We Just Don’t Know

Josh and I have been talking over the past few days about the future of SCP and what we feel like doing with this whole mess that we started so many months ago. Maybe we just think too much, but we really don’t want to self-perpetuate something that really has no significance anymore. Churches do that with programs all the time…and some churches just do that in general by their own existence.

However, it seems as if our conclusion is that what we are doing, the issues we are raising, our honesty about our faith does indeed matter….at least for now. Please don’t look at this as a cry for you to say to us, “You guys are making a difference”, or as an attempt by us to garner sympathy (yeah, like that is gonna happen). We are just at a crossroads of sorts…personally, professionally, spiritually…both of us seem to be at this crossroad together. So what’s next?

Josh seems ready to “vent more” according to the recent post on his blog. He wants to call people out, confront them, express more of his anger at the church and those within the system that have hurt him. He feels that this process of honesty will possibly restore him in some way to “loving church people”. I can’t really speak for him so you should go read what he has to say. He should do exactly what he needs for his part of the journey. I applaud his honesty and join him in his adventure.

On the other hand, I want to simply walk away. Let bygones be bygones because I have pretty much exhausted my frustrations with the church. There is plenty wrong with the church, it’s people and the system. There are still “church people” that do “stupid things”. There always will be and I will always enjoy laughing at the stupid things they do and pointing them out…because the emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes.

One of the things I have held onto for quite some time was that the reason I bitch and complain is because I truly do care about the institution called “the church”. But I am not sure if I do anymore. Whether a certain church grows or not doesn’t concern me. How a church chooses to reach people, while it may cause my stomach to roll, doesn’t matter anymore. Whether a group of people labels themselves Emergent, Purpose-Driven, Evangelical, Baptist or whatever they choose… I could care less.

Do I think pastors should resign? What does it matter. Do I think the Emergent is a denomination or not? Who really cares. Should churches use marketing techniques to draw people into their community? Whatever. Should Tony Jones raise support? God Bless Him. What is the “real” purpose of the churchwhy does God seem so distant….does God answer prayer? Only God knows.

And that last answer pretty much sums it up! ONLY GOD KNOWS… and the wonderful thing about God is this….He really knows how to keep a secret.

It’s a mystery people. This whole freakin’ world is a mystery. We REALLY don’t KNOW anything about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or salvation. We have hope. We have belief. We have faith. We don’t have certainty.

You may think you know…but you don’t know know. And you know you don’t know know but you are scared to admit it. I know I am.

The people I work with are more concerned with the mysteries of life than they are with the church. They contemplate the mysteries more than they do the church, because to those in the real world (and not this Christian subculture) the mysteries matter. They are the stuff of life.

What am I here for?
Why did my dad die?
Why did I lose my job?
Why did my marriage not work out?

These are the mysteries. This is the stuff of life.

How do you know when you are really in love?
How does my heart keep beating?
Why do I smile simply by thinking of my children?
How can I know if God is there?

These are the mysteries. This is the stuff of life.

We can read. We can study. We can discuss. We just don’t know.

We can hope. We can believe. We can have faith. We just don’t know.

But we hold onto that hope. We hold onto that belief. We hold onto that faith. We hold onto all of it because it is the only thing we have. Yet we really don’t have anything. But maybe, just maybe we have everything.

We just don’t know.

Stupid Headset People

I am not sure what it is, but when I see guys wearing these damn stupid bluetooth headsets I just want to walk up to them and POP them in the back of the head. People who wear these things either a) think that their shit don’t stink, b) overvalue their importance to society or c) have incredibly small penises. (I have never observed a woman wearing one of these, which seems to prove my theory that women are supremely more intelligent than men).

Sure, I get the idea of wearing these things in your car. That makes sense. But why the hell do you need this thing strapped to your ear as you get your cup of coffee, or schlep around the mall or watch your kids ball game on a Sunday afternoon. Get over yourself moron. You really look like an idiot.

Done! . . . . (maybe?)

With the quotes I just copied below from MLK resonating in my brain, I think I am going to heed my own goals for 2006 and check out for a while. Simplify things you know?

