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Prone To Wander Myth

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Entries in church (6)


Packhorse Christians

Lithograph image, courtesy Degrazia.orgWhen I was serving in the organized Church - first as a pastor, then as a contemporary worship director, it didn't take long for me to notice that utility replaced desire as an indicator of calling.  In other words, "You are here to do whatever needs to be done."  If there's a need, you will fill it.  If the leadership has told you to do it, you will, or risk being downsized.

Usefulness, replaced desire.  It didn't matter that you were endowed with unique desires that indicated a unique calling.  What mattered was that you filled a need - any need - that came across your path. 

I call this the "packhorse" model of ministry: 

"Just carry whatever load you are asked to, whether or not it has anything to do with your particular gifts, dreams, or desires."  All that matters is that the ministry machinery is kept going.

In the packhorse model, people get used.  You're a burro, a donkey for the organization.  It depreciates people who could be making a far greater impact doing what they were designed to do, and turns them into beasts of burden.  A tragic misuse and misplacement of divine giftings and desires.

The horse wants to run, but the organization wants to keep it tethered:  Mustangs don't belong in the corral where the spirit is broken and the steed is altered to become a drafthorse. 

We need permission.  This doesn't mean that we act alone, ignorant of the common good - It means we aren't simply a part of the machinery.  Your calling isn't about becoming more and more domesticated so that you can please the higher-ups. 

You will find your calling through your heart's deepest desires:  Pay attention to them, for in them God has tied ribbons to trees to mark the way back to the wild purpose of your life.


New e-book excerpt: "Enough is Never Enough - Abusing the Good Heart"

Non-commercial www.paulprescott.comThis excerpt is from a new e-book I'm writing on the idea of spiritual abuse -- specifically how spiritual abuse can kill the very life of our hearts.

The particular kind of abuse I'm talking about is reflected in the following description of abuse.  It comes from The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by Johnson and VanVonderan:

"Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment."

The authors go further:

"Spiritual abuse can also occur when spirituality is used to make others live up to a ‘spiritual standard.’  This promotes external ‘spiritual performance,’ …or is used as a means of ‘proving’ a person’s spirituality."

This abuse may not even be intentional
, but kills the heart, nonetheless.

Notice the effects of this kind of abuse:

  • weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.
  • enforcing a 'spiritual standard,' 'spiritual performance,' a means of 'proving a person's spirituality'

The e-book is nearly completed, and I'll be announcing its completion soon.

As always, feel free to click the "Post a Comment" button below.


LISTEN NOW --new podcast - 'The Heart and the New Covenant'

Joel Brueseke, who hosts the Growing in Grace Together podcast, is a good friend and a guy who really gets the good and noble heart.  Joel interviewed me today for a two-part series.  Here is part one.

Listen in for some great conversation about why Christians tend to walk around in guilt and shame, and why there seems to be such a focus in the church on behavior management and sin management - and how living with a New Covenant mentality rather than an Old Covenant mentality, as well as a proper view of the new heart, will overcome all of that.


Lessons the Church can learn from Delta Force

What can the Church learn from a former Delta Force commander who has served behind enemy lines in Bosnia and Afganistan in a variety of special op's situations? A guy who knows how to operate at the cusp of life and death?

Delta Force is arguable the most elite counter-terrorism force in the world.  I read Pete Blaber's book, The Mission, The Men, and Me for the fun of it, and the vicarious partication in his full-throtled adventures; but discovered something about why the Church gets broken and fails to function as an organic, highly effective organism.

One of Blabers central tenets in the book is, "organize for the mission."  Rather than applying a rigid, predetermined hierarchy over the top of all our activity, it's far better to let the mission inform our organizing and the way we gather.  As a tangential principle, Blaber also suggests that those in leadership "listen to the guy on the ground" because that guy has context-- firsthand, tacit knowledge of what's going on.  So why not ask him or her, "What's your recommendation?" suggests the Delta Force commander ...and take that recommendation seriously.

When your fellowship or team asks, "How are we going to do this?  How are we going to accomplish the mission of Jesus?" don't get lulled into the familiar modes of rigid and inflexible organizing.  Allow the mission of Jesus to determine the "how."  Will the way you go about it allow you to be light and mobile, adaptable and flexible?  Or will it force shackle you into institutional and time-honored structures that serve no one but those at the top? 

More specifically, when launching into a specific mission, the one Jesus has asked you to follow him into, ask, "How does the nature of this specific mission direct how we organize, gather, and function together?  How will we relate to each other because of this particular mission?  How will decisions be made and leadership lived out? 

What do you think are some clues from Jesus' own sense of mission, and how he "organized" his band of disciples?  How is this different than most organizational approaches, most ideas about Church?



New podcast - special guest Joel Brueseke, Graceroots.org

A deeper look at grace.

Joel Brueseke is the founder of graceroots.org and has recently created a graceroots community on Ning network. He's a guy that gets the message of Jesus and understands the message of the new heart.
This is my interview with him. 



Religious moralism

Certain things make the hair on the back of my neck bristle. 
Religious moralism
is one of them.

The pastor of the church where I had previously led a men's event approached me and said, "Hey.  Just wanted to let you know we received a complaint in the office..."

This was a church where I had led an on-campus men's retreat.  As was my custom, I offered the guys cigars after the session was over.  It helps dispel the notion that Christian guys just don't do that kind of thing, and lets the men know this isn't a religious thing we're after. 

So the pastor of that church went on to say that someone found out we had smoked cigars (on church grounds) after the event.  He said he, "personally didn't have a problem with that kind of thing" but that it could cause some guys to "stumble."  (Now, I'm not personally aware of a 12-step group for cigar smokers.) I also told him I never make it an obligation, only an option, for those who want to stay afterwards and enjoy a cigar and some comraderie.

The pastor continued by telling me we could go off-campus or to someone's house if we wanted to enjoy cigars. Well, isn't that gracious and accomodating.

When I, with neck hairs bristling, said this religious moralism was exactly the kind of thing the world hates about the church, he said, "Well, I have to relate to various groups of people in the church..." -- meaning, "Even though my personal convictions tell me there's nothing wrong with this, I'm too timid to confront the Pharisee that made the complaint."

Ever been in a fellowship or church where this kind of religious moralism became obvious to you?  Would this kind of thing happen if the biblical notion of a believer's new heart had been taught?