Friday, May 09, 2008

Okay, I Should've Known Better

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.


Courtney said...

I agree with some of the things that you are saying, but there is one thing that I have a question about. Where would you rather have your children learn about sex? It is addressed in the Bible. Are we just supposed to ignore that? What about the people who are coming to your church who aren't believers, once they become a believer where do they learn about sex appropriately? There is a whole book in the Bible devoted to this, you should check it out.

utahrainbow said...

Ironically, some of the most ba...uh, gutsy ones around lately are some Lutheran WOMEN who know their theological stuff in the face of guys like this. A little off subject, but in the aftermath of the Issues issue, etc. its been neat to see these smart, faithful Lutheran women speak up and defend the treasures we have as Lutherans. By the way, the post on the JHC blog after the one directed at you might shed some light on their (unfortunate) mindset regarding the subject of giving offense.

Courtney, the churches RPW was referring to were not teaching about sex from a Christian perspective. They were using slangy, flippant language in an attempt to be cool. I'm pretty sure she is not shy about Christian sexuality and teaching that to her children. Likewise, I don't think anyone is opposed to speaking about sex at church, but it ought to be grounded in God's Word, not just used to color our speech so we sound cool. I don't really want my kids to color their speech as such, why would we condone it from pastors?

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


I believe that the family and the church are definitely the places to learn about how sex within the context of marriage is God-pleasing and very beautiful. I'm a big fan myself. I also believe that church is the place where we go to be healed from many of the injuries that we have received from sexual sins and attitudes.

I am very open with my children about sex, the beautiful gift that it is, and also in pointing out how the worship of sex and its misuse in our life causes so much damage.

I am also a breastfeeding counselor. My children have grown up seeing babies being nursed, even seeing their playmates being nursed, and think that it is normal. They also both were old enough to remember weaning. I have nursed babies in every environment from the privacy of my home, to the shopping mall, to the pew at church. Mostly discreetly, without people even being aware that I was nursing them. God created breastfeeding as a way of feeding our babies, and while breasts are wonderful for sexual pleasure, they also were put there to feed babies, and as a culture, we have gotten very confused about that. Women can be everywhere with almost no clothes on, but feed a baby...and you're disgusting.

We had our children in bed with us when they were little. There have been times when they awoke to find us enjoying some of these blessings of marriage, and I don't think that is awful or damaging. Throughout history, this has always been a reality of life. In many parts of the world, children share sleeping quarters with their parents.

The church services that I am talking about referred to a sermon series that was put together by a church in Michigan and was actively marketed in a way that was to designed to shock people. The actual topics were very valuable, but they would've been better in a Bible Study because then there could've been discussion and the focus of the church service wasn't taken away from what God does for us, but was put on our own actions and on steps you can take to do better. There is precious little gospel or healing in it. There is "God forgives you now you need to do better."

We live in a culture that has normalized sex outside of marriage (made it so the feelings and the desires associated with that are better than the ones associated with the comfort, the intimacy, and the love, and even the routine associated within marriage). Even married sex often is overwhelmed with the idea of "try this technique to drive him nuts" or "buy this product to make sex more exciting," live out this fantasy so that you pretend that you are not married to bring a little spark back to your sex life.

What I am talking about is being bothered by the fact that even if we choose to watch a "family" television program with the appropriate ratings, the commercials and promotions are not required to abide by those standards. Requests for courtesy in this regard is countered by "freedom of speech." Remember when people knew better than to say things in front of children?

I am bothered by the fact that my children are inundated with pictures of women and of sex that is consumer-based. I do talk with them about this. I wish I didn't have to talk with them about it SO MUCH.

I do use Song of Solomon as a model of what it should be. I love Song of Solomon and have read it many times. But even Solomon lost the picture of what God designed marriage to be, and I pray for my kids that they do not.

I am not ignorant enough to think that there have not been periods like this throughout history, and Christians have managed to live through them. And partially what we do is to teach our children right and wrong based on what they are confronted with. I do that. I just don't appreciate that the Emergent Churches in our Synod have decided to add themselves to the billboards and messages that I end up having to explain to my children. I don't like having to hold up these pastors and congregations as examples of how not to do it. I wish they had a little more common sense.

Thursday's Child said...

Oh, please run for public office. We need more brainy...and gutsy (and I DO mean "gutsy")...people like you running things. It would certainly be nice for a change.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


God bless you, but I don't think that's my vocation. I do hope that God blesses us with good leaders though that can confront some of these things.

Pastor Kent R. Schaaf said...

I was driving home from Lowe's Motor Speedway last weekend here in Charlotte and I saw that billboard concerning the church robbery. I about ran off the road, mainly out of scheer laughter. I serve here in Charlotte and have not heard about that church and the robbery that took place. However, as soon as I saw that billboard I thought of JHC and thought..."which came first?" I love how these two churches are using "hip" terms today. JHC said "JHC sucks" and the Charlotte church called the theif "ballsy". Don't you love how the church is condoning such great language for all to see? And I know those thieves were quaking in their boots when they saw the sign. Good grief.

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