Monthly Archives: October 2014

If I had money I’d get my way

800px-USMC-02030Nobody ever accused me of attempting to get my way in church politics because of my money. This was not due to my stellar character, but rather to the emptiness of my wallet. Just once I’d like to have enough money to push my weight around. If I had the money to get my way in how the church does church, here are some changes you’d see if you came to worship where I hold sway:

After the first worship song, the congregation sits until the 7th inning stretch, or the Holy Spirit moves.
The chorus of each worship song is repeated no more than three times . . . period!
No more than two happy-clappy songs per service.
Sermons limited to 20 minutes. (Don’t pretend to be shocked, you know you want the same thing.)
Pastor does not repeat the same point during the sermon.
Pastor does not repeat the same point during the sermon.
Pastor does not repeat the same point during the sermon.
Extroverts sit up front, introverts in back . . . even if it means husbands and wives don’t sit together.
Absolutely NO, under ANY circumstances, 30 seconds of cursory meet-and-greet (unless the extroverts can keep it among themselves).
Ladies wearing too much perfume must sit with the extroverts.
Men wearing tank-top shirts will be admired for their laissez-faire spirit, and told to never do it again.
No mobile phones ringing during the service . . . it just wouldn’t happen in my world.
A four month annual moratorium on sermons about anything in Paul’s letters in the New Testament.
Pastor limited to one 6 to 8 week sermon series per year. (Don’t hate me for trying to break us out of the rut.)
Small groups will be called small groups, not home groups, fellowship groups, connect groups, care groups, fusion groups, community groups, friendship groups, or (shudder) life groups.
The pastor will not shout during the sermon. (That’s why we have microphones.)
Because they care, leaders will conduct exit surveys of people who leave the church dissatisfied

I could go on, but you get the point. The modern church has done much to accommodate the tastes and needs of a tremendous variety of people. But there is NO church that can meet everybody’s expectations, including the expectations of wealthy congregants. In a perfect church, those with money would not expect their money to buy credibility and a higher degree of influence. Cred and influence should be earned through such things as longevity, service, intelligence, experience, humility, and right living. But what does a guy with a skinny wallet know?

Government is Not Reason: Huh?

Samuel Adams bobblehead / by Justin Fincher

Samuel Adams bobblehead / by Justin Fincher

The quotes below demonstrate an essential worldview for Americans who have come to the conclusion that politics as usual have become dysfunctional. They can guide you beyond the obtuseness of pop-culture politics.

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” George Washington

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion.” George Washington

“When people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders.” Samuel Adams (Not the beer company)

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

“Thus, while the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust.” Alexis de Tocqueville.

I was blessed to get an early education that emphasized the beliefs, stated above, of many of America’s founding fathers. (Yes, I know Tocqueville was not a founding father.) As a result, I see misplaced faith today on the part of many conservative political zealots (think talk radio where they are legion) and liberal political zealots (think Bill Maher, most news media, and Hollywood). Many conservative zealots publicly place an inordinate faith in liberty, small government, and capitalism (noble dictums indeed). Yes, I know that liberty, a properly proportioned government, and capitalism provide, to date, the best possibilities to achieve improved lifestyles for the most people. But their long-term outcome, without the participation of a predominantly moral and religious citizenry, will be no better than the abhorrent systems of monarchy, socialism, and communism. Tis arrogant to believe that liberty and capitalism are immune from the sinful nature of humanity. Too many conservative zealots talk a big game about freedom and capitalism, but the necessity of religion and a moral people . . . not so much. The success of a nation depends more on its citizens embracing, at the very least, the reality of a constant moral standard that comes from a higher source than humanity.

On the other side of the political spectrum, we find the same fatal flaw where dwell liberal zealots such as Bill Maher and his acolytes (oh the irony of that term used in conjunction with Maher). Maher decries religion and God, and therefore does not understand the indispensable connection between religion and a government of free people. Many liberals like Maher believe that substitutes—such as the evolution of human morality and the law—for religion and God work better in the governance of the people. In other words, marginalize or eliminate religion, pass enough laws, and release government as a force for good to fight injustice, and the human condition will improve. Bull excrement! (Which is what the likes of George Washington and Samuel Adams would say.)

Our founding fathers were genius. Certainly they had human flaws, but so did Steve Jobs. Don’t get me wrong, our founding fathers did not advocate for a theocracy. They understood that religion can’t be shoved down the throats of the people by their government. They understood that citizens must be free to exercise their conscience in the engagement of religion, or not. If citizens refuse, the country is more apt to crumble. And based on history, national crumbling can be abrupt or, more likely, a gradual decay.

So, is the church dropping the ball in American religious society, or is the average citizen dropping the ball by abandoning religion in pursuit of something shiny in pop-culture? Granted, the institution of the church, along with many other institutions, has earned the disillusion and mistrust of many. But fighting the battle for America in the political arena alone will not succeed. My fellow citizens will need to swallow their pride and return to religion, aka God and the church. We are fortunate in that the church in America has many styles and venues to choose from. There is something for just about everyone.

Our brilliant founding fathers understood these things. I wonder how brilliant we are. Are you listening, millennials? Now would be a good time to scale back your daily devotions with Twitter, start reading the Bible now and then, and explore religion and the church. Politics and economies will be a little easier to fix if you do because you’ll be more likely to have God’s support.