Five-Hundred Years Later; Still, 95 Reasons Why…

This October 31st marks the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In the same spirit that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors of Wittenberg Chapel, we offer this list of offences. This list has been compiled by numerous Pastors, Professors, Authors, Church leaders and followers of Jesus Christ, across North America. This group consisted of various ethnicities, different socio-economic status and genders.

The purpose of this list is not to encourage division, but to help increase the awareness to the seriousness of the current issues that are facing the evangelical Christian church.  This list is not directed at any specific evangelical Christian Church, even though there may be several things on the list that your church may be guilty of.

It is no secret that millennials have been and are continuing to be disengaged from the evangelical Christian church, and here may lie some of the reasons why.  The hope is that by humbly understanding what millennials are saying about the evangelical church, we will be able to improve and correct the current wrongs. This is the only way that the evangelical church will be able to re-connect with millennials and not lose future generations. 

CONGREGATIONAL SINS

1. You are full of idol worship.

2. Your buildings have become your idols.

3. You have made the Bible into an idol.

4. You have committed adultery with the Scriptures in loving them more than God.

5. You have made pragmatism and ability your idol.

6. In your addiction to church “programs”, you have made them your idol.

7. You have made efficiency your god.

8. Your love of money is humiliating.

9. Money has become the main factor in decision-making.

10. Money, not truth, has become the driving force behind the translation of the Bible.

11. The majority of your tithes goes to “paying the bills” and not to community needs.

12. You have turned the church into a marketplace by marketing the gospel.

13. Personal safety dominates your mindset rather than the will of God.

14. You have become defined by your judgemental attitude – not your love.

15. You manipulate the Bible to justify your silence.

16. You treat women as second-class citizens.

17. Your silence on matters of human rights is abominable.

18. You have allowed human/ sex trafficking and slavery to exponentially grow without being seriously addressed by the church.

19. Your neutrality towards those who are oppressed because of race is disgusting.

20. Your decision to stay neutral when our indigenous people are abused and taken advantage of is deplorable.

21. Your decision to stay neutral when it comes to defending the covenants made with natives is shameful.

22. You abuse the foreigner and immigrant.

23. You have tolerated ethnocentrism.

24. Your intolerance of people from other religious beliefs breaks the heart of God.

25. You spend more time inside your building walls than in the community that you claim you belong to.

26. You are scared to get close to people.

27. You have not taken the time to understand gender issues correctly.

28. Learning to love those with sexual identity struggles is not a priority.

29. You are unable to love those who identify as LGBTQ+.

30. You judge those who are different before you get to know them.

31. You have failed to create a place of safety for those who have been abused.

32. You turn a blind eye to the sick and wounded.

33. You have neglected to address cases of sexual abuse within the church.

34. You are more concerned with your own image, rather than the image of God.

 

CHURCH LEADERSHIP FAILURES

35. You are controlled by fear.

36. You use fear to manipulate those who may think differently.

37. You are obsessed with the idea of physical and emotional comfort.

38. You easily confuse politics and the desires of God.

39. The leadership of your local churches are power hungry, manipulative, and serve their own interests, instead of the commands of Christ.

40. In your pursuit of control, you have neglected the sovereignty of God.

41. You have elevated and glorified the position of senior pastor.

42. You have turned a blind eye to the thousands of church leaders who are addicted to pornography.

43. The church’s authority lies in your local or denominational leadership, and not in the Holy Spirit.

44. Your desire to be “right” overshadows God’s command to love.

45. You speak of agape love, but have settled for conditional love.

46. You abuse those (pastors) who are called to serve among you.

47. You have built a system that unhealthily relies upon the pastor for spiritual growth.

48. Keeping those in your buildings “comfortable” overshadows your love for the lost.

49. You have failed to go to the nations.

50. You have turned missions into “colonization”.

51. You have brought “western culture” to lost peoples, and not the love of Jesus.

52. Your failure to learn and appreciate other cultures has led the world to associating “Jesus” with “white culture”.

53. You have taught children that they do not belong in the worship experience with adults.

54. You have oppressed the younger generations whom God has called to serve.

55. You have neglected to teach the “whys” behind what we believe, resulting in generations of religiosity and legalism.

56. You refuse to believe God can be worshiped in different styles and forms other than what is acceptable to you.

57. You use the excuse, “it’s tradition” to stifle progress.

58. Family has become second priority over ministry work.

59. Your apathy in connecting with this generation is not concerning to you.

60. Your close mindedness toward the discoveries of science has led to an inappropriate view of God.

61. Your inability to admit and ask for forgiveness from those you have clearly wronged is evidence of your complete arrogance.

