graeme's picture

graeme

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why mainstream churches are dying

The Catholic church's recent woes are just part of a broader problem. Western churches have been reduced to an irrelvance of which their declining and aging membership  is only a sympton.

I was reminded of this when I recently attended a Catholic service. (My wife is Catholic).What an air-headed waste of time. Apparently, their idea of God is one who requires constant flattery, with a frequent round of applause for his mother. There is constant definition of what you must believe to be a Catholic., and so much chanting and worship that the church really should introduce women into the service as majorettes.

One can easily find the same thing in Anglican, Presbyterian, United,and other churches. Lots of semi-scholarly guessing about exactly what the Bible meant in its translation of some arcane word, lots of You're a great god, God."

You can find the same thing in this section of WC with lots of speculation about the unknowable - heaven and whether we will be able see unlimited TV re runs there - , rather like four year olds speculating about where babies come from.

The result - the churches most of us are most familiar with have lost almost all credibility in what they think religion is about, and almost all influence in daily life. (Lost of examples - the wide acceptance of mass murder of civilians, of torture, of terror on our side as well as on the other.)

The churches who are doing better are the evangelical and fundamentalist. They play a far greater role in Canadian political affairs, so much so that Harper caters to them (as in abortion), while he feels free to dump on the rest of us (as in Kairos.)   That would be nice except the fundamenatlist evangelicals enjoy their influence because so many usually support the purposes of the rich and powerful - the wars to steal natural resources, the torture, the attacks on social programmes, the mass murder..

For all t heir simplistic views of religion and faith (sorry, they are simplistic), they are influential because they deal with this life on earth. Why can't we deal with it - using a Christianity that dumps the idea that God is a sort of person, that Mary being a  virgin and Jesus walking on water are neat tricks -but prove nothing about anything.)?

Why can't we have more services that talk about what Jesus told us about living. Is it possible to say, as many do, that capitalism is effective because it is based on greed, and still be a Christian?  (This is not an argument against captialism being effective - because I don't think any ideological economic system can be effective always and everywhere). Is it compatible with what Jesus taught?

Is sending troops to fight in Afghanistan compatible with Christianity? Would Jesus have kept His mouth shut about it because it was impolitic to say anything?

It is essential our churches not only survive, but grow. We live in a western world fast running out of any guidelines, any sense of how we have to behave if societies are not to turn back to packs of wild animals.

Yes. There are dangers. If we stay as we are, there is no danger. There is certainty we will not survive.

 

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Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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graeme wrote:

Why can't we have more services that talk about what Jesus told us about living.

it feels good to write that sermon - the one that is authentic and pulls no punches.  I wonder why others don't do it often?  fatigue?  I only lead worship a few times a year, but it is invigorating to speak authentically.  But politics & social issues are my hobby, so it works well.

 

There are some though, with enough on their minds, that they need the personal comfort of a familiar story.  That must be remembered.

good book - Frederick Buechner:  Telling the Truth: The Gospel As Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, 1977  -interesting look at thoughts in a preacher's head, as he/she climbs into the pulpit and surveys the ones who will listen, and how to speak what they need to hear.  Very valuable to me.

SG's picture

SG

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The minister at Windsor Park United in Winnipeg, Sharon Wilson is her name, did research on what people want to hear.  It was used in "Preaching that Really Matters" @ Emmanuel.

 

Sermons People Wish Their Religious Leader Would Preach (in part).
Note- few are theology

 

Who am I?
Greed
Struggle and decision making
What does it mean to have a vocation?
What is the common good and am I responsible for it?
How do I cope with diversity?
What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
I am more than my job!
I am vulneable. Can my faith help?
How can I compete at work and still be faithful?
I am afraid.
What am I here for? What is the purpose of my life?
What will it cost to live by my values?
How can I be content/successful when I can only get a part-time/term job?
No time.
Debt... financial uncertainty... is there any good news?
I no longer trust my boss, my government or my church.
When do I get to take a breathe? Overcommitment and stress.
Do I have to save the world in order to be a good Christian?
 

 

I love this line.....
"I don't want worship to be dumbed down but I don't want an intellectual lecture.... I want conversation"

 

 

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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good list, SG - hopefully theology fits in with some of them comfortably.   I dont see any of them saying "don't make me uncomfortable".

SG's picture

SG

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What I meant, birthstone is that they are not the big theological things like "Was Mary a Virgin?" or anything like that....

 

They could all tie well with our sacred stories.

 

I have done a couple.... "What would happen if a street person walked into church this Sunday" and "If I am content have I become lazy" and "What makes a relationship healthy and holy- Love in the 21st century" (but that one was not done in my home church)

clergychickita's picture

clergychickita

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Hi, Graeme -- you said:

I was reminded of this when I recently attended a Catholic service. (My wife is Catholic).What an air-headed waste of time. Apparently, their idea of God is one who requires constant flattery, with a frequent round of applause for his mother. There is constant definition of what you must believe to be a Catholic., and so much chanting and worship that the church really should introduce women into the service as majorettes.

One can easily find the same thing in Anglican, Presbyterian, United,and other churches. Lots of semi-scholarly guessing about exactly what the Bible meant in its translation of some arcane word, lots of You're a great god, God."

 

I hear your frustration, Graeme, but I have to say that I'm not sure what the problem is with "chanting and worship" -- they are called worship services, after all.  Praising God does not assume that God needs to hear our praise, but rather we feel called to praise God.  For me, worship is an outlet for my gratitude for God's presence (and the presence of a community of faith) in my life.  Seeking to understand the Bible would also qualify as a reasonable way for Christians to spend some of their time.

 

are doing better are the evangelical and fundamentalist. They play a far greater role in Canadian political affairs, so much so that Harper caters to them (as in abortion), while he feels free to dump on the rest of us (as in Kairos.)   That would be nice except the fundamenatlist evangelicals enjoy their influence because so many usually support the purposes of the rich and powerful - the wars to steal natural resources, the torture, the attacks on social programmes, the mass murder..

 

I disagree that fundamentalist churches "are doing better" -- they are just louder, better organized, and build bigger churches, while mainline churches tend to be much greater in number, but with far fewer people per building.  And I'm not sure how helpful your generalization that evangelicals support torture is...

 

Why can't we have more services that talk about what Jesus told us about living. Is it possible to say, as many do, that capitalism is effective because it is based on greed, and still be a Christian?  (This is not an argument against captialism being effective - because I don't think any ideological economic system can be effective always and everywhere). Is it compatible with what Jesus taught?

