Thursday, January 26, 2012

Part IV: Indifference

       There is nothing more natural than for me to be consumed with myself.  I mean it is an easy trap to befall since I cannot recollect any time in my life when I was not with me.   So I guess I can comprehend why I am my first priority because since the beginning I have always been there for myself.   It doesn't take a degree to realize that the American culture does not aid in curing our nation's  infection of indifference.  We currently rely on corporations rather than community to help supply our needs.  We have little too no reason at all to interact on any level socially. Our country's current definition of "friends" is a three to four digit number that is located on the sidebar of our facebook page.   Our idea of contributing to the greater good of all mankind is liking a status update or reposting a tweet.

         My wife and I recently watched the movie "Kickass" (dude's chill it's the title).  The movie; although crude had several powerful points that made a lasting impression on me.  One point in particular stood out while watching the film. There is a scene in the film when a man is getting brutally beaten by three gang members;  all the while dozens of witnesses do absolutely nothing to intervene.   The movie's hero (Kickass) bravely springs into action to aid the fallen citizen.  He is not much help to anyone and in truth the movies title is extremely misleading because he totally gets his ass kicked.  The gang's leader pulls out a knife and before he stabs Kickass he asks him;  "What's wrong with you kid? Do you want to die for some guy you don't even know".   Kickass responds with a very powerful statement "Three @#$% holes beating down one guy while everyone else stands around and watches and you want to know what's wrong with me?  Go ahead, I'd rather die!"  This amazing scene reminded me of a parable in The Gospels.

         In the book of Matthew there is a parable which discusses the ulcer of indifference that lies within the heart of all humanity.  Jesus is describing two types of people awaiting judgement.  The parable begins with the imagery of those going to heaven as sheep.  The sheep are the followers of Christ who fed the hungry,  clothed the naked,  gave water to the thirsty,  and affection to the broken. The parable continues with comparing those who were indifferent and selfish too goats and they were  to be destroyed.

          Two things stand out to me in this passage.  The first being that the goats knew Jesus as Lord.  The second is that in this story the people were not being judged for what they did in life but rather what they did NOT do.  Meaning, Jesus did not have an archive of sin that was sending the goats to oblivion.  However it seems that Jesus remembered every instance in which these "goats" turned a blind eye to those who were less fortunate.  So remember my friends loving God and loving others in action... are one in the same command.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Part III: Beyond the Scorecard Continued...

    So I have three more things that we can do to change the playbook for the American church.  I do not want to spend a lot of time writing preemptive ramblings so I will cut to the chase.

1. Monthly celebration services.:   I know it is hard to believe but ministry is truly a heavy burden to bare...well at least how Americans do ministry.  Under the ordinance of our current model it is nearly impossible to devote our entire attention to discipleship and service.  For example I was once a music director in a church that required three music rehearsals every week for our Sunday service (who's skill, I might add required little to no practice at all). If I was unfortunate enough to be participating in a skit that week...well lets just say I quickly burnt out. I agree that  we should pour all of our efforts into our ministries, but how are our efforts being utilized? During my career as a worship director I dedicated 70-90 hours every weekly to a two hour block of time on Sunday's . This was frustrating because that church never showed true progress in discipleship. Not to mention that we were virtually non existent to the broken in our community. This is a common dilemma in churches and I believe I have a simple solution...bury it. I believe the church has to construct a model that is small and focused on serving their community and one another as a tool for teaching the way of Jesus. This concept of missional communities is not new, but there are leaders who are spearheading this movement in the U..S.  Missional communities are a refreshing movement and I believe they are the wave of the future.

2. Remove the Mask!: I may be totally alone in this but I am exhausted with pretending to be a certain type of Christian. One would think that church would give liberty on non essentials of our faith but It never fails that Pastors pressure their followers to cater to the beliefs of a denomination or their own personal interpretations of scripture. So my career was filled with lies and omissions regarding my personality in order to play politics with a congregation and maintain my position as a worship leader. This series of false pretenses lead me to start missional communities, and in our community we have decided to be totally transparent within our gatherings. I use every opportunity to inform people that I am a democratic, social drinking, family guy watching, mild profanity using, anti-American church, follower of Christ.  Some people would argue that I have fallen spiritually but that's because what they knew of me was a facade. They knew "church" Christopher which had to exist in order to keep my job. I have always been the things that I now openly express, but now I have the pleasure of  revealing them.  WHAT A FEELING!

