Friday, February 16, 2007

Hello Out There

No, dear readers, I haven't forgotten about you.

I'm just ignoring you. :-)

For now, anyway.

Actually, if I can figure out a way to get the stuff I'm writing/doing for BCC's Element ministry into post-able blog form (meaning, if I can figure out how to post message outlines and podcast summaries in ways that don't look like message outlines or podcast summaries), I will be able to post with more regularity. Until then, though -- and I hope you will understand -- most of my studying/writing time is going to Element.

Love you, though!
And thanks for continuing to check back. I hope not to leave you hanging for too much longer.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Element Imminent

BCC's Element now has an official website! Visit us online at

And if you know of anyone between the ages of 18 and thirtysomething, please tell them to join us starting this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in The Onion for the Element worship service. We are kicking off with "Stripped," a four part series on Philippians.

Christian Integrity

Discipleship to Jesus Christ means following Jesus Christ. It means going where He goes, doing what He does. It means being apprenticed to Him.

You might think that stuff goes without saying, but I'm guessing I'm not alone in thinking we have gone far off the mark of real discipleship. What we have is "Christianity as help," when what we need is "Christ as life." This is true even with the "It's a relationship, not a religion" crowd, since "relationship with Jesus" tends to be more about personality augmentation than life transformation.

A real Christian life is one infused with the qualities of Christ himself. But we have replaced submission, service, and sacrifice with salesmanship, self-help, and success.
Here is an excerpt from a challenging article written by someone who may surprise you. Read it first, and I will tell you who wrote it after.

When Martin Luther lamented at the end of his life that he might not be justified, he must have seen something dark in himself in relation to the Scriptures, something that we in the modern church might be overlooking.

The Scriptures say that we are to be known as followers of Christ by the evidence of our love for one another, but we’re not (see John 13:35).

The Scriptures say that we are not to boast about what we have or what we have done, but we do (see Jer. 9:23-24).

The Scriptures say that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves and lovers of money, and we are (see 2 Tim. 3:5, NKJV).

Very often we charismatics rejoice in the power of God, and rightly so. But we subject ourselves to ridicule when we boast that we are not among those “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5).

We claim that we have spiritual power and others don’t because of our openness to accept and operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But our words fall short when our marriages don’t work, our children are wild and disobedient, and we refine the art of giving and receiving money to the point that we could qualify as the experts in greed that Peter warns about in his second letter (see 2 Pet. 2:14).

We have a credibility problem. We have some wonderful churches, but increasingly, people do not seek to be connected . . .

. . . Maybe we’re not Christians. Maybe we’re just the most popular religion of the day, using the power of persuasion, the force of our numbers, and the strength of our money to advance our ideology.

Maybe we just believe whatever makes sense to us by default, and we don’t truly—as individuals and as communities of Christians—seek to be genuine disciples and to do God’s work of caring for the fatherless and the widow of our day.

Could we be Pharisees? Our own books, television programs and prophecies should make us wonder.

I believe that we all know and love the Word, but we live in earthly vessels with a fallen nature. We feel and see the hopes of the Spirit within, but we also end up doing the very things we do not want to do.

When we preach, write, lobby, raise money, build, broadcast, threaten, sue and spin, we present conflicting images that don’t stand up very well against the tests of time and scrutiny. We are confusing the world, other Christians, and our families.

This isn’t something that can be changed with a list of practical exercises. This is something that has to be dealt with deep within us by exposing ourselves to the wisdom of the Scriptures, to one another, and to God.

"Maybe we're not Christians." Ouch.

He has a very real point. As long as our churches -- religious, irreligious, and anti-religious -- keep preaching Jesus as one who makes your life better rather than Jesus who makes dead people live, as long as we keep teaching Christianity as the gospel of personal fulfillment rather than the call to self-crucifixion -- we are proclaiming Christianity as an unneeded cure for a mythical ailment.

The truth is not that we don't like ourselves enough, have enough success, get happy enough, etc. The truth is that we are sinners in need of resurrection. If no less a giant than Martin Luther could acknowledge this, what makes us stumble over admitting it for ourselves? I think it is because we are prone to believe the problem is everyone and everything else -- but not us. It is not safe or "nice" to talk about this stuff. Sin is a forbidden word in the American church. We don't want people to be uncomfortable or feel judged.

But if we are not honest about the real problem facing us -- inside of us -- we cannot be truthful about salvation. And if we are not truthful about salvation, the people we are so fearful of offending or irritating will face a discomfort and a judgment that is eternally more uncomfortable and judgmental than some hurt feelings this side of the second coming.

Christianity is life or death stuff.

The writer of the above article excerpt is Ted Haggard. Three years after its publication, he would resign from the pastorate of his Colorado megachurch because he was cheating on his wife with a man. This is how he concludes his article:

We have to get this right. Even though the global church is stronger than we’ve ever been, we in the American church are showing early signs of impotence. We are in a global theatre now, which means that our words, actions, investments and thoughts have greater impact. Thus, we have the opportunity to do unprecedented good, but also the dangerous ability to do unparalleled damage.

