Jesus Manifesto

Check out the Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola who state “We believe that the major disease of the church today is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder. The person of Jesus is increasingly politically incorrect, and is being replaced by the language of “justice,” “the kingdom of God,” “values,” and “leadership principles.”

I guess the one that relates most to The Scrapheap is number 6, which says:

It’s possible to confuse “the cause” of Christ with the person of Christ. When the early church said “Jesus is Lord,” they did not mean “Jesus is my core value.” Jesus isn’t a cause; he is a real and living person who can be known, loved, experienced, enthroned and embodied. Focusing on his cause or mission doesn’t equate focusing on or following him. It’s all too possible to serve “the god” of serving Jesus as opposed to serving him out of an enraptured heart that’s been captivated by his irresistible beauty and unfathomable love.

http://ajesusmanifesto.wordpress.com/

OUCH! Written off as “negative”

I had one of those “OUCH” moments today. I was engaged with the state president of our movement who had come up with a mission statement he’s contemplating making into a bumper sticker. The conversation went to and fro for a while and was all good, then he played the “you’re negative” card, which I’m not. I just have a different perspective than I used to. It got me thinking. The moment we play the “negative” card, the conversation is attenuated and begins to contract. It is a value judgment that enables us to write the other person off and dismiss their ideas with one sweeping statement. As the person labeled negative, you can either defend yourself (thus sounding defensive), persevere (even when you’re not being listened to), or shut down – which I did.

I think it’s really important to scrapheap pastors that you pick your moments and pick your people carefully if you want to share your new-found perspectives and ideas gleaned from life on the scrapheap. If they’re not ready to contemplate that there could be a better way, you’re just wasting your breath, and it’s just too easy for them to write you off as bitter, twisted and negative.

Here’s some of the conversation:

Derwent
loving others as we have been loved and teaching every1 to do the same. (What Would Jesus Twitter)

Jack
can u teach ppl to love or is it a case of only being able to give away what you’ve received?

Derwent
Has to start with revelation of Gods love for us hence loving as we have been loved but then again I’m sure people can love even if they haven’t experienced love before. What do you think?

Jack

nah psychologists suggest that ppl who haven’t experienced attachment have significantly reduced ability to empathise and experience compassion. U can’t give what u aint got no matter how long someone preaches at u.

Melissa
Is that going to be our banner or something because it is very good. I can see that one in print everywhere!!

Derwent
Yep it’s our vision / mission statement. Heather suggested we get it done up as a bumper sticker 🙂 I like the idea!

Jack
u don’t think it sounds presumptuous to “teach” everyone? when it comes to adult education, the best anyone can do is facilitate someone else’s learning… which is why Jesus used parables…. it was to take people on a learning journey….

Derwent
Jesus’ great commision finishes with and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you – hence our statement. As you and I have discussed Jack, the command that Jesus was talking about was love others as I have loved you. Everything is encapsulated in that one command. Profoundly. Simple and simply profound.

Jack
yeah but he didn’t mean our concept of “teach”. Our concept is greek and modern. It’s rote learning. Someone talks, we listen. Jesus was talking about a rabbinical style. “I do, you watch, we walk and talk” etc.

So if you’re using language for a contemporary audience, it’s not going to mean to them what Jesus meant. We live in a postmodern world… where “Teachers” don’t hold any authority and there’s no power in information anymore. We live in an information world! People don’t want to listen, but they’re more than happy to observe and have a conversation….

Plus, we could probably learn just as much from “them” as we have to “teach”…. see how arrogant the concept of “us” “teaching” “them” is? That’s how it comes across anyway….

Melissa
Bumper stickers would be great! When we did hampers this year gone Brett had the idea to get reusable bags printed up for church instead of the supermarket ones. I think that slogan would be great on them….might be worth looking into for next chrissy!

Derwent
But that’s always going to be the problem with words John, the way people interpret them. We can sit around debating them till the cows come home or simply go ahead and demonstrate them. It’s been common knowledge since I was at uni 20 yrs ago that people learn best by doing so when I use the term teach it involves instruction, modelling, … practicing and internalising. Try not to see everything in the negative because you miss so much when you do. It’s not arrogance when Jesus commands us to do something and it’s not arrogance when we repeat it to others especially when the command is to love others as we have been loved.

Half Time

My wife gave me “Half Time” by Bob Buford for my birthday. He owned a large cable TV company and was extremely wealthy when his only son died swimming across the Rio Grande forcing him into what he describes as half time. It’s the break between the first half of our lives and the second half.

It’s a great read. Bob has devoted his second half to helping unearth and release what he calls “latent energy” in churches.

I’m picking up some great things, but unfortunately a bit despondent right now so they’re just ideas for now. But here’s a great quote on his observation of how the church can work against discovering your “one thing” and moving from a “success” mindset to a “significance” mindset.

“The irony… is that the church has become one of those masters under which many first-halfers feel hopelessly indentured. The joy that ought to come from serving others in Christ’s name is missing because so much of what we do for the church is done out of a spirit of obligation and involves doing work that is far removed from our core competencies. And that is because, as first halfers, we have not yet discovered who we are, what we really enjoy doing, and how even the most undesirable task can be a freeing, exhilarating experience if it arises out of our core being.

For most people, church work is not like a hot-fudge sundae but is like broccoli and spinach your mother made you eat as a child”

http://www.halftime.org/

One step forward, two back

I’ve been feeling really despondent lately. I’ve lost motivation, I feel a heavy heart. I really don’t want to do anything but hibernate. I didn’t want to go pick tomatoes this morning but went anyway. I don’t really want to force myself to do much, because I’ve found that forcing myself to do things costs me in terms of energy and authenticity… how do I know if what I’m forcing myself to do something is best for me?

