Change is in the Air

Call it a softer, gentler Stupid Church People…

HA…no, not really. But maybe you have noticed a change in my attitude and approach over the past few weeks. Josh and I have talked at lengths about it and I am not sure what has led me to some of my more recent opinions, except to say that most likely it is a culmination of many different things… or it could be I am just getting old.

I started SCP with the thought in mind of creating my own spin on Mike Yaconelli’s “Wittenburg Door” magazine. I call it Mike’s because with him as their editor, that is truly when the magazine was at its finest. Their motto was “Nailing it to the Church”, and boy did they ever! They called people out, they pointed out the idiocy of much of the church in a sardonic and witty fashion. Big churches, small churches, churches of all denominations…. famous people, infamous people, no-name people… if you were a part of the church you were potentially a target for their pen. (The Door still exists and it’s still a fine magazine, I just miss the old one and haven’t really given the new one a chance… how “stupid” of me).

And so Josh and I embarked on this endeavor called Stupid Church People. He has his blog and I have mine and occasionally we do a podcast. I often wonder as I continue down the path of my journey whether or not we are doing the right thing. You don’t know the amount of positive feedback we get from people. It is very encouraging to hear that something we’ve written or said has caused someone to see things a bit differently than before.

Yet we also get emails that ask us why we don’t act more like “real” Christians (or wonder if we even are.) There are also my own doubts and questions lingering in the back of my mind. When you have a website with a name like ours it could be construed that we don’t care about “church” or “people”. That’s just not true. Often I ask myself questions like: Are we too mean to people? Should we be more positive and encouraging? Is what we are doing right? Is this site really adding to the Kingdom of God or is it just tearing it down?

To help me answer that question, I went to my inspiration and here’s what I read in a 2005 issue of “The Door” magazine as they pondered these same questions:

So, when it comes to making a change in the Status Quo, about all that’s left to us is satire and humor. It’s a cheap but dangerous weapon… So, satire it is. This is the hand that’s been dealt us, so we’re going to continue to play it. You’ve heard us say it before: Satire is lining up 100 sacred cows and shooting them all with a machine gun. Whichever one yelps the loudest, you shoot 10 more times.

Still… Are we doing the right thing?

“Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign.” (Barbara Brown Taylor, from A Deadly Mix)

Wow. If we’re true to our calling, then we have to be the thorn in the side of those in power, regardless of the cost.

Hey, that gives me an idea for our own SCP tagline: “Being Pricks to the Church since 2005”. Could be something worth developing don’t you think?

Josh and I are really nobodies. We don’t have a budget, we don’t ask for money and we don’t want to be famous. We are small potatoes in this economy of change-seekers for the church and for believers disillusioned by her. We are the underdogs against the superheroes of the Evangelical machine. But we believe that the “status quo” of the current Evangelical Church in most of its forms (emergent included) is irrelevant, ineffective and impotent. There needs to be more voices who speak out and draw attention to this and there are many avenues to do so. SCP, with it’s attempts at humor, brutal honesty and through the sharing of our personal stories and opinions is just our weapon of choice.

Regardless of what some may think, I am sincere in my quest for change – change within me, within the church system, within the lives of those trapped in a religious system of conformity and not freedom. I do care what others think and feel and have found myself feeling bad and recently trying to build bridges to those that have been the targets of our past shenanigans. It is truly not my nature to be disruptive or to intentionally hurt people.

More importantly, what I wanted this site to become (and in fact, what it has become) is a place where others who are disappointed, disillusioned or disenfranchised with the church can be heard and recognized. SCP is a place where people can know that they aren’t alone and can find encouragement on this leg of their journey.

There isn’t much I know for certain except for one thing: I am uniquely qualified and positioned at this time in my life to do what I am doing here and to call churches and church people out when I think they are being… well…. you know… stupid. I am willing and able to be a source of encouragement for anyone struggling with their feelings or frustrations regarding the church. I desire to be both: A thorn and a refuge.

So even though I may have softened and I feel the need to be a bit more balanced from our initial approach at times, please know that here and now, I resolve to seek to line up as many cows as possible to shoot. In the process, if I shoot one of your cows (or even you in a case of “friendly fire”) and you yelp, I want to thank you in advance for identifying yourself for what you truly are… a Stupid Church Person!

Welcome to the family.

35 thoughts on “Change is in the Air”

  1. *applause*IMO, sometimes you need to tear something down in order to build it (back) up. I also think one of my favourite song lyrics ever applies here: “You’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.” (from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’)

  2. Thank you. Honestly, thank you. I think this post really strikes the honest reality that brought me to this site so long ago.

  3. Just eat more Chicken. Sometimes people need to be told that they are making the church look stupid and like a whore; what’s wrong with that?I mean we want people to be The church and not act just churchy and well … stupid do we?

  4. Meat and body shots, sounds like a barbque that I want to attend. I’ll bring some beer. Steve, I struggle with some of the same questions that you’ve mentioned. However, there’s is a great deal of unnecessary crap still stuck on this tree and it needs to shaken off. Realize, however, that some of it will fall on your head and you will, most likely, walk away smelling of said crap.Thanks for the site and keep the shiit up or down as it were.