62. When disagreements arise within the local church, you settle for division- over unity.

63. You honor Christ with your lips but your heart is far from Him.

64. Your exclusivity of like-minded people has pushed out thousands.

65. You have deemed this generation’s demand for truth as rebellion.

66. You have allowed the “prosperity gospel” to mislead thousands of people with heretical teachings.

67. You have been misled to believe a heretical understanding of a “successful church”.

 

THEOLOGICAL FAILURES

68. You have forgotten how to pray, you focus on continual “asking” instead of seeking the will of God.

69. You have made Jesus “white” and expect those who follow Christ to act accordingly.

70. The Lord’s Supper has become a measurement for who is holier.

71. You have forgotten how to be led by the Holy Spirit.

72. You have minimized the role and power of the Holy Spirit.

73. You marginalize the Holy Spirit by presenting polished sermons every week.

74. You worship war and violence instead of peace and compassion.

75. You have a high view of scripture, yet a low view of Jesus.

76. You have failed to acknowledge and teach on the humanity of Jesus.

77. You have mistaken sexual repression and oppression for sexual purity.

78. You have removed the holiness of sexuality.

79. You obsess over having new converts but this has led to tolerating a heretical teaching on salvation.

80. You have defiled salvation by teaching that it is contingent on saying “the sinner’s prayer”.

81. You have misled many into a false security of salvation.

82. Your passion for people stops after the salvation experience.

83. You are ignorant of pagan practices and influences, and therefore have filled the church with pagan practices on your quest to be “biblical”.

84. Your failure to correctly interpret and understand scripture has led to many false and heretical teachings.

85. You teach that “blessings” come in forms of comfort, getting what you want, health, and success.

86. You teach that the “church” is a local congregation while failing to acknowledge the universal church of believers that exists worldwide.

87. Your desire to “know” and “prove” everything in relation to God, has minimized the sovereignty and love of God.

88. You inappropriately teach an Old Testament version of tithing; you impose it and frown down upon those that do not conform to it.

89. “Worship” has been defined by singing, but you have failed to teach the importance of a life lived in worship.

90. You elevate a concert-like environment of worship, instead of a genuine Spirit-led worship encounter.

91. Your desire to build a concert-like environment causes your resources to be spent on materialistic items, rather than towards building the Kingdom at a local and global level.

92. Your emphasis on a performance-level worship shuns those with a genuine heart to serve.

93. You have led your congregations astray by singing heretical songs.

94. You glorify large churches rather than small gatherings that are filled with the Holy Spirit

95. You have neglected to teach a sufficient theology on death and the after life.

Advertisements

My Ministry Regrets…

The following is my personal regrets in regards to pastoral ministry over the past 10 years, mixed with a bit of satire. Theses regrets do not reflect on one specific church or congregation but are rather a summary of my feelings. These regrets are not meant to be taken personally, unless a personal reference is made.

 

  1. I put too much trust in the Church leaders:

Well before I even get there, I have to say that I have worked in churches where it was evident by the things certain people said or did, that they did not even have a relationship with Jesus. Like straight up disgusting decisions to lie, cheat or even treat a person differently based on their race or socio-economic status.

I made the mistake of trusting church leaders to make the right decisions and lead the church in a “godly manner” which I can admit now; was a huge regret. I would happily swap in any of my middle school kids to replace those “church elders” to serve—they would have been increasingly more effective, loving and caring. I stupidly trusted them when they said they would do something, or have my back in a decision…only to be thrown under the bus literally hours later. They will kick you when you are down.

Church leaders will always put their needs and agenda before you as a pastor. It doesn’t matter how good of a pastor you are or how much you accomplish. Once you fulfill what they want, you are dispensable—like a tampon.

  1. I should have just stuck to running programs:

I thought I knew better, I tried my best to build relationship with the people I worked with. Such as the student leaders, adult leaders and students. Relationship building is my strength, but a majority of the churches I served at, were not comfortable with that. I can recall over a dozen times where relational ministry was challenged with statements like:

“Oh…that means we have to get to know each other?”

“This makes me uncomfortable. I am not ready for this type of commitment.”

“I feel this is inappropriate.”

