Head First: I'd rather go to the Apple Store than church.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'd rather go to the Apple Store than church.

I mean, can you do this at your church?

This is me AT church, right after they say "It's good to be in God's house," and just before they say "Welcome to the friendliest church in town."


JimmyBob said...

Dorse - You look sick...I mean slick. Anyway, check out RadiantChurch and let me know what you think. They had over 1,000 new converts last year with total church growth over 2,000! In one year! On Easter they had 5,400 or so. I believe you can download Pastor Lee's sermons every week from the site. Most of the people coming to their church are in their 20's and 30's. They are in debt up to their eyeballs, but, the Kingdom of God is growing because of their work.

JimmyBob said...

Don't know why the link didn't work. Here's a second try RadiantChurch. It's supposed to take you to www.radiantchurch.com.

nathaniel adam king said...

You have a big head.

Nellie Bellie said...

I have never been, but I get mailing from Radiant and it seems like a seeker friendly church, nothing about Jesus in their mailings??? Can you tell me al little bit more about it.

ninjanun said...

*ahem* to get this back on topic: Just wait, Dorsey. I'm sure some church will find a way to incorporate computer stations into the church service, so you can spend your time modifying pictures and checking your e-mail instead of--er, I mean while your listening to the sermon.

I mean, anything to get people into that sacred building, right?

Nellie Bellie said...

Sorry to have posted something that bothered you, Ninjanun. I was just interested in the previous comments.

jeff said...

*ahem* trying to KEEP the discussion on topic:

Wouldn't it be cool if we could blog FROM our sacred buildings?? I mean, who wouldn't want a live play-by-play from the various churches represented here?

I can just imagine Jesus leaning over to his wife Mary Magdalene in the synagogue service, wishing he had web-access... wanting to check weather.com, to know if a storm was brewing on the Sea of Galilee.

I think we're on to something...

Rick said...

That is great!!! LOL!!!

ninjanun said...

Nellie Bellie--that's what e-mail is for.

Blogging has blogging etiquette, just like everything else.

JimmyBob said...

There are lots of new churches that use technology well and have engaging worship methods using visual art, poetry, dance, AND music, instead of just music, music, music. Dorse - you need to find somewhere that knows the culture or start your own church (you could do it, seriously). The only churches I know of in South Jersey that are really doing something significant is Gloucester County Community Church and Greentree Church in Egg Harbor Township. There are others in Delaware and Maryland. It won't be long before the East coast catches some common sense.

Nellie Bellie said...

I was commenting on a previous comment just like you did and do. It was still on topic and e-mail was not needed. Others might be interested in the church jimmybob was speaking about.

ninjanun said...

sorry to have offended you

To be on-topic (sort of):

If I want to go to the mall or the circus, I'll go to the real thing, not a cheap "spiritualized" imitation that still reinforces our cultural construct of consumerism.

That's what a lot of churches just don't get. They're so busy trying to be "cool" and "relevant" they've capitulated their God-given right to offer the only message the World can't.

dorsey said...

"Organic" is a word that I find myself using more and more these days.

Jimmybob's probably right. I often think (and have been told several times) that the only way I'm going to find the kind of church I'm looking for is to start it myself.

Problem is, I'd almost certainly wind up alone because no one would recognize it as church, or believe it if I told them.

There would definitely be no sacred spaces, unless we started a pub ministry.

ninjanun said...

Come to my side of the continent, and we can start our church together.

La Eglesia de la Burrito Santos, complete with the "Holy Chip" relic.

JimmyBob said...

Ninjanun - The church I mentioned doesn't have to "try" very hard to be cool or relevant, they just are. And they stick to the message and do it well. I brought it up because Dorsey said he'd rather be at the Apple store than church. In this case, over 5,000 people would rather be at Radiant Church than the Apple store every weekend. When I think of that, I'm sad for Dorsey, and angry too, that there are very few churches in South Jersey reaching people and keeping it real.