Is sending troops to fight in Afghanistan compatible with Christianity? Would Jesus have kept His mouth shut about it because it was impolitic to say anything?

 

I'm sorry you haven't experienced a congregation (or a worship service) that goes beyond Biblical exegesis to practice application to life.  We do that every week at our little church.  I probably wouldn't preach a sermon on capitalism, but I certainly would preach on Jesus focus on money, and call people to examine the way they use money that harms or helps others, close to home or as part of the global community.

 

It is difficult to say for certain WWJD when it comes to Afghanistan -- the stories we have of Jesus paint him as a Prince of Peace, and as that wingnut who braided a whip and used it and his foot (kicking over tables) to evict the moneychangers from the temple grounds.  The Bible can be interpreted in many ways.  Myself, I am a pacifist.  But I know there are thoughtful mainstream Christian folk who argue for a Christian understanding of a "just war."

 

Yes. There are dangers. If we stay as we are, there is no danger. There is certainty we will not survive.

 

We can't stay as we are, either way -- change is happening -- we can choose in what way we change, or we can watch "helplessly" as our situation changes for us.  I agree with you that congregations (and denominations) need to be proactive to offer a relevant voice for the gospel in our time and place.

 

shalom

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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I agree with you too - that is what I meant.  If though, one's theology can't speak to those things authentically or responsibly, then the church oughta pack up and go home. 

I think the sermon is good without it, but with it, and when it is done well, it rocks.

Graeme - I've met & enjoyed some marvellous preachers you would enjoy.  

SG's picture

SG

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The call to worship in part said "We are here to celebrate our lives, and God's presence in this life...." (M. Enid Watson)

 

and Prayers of the people said "we need to fell heard as well as spoken to..."

 

This Sunday in talking about Lydia as dealer of cloth already dyed purple or dealer of dye perhaps obtained in gross ways.... we talked about wealthy and poor, job with status/pay and job that squeaks you by... and doing work others deem beneath them....

 

So, relevant to today is always a goal for me... it has to be valuable beyond the 45-60 minutes they hear me. It has to go out into the real world, outside the church doors. Or, for me, it is worthless listen-to-yourself-talk shit and has absolutely nothing to do with God.

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Greatest I am

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graeme

 

Well done on this O P.

I will do a hit and run here as many it seems like to fill where I go with post that just attack without speaking to the issue and I do not want those here to bother your post.

I agree completely with your view of the R C C.

I was born into it and had basically scraped it and any search for God until I went to my first Protestant service. It was so refreshing to have someone actually speak to moral issues instead of just thumping what was written 3000 years ago. It rekindled my search that eventually paid off.

Why are Churches in decline.

I believe the main reason is that our young are better educated and less gullible than those in the past in terms of belief in miracles and fantasy.

They are harder to convince, thank God, that there are real talking animals and water walkers who take their bodies with them to heaven and they also wonder why, in genesis, a God would deny man the knowledge of good and evil that is so important to us in terms of developing our moral sense and why this same God would deny man immortality, another fantasy, when we graduate and become as Gods morally, a good thing you would think. 

Basically they want a God that makes sense and not fantasy based and in this, the mainstream religions have failed them.

One last point.

I recognize the good that all churches do in the community sense. They filled a need that was critical once but now the state has taken many of these social function.

As I said, this is hit and run to keep the peace here.

Regards

DL

 

 

Witch's picture

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graeme wrote:

One can easily find the same thing in Anglican, Presbyterian, United,and other churches. Lots of semi-scholarly guessing about exactly what the Bible meant in its translation of some arcane word, lots of You're a great god, God."

 

 

graeme's picture

graeme

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This is a fascinating exchange - with a great film series. I do thank all of you. plenty of interesting opinions and insights here.

As to the success of evangelical fundamentalists and their approval of torture - that is not gratuitous. They are growing. We are not. They are highly organized politically. We are not (though I'm not sure I would advocate we should be. I'm just speaking here of capacity to exert influence.)  As to approving torture, they were organized and prominent in the US in giviing support to Bush, and were not visibly upset at his use of torture. Of the many such preachers with a wide television audience, I cannot think of a single one who expressed any disapproval of the use of torture or of the invasion of Iraq. The Canadian churches of that sort are usually closely related to the American ones, and commonly share their view of the right of the US to invade illegally, to kill civilians, and to torture.

I was very impressed with the list of what a congregation wanted. Sounds like a good idea for all churches to try.

As to worshipping God, I prefer to think of it as doing what I think God wants done. I can see the point of feeling a need to vent that gratitude in worship. I just can't feel it, myself. Not sure how to deal with that.

Gray Owl's picture

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 It sounds like you're not spiritually challenged by Church, Graeme.

 

I can understand that.  Because it is a mature institution, having to cater to the spiritually mature and novice, you can get a McDonald's kind of spirituality from it, when you're hungry for real cuisine, the challenge of something new and exotic, to stretch and grow you.

 

Jesus was exotic spirituality when He walked the Earth.  People flocked to Him.  Relief from the institution!  God is Speaking to the whores and tax collectors and lepers, not the 'lawyers' of religious law in the Temple!  Pretty exhilerating, and dangerous, but you can't say that people didn't live when they were around Jesus.  Pure excitement!  Such intense spiritual experience, that challenged what they thought was possible from God.

 

Why can't we have that today?  Who cares about sin?  Where does the sin take us, with God?  Who cares about the Greek gods' statues in the temple, the one on the Crucifix and the lady in blue-and-white, holding the baby.  They aren't real.  There is no difference between them and the advertisement telling women they are failures if they don't look like models.  Jesus and Mary as idols, something missing as Empire is stripped away by academics, they can't find the real Jesus, because the professors in the ivory tower haven't fasted in nature, seen a terminally ill child with cancer suddenly be cured, or prayed to God on a mountain top in the most foul moods imaginable, only to have an avalanche happen next to him.

 

How do you fit that into a sermon in the United Church?  Or the Catholic?  Is it allowed?  At least the Catholics have a committee to study if it was God or not, and they'll decide.

 

Authentic is, as authentic does.  Authority.  Walk your talk.  God?  Jesus?  Give Them a shot, then tell the Church about it.  Get people upset to say it was just a coincidence, why do you think you are so special?  The ego in the spiritual, that dumbs us down and shuts us up, in case you might have some authority from your spiritual experiences.

