tar balls and rumors of tar balls

Guess what the number one topic among beach walkers is these days? Yep. Tar balls. Exciting stuff. Even in central Florida where there are no signs of invading BPeeps, it’s what everyone is talking about. You can hear all about tar balls and rumors of tar balls all up and down the beach.

Someone said this whole mess was caused by a critical error not to install a $350k shut off valve in the controversial oil well. It was a short cut to more profits. If this is true, it was stealing from the vast resources of the seas without a thought to giving back. Regardless, it’s all a mess. This historic disaster seems incredibly selfish and horribly wrong once the results of an oil sick Pelican is plastered indelibly on the cable TV news stations and in our minds.

They say Louisiana marshes have been decimated. Alabama tourism has been cut in half, and tar balls have just begun to float into the Florida panhandle. Most are guessing how far south the devastation will wash ashore. It looks like the results of alleged, self-centered energy execs will have a far reaching, negative, and long lasting impact for generations to come. Hmmm.

I’ve been thinking more today about the church. It’s most definitely what God is speaking into me during this study break. I’ve tried to do some Church analysis and make sense of it all. The church I grew up in during the 60’s and 70’s gave good, Biblical foundations, but at some point lost the edge concerning evangelism and lost people. The 80’s and 90’s saw the pendulum swing to the far extreme attaching effectiveness to the needs of spiritual seekers. Great production, topical messages, nonthreatening gatherings, timely and precisely timed services were geared to serve up some Jesus on a relevant platter to those with identified felt needs. Churches everywhere exploded with growth and an onslaught of very consumeristic Christians trained to be served and not so much serve. People got saved, then became very selfish in what they wanted in and from their churches. Selfish tar balls started floating into the church. Paul Harvey once said, “Instead of being fishers of men, we’ve become keepers of the aquarium.”

Now a younger generation sick of the aquarium threatens to abandon all semblances of church for something organic and real. Structure wars with the spirituality of young minds who tired quickly of self-serve Sunday religion oblivious to injustice around the block and around the world. I do understand this frustration and mass exodus from church world. Church tar balls can have a far reaching, negative, and long lasting impact for generations to come.

The church I took the family to on Saturday night was horribly cool. A brand new building decked out with a very hip lobby, coffee & smoothie bar, smokin’ stage lights, packed house, untucked and facial-haired staff, and a David Letterman, monologue -esque message made for a very… uhm… interesting experience. One of my daughters afterwards said, “Dad, something about that just bugged me.” I knew what it was. Jesus was never mentioned. The excitement being generated was about the excitement being generated. I wondered if anything outside their freshly painted walls were important. I wondered if the hyper pastor was exhausted and fearful of his success. There seemed to be a hole in this church’s gospel. Tar balls.

Faith (evangelizing the lost) can, for some, be at war with works (attending injustice). Left alone, either choice can create a hole in our gospel.

However I’m convinced both structure of gathering and the organics of authentically serving the marginalized MUST reside together in order for the body of Christ to thrive. I believe, again, the Church (big “C” and little “c”) can realize the fullness of Christ when the body gathers for teaching and regeneration and then takes to the streets to live it all out.

Richard Stearns in, The Hole In Our Gospel,” says, “Our greatest power to change the world is released when we come together in collective action to organize and focus the resources of the whole body of Christ. God established the institution of the Church as a key strategy for building His kingdom and for leading the social revolution required by the gospel — on earth as it is in heaven.” There can be a healthy coming together and a going out. This then becomes the WHOLE gospel instead of having a HOLE in our gospel from focusing too much on Sundays while retreating from a suffering world, or replacing church structure with mere humanitarian efforts.

Selfish tar balls and rumors of tar balls have infiltrated the church. Our empires that either leave out the gospel or keep it to our selfish selves have strategically worked against a generation wanting to change world suffering. BUT… that same activist, younger generation can have a hole in their gospel if teaching, regeneration, church theology and doctrine is deemed trivial or something of the past. The fullness of Christ I’m being drawn to in the book of Ephesians cannot be realized in a vacuum or isolation from the Church… big and little “c.”

It’s the Church, stupid. It’s the Church. It’s time to quit being ashamed of the Church, and make sure we are part of the whole gospel — in and outside our walls.

I believe CCC is poised to do this. We have an excellent opportunity to create a place (not market a non-deliverable hype) where Jesus-driven regeneration can happen, AND glocal injustices are served. We have the hearts, the absolute right staff, resources, and God’s smile to present the WHOLE gospel.

I’m just a few pages from finishing “The Hole In Our Gospel.” This is a great read. Every CCC’er should read this. (I have a “water” idea I must run by Rob.) This book by Richard Stearns has reinforced and broaded my re-ignite of the Church God seems to be doing this study break.

When I finish Richard Stearns book (The Hole In Our Gospel), I’m going to do a re-read of “The Shaping of Things to Come.” I read this book last year. Hirsch and Frost seemed to trash the Church because of those same selfish tar balls that caused a hole in our gospel (not going outside our walls and comfort zones). “The Shaping Of Things To Come” is a missional book that swings the church pendulum to another extreme.

I’m determined to find the balance of Jesus’ Church where the fullness of Christ and the whole gospel can reside. Let’s do this…

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