  5. I like what both of you guys do and the questions you raise about church, I mean it has to be done for the building of our faith (we need to question ourselves or destructive ideas we see within the church). I will keep coming and viewing the site as long as it stays relevant, as far as harshness goes, sobeit, I am an adult I can take some criticism.

  6. i must admit, CarmAn is funny…..in every definition of that word. did anyone ever see that traumatizing video of Carman in some sort of symbolic boxing match???? I probably pissed my pants, though I don’t remember if I was drunk. If I was drunk, I HOPE i pissed my pants laughing watching that video, because it was something I’ll always cherish.

  7. <>I’m so happy he (j & J) can forgive all the pedophilia, lying, bribery, homosexuality, etc.<>Heh. I would say I’m so glad the evangelicals can do the same regarding the GOP and Bush administration, except I’m NOT glad about that.(Why all the Catholic bashing? sheesh)

  8. I don’t know if this is note worthy,but I do remember a certain christian musical genius (Carmen) once say…”there is a revival in the land”.Ha ha now that’s freakin funny.

  9. I too appreciate this post. I stumbled on SCP a little while ago and have come back to visit a few times. I wondered though, if the point of SCP was “Forget the church!” or “Stop Being Stupid.”When I’ve seen stupid stuff in the church, actually it made me really question God. I mean, what was(is) He thinking when He left it to US to try to pass on and live out His truth? Jesus had barely risen from the dead. The disciples and just (finally!) “got it” and He goes and leaves. What’s with that? And we (I!) do such a poor job of it…it really is amazing that He even bothers to try and use us at all.

  10. And, if he ~can~ forgive the heirarchy for their operation of the Church, so be it. I cannot, nor will not. Sue me. I haven’t forgiven Swaggert, Bakker, Crouch, Jakes, Meyers, White, none of those like ’em either, for all the milking and bilking they continue to do in the name of Jesus. Sue me some more.I would be happy to find them all sitting in the gutter in Deep Ellum Sunday morning, reeking of Milwaulkee’s Best, or Mad Dog, and urine. Show me you can fall, and fall hard. Not just because you are rich and powerful, but because you deserve it.

  11. Just don’t forget that the thing you think needs tearing down and rebuilding is actually a lot of peoples labour of love, sweat & tears … it could even turn out that you’re taking body shots at Christ himself.So – as a bona fida, purpose driven, mega-church-admiring, but Jesus-loving Stupid Church Person – don’t get all uptight & upset & start accusing us of being attention whores etc when some of your cows turn out to be armour plated and start shooting back! ;o)

  12. <>Carman and all of his boxing, Car-manliness is a hack.<>Ha! And to think I used to like the git when I was a kid. Meh. Pure cheese, that. And if anyone has a bottle of wine handy, please feel free to pass it on to me. 😉

  13. I can only imagine the hard place you are in. I wrote a open review about my experiences at a Revival Meeting (the 95th one in 97 days) back at my home church, and there was some SCP humour in there. Still a few months later I’m wondering if it was worth it. I know lots of good came from it, and lots of encouragment came from it, but at the same time, I struggle with knowing how to confront people lovingly, especially publicly.So I pray for you guys that while you are certainly hilarious and i enjoy every episode, I pray that you wouldn’t let humour replace love but you would continue to call it as you see it and seek truth.

  14. Steve, Here’s another idea for a tagline:“Kicking against the pricks since 2005”Keep up the Lord’s work.

  15. nice thoughts. i wonder if satire really is the only avenue. what about truth (or, more appropriately, facts) or, as seen in the current administraion, are facts subject/relative to feeling/faith?< HREF="http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061009/party_of_dobson" REL="nofollow">here’s some fodder for future posts<>i see some people are are still being a “stupid shield”. what if, shieldsy, the “labor of love sweat and tears” was, at its root, false and people were simply being either externally or self decieved about the real focus of the effort?“taking body shots at Christ” why do people insist on throwing God into the mix in an attempt to guilt someone into not questioning their actions?

  16. Where do I start and how do I wrap this up quickly…I appreciate what you are doing and where you are in your spiritual journey. I was raised in a Baptist home and I saw much of what you see is wrong with the Church, so much so that I left it indefinitely. Things I found unpallatable were the disunity, the business of religious merchandise etc. ESPECIALLY charging money for a bible study (if it’s God’s revelation to mankind, everyone should learn from it for free. Who are you to charge a fee to dispense it’s wisdom?!). I really asked God to reveal himself and the Spirit took me on a long journeyWhat I found at the end of all this process, incidentally, was the Catholic Church.I know many of you may say *GASP* I did too at first, and we are not without our faults. There are many misconceptions about the Catholic Church and much of the doctrine is really hard to get a handle on without years of soul searching and prayer. If you want to know what the Catholic Church really believes, go to this site http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/index2.htmThis site is called Catholic Bridge, and it is intended to reach out to all our “Seperated Bretheren” as we say in the Love and Unity of Christ. The guy who wrote this site has a huge passion for unity and unification in the Church at large, whatever the denomination. It is a very comprehensive site and it is in plain English.I mention all of this because I’ve gathered that there is a lot of discontent going on here in this Blog due to real issues, and from my experience all these issues are resolved one way or another in the Catholic Church, yet it isn’t exactly the first place a Protestant is going to look, trust me I’ve been there. Check it out, you’ve got nothing to lose.One last thing: Don’t confuse doubts with difficulty. One can struggle with points of doctrine for years, but as a Priest on the TV network EWTN, Fr. John Corapi, said “A Thousand difficulties do not equal one doubt.” Take courage in Christ Jesus above all things, because he is the Head and the Heart of the Church always and we are his bride. I pray for all Christians, no matter what part of the journey they are on, that they enter into the truth that is Jesus Christ.