And Dorse - that's the beauty of church planting...you can create your own system that stays up with the culture. Lots of people have no idea what "church" looks like. So, throw off the old systems and bring new life to "The Message." I failed at it in part because I tried an old model and system. I have learned alot since then. Some of what I learned is to pay NO attention to the critics and those who tell me how to do it. Instead, focus on the people and what they respond to best. Why the heck did I wear a suit on Sunday, in a beach town, with a congregation of 20, who all wore jeans and sandals? I was dumb. And by my very attire I said I was different than them. Dumb.

Kc said...

Can I still be a Dorsiest without holding to the Apple doctrines? Please? After all IBM PC stands for "I BE the MOST PERFECT CHRISTIAN" (hehe)

dorsey said...

Only because of my great affection for you, I will grant a special indulgence (in exchange for a $10 iTunes gift card, that is) in hope that you will someday see the light.



Kris said...

My grandpa had a name for your massive head problem.............Yeah, I will leave it at that, my grandpa had a name for it.

curious servant said...

Ii has been wuite a while since I was here so I sent the morning reading back posts.

Glad I dropped by.

ninjanun said...

"method" is for those who don't understand "concept."

Same thing, just a different wrapper.

Caro said...

Isn't it weird how so many of us are focused on the wrapper instead of the content?
jimmybob: We've talked about music (remember?) and still have not solved the problem.
A question I have remains: How do we create an environment in which ALL the members of Christ's body feel welcome, as well as the prospective members?
Could it be done with the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit (as in Azusa St>)? There neither race , class or anything else kept people from together enjoying the Presence of God.
Does creation of a "seeker-friendly" church mean the absence of the Presence? Do numbers of "pew-warmers (or standees, which vibrant music seems to require) demonstrate the Presence or mere salesmanship?

JimmyBob said...

To answer your first question, I think that our methods of worship are meaningless without relationship. So, we could beat a drum, crash a cymbal, etc., all day long and our hearts can still be far from God. There is nothing "sacred" about our methods or styles. What makes church right and what also should satisfy everyone is an atmosphere of love regardless of method or style.

I agree that there is nothing quite like a fresh demonstration of the Spirit (I mean, who wouldn't want to be where lives are being transformed and healings taking place?). But, I also think that love must be present to make things right.

That being said, our methods and styles are very important to who we are trying to reach. I have been studying growing churches through a Cohort for over a year now and the one thing that amazes me is how many different church models are being executed with great success. I recently heard of the Cowboy churches of the Southwest for example (this is a growing fellowship of churches). They come and have church in jeans, hats, boots, and play country style worship songs on guitars and banjos. They do everything cowboys love and they love Jesus! That's cool to me. But, you wouldn't plant one of those churches in New York City or Washington D.C.

I think it would be a mistake to generalize that all large churches or those labeling themselves "seeker-sensitive" (like Rick Warren's Saddleback Community Church) are lacking the "presence" of God. I don't think it's an either or situation. I know it's not. The way I see it is a matter of purpose and strategy/method/style.

Pastor Bill Hybels from Willow Creek describes their church as "seeker driven." He just sees the purpose of the church ultimately to be about evangelism and discipleship. So, everything they do on Sundays is geared toward unbelievers to the extreme. In fact, if you are an employee there, you cannot go more than two weeks without an active relationship with a non-Christian or face being laid off. (Willow Creek has over 12,000 in average attendance each weekend.)

I'm going long so I'll stop now, but again, being relevant helps to attract and keep more people, but there is nothing sacred about methods. Love is the real deal. Relationship is the most powerful force there is.

jeff said...

In fact, if you are an employee there, you cannot go more than two weeks without an active relationship with a non-Christian or face being laid off.

That doesn't sound like relationship. That sounds like a quota...

dorsey said...

"Relationship is the most powerful force there is."

Absolutely correct. That has been my canon since I can't remember when. I believe the whole idea of the Kingdom of God is built on the tenet of relationships.

