Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm about to start writing about God...about His power. I think it would be good to lighten up a bit and give the more controversial issue a rest...

I'm not always a meanie!

btw...the messengers of the 48th annual meeting of Summit Baptist Association unanimously adopted the resolution I offered last night...and even endured its reading without too much groaning...lol

praise God!

here is another stellar clip from Mark Driscoll...he was asked to produce a short video for a church planting training event and so the immediate context is church planting...but look...I believe that if our churches are going to reverse the backward slide and advance forward they must (and I do mean MUST) take the basic principles of church planting and lead their church into implementing them...post haste...

check out this clip and let me know what you think...

14 comments:

Adam said...

You're right, these truths must be implemented! Good stuff.

irreverend fox said...

thanks Adam!

Zac said...

I like the video-- maybe part marketing strategy, part motivational speech. I like his preaching of the truth that the Lord was/is not a "gay hippie" and a general breakdown of his take on male spirituality. Certainly all of this has its place and should be reflected upon.

But maybe, just maybe, the key is not to make God more manly, but to make men more godly? I will give you examples of the great protestant leaders-- Luther, for starters. Much of Luther's waking hours (especially morning and evening) involved deep prayer, either his own or the written prayers of the psalms. The more he had to do in a day, the earlier he would get up so that he could pray. I'll give you another example: Wesley. Wesley, too, had a very consistent prayer life using both his own and written prayer. Wesley gave much of his money to the poor (he even had a club where the members met together to pool their resources to help people). Wesley also fasted twice a week, and refused to ordain anyone that didn't follow this practice.

I think it's natural to want an easy solution, but what if the secret is a Christian consistency? By this I mean stuff like getting up and praying even when we don't feel like it, not just fervent moments when we do; or being hard on our bodies regarding the types and amounts of foods we eat, simply out of love for the Crucified one. This is manfulness because it is a living martyrdom, and the saints (males and females) are called to it.

I think this is the type of godliness that brings the power to really lead. It is womanly to pamper the flesh, it is manly (and godly) to crucify it.

Naomi said...

I like your comment Zac, but women should do all of that too! So, maybe you should say it is just Godly (not Godly and manly).

Zac said...

Naomi!

I agree. I think you could still call it "manly" or "manful." Not because those words describe something biologically male but a virtue which is most commonly associated with manhood. For instance, men are usually called to be brave. This is certainly not because women are not capable of (and called to) bravery. In Orthodoxy, even when we speak of women martyrs, our hagiographies often mention how they "manfully" endured their tortures, glorifying Christ in their bodies. Same kinda thing, I think (or at least that's what I was trying to say!).

You should comment more often!

irreverend fox said...

hey zac,

I'm sure Driscoll 100% agrees with you...men like Luther, Wesley, Maximus the Confessor, Polycarp, Paul, Amos, Moses...where all uncompromising, blunt and aggressive. They, both Driscoll and I would say, capture the essence of the masculine heart of true Christianity...something that has been sorely lost and we are reaping the whirl wind because of it. Compare Amos with Olsteen...

Look at Islam. Look at the proportion of its most dedicated adherents… they’re men. Men are not less "open" to spirituality...Men are just not open to being feminine. There was a day when Christianity was defined by uncompromising, risk taking and valiant MEN...that was way back when men led their family to church...we've lost our masculinity...all three branches...and have lost the men (the statistics regarding the participation of men in each of the three big branches, in “the west” are not refutable…the cause of course is debatable to some degree I suppose). Just pay attention on Sunday...what is the man: women ration? of the men who show up, how many of those men are rugged, resolved or tuff? How many of those men could tell you who Chuck Liddell is? How many of the men who show up on Sunday’s do you think could hold his own in a bar fight? How many of those men would you suppose have ever been in a bar fight?

it isn't about making God "manly"...no, not manly...but masculine. If we ever hope to reach men again…unchurched and heathen men…masculine men…the type of men who thinks “church” is a good thing for their wife and kids, but is not for them…we had better start proclaiming God as He…HE…proclaims HIMself…in the “masculine”…and as a warrior KING. Christ, not the gay hippie…but as the KING of KINGS, LORD of LORDS…the MASTER of the universe…

Right now every "form" of Christianity presents Christ as either slightly feminine or a flat out "gay hippie". Also, most pastors or priests usually have a weak handshake, are "in touch" with their emotions...most of them are not the types to watch (and certainly NEVER participate in) boxing, cage fighting...football...rugby. Most pastors and priests are not masculine...and most masculine men can't relate…most masculine men might not openly admit it…but they don’t trust a feminine man…not even a feminine pastor or priest. I know that is true with me if I’m honest…I have a hard time fully trusting or respecting a feminine man.

So we have a lily white, prom date, feminine Jesus blowing kisses and passing out daisies and asking everybody to be nice to each other...and pastors and priests who act like Mr. Rogers...

Driscoll’s point is that if one is going out to do the impossible, plant a new church, you’d better “get” what the problem is with the existing churches and why most people are not going to those existing churches. Most “churched” people would not dig what Driscoll does or what I do. We are doing the things they don’t do because we believe the things they do do is a reason why the majority of the population couldn’t care less about them.

He and I agree…a massive problem in our culture is that most churches are set up for women and children. Most churches in our culture are led by feminine pastors or priests…”if you win the men…you win the war…” and I agree.

So I don’t think we are disagreeing…men like Luther, Wesley and Maximus are EXACTLY the type of MEN that we pray God will raise up. Those guys would look you in the eye, call you out, rebuke you, kick your butt or just kick you out. Do you know what it would take for the average pastor to point to the door and tell someone to “get out and do not come back until you have repented!”? Men with valor, heart, resolve and EXTREME passion for the honor and glory of God is what defined those great hero’s of the past. Men willing to risk it all for the glory, renown and honor of His name! Men who are extreme in their spirituality, by God’s grace, will inspire and motivate other men…every time!