  17. And sixth of all, calm down. You don’t have to get all militant. Did your old pastor run over your dog or something.BTW, everything about Carman is funny. At least funny enough to think you are the kinda fan who never forgets to how spell his hero’s name.

  18. Great thoughts Steve. My church needs change, the way I do ministry needs change, we need to keep up the fight. If you shoot the cows, what do you do with the meat? I just have a problem with senseless killing.

  19. I’d like to point out that JandJ just did what we were all afraid Steve’s buddies would do. When some one attempts to evangelize someone who is criticizing an attempt to evangelize is that meta-evangelism? JandJ, this isn’t a criticism, just an observation. BTW, I appreciate your struggle with the Baptist church. I know that it was the source of my questioning and subsequent absence from the church. Seriously, I’m happy you’ve found a place where you can worship God.Carman and all of his boxing, Car-manliness is a hack.

  20. Good tactic Preacher, keep the attention on the catholics, they are an easy target…God forbid we tally the sins of the protestant denominations.

  21. steve: one more thing. I think you’re exactly right. I’ll take it a step further. The church is changing right now. A serious <>SERIOUS<> worldwide christian revival is about to take place. How do I know? I can feel it in my bones. The growing unrest is taking more action everyday. Would Glen Beck have existed in the 70s or 80s? hell no. Plus, I’m living proof. I’m talented in one aspect that I cannot discuss here. (read into that ostensibly arrogant comment all you want, it’s true). There will come a point when I’m forced to use this gift for God’s plan in this world. I’m very VERY afraid of the future, because the future is dangerous and exciting for all of us. I’m not a doomer and gloomer. I’m strangely more hopeful every single day! Either way, we should fasten our seatbelts. (very bumpy ride ahead)

  22. I’m so happy he (j & J) can forgive all the pedophilia, lying, bribery, homosexuality, etc.I’m more than sure they(the catholics) didn’t invent it, nor do they have pure license to it either….*ping* think I’ll just stay here and drink….(yay Merle)

  23. <>I’m more than sure they(the catholics) didn’t invent it, nor do they have pure license to it either.<>WHY DON’T YOU COPY THE WHOLE DAMN POST NEXT TIME !!I said they didn’t invent it…. they just happened to be “it” for the moment. Now that stupid GOP dude is “it”. The Catholics, or more of how they handled the situation altogether, with buyouts, etc, and never really “owning up” to what happened, just pay the fines, and we can all move on, without any admission of guilt, etc. THIS is what has caused more than ONE Catholic person to leave the Catholic Church in favor of something “more responsible” ( words used by more than one I have talked with.) It’s also how this friggin government works , too…. there really is no separation of Church and State, if the comparisons are lined up side by side. This is a Socialist country, not a democratic republic.

  24. I always mistrusted Catholic heirarchy too, but I have grown to love it anyway, even if that does seem demented. God gives us leaders we don’t like, sometimes they do things he doesn’t like. King Saul was a good example (which I like using because God anointed him because the people of Israel demanded he be made King. We know that God reversed the decision and wiped out Saul and his heirs in favour of David). We will not be judged in the end by how well our leaders performed (thank God) but how well we submitted to those leaders he gave us. I would also like to point out that the Catholic Church is also the single biggest supporter of missions and third world charities in the history of the world, and it is so effective due to it’s heirarchal structure, so there is light in it after all.As far as pedophiles go, it’s easy to blame the entire Catholic Church for the misdoings of Western World priests and suchlike, but consider that the vast majority of Catholics live elsewhere in the world and there are no such problems there in epidemic form like here. This leads me to believe that the Church is not the cause or the refuge for this, but more North America and Europe. Likewise, people are shouting for Gay and women Priests and for priests to be allowed to marry as a solution to this problem of sexual abuse. I would note that these voices come only from the western world. Gay priests are not even on the radar for African Catholics or Southeast Asian Catholics.As for the forgiveness of the pedophilia, bribery etc, I thought we were supposed to forgive people. In fact, in the Lord’s prayer we ask that we be forgiven as we forgive others, which to me reads we are forgiven in as much as we forgive others. So yeah, I forgive the lot of them for their damned shameful behaviour, even if they make me look bad as a Catholic.Love Jesus. Love Others. This is not complicated.

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