Parental warning: If your kids are looking over your shoulder when you read this, you may have to explain terms you don't want to, thanks to Kinetic Church, Jefferson Hills Church, and me.
Last night, when I was looking at Jefferson Hills Church's blog to answer a comment from the comment page, I came across this post about a church in Charlotte, NC that posted a billboard in response to a thief stealing their trailer. Pastor Ben Gonzales thought it was great. Personally, I thought it was tacky. So I asked, "how is it appropriate for a church to suggest that the act of a thief has anything to do with the presence or size of his testicles?"
Well, as I scrolled down more, I noticed that they had a post that said they have a "no criticism" policy. I already noticed that comments were moderated (not that I blame them, on a church website ) but then I rolled my eyes and figured "this one probably isn't making it through the screener." I really just wanted to give feedback, and figured that was enough. Though without showing what I wrote, Pastor Gonzales responded to it (though without an answer to my question). Apparently, he'd like to meet me in a dark alley....
I am also apparently "hiding behind a computer." But wait a minute, isn't that the medium we are choosing to communicate in? I simply thought that he was communicating ideas on the computer, and I am communicating ideas on a computer. I believe that is the basic idea behind blogs and comment boxes on blogs. If he'd like, I can call him and ask him what testicles have to do with stealing a trailer. I would've asked him the same question to his face were I anywhere near the St. Louis area...but only some place public and well-lit.
He then referenced a list of how to deal with critics. I notice he jumped right to the anger stage with me, and then he bounced to ignore, because he told you that I criticized him (which I didn't, that time. In a response to that post I will admit that I said that his response was the opposite of what the billboard said the thieves had), but didn't tell you what I said (which I did tell you what I said) and then he told you how to deal with critics...but didn't follow the steps he showed were a good way to deal with critics. :)
If I could say more, I'd say "1.) Dude, you already moderate your comments. Hit delete and have a nice day. 2.) Your "policy" was put in a post that is almost off the page...not in your byline or on your sidebar. (in fact, it's pretty much gone now) 3). There is a difference between an attack and a question of your judgement. Blogs that allow comments are meant to allow dialogue, and at times, there ends up being dialogue you don't agree with. Do you often want to meet some woman in a back alley with no witnesses who merely asks a question about a billboard? If you do, you might try anger management. That's a little beyond Type - A issues."
That's the thing that I find really gets in the way of getting to a solution in the Synod. I was truly offended by that billboard, but because I am already in the church and not one of those souls that they are trying to win, my disagreement wasn't worth listening to. That is what life seems to be like more and more in the good ole' Missouri Synod. If they are trying to win souls for Christ, then we are supposed to say they have the best of intentions and back off, even when we have legitimate concerns about those methods. The current administration takes this stand, and the churches that are "breaking away from traditions" take this stand also.
They say we don't want to work with them, but in reality, they don't want to be bound by their denominational relationship to us (to be fair, both sides can be like that. The question is how can we reach out to the lost but still be true to our theology and let the cross be the only thing that offends).
When we supposedly cling to the same beliefs, unite in the same body, then we are obligated to listen to each other -- even when we don't like it. We are obligated to hear when a brother is offended by something we are doing, or concerned that the teaching is not orthodox. (or in my case, simply concerned that a church that puts up a billboard where my kids could see it that says "ballsy" can be held up as an example of good church planting technique. I usually relegate those kinds of car discussions explaining terms that I'd rather not to things on the billboards from "gentlemen's clubs" or when we go home to Vegas and see all the naked women on the taxi cabs), not to something from a church. If anyone should be considering that children are watching, it should be them.
My intention in posting what I did was actually not to attack. I am sorry it could be interpreted that way. I meant to say, I really don't see it that way, and I don't think it is appropriate for a church to go around deliberately offending anyone like that. "Wow, that took nerve." would've conveyed it even more clearly.
But shock value is the new trend in church growth. And it won't get better. I read a book once by a man who worked in the civil rights movement in the 1960s who was now advocating for the elimination of t.v., because it promoted violence. He said that in the civil rights movement, they continually had to up the ante on the violence, because due to media coverage, the public became bored with it, and they no longer could get attention through the same tactics. He said that it is how all t.v. is, and he is right, though making t.v. illegal is not the tact I would take. I have a choice not to have it in my home. Right now we have billboards from Satan (that really confused the unchurched and churched alike) and sermon series' on sex. I shudder to think what will be the next innovation. And that is what many Christians are concerned about. Will we try to shock and look so much not like a church to get people in that we really will not be a church..or the message will be completely lost? That is my fear.
Excuse me, my five year old started watching over my shoulder. I have to go explain "ballsy" to her now, and why it is a word we don't use, even if the person meant "gutsy". Don't let your kids learn to read early. In this world, where even the church thinks that profanity is cool, it will only cause you a big headache (like when I did have to explain that a gentlemen's club was a place where men went to not act like gentlemen to my 3 1/2 year old son). Luckily, she wasn't standing behind me when I was reading Jefferson Hill's blog, or I might have to figure out how to tell her that even though the pastor thinks it is an okay word to use, "pimp" doesn't really mean cool....its a man who enslaves women and makes money off of them.