All the talk about the church, what should be done, what we can do, what we say and don’t say… all of my own drivel at times…. so many words…. so much is written but so little is done. I am the guiltiest of all.

Talking to my friend Zeke today made me think about what’s really important…. and what scared me is that I don’t know the answer to that question anymore.

What has happened here over the past few months has excited me and scared the shit out of me at the same time. (Thanks Billie Joe of Green Day for that line from “Bullet in the Bible”.)

How long will I go away? I don’t know. Probably not long knowing me and my big mouth. I just wanted to give everybody a heads up. (Doesn’t every blogger do this from time to time… I’ve seen it before… I love the blog world, it saved my life… I just feel the need to crawl into a hole for awhile. I am sick of all the words I write and all the words I read).

Let’s start doing stuff instead of talking and writing about stuff. (What stuff am I talking about… I don’t know, you decide – whatever you are passionate about). I know it’s all important… the talking… the writing… the doing… all of it makes a difference.

Maybe it’s just me or this 4th glass of wine talking…. who knows.

I plan on writing more on my personal site (http://stevechastain.typepad.com) since that is what so much of this is all about…me! Isn’t that what every blog is about regardless of the title? It’s what we are experiencing, what we are going through, what we think about.. our ideas, our opinions, our history, our present, our passions! Everything is run through the filter of US! Nothing is altruistic.

I don’t want to change the world. I want to change me. I am a fool according to MLK as I “proclaim myself to obscurity.”

In the midst of being away for awhile from SCP as a blogger I hope I can learn to forget myself a bit in the process.

See you guys soon… I hope.

P.S. The podcast will continue…. no worries there. I love hearing myself talk.

P.S.S. I will post links and things occasionally as they are applicable, but I am just not going to say much here about the church or SCP for awhile.

P.S.S.S. Brian McLaren is the SCP 2006 Smartest Church Person of the Year… he’s a MAC guy…. what more can I say. I knew he was a genius!

P.S.S.S.S. On second thought… things might not change at all. I might just be full of it, but geesh do I sure feel like dropping away from everything for awhile. We’ll see!

Martin Luther King

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.”

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.”

“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment.”

Friend or Foe

It is our privilege to offer you as a participant of the Stupid Church People community the banners below so that you may easily identify with Stupid Church People (SCP). Each banner image will allow you to proudly communicate on your site your special relationship with SCP. There are two images with accompanying HTML code underneath which, when inserted onto your web page, simply and easily places these images onto your site.

The first banner is to be used if you consider yourself a “friend”. We would love to have you use this banner to promote the conversation we are having here. This banner is to be used when speaking well of SCP.

The second banner is to be used if you consider yourself a “foe”. This is for those who have discovered us or stumbled upon us and, like viewing a train wreck, are repulsed by what you see yet can’t avert your eyes. Maybe you think we are equal to Beelzebub himself for our statements and beliefs. Or maybe you just find the whole damn (er, I mean darn) site offensive for no really good reason. We don’t care why you despise us, we just know you do.

Well, we have taken the time to design this banner for you to use in any derogatory fashion that you may see fit. The only thing we ask is that you use the HTML code below to place the banner on your site.

Don’t hesitate to place these banners today. Make sure you leave a comment letting us know where you will be placing the banner so we can come and check it out.

Finally you can let everyone that visits your site know, without a shadow of a doubt, how you feel about the SCP site. Friends and foes… together we can all make a difference.

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UPDATE:

Per some requests, it seems that some would like a smaller banner which might be more appropriate for the space on your site. Always willing to accomodate, the wacky graphics guys here at SCP are on top of it. Below are two smaller banners with HTML code below them that you can now show on your site with equal enthusiasm. At SCP, size doesn’t matter.

Church Genesis

The church needs a fresh start… it needs to be re-created. I am not sure if new churches need to be started to replace old churches or whether old churches can be restored, but change is critical. I think we are at that critical point.