But Jeff is correct, too. What you described is an acute example of what the church has done in it's effort to institutionalize the faith. Engineering relationships to meet a quota, or to have something to share at testimony time, or to generate "witnessing prospects" couldn't be more disingenuous. As an unbeliever, how could you take seriously someone who only sees you as a mark or a prospective jewel in their crown (or another two weeks of employment)?

This is the difficult issue for the Church (capital C). How do we pursue relationships in a true kingdom sense and avoid the corruption of the institutional agenda? To my way of thinking (today, at least), the two are irreconcilable.

JimmyBob said...

Hybels is not into quotas. He is against hypocrisy. How can leaders in the church tell everyone else that evangelism is that important and yet not have active relationships with non-believers. So, employees don't have to have a set number of non-Christian friends, they just can't go more than two weeks without being able to write someone's name down that they are building relationship with. Hybels doesn't require anyone to "save" anyone or have "x" amount of converts. To me, that would be quotas. You guys ought to look at Willow Creek and see for yourself. Also, a great book to understand Hybels would be his work "Courageous Leadership."

dorsey said...

Forget Hybels, then (but that example still sounds ridiculous because it takes that unsaved friend from the realm of human being and puts him in the category of job requirement). I'm talking about the ulterior motives that drive the relational activities of evangelicals (in general) all around me. Those motives tend to diminish our authenticity and, to unbelievers, put us in the same mental pigeonhole as Jehovah's Witnesses, used car salesmen, and the Girl Scouts who lay down the cookie gauntlet at the entrance to the supermarket.

And Caro has a point. People flocked to Jesus because He had the kind of power no one else had. And He didn't sell it or attach conditions to it. The Kingdom is so much more than we allow it to be, because the priority has shifted from building it to the preservation of the institutions we've created.

I cannot believe that what we have is what Christ intended.

JimmyBob said...

Dorse - It's about "being" the kind of person who loves people. Sometimes that takes discipline. But, I think if the main concern of such "evangelists" is only quotas and not genuine relationship, someone, somewhere will notice and they won't keep friends.

What strikes me as stunning is the main reaction to such a policy. It should be a no brainer that Christian leaders are "friends of sinners." Actually, it convicts me because I find it difficult when I am stuck in an office and doing work preparing. I mean, it seems I spend all my time with Christians.

Anyway, are you saying that there can be no genuine relationship building within organization or "institution" as you put it? That's like saying that if someone tells you to do it, it can't be genuine if you do. If that's the case, then Jesus went about it all wrong. Maybe I'm misunderstanding. Please explain.

Caro said...

Insitutions are always the creations of people. We find these necessary to help us find our "place" in a chaotic universe. That is, it is chaotic to us as we do not have the background (blueprints, genome, etc.) to understand that into which we have been born. As a result, we inhibit the work of the Spirit as He must somehow fit into our internal institution of self. All other external institutions interact with our internal and so both are modified to some degree. Along the way, the Kingdom (here meaning God's institution) is also modified (or compromised, if you will) into something which can fit into our limits. OR, the perfect church will exist until one of us joins it.
Question still remains: How can the "seeker-driven" church develop unity within the Body, while still "appealing" to the "seekers"?

JimmyBob said...

First of all, this conversation is starting to get way too deep for my simple brain! Most people don't live here.

But, to answer Caro's question with a practical answer. Most seeker-driven churches have Sunday services for unbelievers and midweek groups for discipleship and Christian growth. They have built a culture that understands the mission, so there is unity. Those that are there love what they are doing and lots of people are saved and spread the message.

Dorse - Let me axe you some questions? What job requirements would you give to your pastor? Would you feel at liberty to ask him to find another job if he didn't meet those requirements?

Requirements only state the obvious expectations of a person's character. If the pastor cannot be a friend of sinners, then he will not be a pastor at Willow Creek.

But, please answer those questions I asked!!! Please!!!

jeff said...