3. Where is the Danger?: American Christians love to play it safe. We have absolutely no idea what it is like to make a decision for Christ that effects our way of life,  or even greater... our very existence. We are only conscious of a Christianity that is a portion of our weekly routine, and in America we will likely  never encounter a situation in which our faith could mean our demise, but that is not the only danger that I am making reference too.  I would like to put this more delicately but I cannot.....we're boring.  The cultures view of Christianity is that we are dull and uninteresting. Our missional community decided to confront this epidemic of nationwide "lame sauce" by living our lives a little more dangerously.  We decided to start a beer sampling/bible study. We gather every Wednesday night and sample one glass of import beer. There is a limit of one beer per visitor and we enjoy our ale while we interact with bible study and communion.  It is a controlled environment in which we can discuss our week and plan our application of scripture that is attractive to our culture. It was no surprise that pastors were slandering our ministry and conservative Christians were absolutely disgusted with us; even if they themselves drink socially. I do not believe that a beer bible study will dissolve the cultures perception of Christians being "square".  Greater danger and sacrifice will be required in God's mission of redemption.  However,  I  do believe the necessary remedy for our nations misconception of church will need to be biblically grounded and traditionally controversial.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Part II: Beyond the Scorecard

Changing the scorecard has been a conversation which has been much needed encouragement in my field of expertise. This phrase basically defines our need to alter our focus from growing Sunday attendance and finances in "a" church to generating disciples for "the" church . I do not believe there is a conversation that has been more biblical in the last decade than changing our scorecard. In fact one of my favorite authors coined this phrase and it has been a tool that I use frequently when developing a biblical approach to worship. Although lately I am wondering if we need more than units of measure to weigh our success. Maybe it is now time to "rewrite the playbook" for the American church.

Changing the scorecard is an amazing concept which I support entirely and I adore the author who created it. However, most pastors who have heard of the scorecard evolution only change their ministry's scale and not the process in which their system operates. This is discouraging because I believe the term "changing the scorecard" was partially designed as a gateway for a new reformation in the American church. Oddly enough a majority of today's pastors are still in love with a broken system and are now simply measuring their current failure with a biblical formula. In truth most Christians want to change the scorecard, but refuse to change the structure of American church.

Even when money is being dumped by the millions into a dying system; church leaders are to fond of worship services to adjust their course in ministry. These leaders fail to comprehend that as the church we have to have initiative to both construct the church described in the scriptures and maintain a modern approach to ancient practices in order to reach our community. So I propose a simple plan of action. If the system is to blame, than it is time for a church-wide overhaul.

Below is what I believe to be three fundamental shifts for the survival of the American church.

1. It is not a concert: When you read the scriptures in their original context you realize that most of the words used to describe worship are not referring to music or sermons, but are defining worship as love through service. We can still have quality music without the complexity of having a professional grade band or choir that distracts from true worship. Simply use a few talented musicians and a basic high quality sound system, (Like a L1 tower) in order to keep the focus on worship and not creating a concert.

2. Join the Conversation: I believe there is more power in communal discussion then there ever will be in a sermon. Occupy is a perfect example of my theory. The Occupy movement grew dangerously fast out of conversations not presentations....and historically so did the Church of Acts. Personally I have heard amazing sermons in the past, but for the life of me I cannot recollect what information was shared that made these particular lectures so memorable. For me the most powerful application of scripture originate in guided discussions in which all who attend can participate. Bottom line....sermons only work occassionally and have inadequate results.

3. Loose your building: Why do we need buildings that are only used three hours a week? The county I live in has hundreds of sanctuary's and over six hundred homeless people. Instead of constructing a space for worship services create or alter your building for worship through community service (Example: homeless shelters, free daycare, recovery centers, orphanages, soup kitchens etc.). If a worship area is still desired than it is easy to set up chairs in a building once a week or to meet at a free public space. In short use your funds to aid the broken in your city without catering to the fancies of a congregation who desires weekly emotional stimulation.

To be Continued...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Part I: Ending the World as We Know it

        WARNING!!!  This series of articles will not be "spiritual enough" for some readers.  These articles will not contain any quotes that  are deep enough to share in a bible study or small group. However, the problems listed in each article are real and virtually ignored.  This series plans to address societal ulcers that are robbing the world from an abundance of life and if that is not spiritual enough for some readers then they should come back in two weeks so we can "talk" about church again.

Part I: Feed the Need

         One of the most important actions according to Jesus was being an answer to hunger.  So much so that scripture tells us that  Jesus actually sees feeding the hungry as evidence of being a true follower of "His Way".  Unfortunately hunger has reached catastrophic levels world wide and the church is taking historically low measures to solve it.  To me this is a spiritual issue because indifference is not a byproduct of following Jesus. Knowing that this is precedent for followers of "The Way"  how can we battle our inertia and address the global hunger epidemic?