Let’s make the right choice. If you are like me, you are conflicted. I don't like this column. Granted, there is a part of me that does. But most of me likes the comforts of the church I serve, the way I travel, the way I'm treated by both the public and the body of Christ. I enjoy the political platform we Christians are given.

But at the same time, there is a dark cloud in the back of my mind woondering if God isn't stirring another Martin Luther to nail his theses to our church doors.

I would rather have us return to our foundations of integrity by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the illumination of the Scriptures, rather than have us defending our lifestyles, edifices and power to future generations as they read history books recounting our demise because of our own hypocrisy.

We need to ensure that we are not the whitewashed tombs and snakes of our day (see Matt. 23:27, 33). We need to be sure.

Are we willing to embrace this sort of Christian integrity? Haggard's words here are piercing, penetrating. They are also chilling in retrospect. This is obviously a man wrestling with sin, a sin that, as the Bible promises, "found him out."

Can we be honest with ourselves and about ourselves? Are we willing to trade in the gospel of personal fulfillment for the gospel of Jesus Christ, who was pummeled and pierced for our brokenness? Will we trade our right to happiness for real joy? Will we trade in our desire for conflict-free lives for real peace? Will we trade in our selfish optimism for real hope?

Will we trade our Christianity for Jesus'?

That is God's call upon the life of the follower of Jesus. That is God's call upon the life of His churches.

It's Not About You

This is a plea for hope and joy, and it may or may not irritate you.

We have a new pastor. It's natural that in a church our size a few folks may not be happy with the arrangement or the choice made.

For me, it comes down to a few questions:
1) Do I trust my elders?
2) Do I trust the staff?
3) Do I trust God?

The answer to all these questions, for me, is Yes. I have learned enough about the elders over the last few months to know they are not acting naively and unwisely; I know their only agenda is BCC's best interest; I know they are men of prayer and conscience. I have learned enough about our staff over the last few months to know they are eager for a leader and a shepherd, and all I've spoken to believe Perez fits the bill. And I have learned enough about how the Spirit guides a church over the last few months to know God's plan for our church does not hinge on any one person but has actually been made manifest in our flaws and frailty.

And therefore, whether I've been able to sit down with David Perez and have him babysit all my insecurities and answer all my theological and ecclesiological concerns is besides the point. If I thought church was all about mirroring my wants and needs, I would have left BCC a long time ago (and would probably be still looking for that mythical Church That Fits Me).
This is not to say one should always agree with everything church leadership says or does. God knows, I don't. And I'm not encouraging anyone to ignore their conscience.

But I am saying you should bag your baggage. Zip it up in a duffel bag with a few bricks and toss it in a lake.
The Church -- and therefore the church -- is bigger than you. Do you think it exists first and foremost to serve you, or for it to be served by you?

I don't really know of anyone who objects to Perez's arrival. But I assume such people exist, and if one of them happens to be reading this . . . Suck it up. We are on kingdom business, and if you think the church is only as good as who's speaking, you haven't been paying attention for the last seven months.

These are exciting days, and I think we should be excited about them.

You can watch David Perez's announcement sermon to his Colorado congregation here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Know News

If you were at one of BCC's services this weekend, you know we now have a new lead pastor. David Perez, currently the pastor of Colorado Ridge Church in Broomfield, Colorado, has accepted our church's invitation to come join BCC's pastoral teaching team and be our senior pastor.

You can read a letter from Perez to his Colorado Ridge congregation here.

Yea, God!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Element Kicks Off

The Element Super Bowl Party is this Sunday at 4:30 pm in The Onion!

If you're 18 to thirty-whatever, a college student or young professional, single or married, cool or super-cool, come join us for free food, food drinks, and the big game on the big screen.
This is our launch party for the Element worship service, which begins the following Sunday (February 11) and continues every Sunday evening at 6:30 in The Onion.

Please note that Element kickboxing may not be as "extreme" as advertised; in fact, it may consist mainly of playing Rock'em Sock'em Robots. Or hopscotch, if we can find some chalk.

Conexus is Coming

BCC has experienced a renaissance of fellowship and discipleship in its community over the last six months. One of the best ways you can join this inward-outward-upward growth is to get involved in a Conexus small group.

Directories will be available this weekend. Pick up a print version at one of the weekend services or check out the listings on the Hope Park website.

The Conexus Rally will be held the weekend of February 10/11, so feel free to browse the group tables in the atrium, chat up group leaders, peruse materials, and get your name and info on a sign-up sheet. (As always, you can sign up online, as well.)

If you've ever complained about not knowing anybody at church, here's your opportunity for a remedy. Some great things happen in these groups. Great relationships form and real reconciliation happens. Don't miss out!

Conexus officially starts February 18.