I think turning 40 – something I haven’t been looking forward to – has made me think about how useless I feel again. I’m really struggling to deal with this usefulness issue. Maybe that’s just it… it needs to be dealt with. I can’t seem to decouple the issue of being and doing. I can’t seem to discover significance in who I am in Christ and the fact that I’m valuable to God regardless of what I do for Him. So, here I am, doing nothing with my life and struggling to feel like my life matters.

Interesting news out in the last few days from British scientists…

PEOPLE who spend a lot of time surfing the internet are more likely to show signs of depression, British scientists said today. But it is not clear whether the internet causes depression or whether depressed people are drawn to it.

Full article here

Hmmm maybe I should log off! No seriously, I’m pretty sure that depressed people are drawn to the internet, rather than the opposite. I recall the worse I was, the more I wanted to be distracted, to escape and to relate to people on my terms hence surfing the net, and using social networking sites was a place that meant I had no responsibility. My wife thought I was addicted to facebook. The irony is that now with her workload and recovery from depression, the kids did a little acronym for their mother and the letter “A” stood for “Always on Facebook”. The other thing she does is watch mandarin speaking soapies on YouTube. Once she did it for a whole weekend while I was away and the kids met me at the door distraught that mum had locked them out of her bedroom and watched clips all weekend.

I’m 40 today. Very Sad.

I woke up today 40 years old so I think I can speak with some authority on turning 40.

I guess if I was doing something with my life, I’d say it makes no difference, but all those people who say life begins at 40 are comforting themselves with benign platitudes I think.

I’m not happy about it. I’m a bit despondent really. I reckon if one is 40 and going nowhere it is a pathetic thing. Lets face it, how many 40 yr-olds do you know that aren’t doing anything with their lives? I don’t know many, and the ones that I do, I think are bums. So I’m pretty sure that makes me a bum….

Rick Warren says “The teacher is always silent when the test is given. When God is silent in your life, you are being tested” and that sums up what is going on in my life right now. But what to do when God is silent? My answer – nothing. But it’s not a lazy, good for nothing “nothing”. It’s more like a quietly hopeful nothing… that something will arise from nothing like it did in the beginning.

Getting Paid for Ministry has Whiskers II

So, I explained to my former staffer that he was better off not being on staff at the Church and that being paid for ministry has whiskers on it. Being on salaried staff definitely has whiskers. I figured he needed to be liberated just as I had. Not liberated from ministry, or calling, or serving God, but just liberated from what goes with being paid to do it.

Being paid to serve God and minister to others is somewhat of an anathema. The motive is good, in that it seeks to support those who feel called to full-time work in the church, but the whole construct is askew. Firstly we’re all called to serve God with our whole lives anyway, whether we work for a church or not. We’ve all said from the pulpit that all of us are called to be ministers of the gospel haven’t we?

But that’s not really the issue. The issue is what being paid to do ministry does to us.

For those of us who are in debt and being paid to do ministry, it can really compromise us. As much as we’d like to say we’re totally objective (spiritual) and trusting God for our finances, if you have a $250k mortgage on your house and a $1m loan on your church and one of your highest tithing church members is demanding this or that, or worse, is causing problems in the church and is influential, it’s hard to be impartial. I’ve know one pastor who had problems with multilevel marketers in his church who were extremely influential and when he addressed the issues that they were causing, he lost one-third of his congregation. If you’re in significant debt, that could be enough to shut the doors and you’re out of a job.

Another difficulty is the expectation that the church has of you. We spend almost all of our time trying to get more people involved to build our “vision” but the people expect us to do it because they’re paying us to do it! Whether we acknowledge it or not, we have a contract. They come and tithe, so we can be paid to do the ministry. Yes, we know it’s not biblical, but it’s just where we’ve arrived and we have to deal with it. When we’re urging people to give up their time and volunteer freely, we haven’t really a leg to stand on because we’re not….

Being paid, also means being accountable for the money you recieve. This is obviously toward some sort of oversight body and ultimately to the incorporation that employ’s you. This means satisfying their idea of what it means to be doing the right things given the remuneration you receive. Whether their ideas of what the right things to do are the best ideas is subjective, but that doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, you need to be doing enough to satisfy them. Again you end up compromised. Not that accountability is a bad thing, but the best for of accountability is to be accountable for your character and who you are becoming, not necessarily what you are doing.

Here’s another thought to finish up on. We all agree that the best pastors are one’s who are obedient to God, and lead by virtue of who they are and what God is doing in their life, than by leadership maxims, strategies, or worse karaoke church (pretending to be a leader or church you admire and doing what they do). But lets say hypothetically, that God wasn’t leading you to do anything at all. Sounds odd at first, but when you look at Jesus’ life, God lead him to do nothing for 33 years. Imagine how hard that would have been for Jesus. But he did it. But when you’re paid to do something, you’ll do something, even if God isn’t leading you to do anything.

I’m not sure what Paul was doing for the first three years after his conversion. The bible and historical writings are totally silent. He was probably doing not much at all, certainly not much that you would want to pay him for, except for following Christ. Productivity was not high on the agenda, until he was lead to visit Jerusalem and then kicked off the most powerful ministry the world has ever seen.

Being on the payroll means you’re in a bad position and you’re no longer free to do what God wants you to do, when He wants you to do it and where.