Me on Stephen on Shannon on Mark Driscoll on Joel Osteen (Pt. 1)

Having some fun with the title there :0)

For anyone visiting, this is my response to the discussion from a previous post. Read the comments there, and the title will make sense too…

So, first, I’m sure this response will be fairly long. So wait ’till you have 10 minutes to read it.

Second, I am LOVING this discussion. I really, really don’t see it as a couple of cocky 20-something theologians arguing about something they don’t understand amounting to morons… This is an amazingly important discussion right now, especially in light of the world we live in. The so called ‘prosperity gospel’ is more popular than ever. A couple days ago, Steph and I were in the gym, and there was a special on the morning news about how a US senator is trying to audit the 6 main ‘prosperity’ teachers to figure out how they spend their money. It pointed out how Creflo Dollar has TWO Rolls Royces, Joyce Meyer bought a $23,000 toilet bowl, and an $18,000 kitchen table, etc… It made christianity look like a bunch of crap. Half of me wanted to cry, and the other half wanted to throw up.

And the whole emerging/emergent ‘conversation’ is incredibly relevant. You have a movement of people who are asking really good questions, but mingled in there are some really unorthodox suggestions. And one of the key questions is ‘what is heaven all about?’. I heard an interview with Doug Pagitt a couple weeks ago where he very clearly argued that heaven is not a place where you go. He said maybe it’s a state of consciousness, maybe it’s something that gets established here on earth… but he was adamant that you can’t think of it as a place (I’ll send the link to the interview if you’re interested, but it was a terrible interview. The host was just a jerk. He made me ashamed to agree with him, and made Doug look pretty smart)

And that leads to the third reason why this is a good conversation to have: Mark Driscoll jokes a lot about geeks with blogs who live with their parents and just criticize everything all day. And it’s funny, but it’s true, and very serious if you ask me.

I love to read blogs and listen to sermons. Probably listen to 15 or so sermons a week. I listen to Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Stephen Furtick, JD Greear… a list that includes a wide range of folks. And I read a lot of pastor’s blogs and seminary students’ blogs… and I’d say at least 50% of what people write about is criticizing other BELIEVERS. We — the Church — paint a picture to the world around us that we can’t even agree about what we believe, and that we’re really not so interested in building the Kingdom as we are in building our portion of the Kingdom bigger than our neighbor’s. I sincerely believe that the vast majority of pastors in America are going to get to heaven and realize that most of their life’s labor did not store up any treasure in heaven because their heart’s motives were mostly prideful… and this makes sense to me because I am the chief of sinners.

And yet this is a double-edged sword, because even right now, by identifying this issue, I am somewhat of a hypocrite, because now I’m drawing negative attention to the Church.

So, all that to say, this is a great conversation to have, and I am excited about it.

So much so, that I think I’ve decided to break this down into chunks, so as not to deter anyone from reading along. So here’s part one. Hopefully part two won’t be long coming…

In the meantime, point your friends this way… let’s have some fun!

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2 Responses

  1. I have the privilege of attending Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC, which is pastored by Stephen Furtick. Never in my life have I looked so forward to attending church every Sunday morning as since my wife and I began to attend Elevation. The things which impressed me were multitude. Virtually everyone is full of the joy of Christ, the volunteers (over 800 of them) work hard to operate a church which has no building of its own (Elevation has five services in two different public high schools in Charlotte). Young people (20’s & 30’s) lead the church, so it is contemporary and absolutely full of energy. Pastor Furtick preaches the gospel as straight as I have seen in my 60-plus years. What I call the “honesty factor” is off the scale. One rarely hears a negative comment. The church leadership is absolutely dedicated to winning people to Christ and discipling them. And, they treat their pastor with respect and honor him for the man of God he is. I have rarely met a more humble man in my life. All I can say is: praise God for Stephen Furtick and the rest of the staff at Elevation Church. A short P.S.: the pastoral staff has the energy of youth coupled with the dedication of seasoned veterans.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jerry.

    I’ve been watching what God has been up to down at Elevation for about a year and a half now…

    It’s amazing.

    I have to confess, I feel like the leadership is little bit obsessed with numbers, but I guess they’re really obsessed with reaching people with the Gospel, so that’s awesome!

    I actually emailed the church about a year ago when I was praying a lot about the possibility of changing churches. I wanted some Godly council from someone who didn’t know me and wasn’t connected with the situation.

    A few weeks later, I spent an hour and a half on the phone with pastor Larry. He asked me a lot of questions and helped me discern my motives and fears, and gave me some great advice. I might still be stuck in a bad situation if it weren’t for the time he took for a stranger!

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