Jesus wasn'r seeker friendly. He was Kingdom of God motivated. In fact, he intentionally offended most of those around him, just to see if they'd stay.

JimmyBob, I notice that you seem to find validity in the methods used, based on the fact that they have 12,000 people. Jesus had 12.

Ultimately, I see a requirement that says you MUST have non-christian friends as disingenuous. I would rather hear that church employees are motivated by their love for Christ, instead of their fear of unemployment.

I guess my question is, If the church leaders are teaching their people true love & compassion, would there really be a need for such a rule??

Food for thought. That's all...

Kristi said...

How are you doing? Just wondering if you're getting better sleep these days, and if your pain has subsided any. I've been praying you get to feeling young again!! =)

dorsey said...

Someone recently said to me, "You're as young as you feel," to which I replied, "Dear Lord, I hope not." lol

You're very kind, Kristi. Thanks to some hardcore drugs, I'm feeling a little better (Despite the warnings, I'm in the mood to operate some heavy equipment.). An MRI and a specialist are my next stop. It's the uncertainty that's annoying. Thankfully, youth is a state of mind. hehe. I appreciate your prayers.

Kris said...

I did not realize you were having physical problems, where did i miss this? I will pray for you also, although we have only met on the net I really feel a friendship with you.

Take care brother and seriously if you need anything I can help with please let me know, I know you have my email.

Take care be warm and fed. hehehehe

dorsey said...

I could use a backrub, Kris. Thanks, man. Philadelphia Airport is not far from here. Let me know when to expect you.


dorsey said...

To your questions, jb.

Are you asking what the job requirements should be for pastors in general or for my pastor specifically? If it's the latter, I won't answer publicly. If it's the former, the answer is still difficult, because in my reading of scripture, the pastor does not occupy the preeminent role that he currently occupies in the American church. And NOWHERE in scripture does he hold the dictatorial control that is so prevalent in most (not all) Assembly of God churches.

My understanding (thanks, Caro) of biblical ecclesial administration relies on a plurality of leadership, much like the twelve in Acts 6. In scripture, the role of pastor is referred to as pastor/teacher, not the administrative role it has become, and certainly not the "pedestal" position that has led to the level of apostasy we currently face.

In other words, before I could come up with a job description for a pastor, the system would have to be abolished.

(Why didn't I just take the blue pill?)

JimmyBob said...

Jeff - Again, nothing sacred about methods. If you want to say Jesus had 12, then I would have to tell you the number of employees Hybels has and I don't know that answer off hand.

In my opinion, Jesus had alot more than 12. Many people followed Him. And he was more sensitive to "seekers" than he was to "religious" people. "Seekers" are assumed to be genuine types of non-religious people.

Love for Christ is one motivator for relationships with people (some people do not love Christ, but love people well). The policy is just a simple measure of the proof of that love. By the way, I don't believe they've laid very many people off over the years because they hire people who love people. The policy is there to state the expectation and hold people accountable.

Success can be measured (numbers are just one indicator of growth if the idea is to reach people for Christ). Jesus told the parable of the talents that were invested and the ones that were buried. According to Jesus, judgement is imminent for those who do nothing to grow the Kingdom. He calls them lazy servants.

So, out here the Mormons are doing a great job building their kingdoms. No doubt! The phone book listing for Mormon churches in the Southeast Valley of Phoenix takes up 6 out of 11 total church page listings. They are successful at their mission.

Why can't Christians do a better job at reaching people? What makes something right or wrong isn't about motives or the amount of devotion to something, but whether the object of belief is TRUE based on evidence (I sound like Josh McDowell, I know, I agree). Success in God's Kingdom then, is more people believing in Him as a result of our "witness" and service.

I say "Praise God" for those churches that are reaching the masses and "What's up?" to those that are at a stalemate, and "Shut down" to those that are shrinking because of their pride.

Jeff, I'll ask you the same question I asked Dorse, "What requirements would you place on your pastor? Would you feel liberty to let him go if he didn't meet those requirements?"