I apologize, we all know that Jesus was a robot who never had a relationship with anyone, which made going to the cross as non-emotional as possible. Jesus doesn’t really want a relationship with humanity…he just wants the idea of one because who would really want to get to know you?

Not sure what kind of ministry is done without “relationships” but sign me up…it might help me keep a pastoral job longer. Even Scotty P isn’t that stupid..

cd348d44080e6347ec6a63cf1691a78a--tattoo-removal-bad-tattoos

  1. I underestimated the power of “church bullshit”:

Church politics? Let’s be real. It’s bullshit; straight from the pit of hell if you ask me. It disgusts me to the point of increasing my need to vomit—truth be told I actually have vomited due to church bullshit.

However, I regret that I didn’t engage in the gossip, backstabbing and slander that occurred in the churches I served in. I think it would have really opened my mind to see who in fact were the “douche-bags” in the church. I could have also exercised my passive aggressive nature to tear some people down so I could earn my stripes with the rest of the “church bullies”.

God knows I have a ton of juicy stuff people told me in confidence, affairs, lies people have been living for years, stealing from work, drug usage, habitual masturbation, church leaders who were actively abusing their children, catching couples engaging in oral sex in the church…man I could have put all that stuff on blast just like them!

Church bullshit can literally tear a church apart. Ever wonder why so many people have left your church? Yes, my finger is pointing right at it, church bullshit.

  1. I invested too much time into people:

I regret wasting my time investing in people. Let me re-phrase, wasting it on people who don’t matter. There are a handful of people in every church that are a waste of time. They are usually considered “trouble makers”, “tough kids” or “emotional sponges” but behind closed doors, church leaders call them “a waste of time”.

I normally found myself drawn to this group of people. This group would be known for their “un-church like attitudes”, smelling of body odor or drugs, their “always wanting to fight you” or tell you off and best yet, their always wanting to be with you…wherever you go.

I should have been more like Jesus, with investing my time with the righteous and the goody goodies. Jesus knew how to do ministry; un-relational, impersonal and with the righteous.

      5. I should have insisted on an hourly salary:

No joke here. Pastors are the most taken advantage among all professions. What other job do you literally work 60-70 hours a week on average, plus be available all hours of the day for immediate email response, house calls, hospital visits, phone calls AND meetings that run until 1:00am? Even if I was paid minimum wage I would have made way more than I did on salary.

If I were to take the highest monthly salary I was ever paid, and divided it by the actual hours I put in…I would come close to $6 an hour. At the end of the day, you can’t help but feel very appreciated. Thanks for showing me how much I am worth to you, truly heart warmed. Oh and I would definitely would have charged a fee every time I had to deal with church bullshit…that would add up real fast, trust me 😉

“..sorry let’s pause, before we continue please swipe your credit card for a bullshit fee, I waived it last time…but this time you gotta pay up” 😉

 

God & Human Sacrifices…Wait What About Jesus? 

Lately I have been trying to wrap my brian around this question…

If God (Yahweh) does not accept human sacrifices, how could Jesus’ sacrifice be an acceptable payment for our sins?

In Deuteronomy 12:31 & 18:10, Yahweh states that he is different than all the other pagan gods and will not accept human sacrifices. All the other pagan nations that surrounded the Israelites practiced human & child sacrifice as part of their worship. Yahweh declared that such “worship” was detestable to him and that he hates it (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10). It’s appropriate to understand human sacrifice is associated in the Old Testament with evil practices such as sorcery and divination, which are also detestable to God (2 Kings 21:6). Abraham was never in danger of losing Isaac and Jephthah due to his ignorance, sacrificed his daughter to Yahweh–talk about a sacrificers remorse >.<

So, if God (Yahweh) detests human sacrifices, how could Christ’s sacrifice on the cross be acceptable as sufficient payment for our sins?

“There is no doubt that a sacrifice for sin was necessary if people are to have any hope of eternal life. God established the necessity of the shedding of blood to cover sin (Hebrews 9:22). In fact, God Himself performed the very first animal sacrifice to cover, temporarily, the sin of Adam and Eve. After He pronounced curses upon the first couple, He killed an animal, shedding its blood, and made from it a covering for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21), thereby instituting the principle of animal sacrifice for sin.” -Chuck Swindoll

Yahweh gave Moses a crap load of laws and in those laws there were instructions on how, when, and under what circumstances animal sacrifices were to be offered to him. This was how it was until Christ’s sacrifice made animal sacrifice no longer necessary.

