Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why We Shouldn't Throw the Church Under the Bus

A pastor friend chatted with me recently about how it seems like there is a lot of church bashing going around right now. I agreed, expressing my thankfulness for all our church leaders do. FB and twitter are full of quick links to articles about why people are leaving the church and why women’s ministries are lame. I admit, I read the posts and agree for the most part.  I even share them, because they are thought provoking. 8 out of 10 times talks of building projects make me want to puke (NOT this one)  and guys, there is really never a time when the "worship" time needs to involve a smoke machine. I get it, sometimes church looks a lot more like a show or keeping up with the Jones’ or just another social club. But, when we throw the church under the bus - I think we are missing the proverbial boat in many ways.

We forget that God did not forsake the church. (Hebrews 10:25)

We forget that we are the church. 

When we think of church – we think of our respective denominations and our pastors and leaders. So, when the murmurings begin, the blame is likely put upon and felt most by our pastors and leaders. This is incredibly unfair to them. I have worked in non-profit and lay ministry positions my entire Christian life.  I have met together, planned together, prayed with, and cried with many a man and woman at the helm of a ministry. I have yet to meet one that is in it for the money, glory, or celebrity. These are some of the most humble, compassionate, conflicted people I know. They pray and fast and give so much as they follow the call set before them. They deserve honor. I know they get a bad rap, and YES there are douche-bag church leaders, but I have been fortunate to be in the company of true blue, Jesus following, glory to God giving people. So, let’s cut them a little slack and start being mindful of where we place the blame. More often than not our church looks like WE want it to. We give our money to the things WE want to happen. We give our time to the things WE deem important. Maybe we need to start evaluating ourselves, before we start criticizing our people.

Are you aware that good things STILL happen in the church

My pastor friend, Randy, reminded me of this, just the other day. Perhaps we grow cynical because we stop seeing the good things that God is doing through the church. An esteemed therapist I know recently spoke to our group on depression and specifically mentioned how one of the signs of depression is an outlook filled with “awful-isms”. We see the needs, how we wish church was different and we forget that people are coming to know Jesus. People are taking care of widows and orphans. Food pantries are being filled. People are finding grace and healing and hope because of God’s people – because of God’s work through His people – including organized church. Maybe if we can look beyond our doomsday prophesying and wishing for Jesus to come overthrow the tables of the foyer, we can start looking for the beautiful ways he is already there.

Here’s the kicker – WE ARE THE CHURCH

We are a body. When we start our disappointed diatribe on the state of the church, we should be looking in the mirror. I am becoming more and more convinced that if I see something that needs a fixin’ – I need to go to my leaders and ask to be part of the solution. Sometimes, that just means calling and talking to someone about a need or concern. Sometimes it means saying yes to a leadership role because it is the open door to affect change in your church. Maybe it means putting aside church obligations to focus on being the Church (the one with the capital C).  If you aren’t part of the solution, you should probably be shutting your big fat mouth. Practice what you preach goes both ways. I can bemoan the waste of time that a fu-fu women’s tea can be, but unless I am willing to go and engage in one – I’m just as big of a hypocrite as the next gal. If I am bummed because no-one is connecting with me, maybe I should start connecting with others. Maybe if I want to see more service and less sitting on our butts, I should be leading the charge. If anything, I should at least talk to someone about doing it and being a part of it, instead of stewing like a human crockpot until my heart is all burnt and crusty around the edges.  

That analogy about us being the body - it’s true. We cannot do church well if some of us are sitting on our hands while the rest of us try to fill every spot. You want the church to look differently, be perceived differently, engage the world differently? Before we throw our church under the bus, maybe you better see if YOU look like the Church you want to be a part of.