I still want answers...please, please, please!

Herobill said...

Yeah! No Pastor! :)

But, um... so what then?

We won't fix all this tomorrow.

dorsey said...

I have little hope that this will ever be fixed, herobill. Religion is too entrenched in the institution, even among those who pride themselves for not being religious. It would take a revolution...hmm.

As you have said before, the original intent of the word (and role of) pastor is light-years away from what it has become. In fact, a wise teacher recently instructed me that all the ecclesial leadership roles (prosklero˘o¯, episkopo, diakano˘o¯[elder, bishop, deacon]), by default, take part communally in the shepherding role. Furthermore, since the greek word for deacon means "waiter/servant," all members of a faith community (again, by default) fulfill the role of deacon. Therefore, it is not inaccurate to say that we all act in the capacity of shepherding one another.

JimmyBob said...

Dorse - Yeah, pastors in general. I wouldn't want you to divulge any "personal" feelings on your blog. I just want to know regardless of the system. Maybe I could be that kind of pastor someday to people like yourself (not kidding). So, like, give me 3-5 non-negotiable expectations. If knowing how to run an Apple computer is one of them, I'm in a little trouble. But, I would be willing to have the MACs available wherever we meet for your surfing pleasure if that would keep you in church!

dorsey said...

Hehe, I've already divulged my personal feelings on this blog. I'm just trying not to name names. LOL!

I'm not sure what you're after, but I'll bite. I don't know about non-negotiables, either. My list of absolutes has diminished significantly.

My expectations for a pastor would be the same as my expectations for any mature Christian in fellowship, except that he should be able to speak coherently about the truths of the gospel. I think he (or she) should be a regular guy, given to prayer and study (just like every mature believer should be). Matters such as how to handle the fellowship's money and opening up/locking up should be left to those who are charged with such responsibilities. Most of all, I would expect the mature believer to shun power, to exercise it reluctantly and only when required. I would be impressed with the person who shrinks from accolades and honors bestowed by men, who quietly serves the Lord and His people without calling attention to himself.

In my ideal world, the pastor (one among several) would be bivocational. The idea of this is that the responsibilities would be sufficiently shared so as to not place a full-time burden on any ministers. This would also put the shepherds in the midst of the flock, facing the same types of situations and meeting the same kinds of folks. I think this would result in balanced, diversified teaching and a generally heterogeneous perspective.

Likewise with those who serve administrative functions. Duties would be compartmentalized and spread around so as not to create an undue burden on individuals. The vast majority of the money collected would go to help the poor and build the community. This charity would be offered only in the name of Christ and utterly without condition.

I don't know if that answers your questions, but that's my thinking. I'm under no illusion that this is likely to happen.

Herobill said...

There's no question that "it" will NEVER be "fixed". My own hope is that some little groups who step away from the system will truly reach higher and farther and, in their simplicity, give us all an example to follow. And I'm not sure if I've ever met, or ever will meet, this group of people. But it is my hope. And if I never find them, then I want to be part of a "them" that is at least making that effort. Make sense? :)

Your vision is beautiful, Dorsey.

The problem with pastors, typically, is that they cause the body to atrophy. Same as if you only used your right arm to travel everywhere - if you can imagine that - both your legs would cramp and shrivel up from lack of use. Eventually, your whole body would be limp and pasty, except for that one, strong arm!

Yet that arm would keep exhorting the rest of the body to help it - and all the while, it kept doing everything. Like the enabler of an alcoholic. (Well, it has to earn it's large salary, doesn't it?)

In an "ideal church", every member has a part - because otherwise, nothing happens.

There really is a lot to like about that vision of yours, Dorsey. Just let me know if and when you find anything like it, please... seriously.

I might not "join" - but I'd go visit for sure! :)

JimmyBob said...

Thanks Dorse. I can only hope to become the person you described. I love you man and I miss you so much. I can't wait to see you in less than 2 months now. We're going to Jake's wedding after all.

