Where Does Your Church Fit?

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True story, I had to click the “Forgot your password?” link to log in and post this.  It’s been a while.  There are 4 people that will notice (2 of those are my parents).  That being said, I had something I needed to flesh out, even for myself.  I had nowhere else to turn, so to the empty blog I went!  Below is just a random idea I’m trying to articulate.  It is probably incoherent, but it comes from a burden I have.  Too often, I see Facebook or Twitter or Instagram filled with content from people who claim Christ, but have no desire to be transformed by Him.  Here are my thoughts…

 

A few days ago, I was having lunch with a guy who’s mentored me over the past year or so and something came up in conversation that struck a cord with me.  It wasn’t a quote, or even a topic of conversation, but an idea.  A fraction of a sentence.  The thought floated out there and gripped and convicted me.  He mentioned, just in passing, the idea that some churches hold their members to a certain standard, and others have no expectations on them.

I started to wonder, does my church, does my ministry, does my community hold me to certain expectations, or are they content with me claiming the name of Christ alone?  Hear me say this, I’m not negating the gospel or the total depravity of people.  There’s no “standard” we could attain.  

I am saying that I think as a church (whether from a corporate level or an organic/community level) shouldn’t be content to have people claim Jesus and not be concerned with how their living their lives.  Take a look at 2 Corinthians 3:18!  Or check out Colossians 3:1-17 below (ESV., emphasis added):

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

I think too often, Christians take Colossians 3:14 and twist it into a perverted version of tolerance where we tell each other, “I’m a believer, you’re a believer, but who are you to call out how I live my life?  If I want to embrace a certain path/decision/lifestyle/behavior, God loves me no matter what!  He loves me and he’s okay with it, so you should be too!”  Hopefully, you notice the breakdown in logic.  We assume that because God loves us (and he does), that he is content in leaving us where we are.

God is not content to leave you where you are.  A father who sees his son covered in his own poop would not say to his son, “Son…I love you.  And you know what, that looks like it’s pleasing to you, you like that poop don’t you?  Cool, you can just chill with the poop all over.  Good deal bud.”  No, a loving father cleans the child and says, “I love you, no matter how much poop is in your ear canal.  I love you, but I’m not content to let you wallow in your filth.  I love you, and you may not like not playing in your poop, but trust me.”  

So all of that to say, would you say that your church or your community of believers is content to let you stay there?  The sin in me wants a community who won’t call me out, have the hard conversations, and hold me accountable in my life.  But I know for me to continue to be made into the image of Christ, I need those people who will spur me on and challenge me in my faith.  May we never lead churches that are content to leave people in their filth.  May our churches be those that embrace people no matter where they are, but disciple them and walk with them as they too walk through life with Christ, allowing him to remove the poop.  

If you would say your church or community would fit more on the side of the “Let you have fun in your poop” spectrum, my encouragement is not to go find new community or a new church.  Instead, what can you do to be used by God as a change agent in your community.  Are you part of the problem?

iPhone Quote Background

Yesterday at Fellowship Cabot, we saw Mark Henry preach on Philippians, and he said something that really hit home for me.  He said, “If you were to go off to Oklahoma City or somewhere for a month, what kingdom work would go undone?”  I’m paraphrasing the quote, but that’s the general idea of it.  I think that’s an excellent “gut check” for any believer.  Are you serving?  Are you giving of yourself?  Are you so involved in serving that if you were to disappear, there would be a noticable void?

I decided to do a quick iPhone background for myself, so I can have a constant reminder.  I’m not the graphic designer.  That’s my wife.  She’s AMAZING at design!!  (Hint, hint. If you need freelance design or branding, that’s her bread and butter).  BUT, it’s good enough to be a daily reminder to serve, and I thought I’d share for anyone that wants it!

INSTRUCTIONS for iPHONE

  1. Click the image to open it in a new window.
  2. Hold down on the image.
  3. Save Image
  4. Go to PHOTO’S app.
  5. Click the box with an arrow going out.
  6. “Set as Wallpaper”

Cabot Flyer Canvas

If you live in Cabot, you no doubt have noticed the posters, lawn signs, and hangers all throughout Cabot.  They advertise a community seminar on whether or not heaven is real!  These posters have definitely stirred my interest, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some observations on it!