 I will if you will.
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Brave Generosity

I’m a hypocrite.
You see, I read books about simple living and generosity and yet I have a LOT of stuff. I basically live like a king.
Then Debbie Savik comes to our last MOPS meeting and reminds me that my messy house and mountains of laundry are merely more indicators of my obvious excess. I have so much stuff that I can’t even handle it.
Throw in some Ann Voskamp quotes from friends, plus entering the season of thankfulness, and here I sit counting my BAZILLION blessings.
But shouldn’t all this thanksgiving result in generosity? ...
Find the rest of my post over at Bigfork MOPS. 
I'll be back in a few days (or weeks, maybe) with a giveaway. So, don't forget about me. 
-Jes

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brave Friendship

Catch my guest post over at the Bigfork MOPS page...

if you are still here.

It has been almost 6 months since my last post.

Sorry.

Rachel, are you still my only reader? If so, thanks for the sweet card in the mail! :)

Someday I will be back. For reals.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: When We Were on Fire

I was thrilled when I received When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman. This book has been on my "to read" list since it released. You see, I love a good memoir. Addie's sweet story is a book that chronicles her coming of age. From zealous teen, to jaded young adult, and back to the heart of faith.

Addie's journey hits it's stride during the years where Christian culture seemed more about what you were listening to, wearing, or avoiding and less about who you actually were in Christ. With it's emphasis on looking right and avoiding the masses (or at least offering a Christian alternative), it was a prime time to set up a young girl for heartbreak, failure, and hope.

My favorite aspect of When We Were on Fire is the idea of relationship and community.

 How we get it right:

"You who had learned to disappear were suddenly seen, and the world was entirely altered...You were an odd shaped piece and in one swift moment of kindness, you felt yourself click into place" (p. 22)

How we get it wrong:

"How could they know that it had taken only two girls to welcome me into the evangelical world all those years ago... That just as easily, two girls could push me away from it." (p.105)

And how ultimately, with maturity, most of us begin to realize that yes, Christians do "suck", but:

"Some of them don't suck. Some of them understand what Jesus is all about. Some of them will love you without a thought." (p. 176)

Addie's story isn't extraordinarily remarkable, but that is what makes it special. She is relatable. She is honest. She is brave to share her story.

***"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this honest review. If you like my reviews, please boost my rating here. :) 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Sisterchicks Do the Hula


You know what makes the long grey days of winter in the Rockies better? A book about two friends jetting off to Hawaii. SisterChicks do the Hula , by Robin Jones Gunn was just the answer to those winter blues.


Sisterchicks Do the Hula!, Sisterchicks Series #2   -     By: Robin Jones GunnSisterChicks do the Hula follows two lifelong friends, now in their 40's as they search for where they fit as life transitions. One is surprised by an unexpected pregnancy and the other struggles with embracing her natural gift of photography. As these two faith filled women spend time on the island, they find a renewed sense of purpose and faith in a good Father who gives good gifts.

The book is filled with laughter, sincerity and left me longing for a trip to Hawaii! It helped me appreciate the dear friendships I have and look forward to a time when I can meet up and celebrate the joy of friendship with my own bestie.

If you are looking for a light, fun, inspiring read, pick up a copy of Sisterchicks Do the Hula, or any of the Sisterchicks books, by Gunn. You won't be disappointed.

In partnership with the Blogging for Books program I was provided a free copy of Sisterchicks in return for my honest review. I promise, I really did like the book. 

P.S. This book is on sale for a whopping $2.99 right now. It's a smoking deal! 

If you like my book reviews, please go rate them here

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The one I wrote about how conflicted I am about church.

So, I confess.  I've been kind of a whiny baby about church lately.

Yep, I am one of those cliche people that sees all the things that American church is doing wrong.

We run it like a business.
We make it a show.
Why are there so many dang programs?
Why does everyone think we need to volunteer for everything, but doesn't even notice we've been gone for 6 weeks?
Is it really a "community" or just a club?

Am I just a spoiled rotten American brat? Pretty much. 

Frankly there are a lot of things church does right.

When we are all together, singing with one voice, a truly meaningful song - we worship Him.
When my kids come out of their class I know they heard the truth of the Word.
When people get to exercise their gifts in the service of the church, God is glorified.
When we are truly together, it is good.