 

Are you spiritually authentic?  How would you know if you haven't pushed your spiritual limits to see what's actually in you, who God has made, God in you, the courage in the fear to trust and have faith... and pushing those limits with God.

 

Such things can be disturbing to an institution that needs order, a place of peace and love, caring and nurturing, and proper interpretation of Scripture.  Shepherds tending us, their sheep.  Men like challenges to feel like they've lived, jumped into the abyss and see where God takes them.  God is thrilling.  Jesus is WOW!  All you gotta do is live a little, push it, like Jesus did, and let the Spirit come alive in you, and around you!  Peace sometimes needs to be interupted by storm, or you never really appreciate the peace, or the Love that gets us through everything...

 

Unless you take yourself for a spiritual test run, you'll never know who you really are, amid all the bills and headaches at work.  Unless you take God and Jesus for a test run, you'll never know who they are.  Believe me, there is no Lamborghini or Lexus that can compare to that test drive!  We are more than ordinary people living ordinary lives in Christ.

 

Just remember, God and Jesus come from the wild, They haven't been tamed.  They are free.  The role of any religion has always been to get God under control, for the good of society.  You can take God on, one-on-one, or you can go to the service industry, religion, to get some.  It's all good.  Just every once in a while a man needs to taste a little bit of the wild, free Jesus, a vacation, before going back into the doors of the church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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and how do we share that....  good question, Gray Owl.  That is the balance of church/worship- to touch the divine and be challenged & awakened & comforted all at the same time.

 

And how does one who has lived that share it with others uninterested in putting themselves out there?  I believe sometimes we have to aim at a few journeying folks and appease the comfy ones. 

 

Worship is technically the act of showing gratitude & honour to God.  When we wonder if God functions like that, worship takes on a different meaning.  It can be an act of honour to that which enlightens & rejuvenates us, and an act of honour to the community we walk with.  I have seen a struggling congregation that came together each Sunday and healed, at least a little bit, enough that when the chance came, the healing was able to flow. 

 

Graeme - maybe you (personally) need to spend time identifying what is at the heart of your Christianity.  No doubt it is hope for a better world; and the social justice of the Gospel.  But what 'spirit' drives that?  how does it manifest in your experience?  And can you name that in a sense of gratitude? ~ I hope that doesn't sound all bossy or diminishing - it isn't meant to, because I know how passionate you are about our communities being awakened to the hell that is our present world.  Its jsut a different facet of the issue - if we live in hell, but we have pure moments of heaven, what is the spirit of heaven on earth that we can nurture and bring forward?

 

And relating that to Worship - absolutely this is key - the balance of being challenged by hell on earth, and the assurance that we can be bearers of heaven on earth - if this is to make any difference to anyone - it needs to be intelligent, emotional, sound, demanding, comforting and authentic.  We need to teach that these are all needed, and we need to offer it.

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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Greatest I Am - I really enjoyed your post - I hope you don't go off & hide - you have a lot to share. 

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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I LOVE MONTY PYTHON!!!!

Gray Owl's picture

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Well, I agree, Birthstone.  You can't get too much spiritual experience into a church.  It is too upsetting, and witness makes people uncomfortable. 

 

That's one of the reasons why so many people leave the Church and go wandering through the spiritual marketplace, so they have someone to talk with and experience what is not allowed in the Church. 

 

Is the limits of United Church spirituality actually working against it?  We're proud as a Church, but the market doesn't seem to be responding to our product.  So without delving into our taboos, and starting a discussion about what's acceptable and what we're leaving out, we've got a problem.

 

Research in the States shows that the majority of Christians believe in more than one form of spirituality.  They believe in Christ, but also other forms of spiritual expression verboten in the Church.  With our leaders so Christ-focused, they do not have the ability to address the expanded spirituality of those they are shepherding. 

 

Hey, if General Motors can save its ass, with it huge size, is there the leadership in the U.C.C. to examine what's really the disconnect with those interested in the spiritual?

 

I've heard of some ministers and congregations who get this expanded spirituality thing.  It's quite the quagmire to re-engineer institutions.

paradox3's picture

paradox3

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Gray Owl, 

 

Could you explain more about expanded spirituality?  What does it look like?  I think that you are completely correct about the market not responding to our product, but I am not clear re: what you are suggesting we do about it.

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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and I'd offer that (as Gray Owl points out) there are churches & ministers who are offering fairly spiritual options. 

I'd also bet that the institution of the UCC would encourage that, but the actual offer of it depends on the congregations, their leaders', their leader's workload & support, and the ones coming/paying the bills.

I could go lead a taize worship that called us to action right now, but if only 5 people come and I'm exhausted from my other duties, it might not happen again..

part of the purpose of Sunday Morning Worship is being together - best if it is challenging, and uplifting for all, but in the end, it is mostly about standing together.  When "together" is not meaningful anymore, because of the social club mentality that leaves some out, or theology that alienates intstead of gathering, etc - things must change somehow.

 

And if 50 people are loving what is happening and 20 aren't .... there is a problem.  Maybe its ok if 20 find a different place.  Or maybe its ok to have a dialogue about options and see whether the 50 are really loving it enough to say goodbye to the others.

paradox3's picture

paradox3

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Birthstone wrote:

And if 50 people are loving what is happening and 20 aren't .... there is a problem.  Maybe its ok if 20 find a different place.  Or maybe its ok to have a dialogue about options and see whether the 50 are really loving it enough to say goodbye to the others.

 

Hi Birthstone, 

 

Yes, there is a school of thought that says that congregational splits are actually healthy.  This is probably true, but they don't happen painlessly. 

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I've offered my major critique on mainstream church before:

 

Mainstream Christianity cut itself off from its Judaic and early Christian mystical roots around the 4th century, when the unquestioning belief in dogma replaced mystical experience as the essential element of faith.

 

A second fall from grace occured in the 13th and 14th century, when valiant attempts were made to re-introduce mystical experience as the essential element of faith and unite it with the rationality of Aristotle and the then emerging science.

 

Alas, this failed, and when science began to refute religious dogma in the 18th and 19th century, the dogmatic church dug in its heels, persisted in its dogmatic stance and set up church dogma as a pseudo science. This, I think, delivered the final death blow to the church.

 

I think nothing short of a return to mystical spirtuality and a full embrace of science and rationality can save the church, if it indeed can be saved, and is worth saving.

graeme's picture

graeme

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what a fascinating series!

