Thursday, May 13, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

What are some of the things that are lacking in the church today, and how might we contribute to changing them?


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


reneamac said...

Sometimes I wonder about the usefulness of these conversations about church (not just at the ZZ Cafe, but in general). Maybe I'm just weary of them and their ubiquitous slime. I know slime isn't the goal of your posing this question; I do appreciate the second half of your question. But I find it reasonable to believe that there is nothing we can do that will make the church whole. I think the church will always be without until Christ returns and the answer might be to stop trying to fix what's lacking in the church and work instead of becoming grace-filled, hope-infused, long-suffering people ourselves.

Angela Foltz said...

One thing that comes to mind is a lack of
engaging with culture. How that's done is
important, however. If a church is engaging with culture or following certain trends in order to grow, then it can be manipulation. But if there's a genuine interest and love for people I think its more effective, and causes more growth ultimately.

Greg said...

Thanks. In several of my recent posts I have been trying to look more closely at church. I too am wary of the constant bashing, without recourse to transformation and aim not only to tear down, but seek to build up.

Perhaps, it's your weariness, saying that we might stop trying to fix what is lacking in church? I don't see it that way. Lacks are important to point out so that they can be addressed and changed. While your proposal has merit: to work instead at "becoming grace-filled, hope-infused, long-suffering people" is right on, I guess I query the 'instead' and the 'nothing we can do.' Maybe I'm stretching it, but I think there is some kind of responsibility to aim and pray high so that the church might be more whole that it is.

Greg said...

Thanks. This was a bit your question from a couple of weeks ago. I agree that the church needs to engage with culture in genuine ways and think if we did more of that it would certainly address one of our most serious lacks and perhaps even contribute to changing our views.

Anonymous said...

what is lacking? Grace (in the wider sense love), but I prefer to say grace, mercy etc. To give grace to people in the church or outside the church How to change? I really don't know. How can a heart be changed to be merciful? By prayer or beginning myself to by mercful?
And I agree: Lacks are important so that they can be addressed and changed and be prayed for. The Church has to become, what the LORD wants HER to be, even if we never achieve the goal in this world. But we have to try, to pray and to give our selves, and to start within our hearts and we should never give up, even if, sometimes or often it is discouraging. But we have to go on until the LORD comes.

reneamac said...

Thanks Greg. I guess what I mean is that the church will be lacking in less as a byproduct of our humble love for one another and the other.

In our efforts to fill in the gaps, we will inevitably create gaps elsewhere, though You're certainly right that just because we will never be perfect until all things are new doesn't mean we don't continue to grow in Christ's perfection. And that's hard work, in which we can be encouraged in the Hebrews 12:3 kind of way and not grow weary when we do grow weary.

What if the holes of certain churches are filled by the pillars of others and vice versa. What if things are set up so that we are interdependent in our calling to be Christ to the world. Could it be that churches, like people, have strengths and weaknesses that are so intricately connected that to do away with the weeds is damaging to the crop?

Greg said...

Thanks. Good comment, tough questions. One response. Pray and begin ourselves to be merciful.

May God give strength so that we can contribute to making things better than they are.

Greg said...

Yes, and that's a good point. When we change, this will contribute to changing the church.

True, we will be gap creators, but maybe the gaps can be diminished in the damage they do. Somehow, I don't think there is simply an equal tradeoff here, which might suggest an - oh well, why bother mentality. God, through us, wants less damage.

Again, true, churches like people have strengths and weaknesses. Yet, all the more reason to not just acknowledge this, but to gently move in the direction of the first, without dismissing the reality (hopefully being re-shaped)of the second.

Rhett & Valerie said...

I know I'm late to the party on this question, but it's something I've been thinking about lately too. One thing I notice that is lacking in the church that I absolutely believe we have a responsibility to work toward is **unity**. (regarding that responsibility, see Phil 2, John 13:34-35, 1 John 3, Eph 4:3, 1 Peter 3:8... I could go on)

Unity in terms of racial reconciliation and unity across the traditions and ethnic divisions that exist in the church, between east and west, north and south, etc. I heard NT Wright a couple of weeks ago give a talk in which he encouraged Christians across denominational and even wider theological gaps (ie, Protestants and Roman Catholics) to read the Bible together and pray together, even if there are major differences there. He encouraged us to hash out those differences in difficult, challenging conversations. But even those loving confrontations are part of the work of unity.

I feel like I've read so many Christian bloggers and writers and heard so many sermons bashing our brothers and sisters in Christ, I can't help but feel like these words are tacitly slanderous and lead to disunity. We should be really loath to label someone who considers themselves to be a believer as a "non-Christian."

I think of how many times Jesus disciples misinterpreted what he was doing and the Scriptures themselves; yet Jesus didn't shake them off and refuse to let them follow him. It's just a challenge I've been thinking about lately.

Greg said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I posted this some weeks back:

Dear Lord God, we come before you to repent for the proliferation of irrelevant things that divide us and tear apart the body of Christ. We pray that you would help us to focus on the unity that we should have and to, in a credible manner, portray that to the world, which so desperately needs a persuasive vision of love and truth.

So, I agree with you. And it is tricky, isn't it, to try to tear down where necessary, yet build up at the same time? Maybe this kind of thing takes place in us all as individuals, but then needs to be transposed more widely and somewhat cautiously to the church. May God give the strength and patience we need.

carter said...

I have been pondering your Thursday question through the filter of Sunday's (yesterday's)scripture at church. My filter on the passage from Romans 12:
" . . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . ..
Be devoted to one another. Honor one another above yourselves. . . .Be joyful in hope, patient in afflication, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. . . ."

And then I recall the admonition of Christ, that when we are at the altar with our gift and remember that we have to make amends with another, we are to leave our gift and go make amends. And immediately after he teaches the disciples to pray: That if we do not forgive, how do we expect God to forgive us (Matt. 6.15).

I must let go of my personal agenda.

Greg said...

Thanks. I agree with alot in your comment.

And I hope I'm getting your point about a personal agenda. Here's a thought. I guess when a pa would be against God and other, then we have to let go - release it and deal with it because God has dealt with it in Christ. Yet, a p a may be fitting if it would be moving in the direction of God toward the other and for their benefit.

Additionally, I imagine that God sometimes wants us to have a p a that would highlight being made in his image - doing what we do well. I think this would please God. God is Creator and if he created this world and humanity it seems he wants us to make something of it.