I am free to worship publicly.
I have the privilege to own a Bible.
I have the right to complain and not fear of repercussions.
I have so much more than I deserve.

Yes, maybe I have an vague idea of how my perfect "church" would work, because it is easy to create this mythical place in my brain, you know, without all the people.

I've asked myself the questions:
"Is this where God wants me to be?"
"It this the right fit" (Whatever the heck that means.)
"Do these people even know me?"
"Is this church on the same path that God is leading me toward?"
"Am I using my gifts here? Is there a place for me to serve, without trying to fit this square peg into a round hole?"

And the final question - "Well, where else would we go?"
That question is always answered in one of two ways -
 a) I have no idea - every church has it's issues.
 b) I have no idea - it's not like we even have a real problem here.


Image borrowed from Relevant 
I think I've finally boiled it down - that elusive question - Am I at the right church? - with these two follow up questions: (Disclaimer - there are other questions you should ask. The obvious ones like - Are these people crazy? Do they believe in God and preach the Bible? Are we safe here? I just assumed you already knew those ones.) 

1. When I look around my church, is it filled with people I admire, respect, and trust as people who love God and seek to do His will?  
I'm not asking if you think the pastor is the next Billy Graham, or if your children's ministry is cutting edge, or if you have the best band in the world. Today, I looked around my church and one after one, I turned to Norse and said something like "I sure appreciate him." or I thought to myself, "She is such an amazing woman." My church is filled with people I admire, not because of what they do, but because of who they are. I bet yours is too.

2. Is there someone in this church that I know God has put in my life to walk along side, whatever may come? 
We have seen conflict come and go in our congregation. Some things ended well, with reconciliation, some things did not. Every time we have sought out truth, from the source(s) and prayed for wisdom. Every time God has shown us families that have come into our lives during that time, ones that had just started coming to church, or just moved to town, or people we had just become friends with,  that we felt committed to walk with, through whatever were to come. Every time, it was worth it and obvious that we did the right thing.

When it all boils down to the nitty gritty, church is the people and my commitment is never really to our "church", but to people. It is a commitment to the people that God has put in my heart, to love. Wherever those people are, that is the church that I will attend, regardless of the band, or the building, or the programs, or the pastor.

And I promise I'll try to stop being a whiny baby.


P.S - If anyone from my church's staff reads this, take note - I know you are working your fanny off, you're doing the best you can, and I will not admit to being the best parishioner. My heart has got nothing but love for you, even if sometimes our methods would be different. Thanks for all you do! 



Sunday, September 01, 2013

Giveaway from Habits & Novelties!

Once upon a time I met a fresh faced girl from Idaho. We'll just say that a few years have passed, not enough to make me old, but enough for her to grow into the beautiful, intelligent, passionate, creative soul that she has become. Laura, has more talent than is fair. Perhaps, secretly I may hope she grows a giant disgusting wart on her perfect little face, just to balance the scales a little... No, I kid. She really is amazing - as a person, a mother, a writer and an artist. Thankfully, because as I have mentioned before, I know truly incredible people, Laura is offering you the chance to win one of her lovely pieces.


This month, the Habits & Novelties shop is giving away one of its lovely, handcrafted wood pendants!




This is the Geometric Triangle Pendant. Handcrafted from gorgeous spalted Maple wood, this pendant has a raw top edge to give it a unique, natural look and is attached to an elegant, gunmetal chain. If you love, natural-looking jewelry pieces with bold shapes and lines, this is a polished and stylish way to accessorize your wardrobe. The Geo Triangle Pendant is valued at $40, and we're offering you a chance to win it this month! The giveaway begins TODAY and ends 9/15, so get your entries in and tell a friend or two!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

You know I love supporting people and especially mamas. So, go check out her shop and pick up something beautiful. She makes all sorts of gorgeous stuff - bags, purses, cowls, collars, headbands... just go look! I hope you win!