When I say the word church, I am often referring to my version of church. My version may not be your version. The only reference point I have is the church that I have identified myself with over the years. The church I am familiar with is the American evangelical variety. I started out as a Southern Baptist in Texas, transitioned to Saddleback/Willow Creek style and those type of churches in the 90’s, and then have been involved in two or three non-denominational variety churches in recent years.

So needless to say… the church I identify with needs to change. But what is that change?

YOUTH

The first thing I believe that can bring about a change in the church is a youth movement. Churches that are currently in existence should seriously consider putting in leadership those under the age of 30 immediately. Obviously this doesn’t mean that churches shouldn’t recognize, serve or reach out to those in their 40’s and beyond. These ministries should and would continue. But the emphasis within the church should be the young, and it is time that the older and established among us begin to say this and say it loudly.

Recently, one church I know of was without a pastor but from what I could tell never gave serious thought to hiring anyone under the age of 45. That is very short-sighted in my opinion. Any church in existence that hires a pastor over the age of 50 to lead them in the future is sending a clear message of the direction they are headed.

Churches that currently have pastors should consider handing the reigns of the church to younger leadership. If I was a pastor of a church, I would find someone to come alongside me that was around the age of 25 and then mentor them for a couple of years, while seeking their input for changes that needed to be made in the church. Then as the elder pastor, I would help “grease the skids” for the changes to take place and seek to move the “younger person” into the lead role as soon as possible.

YOUTH AGAINST ESTABLISHMENT

I borrow this phrase from one of my favorite companies to work with called Volcom. This is their motto. And when I go to this company as a consultant two or three times a week there is an energy and creativity that is unlike any other I have engaged. Most of the employees are under 40 with a large majority of them in there late 20’s. The leaders of this company have a model that seems to force the company to get younger and younger. They are brash, irreverant, bold and leading the way in their industry. This company establishes the trends… and doesn’t follow them.

I like that model for the church. It is my opinion that a youth movement would do the same for the church. It is one way that existing churches could salvage what they have and build towards a brighter future.

Churches that aren’t interested in transitioning leadership full-time should consider another option. Maybe bring along a younger leader, and support his or her vision to build a church that is completely and utterly different than the established “mother” church. It goes without saying that, in my opinion, no one over the age of 40 should be starting a church anywhere.

We (the old people over 40) should be around to encourage, support and challenge the youth movement. When we embrace the young and show them we trust them with our future, they no doubt will embrace us as well… seeking our input, wanting our advice or wisdom… it’s a two way street that they will learn to enjoy and benefit from as will we.

We need youth in our churches, but it cannot be in lip-service only and their leadership in our services cannot be on “Youth Sundays” only. We need to believe that the youth will serve us well if we will let them. They have the energy, idealism and passion necessary to challenge the establishment at every turn.

WOMEN

Women should become apart of this Genesis as well. It is high-time the male-dominated church followed the path of Christ and exalted women in ministry like never before. There are several reasons for this.

First, it is biblical. Jesus and the early church welcomed the role of women in the church and never relegated them to “second-class” status even in those days and that culture. Second, women are uniquely qualified and designed for ministry. By nature, God has gifted them in ways that men can only dream about when it comes to being “shepherds” and “leaders”. Thirdly, women tend to be better organized than most men. They have the innate abilities to multi-task that most men lack.

We need young women to step forward for the revolution that is before us. They should be an equal part of what God will accomplish.

Finally….

At the age of 42, in many ways I see that my service to God has actually just begun. It has taken me this many years to find my voice. But many of the reasons I felt silenced for so long is that I felt that those older than me in ministry wanted to “hold me back”. It was my feeling that they were threatened by my energy and vitality. My ideas were “off the wall” to them and were only good for the “young people” of the church. If you are told long enough to “keep quiet” eventually that’s what you do.

I just don’t think we should feel threatened by our young people. It is time we embraced them, trusted them, befriended them and assisted them in taking over leadership of the future. It doesn’t mean that we will lose our voice in the process. In fact, I believe what will occur is a unique synergy within the church that will be unparalleled in its momentum and impact on the future.