? It’s possibly all our fault!

A journey all of us should fancy

A journey all of us should fancy

Question: If we are the salt of the earth, does the way you live for Christ make folk thirsty for your faith, religion or denomination? Evidently, we still need water out there.

In the Pew survey 7.3 percent of the adult population said they were unaffiliated with a faith as children. That segment increases to 16.1 percent of the population in adulthood, the survey found. The unaffiliated are largely under 50 and male. “Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13 percent of women,” the survey said.

The Word of God in James’ letter tells us this:

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Here. Here. Those “orphans” and “widows” are not the homeless, the destitute and the maligned. They are not “Baptists,” “Catholics,” “Episcopalians,” and what not. They are people all of them – each with real issues who happen to warm a pew in a Baptist church, a Catholic church, an Episcopalian church or whatever megachurch they attend, or at least brag about attending.

Do you see the difference? The world doesn’t. Jesus did.

My prayer? I hope we all can begin to see this stark difference as well, and start to witness people throwing away their “church membership” cards and just appreciate being part of the Church as a whole.

The Apostle Paul said to the Church of Corinthians, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means that I might save some.”

To the devout, this verse speaks of a desire to learn about God’s children. To the cynic, this scripture espouses fraudulent behavior. To me, a cynical devotee of Christ, it’s a game plan. Jesus can put on the high society hat and hobknob with upper crust, or he can kick off his sandals and chill with us common folk.

Either way, he will be noticed and not come off as fake.

cowboy-churchFast forward to today where many folk are scorched with the church politics, gossiping hens and uber-fake pastors. And if you are completely thrashed with the drama, where do you go for fellowship? What do you do for some Jesus joy?

Why, put on some boots, dawn a sweet lid and get your bucking on at Cowboy Church!

The movement is about 40 years old but has grown rapidly in recent years, especially among Baptists. The Midland, N.C.-based Cowboy Church Network of North America, supported by the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Missions Board, has started dozens of churches in 12 states and Canada since 2003.

“It appeals to you because it’s ‘come as you are,'” said Chris Maddox, who attends the Cowboy Church of Ellis County. “You don’t feel judged based on how you’re dressed, how you talk, how you look. We’re not asking somebody to be something they’re not.”

Amen to that! These are churches that begin meeting on ranches, in barns and even… dare I say… in nightclubs?! Jesus goes where you are. He never asked for you to be pretentious, asinine and a complete megalomaniac in order to worship him.

Most church folk can’t help themselves – judge people by the way they look, act, speak and even pray. Jesus didn’t do that either. He only asked that if you love him, then follow him. Regardless of how you are dressed, or how bow legged you are.

Sounds nice. Now only if I could really love country music, I would so be in the houseer, barn.

You know, who cares about prayer in school and all the hubbub Christians muster annually during the National Day of Prayer. With the 111th Congress about to take their collective seat on Capitol Hill – and this revealing story from the Pew Forum – to litigate and lay prostrate before the Lord. Yeah, you heard me right.

Not converging near DuPont Circle in DC anytime soon

Not converging near DuPont Circle in DC anytime soon

Typically, the words “Congress” and “Righteous” aren’t used in the same sentence unless it’s something like Congress is bashing the righteous, but that’s not the case according the church membership cards in the wallets of some of these upstanding folk.

The [Pew Forum] study finds that there is at least one major difference between Congress and the nation as a whole: Members of Congress are much more likely than the public overall to say they are affiliated with a particular religion... Collectively, Protestants account for more than half (54.7%) of the 111th Congress, about the same proportion as their share of the U.S. adult population (51.3%).

Other fun facts?

  • Catholics make up 1/4 of Congress and is 2X larger than the next religious gaggle
  • That would be Baptists, who are 12.4% of Congress, and still avoid eye contact with all those Catholic officials at the local D.C. liquor store. (HA!)
  • Jews make up 8.4% of Congress, guaranteeing from some swank P.C. holiday decor
  • Mormons (sans Mitt Romney) make up 2.6% of Congress. It used to be 4.5%, but some of those voted for Prop 8 and were executed out back with a firing squad

Lots of great stats, facts and figures in this story. Check it out and see how your church affiliation resides. If your official doesn’t vote the way you like, at least you will have this to hang over his or her head, right? Yet, the battle of church and state rages on, which shows these guys are all in it for the money.

Oh yeah, and the incoming president can probably claim half of these. Good times!