I am so confident in the logic of my faith that I have missed much of the spirituality of it. I can think of only one occasion when I could say I felt the presence of God. (always hard to use the word God when I don't (and cannot) have an  image to go with it.

I have often felt that God is within all of us so that we all could have the power to waok on water, and I am sometimes faintly puzzled that I cannot.

While I think of the Bible as a direct work of humans in their struggoe to understand how to ive together, I cannot believe the drive to do that can simply come from people as we see them. It comes from that eternal  power wtihin all of us that we call God.

Pushing the limits of spirituality is very challenging, indeed. I don't even know how to starrt. But it does sound essential..

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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:)

Graeme - sounds like you could use some time in teh mountains with Arminius or Gray Owl

Also - try reading Marcus Borg - Heart of Christianity - might be a good intelligent way to reconnect your brain &  your faith. 

 

So - I'm reading here that bringing 1)Spirit, however people perceive it back in line with 2) logic & reason & intellect on 3) topics of everyday interest with a comforting connection with the 4)teachings of Jesus is the recipe needed.

 

The problem still lies in the talent & attention of the chef, but also the eagerness & gourmet taste of the one at the table. 

 

I'd also offer that the church leaders must all create from the parking lot to the goodbye & followup a warm, safe, welcoming, authentic space.  This must be ongoing, not just for newcomers or the ancient ones, but also the everyday workers, the busy families, the singles that get forgotten, the youth at college  - everyone.

Gray Owl's picture

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Well, I wrote a comment on Mardi Tindel's blog about how to do many things at once.  If a congregation practices Ramadan with the local mosque, you get the spiritual benefit of a fast, something that is not promoted in the Church, but is very powerful, and with so many doing it together, it is a shared spiritual experience, something new, challenging so exciting.

 

It would make our ecumenism real, by acknowledging Muslims who feel besieged since 9/11, so it would expand our faith community.

 

Natives do three-day fasts in nature.  Another disacknowledged group, this time exposing everyone to nature, their spiritual specialty, making Creation alive instead of just a concept, the environment.

 

Since Jesus had a forty-day fast in nature, we'd share something real with Him, making Christ more than just theology and noticing coincidences that seem to answer a prayer.  And we would 'have community' with Native peoples, acknowledging what we tried to wipe out.

 

All we have to do is challenge our taboo that fasting is bad, because its suffering and deprivation, which Christ told us to stop, though He did it Himself!

 

How many churches have spirituality groups, where non-Christian spirituality can be discussed?  Universities encourage study into other religions to give perspective on Jesus.  That's a safe start.  But we suffer from a truncated spirituality that doesn't promote the historical Jesus, but works against believing in His miracles, etc.  There are only four acceptable spiritual experiences allowed in the Church: coincidences that seem to answer prayers; answers that just seem to pop into our thoughts; the Bible; and seeing God in only fellow human beings.

 

We are only allowed to believe in four spiritual entities:  God, Jesus, souls and the devil.  Everything else defaults to the latter.

 

Jesus was a part of expanded spirituality.  He was a part of spiritual reality, which is quite different from spirituality.  If we know nothing about that, then we fall victim to scholarship that is merely defending the faith against scientific historicism.

 

Social justice is safe.  The Church does a lot of good.  It's a language the secular can understand.  It's just like social programs from the government.  It tells people that the Church is nice, and not the threatening controlling dominant of the past, or of fundies.  But the majority of Canadians are safe and well-fed, and doing charity work is what Jesus said to do.  But we are so wealthy, its really no sacrifice to drop off groceries at the church once a month.

 

Spirituality and spiritual reality is dangerous, if not done with Christ and God.  If people are leaving the Church into these uncharted waters, I'm concerned. 

 

Academia is into rebellion against traditional established Christian belief.  They want to get rid of 'Empire' in the Church, take up the tools and challenge of science and go into the real historical Christ, to both help the faith and prove to the secular there is proof on their terms that Jesus existed, to get back Church authority over its founder, so decimated by historical analysis.  Jesus is all over the place, merely an effective social reformer, perhaps married to Mary Magdaline, a few lines in the Gospels seem like Jesus said them, let's not worry about the miracles, that just works against us.

 

We've been rebelling since the beginning, to get control of the spiritual, it's been dumb-down that all we have left is the four allowable spiritual experiences.  The Jews rebelled against civilized paganism, because they were using the spirits as gods, and trying to get them to do their dirty work for them.  Moses killed 3000 golden calf worshipers to get the point across.

 

Then Christians rebelled against its institution, the Jewish Temple.  Then the Church wiped out civilized paganism, then aboriginal spirituality, converting the spirits into human saints.  Then Protestantism rebelled, creating the conditions for science and business to replace religion as the primary mental and social organizer of society.  The Church got rid of all the other spirits, as they say.  Science just had to get rid of one, God Himself.  We made it easy.

 

Now we have people running around the Church wondering why God allows suffering, the Holocaust, and what is God in the first place?  We've done a number on ourselves, spiritually.  And few even realize how they were taught by society to struggle with one spirit, God/Jesus, from decisions made by institutions throughout history.

 

For those who know Church history, few have actually experienced spiritual reality, even though they know the Church wiped out what all humans had known for 10,000 years.

 

Quite the bind we're in.  Ministers and lay people I've talked to are blank.  We're running on autopilot, and we accept the party line on spiritual reality, unable to recognize and penetrate the taboo, a true spiritual rebellion against what Empire has done to the legitimacy of the historical Christ.

 

It's quite the mess.  But people are filtering out of the Church to re-discover what they can on their own, with the remnant of what was known that still exists.

 

This is a profoundly deep and complex subject.  But the Church can take baby steps into re-examining the decisions made for us thousands of years ago of what we are allowed to believe.  They were made for strategic purposes to expand the Faith.  But they threw the baby out with the bath water.  If academics are really looking for a rebellion against the Establishment, this opens up a whole can of worms that is unconsciously guiding the Church right now.  Do we have to follow in our modern context, spiritual taboos established during the medieval wars of imperial Christian expansion?

 

It was easier for Jesus followers to believe in His miracles.  Spiritual reality was still understood back then.  The Church hadn't wiped it out yet.

 

We could have the most creative and healing time in Christian history, if enough people could comprehend this big story.  It could save the Church, if we stopped being afraid of spiritual reality, and re-discovered it with Christ.

