Monday, February 18, 2008

Lost...and found [again]

No, I didn't lose my blog...I swear. =)

I've really been at a crossroads and crisis of my own making for approximately several months now, and everything kind of coalesced at the same time - right around April/May of 2007. While I won't go into all the boring [read: painful] specifics, let it suffice to say that I lost my job, got a new one, moved out of my apartment on less than three weeks notice, left not one but two Baptist churches, and may have put an end to a deeply personal relationship of over ten years.

When all of that hits at one season, it's time to step back from the keyboard for a bit, you know?

The good thing that came out of it is that I feel like I can think clearer now, and I know that God has used it. To what end, I'm not sure, but I know that He does. Or, if you are a fan of Star Wars, you might say that "we are Christians, and we strengthen ourselves through sacrifice" [Star Wars:Legacy of the Force - Betrayal, p. 425]. [Just as an aside, the sacrifice I am referring to is our own pretty whims and goals. But more on that later.]

I refer to myself as "lost" in the title, because all of those aforementioned events have served to create and strengthen my disillusionment with my walk with God and where I 'align' myself spiritually - ie, which what parties I will/will not join with. It is no longer sufficient to think that since I attend a 'good' church, sit under 'good teaching', live a 'good' life, and am a success [by this I mean that I have money in the bank, have a nice and well-adjusted family, or am able to 'own' a home and retire with wealth]. It is no longer sufficient to be published on SI, or to speak at a BJU event by their request, or to even be well-respected. All of that stuff is dross - either trinkets devised by our own arrogance and pride that will be destroyed when the Lord judges our actions [I Cor. 3] OR distraction - something that exists to pull us away from our purpose. All of those things are good. But not all of those things - or how they are presented to others, even if we desire them - are used for good - as a matter of fact, my fleshly nature or Satan can make them be bad or even dangerous.

Furthermore, I am finding that the Fundamentalist movement, in particular, has problems. Not that it shocks any of you to know this, but I'm concerned about things that I'm seeing, especially the ugly heads of Nepotism, Pragmatism, and a lack of clear focus on what is truly important. I'm also concerned about the growth of ivory tower preachers and ministers who specialize in theology but don't have a clue as to how life works for the people in their congregations.

So let me point three areas in particular that have been on my mind before I go:

1. Where in the Scripture does it specify that churches must have full-time ministers? If something like 80% of pastors are bi-vocational in some way, then why do IFB schools keep emphasizing full-time pastors, and worse yet, now sub-specialties for IFB organizations like youth/music pastor or Bible translator or church educator?

2. Why is it that so many IFB organizations and associations have so many of the same people involved on so many different levels? I'm tired of seeing the same guys over and over again. For all the emphasis on discipleship, it doesn't seem like any of the 'disciplees' are showing up, except for the well-connected [see above].

3. Maybe if "Fundamentalists" would sit down and write out their list of Fundamentals, it might help bring vision, focus, and clarity to their speech and actions. I had thought that would help do this, but now I don't think that I can believe that.

I want to come back and revisit those three points later. After I've found the words for what I want to say.


BTID said...

I sometimes rummage around on Christian blogs and Preacher's Thoughts attracted me. I am a 71 yr. old,semi-retire Pastor who at your age was pioneering a church in Indiana. I have experienced quite a few bumps in the road. It sounds like you have run into some. All I will say is "count it all joy"(you know the rest) and "the test of your character is what it takes to stop you." I sat for 8 yrs under the ministry of Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. and he pounded this practicle proverb into me. You don't need pounded right now so I'll pray the loving hand of our Lord will take hold of you. You do not have to answer unless you feel like it.
In Him,
Bob Orr
BTID-Better than I deserve

Todd Wood said...

Jay, fundamentals crystalize for me when I am in the midst of conflict. Always think of this: the fundamentals are a matter of spiritual life and death.

Lord bless you, brother

Anonymous said...

Your question: "why do IFB schools keep emphasizing .... now sub-specialties for IFB organizations like youth/music pastor or Bible translator or church educator?"

Answer: Because the schools are a business and need students!

We've let the "tail wag the dog"!

Jay C said...

Anonymous, I think you are more right than you know. I know that I haven't posted lately, and it bothers me to no end, but the further I distance myself from my theological teachers, the more flaws I see in our mode of ministry and practice.

Thank you - everyone - for your comments. I know that I keep talking about how I'm going to recommit to blogging, and I do want to do so, but it simply cannot be as high of a priority as I would like it to be. Your comments always come at a time when I am just about to decide to close up shop and call it quits, and they never cease to encourage me to keep plugging on.

As Proverbs says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Thank you for your apples!