Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Setting the record straight

While I was driving the three hours south to Portland for my class last week, I was thinking about random stuff along the way - including this here blog. It occurred to me that I regularly fire off shots of criticism about my denomination. To be clear, I rarely actually name the denomination to which I belong, and that's an important point to me - because in talking to people from multiple other denoms, it's pretty clear to me that my denom is not in a class of its own when it comes to doing silly things. It almost doesn't matter which denom I belong to - mainly because most denoms are highly dysfunctional.

With all that said, based on the number of negative things I've written about my denom, the question could/should rightly be raised, "Sooooo, why are you still in the denomination? Are you a hypocrite for saying these things, but then cashing your monthly paycheck that comes straight from the denom office?" Sometimes the answers to those questions turns out looking like this: "I really can't figure it out," and "Yes, it does." However, most of the time, I've got better reasons for staying on board.

First, with all the ways that I've been influenced by simple/organic methods of doing and being the church, I have to admit that it is the choice of the planter and not the seed where it gets planted. In my case, I was planted in this denom a long long time ago, and while it is highly frustrating at times, it's not outright heretical, so staying within this planter bed makes organic sense.

Second, my denom has been a major missionary force in our world for a long time, and continues to have a passion to continue in this. I've met dozens of missionaries from my denom that are consistently well prepared and well supported in their fields of service. When I was doing short term missions in Taiwan, I saw the difference between my own support network (which was outside of the denom at the time) and that of some missionaries from my denomination's missions agency - they were well trained, well funded, and well equipped for their work.

Third, my denom has as one of its primary practices a thing called "autonomy of the local church" - meaning that there's no top-down hierarchy that tells a church it has to look a certain way. More than a freedom thing, I believe this to be theological in nature - theoretically, it gives each worshipping community the ability to be sensitive and responsive to their region's culture.

Fourth, every so often, enough people will see how backwards things are that efforts are made toward progress.

Fifth, there's an amazing disaster relief branch to the denom that is so effective that the American Red Cross basically calls them first when they're setting up a response team.

Sixth, and most important - people. There are some people in here with really good hearts. Sure there's some political crap that I have no patience for, but there are people at all levels of leadership I've met that are really genuine in their love for Jesus and are committed to helping people. In particular, they are committed to helping younger people go do wacky, dangerous, progressive stuff.

There are some doctrinal items that I guess I could add here . . . but that's not on my short list.

Well, there it is, an overly long, but overdue love fest for this entity that I work for. I will likely continue to blast it from time to time here, but hopeful I'll be gracious at the same time. I think it's healthy to keep things in tension.

posted by Steve at 4:35 PM
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1 Comments:

Anonymous Existential Punk commented at 1:50 AM~  

Love your honesty and tension you bring to the table. You have way more patience than I do and I really respect you for that. Thanks for helping to remind me to look at the positive/good rather than focus on the negative/bad all the time.

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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at SpiritFarmer.com. When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me: spiritfarmer@gmail.com
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seattle spots

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university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard


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generation me
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god's continent
glocalization
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gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
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hit the bullseye
revolution
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readings in christian ethics
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the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
ishmael
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
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a perfect mess
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leaving church
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managing conflict in the 'new world'
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how reality tv changes lives
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