Thursday, March 23, 2017

Church white-guy privilege

For the vast majority of my Christian life I've been an active part of a denomination which has sort to included minorities and the disempowered - women, the indigenous, homosexuals, refugees, the poor, ect...

As such, on more than a handful of occasions, I've heard someone, or a group of people talk, about how they've felt lesser.

Lesser within society.
Lesser within the church.

They've felt victimised.
They've felt rejected.
They've felt worthless.
They've felt unheard.
They've felt second-class.

I've, basically, never felt that.

Both culture and the church tell me that I'm valuable.
Both culture and the church tell me that I belong.

This is my white-guy privilege.

And, as such, I've never come back from conferences gushing about how I heard about the beauty of being made in God's image or being His child.

There are far fewer conferences that cater to my "needs" or "specific theological issues."

No one is marching the streets for my rights.


Because I'm white, male, middle class and heterosexual.

At times, there should be an eye-opening announcement which remind those of us who don't have the same requirement for empowerment messages, that this only exists because we already possess much of the power.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Is your ministries' spouse your future killer?

Michael Frost has just done a series of blog posts about The death of suburbia and how this trend away from the traditional "American Dream" lifestyle might affect a church institution so attached to the idea of suburbia.

But I wonder how many ministries are married to something which, if not currently, then inevitably, will hobble or kill it?

How many ministries are so deeply invested in their traditions or structures that they won't be able to change, even if society dictates that it should?

How many churches would never shift their leadership structures or church service order no matter how backwards or outdated they might seem?

How many ministries won't embrace technology in order to communicate their message better or reach a wider audience?

How many ministries won't change the structures or activities which "worked in the past" or "got them to come for the first time?"

Inevitably, every denomination, church, ministry and activity has a set of values and identifying markers. 

The hard question is, are these cherished things the anchors which will eventually drag us down because we couldn't let them go once society demands that we have to move in a fresh direction?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A sliding scale of "meh?"

I've been in thousands of church services. Some quite intimate in number, others amongst a crowd of thousands.

I've also lead or preached at hundreds of church services. Some with only a handful of people, others numbering a few hundred in attendance.

No matter what part I've been playing in a church service (or youth group/event), active or passive, I've departed with a variety of feelings.

At times, God has almost felt tangibly present.
At other times, I've left feeling cold and a dismal failure with the Spirit of God either completely absent, unimpressed or outright displeased.

In these feelings I'm not alone.

Everyone I know who's worked for a church as had these bipolar reflections.

But, I wonder, how dependant are they on the setting?

For, it's far easier to walk away uninspired when your church service has a dozen people and far easier to leave walking-on-a-cloud when the room is packed with people.

Is there a sliding scale of feeling "meh" about a church service or activity?

If so, how do these feelings manifest in a mega-church setting? 
Are they ever really possible?
Do you get so swept up in the largeness of what you're doing that you rarely leave cold?
If this is the case, how does this positive mindset affect you when you step into a smaller-sized service?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The things which will fight against bullying In the mind of a parent

On the first day of school my eldest lost her school hat. 
On. The. First. Day. Ugh.

Thus, until we got a new one, my daughter was the kindy kid with a different hat.

And I had an uneasy feeling...
Would she get picked on due to her hat?
Would she pick up a nickname that would haunt her for life?
Would her ability to make friends be compromised due to her headwear?

Previously, I'd never been too worried about my kids getting bullied.

But, after her first day of school, I was concerned.

Would I have similar feelings if my kids went to a new church or joint a youth group?

Ideally, of course not. No community of God's people has the scourge of bullying.

But, my experience says otherwise.

I've seen kids, no matter what age group, be incredibly mean during church activities.

So, would I be concerned, having dropped off one of my kids, in the church carpark?

I suspect so.

But, there's one difference maker that might calm my nerves.

The culture of the leaders.

Are they welcoming?
Are they diverse?
Are they actively on the lookout for cliques?
Are they teaching on things like inclusiveness, acceptance and the importance of the induvidualness God has made within each person?

If I'm comfortable that the leaders are well-aware and well-skilled when it comes to bullying, then my mind will rest a little easier.