Birthstone's picture

Birthstone

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Gray Owl - I appreciate your thoughts, but I'm sad to see how distant you feel the church is from spirituality.  That  has not been my experience everywhere.  I hope you can find some friends & some positive connection to the church because I really think there are places you would find invigorating and hopeful.

 

In particular, I take a bit of exception to your comments about the historical Jesus.  Certainly it has been a tool to bring Jesus back into human form and make him a real person we can relate to.  Certainly some of that means that first, we have to show him as human.  And so the mysticism falters a bit.  But to bring him into focus means that the next step is to talk about his connection with the Kingdom of God - and what is God?  there is the step to mysticism.  So I would argue that the Historical Jesus is not about removing all shred of spirit.  Remember that many people are still having to rediscover the first step of teh Historical Jesus and so are on a journey to the next step.  (Back to Borg - Heart of Ch - pre-critical naivete, critical thinking, and finally post-crit naivete... - check it out!!)

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Sorry, Birthstone.  Went too 'big concept' in the last half, without defining my terms.

That was disacknowledging of the spirituality people have right now.

Didn't mean to offend.  Graeme was just asking why he was having such a hard time finding rib-sticking spiritual experience in the Church.  It seems to be pretty common.

 

Blessings,

Gray Owl

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Birthstone

I did a search. I recognized the avatar. Gray Owl is Sun Warrior. He's a mystic....way over the top.....wow....  very spiritually advanced ......

 

 

Hello Gray Owl........if I knew you were comin' I'd have baked a cake .....

 

He wrote: We could have the most creative and healing time in Christian history, if enough people could comprehend this big story.  It could save the Church, if we stopped being afraid of spiritual reality, and re-discovered it with Christ.

 

He hit the nail on the head....if we stopped being afraid of spiritual reality.....Yes....most people are afraid to be thought of as fools as we see in the pentecostal or so called holy roller churches, people being overcome by the Holy Spirit.  The mainline churches have  traditionally made fun of and laughed at this kind of behaviour. Of course today we have all kinds of questions about the authencity or reality of the Holy Spirit as seen in Toronto's airport church for example  "The Toronto Blessing". People barking like dogs, vomiting.....OMG...scary stuff.....possibly  overtaken by demons....we have people believing the Holy Spirit spoke to them when in reality it was their own minds.

 

On the other hand showing lots of so-called Holy Spirit emotion in the church doesn't prove anything. Some of the most holy people are just ordinary  quiet folk who see no need for public displays of their holiness. Yet, it does appear as though the average person isn't feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in the mainline church. The Holy Spirit is what should draw the crowds. However, I think....maybe.....I don't really know....that the Holy Spirit in Christianity  is associated with Jesus the Christ ( in the New T, anyway)  with Jesus being perceived as supernatural or God....whatever. In today's mainline churches Jesus is often considered a mere mortal man, a prophet, or pehaps he didn't even exist.

 

Of course I do believe the Holy Spirit exists throughout creation  ( not just in Christianity)  and is available to us or is always  with us in many ways, meditation etc. take your pick.... active in Arminius beliefs too and in  all of the older  world  religions  as well. Then too..the old saying : "We take ourselves with us whereever we go"...lol...speaking about the Holy Spirit or the God within ourselves. If we aren't feeling the presence outside of church we may not feel it inside of church although I've been to a spirit filled  church  re an  Andre Crouch concert one time where the Holy Spirit totally permeated the air. Everyone could feel it. It wasn't my own holiness or particular mood. I wasn't running on empty but I was pretty low on gas. 

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GRR

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graeme wrote:

For all t heir simplistic views of religion and faith (sorry, they are simplistic), they are influential because they deal with this life on earth.

I'd only partly agree with you here, graeme. I think what makes them influential is that they (perhaps simplistically) provide a clear statement that adherents can use as a jumping off point for dealing with this life on earth. May sound like a subtle difference but its an important one.

graeme wrote:

Why can't we deal with it - using a Christianity that dumps the idea that God is a sort of person, that Mary being a  virgin and Jesus walking on water are neat tricks -but prove nothing about anything.)?

We can - there are a few gifted individuals who do this - clergychikita's comments several months ago about how she managed some services comes to mind and I'm sure there are others.

 

For the most part though, (and I'm talking about "Sunday service" here, which is still "church" to most people) mainline churches, or the people who lead them in any case, seem to have gotten hung up on the screwy idea that their role is to "educate" the people in the pew rather than inspire them.

 

Mainline, inclusive worship can deal with "real life" and be just as inspiring as the most evangelical - if those leading it can focus on how the radical, inclusive agapé of Christ intersects with our lives every day.

 

IMNSHO

David

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Gray Owl

In your post above are you thinking a little bit along the lines of what I'm thinking or am I reading you wrong?  You write about  the miracles of Jesus. I'd be arrogant and ignorant to speak for everyone in the UC but I think its safe to say many people in the UC believe these miracles didn't really happen. They are myths,stories,allegories etc.from which we can  learn lessons in faith presumably. Jesus was a man and these are stories told about him long after the fact with people not really knowing what is true or what isn't true in the New T. Many UC people don't believe the NT in a literal sense. Are you saying we need to believe in Jesus as supernatural...God the Son....something like that?

 

Here are your quotes which I find most significant ( a little bit of the mystic in you  shows up here)

 

Gray Owl Quotes:

 

But we suffer from a truncated spirituality that doesn't promote the historical Jesus, but works against believing in His miracles, etc

 

 
Jesus was a part of expanded spirituality.  He was a part of spiritual reality, which is quite different from spirituality.
 
 
Spirituality and spiritual reality is dangerous, if not done with Christ and God.  If people are leaving the Church into these uncharted waters, I'm concerned.
Jesus is all over the place, merely an effective social reformer, perhaps married to Mary Magdaline, a few lines in the Gospels seem like Jesus said them, let's not worry about the miracles, that just works against us.
 
 
This is a profoundly deep and complex subject.
 
 
It was easier for Jesus followers to believe in His miracles.  Spiritual reality was still understood back then.  The Church hadn't wiped it out yet.
 
(In this last quote of yours below  I believe you are contradicting what you said previously although I believe you may be referring to the Christ or the Christ consciousness which exists outside of Christianity?)
 
 
Your quote:
 
 
With our leaders so Christ-focused, they do not have the ability to address the expanded spirituality of those they are shepherding. 
 

 

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Hi graeme

You spurred me on to check for church closings on the net. I wasn't able to find anything about UC closings recently. It appears the Catholic church in Quebec mainly is taking a big beating as well as the Anglican churches in general. The Church of Scientology...good old Ron Hubbard... is very much alive and kicking.