          I am typically given a simple response to the previous question. The assumed remedy for hunger would be to donate canned goods  and buy a meal for a homeless citizen. Albeit noble this solution alone is terribly shortsighted because there is approximately 900,000,000 people around the globe suffering from starvation every day....and this number is growing.

        The problem is that it is becoming nearly impossible to cultivate the produce needed to sustain our rapidly growing population.  Studies are showing that in the next 50 years the world will have to produce more food than the previous 10,000 years combined.  This is quite the dilemma, but Roger Doiron with Kitchen Gardeners International has marketed a simple solution....private gardening.

          In Roger Doirons lecture he shows how anyone can transform a tiny plot of grass into a  food making,  health changing, money saving machine.  The resurgence of private gardening holds a number of implications for our community as well.  Not only would we offer healthier options for our family and charities but we would also
  • Become less dependent upon corporations and other entities to provide food for ourselves.
  • Reignite a lost sense of community as we could grow and share our produce with our neighbors
  • Save an average of $1,100-$4200 on food per year.
  • Help solve the future global food shortage by taking the power to grow food back into our hands and allowing current mass produced raw foods to be distributed elsewhere to more impoverished areas.
  • Gives people who have limited or insufficient funds the ability to give back to their community.
         There is some initial expense to gardening but growing your own food has very little overhead and a small backyard would be an adequate size if the crops were carefully planned and maintained. 

         For these reasons, this year my wife and I will be growing our own produce and donating a percentage of the crops to local pantries and families in need.  We want to be seen as the hands and feet of Christ a.k.a. the movers and doers of The Kingdom of God repairing this broken realm.   I wrote this article in hopes that other activist would join this initiative.

P.S. shout out too our First Lady for spearheading a gardening initiative!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is This the End of the World?

        I for one certainly hope that the end of the world is near,  but before I continue I should elaborate.  I do not believe nor promote the once popular Mayan calendar theory and I am definitely not making reference to an apocalypse,  but I do long for  this world as we know it to end.  This statement is constructed from my own definition of the word "world".  I believe the human race is ultimately a product of individual and communal experiences.  This is of course the world that we are all subject too both personally and socially.  This broad collection of observations gives us our lens in which we will observe and cultivate the world as we know it.  So in short my definition for a world would be the human experience.  My observations of this world has fingerprints of hope and beauty but the macro view is far from pleasant.  My own examinations of our "world has  lead me to believe that it should end...  and soon.

          Three nights ago I was driving home from work.  As I was in route I was considering the resolutions that I would make this year and once again I was confronted with the same promise that I have avoided completing for six years.  It is a little known fact to anyone who has met me but I ........... am overweight (gasp).  I wish to tell my friends that I suffer from obesity, but I hide it so well my friends  would assume that I was lying or joking.  It only takes one glance at my profile to know that I am kidding.  Truthfully I'm fluffy and they all know it;  but I digress.

           As I continued to ponder and plan my diet and other potential commitments I realized something about myself...  I discovered yet again that at the center of my being I am a selfish monster.  I suddenly remembered that we live in a world that is corroded with corruption, greed, evil, injustice, deception, social wounds, cultural cancers; and as I recalled this truth I asked myself;  where was Christopher Drury?  Driving his Prius mentally planning his weight loss goals and leisure reading for 2012.

         I knew instantly that I had to blog about this epiphany because I believed it would be relevant to most of the American culture.  I elected to call one of my best friends (Sean) and get his opinion about my idea for a motivational New Years post.  He listened intently and answered honestly.  So after I had summarized my article for this week the conversation went something like this.

Me:  What do you think?
Sean: It sucks.
Me: ........?

         The wonderful truth about my relationship with Sean is that he always has my best interest in mind.  He will tell me what I need to hear even when it is painful.  Sean is a genuine friend that would not allow me to create something cliche or ordinary.  He knows that I have very specific ideas about how we can change our world and will push me to publish them even if some readers (including himself) would disagree.  Meaning he would not let me get away with writing a vague motivational piece that would offer nothing more than warm fuzzies to an audience who desperately wants to see this world rebuilt as badly as I do.  Sean asked me to write my ideas boldly whether those ideas are spiritual or political.  He said to me "just avoid being political while being spiritual".  I knew instantly that Sean was right so I decided to alter the intended course for this post.

          This post will actually be a series of articles.  Over the next three weeks I will post 6 articles that will make specific suggestions as to how each of us can chip away the world that we had a hand in creating.  It is time for all of us to move beyond conversation to creation.  Together we could make sure that 2012 is "The End of This World".

Look for my next post and buckle up!

P.S. bring your ideas too the table :-)