“But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3–4).

So why does Christ’s sacrifice not violate those laws?

Well for one, Jesus was not just a human; because if he were his sacrifice would have also been a temporary one because one human life couldn’t possibly cover the sins of the multitudes who ever existed. One finite human life could never atone for sin against an infinite God. A sufficient sacrifice must be an infinite one, which means only Yahweh himself could atone for the sins of mankind. Only Yahweh himself, an infinite being, could pay the penalty owed to himself (mind bending I know). This is why God had to become a man and dwell among men (John 1:14). No other sacrifice would suffice.

Also, Yahweh did not sacrifice Jesus. Rather, Jesus, as God incarnated, sacrificed himself on his own accord. He gave his life willingly, as he said:

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).

(We may often read this scripture as Jesus referring to man and their inability to take away his life, but it is also in reference to the Father. Jesus was drawing a distinction between the Father’s will and his obedience. For it was only through his obedience that he was able to remain sinless therefore, being able to qualify as a sufficient sacrifice). 

So even in the garden when Jesus seems to protest the will of the Father “not my will, but yours be done”. It may seem as if Jesus’ arm is being twisted to go to the cross. However, just as we humans need to be taught obedience, Jesus had to learn it as well. His obedience was a direct reflection of his trust in the Father.

Jesus went to the cross out of obedience and his desire to please the Father in all that he did.

Jesus did not go to the cross thinking “I’m doing this for people!” no he went thinking “I am doing this out of obedience for the Father” (We need to correct this faulty theolgy in the church).  The main mission of Jesus was obedience to the Father. For it was through the incarnation of Jesus that we are able to see the Father.  “If you have seen me you have seen the Father. So do not say ‘show us the Father’ for when you say that it seems like I haven’t taught you anything,” (John 14:8-14, PJV)

Jesus sacrificed himself to the Father and fulfilled all the requirements of the Deuteronomy laws. Only he (being fully God and fully man) could do that. However, even after all this amazing stuff…everything hinged on the resurrection. Without the resurrection Jesus would have been just another “cool dude” who did miracles (pretty common in those days) and was executed for making false claims (another thing that was pretty common in those days).

Jesus’ divinity alone, disqualified him from being rendered merely as a human sacrifice. His willingness to offer himself to pay the debt of wrath that was owed by humanity in addition to his complete obedience, simply put; Jesus made the Father “an offer that he could not refuse”.

How Should I Pick A Song Set?

I don’t know how many times I have been asked this question. For any Worship Leader, this is can easily become the most stressful part of the week…it can even lead to sleepless nights, I can promise you I have had a good share of my own sleepless nights tossing and turning and second guessing the chosen set. So here is my “two cents”…I’ve broken it down into two ways of picking a set:

Beginner: We all have to start somewhere. I remember back when I first started leading worship…I was 18 and only had a general idea of what I was doing, but not nearly enough to know—that I had no idea what I was doing. So as a beginner I started by…

  1. Waiting until the title of the sermon is released, which is usually on a Thursday night, then read the passage and pray to God that the pastor isn’t using the message version…or else you will have to go find a real Bible to read the passage over.
  2. Then you take time to decipher the topic, and hopefully it is a very easy topic like grace, or Jesus’ love, or trusting God.
  3. Then as a beginner I would hit up Google or iwillworship.com or www.songselect.com and type in the topic and see what songs popped up that had those key words in it.
  4. Then I would chose 3-5 songs that I was familiar with and organize them from “soft” to “loud” or vice versa…and then BAM there was my set!

Now there is no shame in using option #1 if you are starting out as a worship leader, but the problem is if you stay there week after week, year after year. As a worship leader we need to continually grow and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. And what I am really saying when I say that is;

“We need to learn to rely less and less on ourselves and rely more and more on the Holy Spirit in every aspect of our worship preparation.”