From the Net:

Quebec church closings: March 1,2010
 
 
"When we go to Ontario or the United States and tell them what we're doing here, they are stunned. Because it's not happening anywhere else."
"Not a week goes by that we don't hear about a church closing, a church being put up for sale, or a convent being demolished," lamented Luc Noppen, an author and expert in the history of architecture and architectural conservation at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).
 
 
 
 
Montreal's shrinking Catholic presence
 
 
 
 
Scientology church opened in Quebec Jan. 2010
 
The Quebec Church marks the beginning of a new chapter in Scientology growth across Canada, with new Churches to be opened in Montreal, Quebec; Kitchener, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and a full renovation of the Church of Scientology in Toronto.  Also on the horizon, on 190 acres just outside Toronto, is the Scientology Advanced Organization and Canada's Continental Liaison Office to coordinate Scientology expansion and social betterment programs nationally.
 
 
 
 

 

 

in B.C. March 18,2010

 

http://www.brentwoodchapel.com/?p=388

 

Anglican church in Can. see right on page

 

http://www.ststephenstrust.net/

Ten Anglican churches in Greater Victoria should close and their parishioners move to other congregations, says a report released yesterday that calls for sweeping changes to deal with declining attendance and aging congregations.

 

http://www.ststephenstrust.net/?p=8

 

Feb 9,2010 Facing Extinction

http://www.ststephenstrust.net/?p=202

 

 

U.S.A. Catholic churches on the upswing maybe....

 

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic_church_prepares_for_tens_of_thousands_of_u.s._converts/

 

.- Tens of thousands of new Catholics are expected to join the Catholic Church in the U.S. in 2009, with many doing so at the Easter Vigil liturgies on April 11.

 

 

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Ah, Stardust, you found me out, and flatter me... ty :-)  And don't worry.  I baked the cake yesterday, chocolate... though I ate half the icing out of the package...  ;-))

 

Boy, you hit the nail on the head on all counts! 

 

Liberal, 'symbolism-inclined' Christians need to challenge themselves.  They've got great criticisms of the shortcomings of fundamentalists and the limits of literalism, but don't want to consider the limits of symbolism.  Look in the mirror, and get the rush!  The miracles were more real than you know... liberalism can be just as rigid as the fundies.

 

Perhaps if the liberals would give a little, they wouldn't have to spend so much time explaining why God is so hard to perceive.  They could make Him more obvious. 

 

We have very limited expectations of God.  I think He's disappointed in us.  Many really don't think He's as reliable on the big things. Many don't really have faith and trust Him, except in a crisis, and then get disappointed when we don't understand HOW He answered our prayers.  Our narrow minds blocking our open hearts showing us.

 

That's why its critical, with this information in such short supply in the Church, to get out to sources that can teach us.  Reiki, Chinese medicine, Native spirituality, past life regressionists (wanna know about the Resurrection?  It ain't so exceptional), just to name a few.  You have to experience some of this stuff, because the Church logic will talk you out of its consideration if you don't. 

 

It's incredible.  It can be disturbing at first.  But stick with God and Jesus, and see the Veil start coming down.  God wants all religions and spiritualities to become One right now, for a specific reason.  You don't have to give up Jesus.  All spiritualities recognize the exceptional power of Jesus as a spiritual enitity, you'd be surprised!  You change.  Your reality changes.  The world changes with you. 

 

Suddenly, the Bible makes so much more sense.  Those weird guys aren't so weird after all! 

 

It becomes whole again, as if God Breathed Life back into The Word.  Then literalism and symbolism don't matter.  Because fundamental reality is not what our culture says it is. 

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'Secular Religion' including sports,. social, and political events have replaced the worship of God with the worship of human centered interests.  What is the motivation?  There are various motives that impel people to move away from church involvement into community programs.  The church, as a secular movement, can't or won't compete with events that are usually better organized and offer a positive influence on people.  What would you rather do, go to a nasty church meeting in which people are at each other's throats (and the church, across the board, is in a crisis mode), or go to a sports or community event where you come away feeling good and positive?  This posting, by no means, identifies or seeks to answer all the factors and variables in this equation, but the church seems to have abdicated its role and doesn't seem motivated to do anything about it, with a few exceptions.

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 I agree with Gray Owl (welcome back, btw)  I think the church institution has spent 2000 years stamping out all spirituality that didn't conform to the "box" of orthodoxy.  

 

I've spent a couple of weeks now going thru the free Yale lecture series on New Testament History and Literature, www.academicearth.org/courses/new-testament-history-and-literature  I'm not done yet, but what becomes quickly apparent is the incredible diversity of the early christian churches, before the definitions of orthodoxy were enforced.

 

Diversity in nature usually means success.  I think the church threw away the tools of nurturing spirituality so long ago, that now it doesn't know how, and is very unwilling to turn elsewhere for that help.  That would mean their "way" was not perfect, after all.

 

I don't think the evangelical or fundamentalist groups are any more successful, they hold on even tighter to that common orthodoxy, but mixed with very high emotionalism, many people may temporarily feel uplifted.  Then they feel the need to always return there to get  their  "fix".

 

 

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I couldn't help but notice Gray Owl, you refer to God as He... that seems so old-school to me.

And I know of churches leading reiki workshops, building labyrinths, doing native drumming circles etc - there is spirituality around, but most people don't know how to access it or tap into it - I count myself as hesitant but not closed, and listen to Graeme too.

 

Anyway - in Oui's post, she hit on something that stood out - Diversity usually means success - no kidding!  Why do we have to have a church model for across the board?  why is one more right than another?  Look at Diana Butler Bass describing 10 or so different focus point for church and saying no church can be them all, so do 2 or 3 really well.

The church for me might not be as spirit oriented as Gray Owls would be, but it might be more liberal than Consuming Fire's.  And it might be more action oriented than a very musical/beautiful church, but less attractive to middle class people.    The important point is that each church discover what it is called to be and do it well - that way, in all the ways that God touches people, at all the speeds (gentle, agonizingly slow or in fits & starts, or like a WHAM) - there is a place for that person where people say, Yeah! I got ya!

I'm getting tired of people being battle axes for their way.

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Oui!  I missed you!  :-)) 

 

I'll have to check out those lectures!  TY!