But first, here’s a link to check out the flyer for yourself!

I’ll start with my hesitancies, and end with my pros!  Keep in mind, I tend to be more on the cynical side (maybe Ouachita did that to me?), and these are just thoughts.  I’m not saying I’m “for” or “against” the event.

Things that worry me:

  • A topic like this could be a huge hinderance on the church’s reputation in the community.  Obviously, it’s relying on the intrigue of the topic to draw a crowd, but it worries me that with a topic like heaven’s existence (and I can only assume “entry requirements” will be addressed as well) could be mishandled.  As a result, there could be a bad taste in the mouth of anyone wanting to “check out church.”
  • 3 nights of “What heaven is like” makes me lean a little to the idea that it could be drawing on more than just Scripture.  Again, a dangerous topic to do an outreach event on, and not base it primarily on Scripture.
  • The title of Mr. Hemphill’s book makes me a little nervous as well.
  • There’s no church or organization listed.  It seems obvious that whoever is behind this wanted to prevent anyone from feeling like it’s just another “church event”.  However, a lot can be said about the perspective a topic will be viewed from based on the denominational, religious, or even local church affiliation.  In addition, no church affiliation leaves no means of checking on details.
  • Speaking of checking on details, there’s a Facebook icon…but no link, no page name, no event title.  Just a button.  If I’m wanting more information about the event, I guess I just show up?
  • Childcare for which ages?
  • This is probably fairly petty, but any time I get a windshield flyer or something on my door, it seals the deal that I won’t be taking part.

“Pro’s”:

  • It’s obviously an event that God can, and hopefully will use!
  • Whoever the uncontactable entity behind the event is, they’ve obviously invested a decent amount of man hours and budget to advertising the event.  Every house in my neighborhood had a flyer on their door.
  • Hopefully it will stir up people who are hesitant to church to grab their curiosity.
  • Hopefully the topic will be handled well and be exegetically and theologically accurate.
  • Whoever is behind the event has a great opportunity to follow up with unchurched attendees, assuming the methods and manpower are in place.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS.

There are a few things I would have done differently, and I won’t be at any of the nights (partially due to schedule conflicts).  But, it’s an event I’ve put into my iCal.  I pray that God uses it to bring people from the community to get a taste of what the church should be like, and hopefully will bring unchurched people in and get them connected with believers.  I also pray that the topic is handled scripturally and with wisdom.

Beneath the Surface

Recently, I compiled a series of blog posts that have gotten my blog a lot of traffic.  There’s an iPhone game, Snappers, that causes more frustration than child-proof packaging.  So, I scoured Google, Yahoo Answers, and my game experience, and compiled a list of walkthroughs for the various levels.  As I was laying it out, I also carefully keyworded it and SEO’d the mess out of each blog post.  Now, when you google for Snappers levels, more often than not, this website will be one of the top 3 results.

Thanks to these 5 blog posts, check out my web traffic.


Pretty crazy, right?  Those are unique visitors (by IP address) per day at my website.  I uploaded the first of the walkthroughs on January 21.  Between then and the time of this blog post’s beginnings, I’ve had 37,796 individual people come to this site.

This kind of traffic landed me as one of the world’s most visited wordpress.com blog pages.

According to wordpress.com’s Blogs of the Day, I’m a high-influencing blogger.  This page varies in it’s order, but here’s the rank (the site lists the top 100) the time of this writing…

Yep…that’s right.  austinjwalker.wordpress.com right now is the #28 blog in the world (out of blogs using wordpress.com not .org or any other platform).  Let’s put this in a little bit of perspective, just to help out.  Scott Bourne hosts (or at least used to) a widely followed podcast called Photofocus, in which he answers emails on photography.  Scott has over 166k twitter followers, one of the best blogs on wordpress.com with posts featured in the worlds top blog posts of the day on a regular basis, and a wealth of knowledge in his field I will never be able to touch.  Here is where is blog was at…

I say all of this not to brag, but to set up this observation.  It would be natural to think that kind of traffic would increase influence, traction, and authority.  Twitter followers may jump, commenters may arise out of thin air, and the beginnings of a solid network may emerge.  But here’s another interesting stat for you…

Painfully revealing.  I’d love to hide these numbers.  I’d love to pretend the stats aren’t real.  The fact of the matter is, in the last 7 days, the unique readers of my true “content” (including my home page, about, and contact forms) are but .007758% of the traffic.  .007758% is nothing.

