RED BRICKS, PADDED PEWS, AND BEER
Tom Elliff preached at our church last night. I was going to post about it, as his very challenging sermon interrupted my train of thought several times. But then the Missouri Mess got "shown me" and I figured I'd strike while the irony was hot.
Wade Burleson already posted about the investigative committee, formed amid allegations of nebulous character issues on the part of the Exec. Dir. No need reinventing that wheel, so I'll move on to the "controversy" surrounding The Journey, a rather unconventional church in St. Louis. I hasten to admit I know only what Ive read on their website and in an article in the Baptist Press, so cannot speak to lots of things about it. But I do know that they have a monthly outreach with a Bible Study in a Brewery.
Hey .. I'd bet some of the apparent upset is about that, wouldn't you? Particularly since the MBC lent the church some money.
This points out something that seems inherent in organized religion. We read in the Bible to see what we're supposed to do, in His service (assuming we're well motivated to do so). We then go do some of that, and God blesses our efforts. Now, we know, in the abstract, that it's God giving the increase, but we forget that after a while. We then confuse how we are to act with how God acts..
HUGE difference, folks. What He's instructed us to do, and which has become custom and acceptable for us, in no way limits how God goes about furthering His Kingdom work. To think that He's limited to doing it the way we do it, is egotistical, to say the least. But then, we've always been quick to give ourselves more credit than we think we're giving.
Case in point, about The Journey's outreach in a brewery. Some even said they showed a picture of folks hoisting a glass of beer, in connection with the Bible Study. They stated the church said (although I add that I saw this quote on the Brewery's website, and not on the church's)"Grab a brew and give your view".
I've heard for years, that not washing your car on Sunday, not drinking a beer when you're sweaty, not mowing the lawn on Sunday, were testimonies to our faith. Two thoughts about that.
1) They are testimonies to not washing your car on Sunday, not drinking beer when you're sweaty, and not mowing your lawn on Sunday. They're not testimonies to your faith. I've heard folks state "I witness via my life.", but that simply isn't witnessing. It's a witness to your life, and not your faith.
2) If your life is a witness, it's only a witness to saved folks. The spiritual evidence found in your life, is spiritual in nature, and God said natural man cannot perceive it. Folks can watch your life for all your life, and learn nothing from it that will save their souls.
In the case of the Brewery outreach, how's that different from Jesus going to Levi's house and kickin' back with the "tax collectors and sinners"? The pharisees accused him of "eating and drinking" with them. ... and I bet there was wine involved.
Did you notice that Jesus didn't send someone else to minister to them? He went Himself! Yet here we have a controversy about a church that wants to reach folks who go to a brewery, so they go there after them.
If The Journey's "Theology at the Bottleworks" is a source of controversy in the MBC, then I suspect they've got a sprinkling of "Pharisees and Teachers of the Law" up there, too.
There's more to "church" than red bricks and padded pews. In fact, in heaven, there probably won't be any of that. But there may be some folks who "grabbed a brew and gave their view" under the auspices of a church that isn't afraid to go outside the lines to reach people.