 

Yes, polls show in the States that evangelical and fundementalist churches have no more retention rate among young adults after a childhood in the compression chamber, than the mainlines.  Our society is too powerful, and the Church is a victim of its own history.

 

I mean, in my bad old days, not those ones, my really bad old days, before the Great Spirit arrived, I turned a fundamentalist chatroom into sex chat within 20 minutes... don't know if I should be confessing that... but it shows something...

 

Maybe the stallions do need gelding, Oui?

 

Polls show that 53% of Protestant ministers in the States have viewed porn in the last year.  37% say its a problem for them.  So if the most obvious and powerful spiritual force in the solid human body still hasn't been mastered by the Church's Masters... I think we've got a problem... altar boy anyone?

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Gray Owl

No charge for my flattery. Its free every Wednesday afternoon. I do like what you write.

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Birthstone et al:

I'm not too qualified to write about the church since I haven't hardly been to church since my daughter attended Sunday School back in the 70's and early 80's. I suppose I'm picking up what I'm reading on the WC about the church  over the past 3 years or so and thinking I know it all. I don't know it all. Its just inklings or intuition, guess work on my part. I understand the UC congregations are individual according to the wishes of the minister and the members depending  on what kind of services they like, their beliefs etc.  Some are more progressive than others. Nobody can pin down the UC to say its like this or its like that from what I read on the WC.

 

 

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graeme wrote:

As to the success of evangelical fundamentalists and their approval of torture - that is not gratuitous. They are growing. We are not. They are highly organized politically. We are not (though I'm not sure I would advocate we should be. I'm just speaking here of capacity to exert influence.) 

 

graeme, I think your second point is correct. The evangelical churches are far more politically organized than we are, which is ironic because one of their criticisms of us would be that we're too political and not focussed enough on the gospel.

 

I take issue with your first point though. I think that's a common perception that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. I listened to a presentation recently that summarized some of the reseach of a Christian sociologist - I believe it was Reginald Bibby, His research says that evangelicals represent the same percentage of the population today as they did 25 years ago - 8% I believe was the figure. The point is that they'r e not getting bigger but we're getting smaller - so their growth is relative but not real. In fact, I believe that the only religious group that's actually growingsignificantly right now is "No Religion" - and "No Religion," by the way, doesn't always mean rejection of belief in God.

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"I couldn't help but notice Gray Owl, you refer to God as He... that seems so old-school to me." ~ Birthstone

 

Well, if Oui is posting to me, of course the gender issue is going to come out!  LOL!  Oui and I have history on that one folks, so the inside joke on gelding Stallions...

 

Yes.  I spoke a taboo.  God as 'He.'  The masculine is not allowed to stand alone in the Church.  God can be  'She-He,' or the feminine can stand alone.  Everyone's comfortable with that.  But not the masculine.  Men are bad.  They need supervision.

 

It is the Church's total failure over 2000 years to explain the Trinity in simple clear terms.  To understand it, you need help from the Buddhists and science.  Ever read the official explanation of the Trinity?  It rattles the brain.

 

In the Beginning was God.  From God came self-awareness of God, thus creating the Will of God, God the Father, the specific consciousness of God.  That has become a taboo since World War II.  We prefer the non-specific consciousness, God-Creation, or God-Mother.

 

From the Will of God the Father, He Creates Creation through God-the-Mother. 

 

If we ignore God-the-Father, because civilized men through history were so bad, then we cut off who Jesus (a man by the way) was talking with throughout the Gospels.  Who Jesus said He was one-and-the-same with. 

 

So we've just cut off even more spirituality from even our OWN theology, because civilized men created the Holocaust, the Great Depression, and World War II.  Women were pissed off, and feminism began shutting down the masculine in the misogynistic Church.  Now women control and preserve the Church, ironically, for a man, Jesus. 

 

Gender issues is another taboo... just like sex.  The spirituality of gender, we don't even have to go into Reiki or the Spirits of the Earth to expand our spirituality.  There is so much repressed inside the Church!

 

End of sermon.

 

I couldn't agree with you more, Birthstone, on the diversity taking root in the Church.  Something grass roots that will hopefully hit the theologians in a generation or so.

 

The big picture of the future, spiritually speaking, is the merging of Jesus with Mother Earth, becoming One.  She will be the first re-introduction of a non-Christian spirit that the Church shut down 1500 years ago.   If Jesus is the Son of God, Mother Earth is the Daughter of God.  A little more than just molecules and energy, like the Church and science treat Her.  Discovering consciousness outside of just the four allowable spirits of Christianity.

 

Creator, Creation and humans as One.  Slowly we inch toward the reality of what the Church has paid lip service to forever.

 

 

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Joejack wrote:

'Secular Religion' including sports,. social, and political events have replaced the worship of God with the worship of human centered interests."

 

I'll go along with that too. Back in the 40's the little village churches in N.S. formed the center of the communities. Almost everyone went to church, Young People's, Sunday School etc. The people struggled to eke out a decent living, times were poor. There was little in the way of recreation except social times in the church or school hall. There was no T.V. Not everyone had a radio , a phone, or indoor plumbing.  Not everyone had a car.  Yes....it was a radically different kind of lifestyle back then. People were also more closely involved in the suffering and deaths of their neighbors.

 

Today we're all on the run going and doing whatever , and when we're at home we're busy playing with the latest in our technology toys. The church faces a lot of competition in order to grab our attention.

 

Gray Owl: You wrote:

 

"If we ignore God-the-Father, because civilized men through history were so bad, then we cut off who Jesus (a man by the way) was talking with throughout the Gospels.  Who Jesus said He was one-and-the-same with. "

 

Hey...good stuff....I've often thought about this too.

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Gray Owl wrote:

Oui!  I missed you!  :-)) 

 

I'll have to check out those lectures!  TY!

Yes, polls show in the States that evangelical and fundementalist churches have no more retention rate among young adults after a childhood in the compression chamber, than the mainlines.  Our society is too powerful, and the Church is a victim of its own history.

I mean, in my bad old days, not those ones, my really bad old days, before the Great Spirit arrived, I turned a fundamentalist chatroom into sex chat within 20 minutes... don't know if I should be confessing that... but it shows something...

Maybe the stallions do need gelding, Oui?

 Polls show that 53% of Protestant ministers in the States have viewed porn in the last year.  37% say its a problem for them.  So if the most obvious and powerful spiritual force in the solid human body still hasn't been mastered by the Church's Masters... I think we've got a problem... altar boy anyone?

 

I'll just say you are way too fine to geld, Gray Owl , lol.  

