Dirty Sexy Ministry, probably the best title for a blog about ministry unless you know different, posted a list of things that need to die in church. Some of these are also on my list, others not so much.
As an opener, this is fantastic:
"Jesus does love us, and the church, this oddball, quirky, community of faithful and not so faithful exists because of that very love and the Holy Spirit. And yes, the church is living and dying - at the same time. We preach it. We ought to do a better job of living it".
- The obsession with size and numbers. Bigger and richer isn't necessarily better, a reflection of spiritual maturity or strength of community. Give the small to medium church locally before trying the mega church 20 minutes drive away. The local church may not have five worship bands, a coffee shop or loads of children's groups, but it may be spirit-filled, lively and give you more opportunities to serve and grow. (One of the catch 22's of a small church is that you don't have loads of resources so people don't come as they want a church with blah ... But if some of those people came, you would have them!) If it doesn't work out, then try the mega church!
- Unrealistic expectations. Nothing is going to meet every need, be available 24-7 or behave perfectly all the time. Physic powers are not a gift of the spirit and people won't know things are wrong unless you tell them. Churches are made up of fallen human beings. Ministers are fallen human beings with theology degrees. Minster's families are just people related to the Minister by blood or marriage. And are fallen human beings. It'll be messy, dysfunctional and people may behave badly. Just try not to be one of them. God can help with that if asked.
- The curse of nice. Jesus asks us to love, be kind and honest. Jesus accepted and loved people, but challenged behaviours. Dirty Sexy Ministry: "Nice will not tell you your drinking has become problematic, your anger is an issue, your bounaries are invasive and your pants are indeed too tight. Love tries to find a way to do all these things with dignity". Love tries the best it can. (See point 2). Jesus never promised there wouldn't be conflicts or disagreements either.
- Closed minds and hearts. Alan Cresswell on Ship of Fools invented two rules for discussion of Christian things: "A discussion in which only one answer is possible is tedious, not to mention pointless". And, "A Bible verse isn't the end of a discussion. It's the start of one". Add in Jesus' teaching about loving each other; everyone being created in the image of God and it all gets a bit awkward. Christians aren't people who all think the same things about God. The only thing they have in common is that they all accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. How they work that out in their lives is between them and God. Giving people the freedom to ask questions, discuss issues and disagree is important. If someone isn't prepared to fellowship with someone else because of what they think about blah ... That's pretty terminal.
- Misuse of the word "persecution". Being disagreed with about Christian stuff or having the piss taken out of you isn't persecution. That's just life! This is persecution. Living in fear, not being free to worship openly - that's persecution.