So why am I writing about this, how does this apply to anyone reading this (the .00000005% of my future blog traffickers)?  Here’s how it hits student ministry.  What do your numbers truly reflect?  When you’re talking with other student pastors, deacons, your pastor, or anyone you’re wanting to be looked up to by, how do your numbers come across?  Does your ministry attract a LOT of people?  If so, that’s awesome, and if done right, there’s a LOT of positives that can come out of that.  But looking beneath the surface, is there any depth?  Are you discipling students to pursue Christ and lean into His call on their life, or are you just satisfied to count their head at youth and let them chow down on pizza and warheads?

Are you making use of the numbers God has given you, or are you doing everything you can to gain accolades, with no meat beneath the surface?  Is there substance to accompany all the hype?

iPhone Snappers Guide Walkthrough Area 5

If you haven’t yet, check out the introduction to Snappers on the first walkthrough post.

Here’s the walkthrough for Area 5.

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1
A2 B2 C2 D2 E2
A3 B3 C3 D3 E3
A4 B4 C4 D4 E4
A5 B5 C5 D5 E5
A6 B6 C6 D6 E6

(more…)

iPhone Snappers Guide Walkthrough Area 4

If you haven’t yet, check out the introduction to Snappers on the first walkthrough post.

Here’s the walkthrough for Area 4.

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1
A2 B2 C2 D2 E2
A3 B3 C3 D3 E3
A4 B4 C4 D4 E4
A5 B5 C5 D5 E5
A6 B6 C6 D6 E6

(more…)

iPhone Snappers Guide Walkthrough Area 3

If you haven’t yet, check out the introduction to Snappers on the first walkthrough post.

Here’s the walkthrough for Area 3.

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1
A2 B2 C2 D2 E2
A3 B3 C3 D3 E3
A4 B4 C4 D4 E4
A5 B5 C5 D5 E5
A6 B6 C6 D6 E6

(more…)

iPhone Snappers Guide Walkthrough Area 2

If you haven’t yet, check out the introduction to Snappers on the first walkthrough post.

Here’s the walkthrough for Area 2.

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1
A2 B2 C2 D2 E2
A3 B3 C3 D3 E3
A4 B4 C4 D4 E4
A5 B5 C5 D5 E5
A6 B6 C6 D6 E6

(more…)

iPhone Snappers Guide Walkthrough Area 1

If you’re anything like me, you love the iPhone game “Snappers”.  If you’re anything like me, you hate the iPhone game “Snappers”.  It’s one of the most frustrating things on the planet.  The object of the game is to pop these little square punks and let them destroy their friends.  If you don’t have it, here’s a link.  It’ll frustrate the life out of you.

So here’s what I’ve done…I’ve put together an iPhone Snappers Walkthrough.  Here’s a key to beating all of the levels.  I have scoured Yahoo! Answers, Google, hours of frustrating first-hand experience, and expert guesswork to put it together.  I hope it’s helpful.

Here’s how the guide works.  Each level gives you the combination of clicks you need to do, based off of the grid below.

A1 B1 C1 D1 E1
A2 B2 C2 D2 E2
A3 B3 C3 D3 E3
A4 B4 C4 D4 E4
A5 B5 C5 D5 E5
A6 B6 C6 D6 E6 (more…)

12 Books I WANT To Read in 2012

Here’s a quick list of books I want to read in 2012.  Odds are, I wont read them all.  Odds are, I’ll read some not on this list.  The fact is I need to get through the ones I’m in the midst of right now before I start any of these.  But these are the ones I want to hit in 2012.  Shoot me any suggestions you have from your 2012 list, I’d love to see it! (more…)