As we mature as worship leaders our worship preparation should look more like this…

Mature:

  1. Start the week by spending time in prayer and seeking direction from the Holy Spirit. If in fact the Holy Spirit is leading the pastor who is preaching, the Spirit will be leading you as well toward the same goal that he has for the coming week.
  1. Since it is not about us and what we can do, we start the week by surrendering our control to the Spirit to do what HE wants. This is a huge step of faith because we have to trust that HE will be leading all elements of the service towards what HE wants to say through us. As we take this posture of surrender and trust, the Holy Spirit will come through and reveal to you what songs and in what way HE wants you to do them. If you are sincere in seeking this out, your job as a worship leader becomes much easier. After He reveals to you what songs and theme He wants you to do, you are ready for the next step…
  1. MORE PRAYER! No joke, more prayer is needed. This time you should be praying…”How should I do these songs?” Maybe the Spirit wants you to do the whole set acapella or acoustic rather than with a whole band. I don’t know and neither should you decide until the Spirit directs you. Again keep pressing into what the Spirit is revealing to you. However, you need to be prepared with a pencil and a notepad. Jot down what the Spirit is speaking to you. Soon enough, you will have both songs and arrangement down. The first time doing this will be nerve racking…and maybe a little scary.

The first few times I did this, I couldn’t eat all week. My stomach was in knots and I couldn’t do anything except keep praying that I was getting everything the Spirit wanted, right, and I wasn’t missing anything. The last thing I wanted to do was to get something wrong or leave something out.

  1. After you have everything down, you start working on how to include the worship band into what the Spirit has directed you to do. Maybe for that week you have the whole band scheduled to play but the Spirit has been impressing upon you to do a two acoustic set with only two vocals…you need to communicate to the rest of the band that they are not needed to play that week. Say what? Yeah…that’s not easy to do, but if your band members are seeking God like you have been they will not only agree to it but they will expect it…why? Because the Spirit was revealing that to them too. Amazing how that works! Now if your band is not at that level of spiritual maturity…things may get a bit complicated. But you as a leader are here to teach your band members along with the church body.

I remember leading worship at Fourth Memorial in Spokane, and when the band showed up for practice, they were ready and willing to do whatever the Spirit wanted. During that time we had an amazing drummer who loved to drum and he was good…like he could have been playing for any of the big named rock bands out there…like he was that good. So when he showed up and I was like “yo man I need you on the djembe tonight, instead of the full kit” or “we are going with a two guitar set tonight” he never protested and was excited to be contributing in that way or even sitting the week out to support by sitting with the church body. It was the same deal with the vocalist and other musicians as well. This took a lot of pressure off of me, its comforting to play with a group of people who not only trusted you but trusts that you are following what the Spirit has been leading you to do.

Now this doesn’t mean you are closed to input. Just as much as we as leaders, desire for our band to trust us, we need to trust that they are being lead by the Spirit too. So once you clearly explain where the set is going and what the Spirit has been impressing upon you, when they offer suggestions, take them into consideration and work with them. I am not a pianist, as much as I have tried in the past to learn to play the piano, it is beyond me…so when my pianist suggests an interlude with a specific progression that will allow for a break in the action, if you will, for the church body to have time to meditate on the words before we go back into the bridge, of course I will listen. Often times the Spirit will confirm that this is the way to go or not. Cool how that works huh?

From the couple years when I lead worship at Fourth Memorial, I can’t remember one time where the Spirit led me wrong. I always looked forward to connecting with the pastor minutes before we took the stage, about what he was preaching on that week…and guess what? The sermon and music set ALWAYS went hand in hand! So often was the case that they pastor and I would marvel at how perfect the set and message went together…and we never talked during the week! It was all the Spirit leading the both of us toward what HE wanted to accomplish during the time.

I would encourage every worship leader and worship teams to strive for this approach. Changing to this way of preparation will not happen over night though. It is as much as a mental and physical change as much as it is a heart change. It is about coming to terms with the willingness to surrender ALL to the Spirit to do what He wants to do with the time of music.

You will experience some push back from the less spiritual mature in your church but do not waiver, take this time to teach and challenge them. It is always going to make people uncomfortable when control is taken away. But remember just because you lead worship or play on the worship band…it doesn’t mean you have arrived spiritually. You still have ways to go in learning about our Triune God and how much we lack in truly trusting Him. (If this already is making you nervous, wait until I get to Spirit led worship in another blog).

I can tell you that when you prepare this way, when you walk off stage, the feeling you have is drastically different than when you prepared like option #1. There is such a freeing feeling that it wasn’t you, and you know it. You are just a follower and a vessel that the Spirit decided to use to accomplish his purpose. And nothing feels better than knowing that the God of the universe used you for his purpose! Of course, He could have done it all by himself, but HE received glory in how we trusted and surrendered to Him—wait…isn’t that the goal of worship that we talked about before? Exactly.