 

I think you said you are going for your M div?  If so, those Yale lectures will give you a big leg up.  They are based in the historical critical method, not theology, but the professor is really dynamic.

 

The section on Paul and Thecla was quite revealing about the huge and surprisingly popular role celibacy and anti-family played, right up til the 1600s, and why.  

 

I had a family member involved with the JWs for many years, and got to know them and their practices.  They loved getting hold of a Catholic, because they were so easy to steal.  Legend has it that so are Catholic girls, lol.  Despite the rigid hold JWs have on their congregations, more so than any fundamentalist church, they have a very high turnover rate of members.  

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Excellent thread everyone.

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Oui: your quote:

"I've spent a couple of weeks now going thru the free Yale lecture series on New Testament History and Literature, www.academicearth.org/courses/new-testament-history-and-literature  I'm not done yet, but what becomes quickly apparent is the incredible diversity of the early christian churches, before the definitions of orthodoxy were enforced."

 

Wow.....what a course...what a link!  The Dead Sea will probably be resurrected before I get around to watching many of those videos , but the course sure covers a lot of territory and sounds very interesting.

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Witch wrote:

graeme wrote:

One can easily find the same thing in Anglican, Presbyterian, United,and other churches. Lots of semi-scholarly guessing about exactly what the Bible meant in its translation of some arcane word, lots of You're a great god, God."

 

 

 

Great thread Graeme. I think Witch's little Monty Python skit here says it all. People today are far too sophisticated and intelligent to keep falling for the adoration, and nothing but the adoration, approach.

 

It's not what Christ taught, so why do the Churches keep it up? Probably in an attempt to keep the masses from thinking for themselves and walking the same path of salvation as Christ did. And when they throw in the threat of hell and damnation for all those that don't accept God the way the Church says they should, then it'll definately keep them in line.
 

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I'm off to bed but was getting caught back up....  yes - great thread!!

 

See you in the morning

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Gray Owl - on the He/She thing - I just use "God", or more often, "Spirit" - trading pronouns gets clumsy & irritating to me. 

 

StevenDavis - good points on the evangelical churches.  Another observation to remember is that they bundle themselves into more regional churches, so they can pack the place with 500 people - makes us look like a kindergarten.  But how many mainlines for each mega-church?  tons.  There is a systemic/structural issue to consider when we look down the road.

Also, esp in Niagara, I know of a couple of churches that look flourishing, but they function on the tithing system of their full members.  For all their full seats on Sunday, there are few full tithing members, and the situation was not so rosy when I remember hearing about it last year.

 

And directly related - those organizations have tons of money (from the tithing or donations) to create their products.  Their family ministry programs are amazing (though I must renovate the theology to use anything from them) - they have the cash to promote like we can't dream of.

 

Another question - is that, in a mega-church how you / we want to worship & follow Jesus?  Not me thanks. 

 

So - the question then - if we don't have the money pooled, and don't want to follow that model of church, what does a thriving church look like for a mainline?

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 Birthstone,

The "family ministries" thing is an important point. Whether or not you like the theology, those churches know how to work with and appeal to young people and their families. By the standards of the United Church, we have a pretty good number of young people on Sunday morning (if all the children were there on Sunday morning we'd have 20-25 kids.) Our problem is a lack of teenagers (our kids tend to be pre-teens) and it's not unknown that families have left us for a more evangelical church not for theological reasons but because they have "better" programs for teens - which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy after a while. The teens leave because the families want better programs for teens, which means we have few options to do teen programming, because the teens leave.

 

One note about the United Church, though. I think most of the people we have doing the youth programming are more "committed" in many cases than the "youth pastors" in the evangelical churches, because people doing youth ministry in the United Church are doing it because they love youth ministry and want to keep doing it, whereas in most cases, in an evangelical denomination "youth pastor" is a stepping stone to something bigger - "senior pastor." It's not a long term commitment, in other words. It's "until I have the chance to move up." (The United Church equivalent might be the attitude of many ministers to their Settlement Charge - it might be an enjoyable experience for 3 years, but the ultimate goal is to get a call somewhere else.)

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agreed, but somehow we need to think of our youth minsitry as more than just basketball & bible study in the basement (wow good alliteration there!!)

plus, how many of those kids who leave make it past the youth group into adult membership at that church?  How many of them ever develop relationships in the new church when even their parents are now new & have broken some relationships to go to the new place?

   ... by the way - check out "Single Digit Youth Groups" for a great UCC friendly resource!!  Five Oaks had it last time I was there. 

 

SO - the flash is important - it gets attention and needs to be respected.  It matters to people that a church puts the effort out to communicate/market well.  And maybe it seems shallow & costly to older folks used to doing church the old way, but heh- that's life.

But after the flash, the next step is relationships - cultivating real friendships between the newcomers & the regulars, between the kids & the grown ups - truly one of the special things about a church is that it is the rare place where generations mix. 

 

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blunder last night. I posted a piece of this thread in a politics thread called O See Can You Say....

Hey. I'm sorry. It was late. I was tired.

Donne-moi un break.

In it, though, I mentioned I had written a letter to my thriteen year old sons of my beliefs and of the necessity of some faith for a society to survive, and for us to survive social change. I wrote it last night (which is why I was up late, and tired), asking if they wanted to talk about it,; and I'm happy to say they responded favourably this morning.

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Of course, it's possible they're just interested in the passage saying they can sell their sister into slavery - so long as it's to a neighbouring country. So I can assure them that globalization makes the whole word our neighbour.

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Rev. Steven Davis," Our problem is a lack of teenagers (our kids tend to be pre-teens) and it's not unknown that families have left us for a more evangelical church not for theological reasons but because they have "better" programs for teens - which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy after a while. The teens leave because the families want better programs for teens, which means we have few options to do teen programming, because the teens leave."

 

I'm going to have to take issue with this, "just a little". Personally I don't think this is the case. I think alot of families are going to "evangelical" churches because they are hungry to learn more about the bible, jesus and God and the mainline churches are not answering this "hunger" for them. Within these churches they talk openly about their love of God to each other and to their children. The children aren't choosing the church the parents go to, they are following the parents because the parents are finding answers within these churches that make sense to them. (as much as the mainline churches don't want to acknowledge this)

 

The theology may seem "simplistic" as most would say here, but I think a response one might recieve from some evangelicals, would be that mainline churches are overly indulgent with pursuing the ways of the world.

 

 

 

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