I'm praying you get well. Please touch Dorsey's body, Jesus. And his spirit. Help him not to worry. Amen.

jeff said...


In answer to your question, I don't know what the role of the pastor is. As Dorsey said, their role is very ambiguous in scripture... but I lean toward their position within the 4-fold ministry as pastor/teacher.

Its just funny to me how we've done away with apostles & prophets, but given evangelists and pastor/teachers full time, paid positions. I'm not sure if that makes sense.

Granted, I don't hate or resent pastors. I think it's important for people to have the guidance of a "shepherd-type", in their lives. Is it more effective in smaller, relational-like settings? Or in a one guy talking at a group-congregational setting? I think its the former.

All-in-all, I love church. and I love the Church. I just wish there were a more effective way. It seems human nature is our downfall...

ninjanun said...

You should really be reading The Parish blog. Greg has a much better understanding of the role of church and what evangelism and discipleship looks like than "Evangelicals" do.

Pertinent to this blog post, you should read
This Ad for the Comfortably Stupid Only. It really addresses some things that I think most seeker-sensitive churches have failed to understand regarding the dangers of appealing to the lowest common denominator.

JimmyBob said...

As a full-time pastor, I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth. Being able to spend my whole life socializing, praying, comforting, encouraging, and going to amusement parks...come on, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Thank you Jesus for calling me.

dorsey said...

Thanks for your prayers PJ. I am definitely looking forward to seeing you in July. First round's on me (hehe).

dorsey said...

Hey ninjanun, thanks for the link. I'm definitely bookmarking that bad boy. You continue to rock.

Kris said...

I may "wish I knew how to quit you", but I don't think you would want a backrub with dishwater hands! hoho

ninjanun said...

Something just strikes me as incredibly wrong and perversely inauthentic when someone gets *paid* to pray, socialize, comfort, and encourage others.

JimmyBob said...

Ninjanun - I think it would be wrong to "receive" compensation if it was a burden on a church. In that case, it would be better to work elsewhere and teach the Word of God on a part-time basis.

However, I do not think it is ever wrong to compensate a person for teaching the Word. Especially if they do a good job.

Do you expect school teachers to be compensated? What could be more important than teaching the Word of God?

I think it is unfair to say that every full-time salaried minister is inauthentic and that paying them is wrong. I'm sorry, but that sounds absurd to me.

I don't mean to offend, but it actually sounds more like I'm just rubbing you the wrong way with my posts and you are avoiding direct confrontation, but taking pot shots at my ideas (at least on this string).

Inauthentic to me is when you tell someone else to use e-mail, but you yourself fail in that department. I'm still waiting for the promised answers about your view on salvation. I know you said you're a bad correspondent, but come on. There's no integrity when you scold/correct publicly and then don't follow through in private.

That's why I hate blogging sometimes. You can pretty much say any "smart" thing you want to, just to make yourself look intelligent and impressive. But, really, what kind of person are you?

I hope we can still be "friends." I just needed to get that off my chest. I must admit, I hate empty criticism. Anyone can criticize, but only a few have legs to stand on when they do. I would rather learn from a master than a beginner.

ninjanun said...

Fine. I'll answer on e-mail then.

dufflehead said...

i'm with you dorse. apple stores know exactly what they're about and what they're selling. the style matches the product. you almost feel bad about walking out of there without one.

churches, not so much. churches don't understand that they are trying to sell something. if they weren't trying to sell something, might be worth going back to. churches don't have a style or, rather, church style in the evengilcal realm is just bad, faux, cheap and lifeless.

and have you checked this comic out?

dufflehead said...

sorry, i meant dorsey, not dorse.

church is for the converted not the seekers. what is the definition of church anyway? body of believers, right?

dorsey said...

Pete, everybody calls me Dorse.

And you're absolutely right. When the church feels like it has to pitch its product, well that doesn't show much faith in the product, now does it?