That is one of the points of Driscoll’s video…and an over arching theme of his ministry as well. That’s why, when I finally started to pay more attention to his teaching, I instantly admired him so much. I thought I was the only one left! The only difference between Driscoll and me, right now…is about 6,000 disciples…and hundreds of thousands of other disciples who listen to his teaching online and read his books...that’s all…lol…

irreverend fox said...

hey Na!

women should do all of those things...but...also understand...that the feminine is very much needed in the church as well. it is not that femininity is wrong or unhealthy or unChristian...it's just way out of proportion in our churches. there's too much of it...but we'd certainly never suggest that the church should loose femininity...not at all.

what is being suggested is that the proper balance return to our churches. boys are made to feel bad about being who they are...boys. men are made to feel that they need to grow up and stop being men...

things are just out of balance. removing the feminine will certainly take us from aggressive spirituality to violent spirituality...if Christianity lost the feminine we'd end up like the pagans...Muslims.

Naomi said...

That's right Gary! If it weren't for us women the church would have no carpet, and there would be no potlucks! :) I'm just kidding!

I like everything you all have to say...it's all good!

tim said...

It's nice to hear from a preacher who doesn't portray Jesus as Mother Theresa with a beard or just a really nice guy. The bottom line is men were created in God's image to be men. We bear the image of God in a very specific way. Women bear the image of God in different ways. We need to stop trying to get men to be more like women because God designed us to be men...masculine men. Note I didn't say macho. I agree with Zac, men need to be more godly. However, I do think we need to realize that Jesus wasn't a choir boy. The Apostles were pretty much all rough dudes. I'm not a macho man by any stretch, but I do appreciate that God doesn't call us to be like women, He calls us to be like Him. (Emphasis on HIM)

Zac said...

Gary,

I think you're on the right trail here-- men should not seek to become women to become like God. However, I like to think that masculinity has more to it than bluntness and an affinity for cage-fighting. When Christ said, "Blessed are the meek," he was also talking to men. I would read the life of St. Maximos the Confessor or Polycarp before trying to fit them into the WCW. =^)

On a more interesting note, a couple years ago I ran across this fascinating article by Frederica Mathewes-Green about why Orthodoxy does not suffer from the "Vanishing Male Syndrome" so prevalent in Protestant and Catholic churches.

Here is the first paragraph:

"In a time when churches of every description are faced with Vanishing Male Syndrome, men are showing up at Eastern Orthodox churches in numbers that, if not numerically impressive, are proportionately intriguing. This may be the only church which attracts and holds men in numbers equal to women. As Leon Podles wrote in his 1999 book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, “The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to.”

Read more of Men and Church.

Zac said...

Oh, this is not really related to the topic but you HAVE to hear Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon's latest podcast on AncientFaithRadio!!! It's called The 12 Apostles .

irreverend fox said...

hey zac,

I have also read about how Eastern Orthodoxy is not suffering from the vanishing male syndrome...not to the degree that the western two branches are.

also note...Christian men are called to be, like Christ, meek...not weak.

Polycarp was certainly meek...but in no way weak. Same with Maximus. Meekness is strength under control.

Paul refers to the spiritual life in boxing terms. Something like UFC ought to be used as symbolic of the spiritual life and used to inspire men...men understand the UFC or NFL...they are inspired by the discipline, the submission (to the rules and authorities...the refs...), the determination, the giftedness, the valor, the quest…the sweetness of victory.

"weapons", "warfare", “sword”, “King”, “Lord”, "the violent take it by force", "warrior", "champion" and "victor" are all concepts that resonate with men...yet are the LEAST emphasized in our churches. If they were emphasized in a balanced way men would not be so uninspired. Men want to see RISK, conviction, strength and boldness…like Polycarp…like Luther…not Mr. Rogers or Joel Osteen. Pastors that lead their churches into taking calculated risks for God…but God’s leading…will inspire men. No man is inspired by routine, predictability…a lack of tremendous faith…a lack of vision. Most men would agree, “no pain, no gain”…and will roar in approval (out loud or in their heart) if their pastor stood up there one Sunday and shouted at the people as he cast the vision God has given him to reach their community, “no pain, no gain!” Instead men get pastors whose main motivation is to not upset anybody and to make sure nobody leaves. Most pastors would run most companies straight into the ground if they ran the thing like they pastor the church…and most men know it.

Again...I'm not suggesting that the churches turn macho...I'm simply pointing out that our churches have lost nearly all aspects of the masculine and come off to the average, good, hard working man...as "lame" or "gay"…something for his wife and kids…but not for him (unless his wife raises enough hell or unless his kids are singing up front or something…)

We need a few shots of testosterone in our churches. We are out of balance…and it is killing us.

Does that make sense? I’m saying we are out of balance…going macho would be just as out of balance as being this “gay” is now. That’s all I’m suggesting. Polycarp was meek…but not “gay”, did not capitulate, had passion and by God’s grace demonstrated tremendous…TREMENDOUS…strength.

Zac said...

Gary,

Of course you make sense! Meekness, I would say, is more than strength under control, but that's for another time-- or maybe I'll just refer you to The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus, since I fall incredibly short of such a lofty virtue.

Virtue. Now that's a word for you! I have read from somewhere that the root of this word is the latin word, vir: Man.

Zac said...

Oh hey, in case you wanted to hear a REALLY good talk by a Southern-Baptist-turned-Orthodox about the Christian culture of the South, come listen to Dr. Clark Carlton's most recent podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, The Christ-Haunted South, Part 1.