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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Church complainers and church hoppers

I want to start this by saying something that too often goes unsaid. 
Be careful who you listen to in your churches. 

If you know someone who is always critical about something - the building, the people, the leadership (or lack thereof), the temperature, the music or whatever else AND you entertain their complaints (you nod in agreement, smile or join in with your own judgments), you should be aware that 1) more than likely it will be you they are critical about next 2) the person complaining has yet to see what good God is doing and if they do recognize it they choose to ignore it and only emphasize the bad stuff or 3) you are assisting in driving those who hear the complaints and frustrations away from church (at least yours) and with God.  You are doing exactly what the enemy of our soul desires - NOT God. 

Every church has problems.  As CS Lewis says in Screwtape Letters, "What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritlcal in the sense that it does not appraise - does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going." Uncommenting?  Humble?  Any nourishment that is going?

Easier said than done I know from experience but has there ever in the history of the church been a "perfect" church?  I've gone to a dozen or more churches in my lifetime and of every background and denomination from southern baptist to pentecostal to non-denominational and every church lacks... something. But the one thing I do know is that Christ was doing something in every church and if I wasn't convinced of that then it would have been time to leave myself.  At church 1 it was in the children's church and music program, church 2 had a fabulous youth group, at church 3 it was in the women's study and the use of their multi-media to get across the message, church 4 had fabulous worship and bible studies and church 5, a caring and sensitive pastor.  Church 6 was passionate about missions, church 7 loved to help the poor and church 8 felt more like a big family.  Every church is different, unique, special and every church can be used by God. 

If you are church hopping looking for the perfect church let me tell you, it simply isn't out there!  Unfortunately church hopping has become more of a profession than something needed when one moves to a new area.  I think people sometimes use it as an excuse not to get close to people or be held accountable for the sinful life they are leading but maybe I'm wrong. 

In summary - don't complain and don't church hop.  Go to church because you need it and because the church needs you.  Give more to the church than you believe is physically or fiscally possible. Be a part of a house group, serve in whatever way is needed and expect lots of problems.  The blessings will come because you kept your complaints to yourself and you stuck it out. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Three months away from blogging - wow, time flies

I can't believe it's been 3 months since my last post.  To summarize everything we've done, seen, been a part of, gone through would take hours and hours I think.  Sorry to all of you that follow our blog only to be disappointed with no updates.  I hope to get back on track this month and into the summer.  There will be lots to report as our Edge members from the US, UK and Croatia arrive and work with us for the summer. 

So let's see.  In short over the last three months we:
  • watched our precious Chloe begin to speak more and more.  She is such a treasure and an amazing gift from God.  She can run SOOO fast and if you're not careful she'll just disappear!  She celebrates her 2nd birthday in 11 days.  They have been two of the best and most blessed years of our lives.
  • Mary continued her involvement with MOPS, helped plan and orchestrate with a great team the MOPS Easter playdate with 50+ moms and children in attendance
  • Alan finished work in the coffee house at the CVJM, helped with numerous other small projects and has recently started work on "the Loft"!! YAH!
  • we were on the ground team and helped with the Pioneers InTent European leadership conference in Altensteig, Germany
  • Mary continued the Screwtape Letters book study with a great group of German young adults
  • Alan finished up two months of intensive German language school
  • Mary started another month of intensive German
  • Alan continued the Jungschar after school program for German children
  • we hosted Alans mom and sister for a long weekend where they got the opportunity to love on sweet Chloe
  • we met my parents at the Pioneers European-wide conference in Malta and spent a couple of extra days touring Malta and Sicily.  So fun!!
  • we attended the CVJM annual pentecostal camp where the worship was led by the Heidelberg house of prayer and we had the opportunity to get to know lots of families in our church better as well as plan for the summer
  • we've spent a lot of time organizing individuals and teams coming over to work with us this year.  Amongst them are a TMI team from Australia and New Zeland, a great young adult couple from Iowa in the fall and the 7 Edgers that are coming to work with us this summer from the United States, the UK and Croatia. We have wonderful families from the CVJM lined up to host the students this summer and we're very excited about the work they'll accomplish while here.
Here is what we hope to report as being successfully completed after the summer:
  • Beginning construction on the CVJM loft space
  • A weekly coffee house University student apologetics Q/A study & discussion
  • Devotionals for Ten-Sing (a weekly youth talent competition)
  • Testimonies at Soulution (a bi-monthly young adult event)
  • Testimonies at XChange (a monthly teenager event)
  • CVJM children’s programs, worship band, preaching, testimony sharing
  • CVJM children’s camp
  • First CJVM English Camp
  • Evangelism in Heidelberg with the IHOP (International House of Prayer)
  • Evangelism and Spiritual Background surveys – University of Heidelberg
  • Volunteer work at die Birke (Heidelberg's ProLife Organization)
  • Volunteer work at SAM (Refugee camp and aid program)
  • Jungschar after school children’s program
  • Intensive German course completion – Volkshochschule, Heidelberg
Please if you think of us, pray for us.  While the last few months we've seemed to accomplish a lot it has not been without a lot of struggles and spiritual attack.  Still we are so grateful God is faithful, extends undeserved grace and provides for us.