The New Christians

The New Christians


Rick Advises Pastors

posted by Tony Jones

I think that Rick Bennett is one of the most under-appreciated emergbloggers around.  Today he’s decided to dole out some advice to pastors.  He and his family have been looking for a church, so he knows of what he speaks.  A few of my faves:

3. Wear shirts that fit. Don’t raid Ed Young, Jr.’s wardrobe. Please. Heck, put on a freakin‘ suit if you need to. And, if you like those tight shirts, lose weight.

17. Offer some snacks and coffee, but don’t brag about it. Wow! You have
Starbucks. I will now come to your church. I mean, you just saved me
$2.00 per week. What a bargain. Conversely, if you have fair trade (and
you should!), let us know. And, don’t just offer fattening donuts. You
are a church and gluttony is a sin.

21. If you actually value the place of women in your church, give them
something to do besides greeter, nursery or back up singer. Your words
betray you.

And last… stop trying to make your church seem so cool. It is
not. It is church. Church does not equal cool. Your marketing should be
honest, not an attempt to show how cool and “with it” you are. The more
you try, the worse you look. Just tell us who you are and invite us
along for the ride. I have seen too many churches trying to be cool and
being inauthentic. If you are a suburb church, don’t act like a city
church. If you are all suburbanites, we will notice when you move your
church into the city to be edgy and then drive home to suburbia. If you
don’t like poor people, justice and art do not fake it just to make us
come to your church. You have turned important things into marketing
points and propaganda. We notice when you are faking it, probably before you do.



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adam lehman

posted March 31, 2009 at 11:57 am


beautiful.
i’ll pass this into my sr. pastor when/if I turn in my 2 weeks notice…



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LutheranChik

posted March 31, 2009 at 11:57 am


If you actually value the place of women in your church, give them something to do besides greeter, nursery or back up singer.
Like pastor, bishop, deacon, council president, maybe?
I admit to some confusion about what “emergent” is all about, but if this is a discussion still being held in your churches I sincerely hope that some of your congregations’ attitudes toward women emerge from the 19th century.



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jhimm

posted March 31, 2009 at 12:06 pm


Can we get someone to write a similar letter to “seekers” who are the reason too many churches have begun this distasteful practice of marketing themselves?



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Sara

posted March 31, 2009 at 12:18 pm


Amen LutheranChik! Amen!



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kristi

posted March 31, 2009 at 12:49 pm


ouch, jhimm! don’t get me wrong: i can’t stand “seeker-sensitive” type churches, but to say that “seekers” are the reason too many churches have begun this distasteful practice of marketing themselves? i think these churches started off with great intentions, the main one being to reach out to people who weren’t in church (remember bill hybels? ever heard him speak? talk about a man with compassion for his neighbors). so i don’t think it’s the seekers’ fault at all. i think it’s the fault of the people in the church who ran too FAR with the seeker mentality, until they had allowed themselves to look like marketing firms.
if you are trying to imply that “seekers” are people who are already Christians who are trying to find a church (like our family), then it seems like maybe you are just being rude…but i don’t want to assume. so maybe some clarification? :)



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Rick Bennett

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:02 pm


Tony,
Thanks for the kind words about my little (and I mean, very little) blog. I hope people take it with the spirit I intended (slightly snotty, but well meaning because I actually love the church and its leaders, but I am still a bit of a punk… so).
Happy Freakin” Birthday.
Rick



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Tom Grimm

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:13 pm


I like Rick even though he prefers to be a bit “snotty” and I know he does love the church cause he loves guys like me…he’s just saying what a bunch of us think but rarely say. Glad we have him to punch around!



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Greg Gorham

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm


No offense intended to Rick Bennett, but I think this sort of thing goes to exemplify what is wrong with American Christianity. We approach churches just like we approach shopping or eating out. Its all about MY wants, and MY needs, and MY preferences, and MY preferred way of doing church. So we go “church shopping” until we find the one that fits ME the best. It’s Consumer Christianity, pure and simple, and I’ve been guilty of it as well.
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with trying to find a church that fits you, but it quite easily goes way beyond that. One of the most exciting things God has shown me lately (or at least I found it exciting, it’s actually fairly basic, but a needed antidote to this consumer mentality we bring into the church) is that you get far, far, far more when you give first. The church I’m at tends to pretty conservative, almost fundamentalist, and I have a host of concerns with the doctrine, style of service, the things that we emphasize and the things that we don’t, etc. But I also run the Youth Group, and get basically free rein there. It is, quite easily, one of the most rewarding things I have ever been involved in. It’s an amazing, wonderful experience, and an incredible blessing. So I stay at the church, not because its meeting all MY needs, but because I have something to offer. God is using me in ways I don’t understand in the lives of these kids, and that’s worth more to me than all my reservations combined.
Maybe if, instead of critically examining every church we enter to create an itemized list of what is wrong and what they should do differently, we looked around to see what their needs were and whether God may want to use us to help meet them, we wouldn’t have so many dead churches and such a passive, spectator mentality outside of the pulpit.



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Ted Seeber

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:21 pm


I never thought of myself as a church shopper- heck, I’m Roman Catholic, I go to my local parish, right? But sure enough, when I met my wife, I was between homes, she was only one parish over from the priest I had in high school, and I was commuting 500 miles a week anyway so why not take her there for RCIA?
Sure enough, we were married in that parish, moved just two towns over in a large metro area (We live in Beaverton, OR)- and today we commute past two Catholic parishes to still go to St. Clare’s in Portland.
And I’m a Knight of Columbus- in yet another parish because St. Clare’s doesn’t have a council.
Far more important than the “marketing” is this- are you in a parish that is active enough for you with a variety of ministries, and is able to fulfill where you are in your life?
Oh, and happy birthday Tony.



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Greg Gorham

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm


BTW, I understand this was to be taken tongue-in-cheek. I just found it rubbed me the wrong way today. We’ve had a number of folks hit the exit door lately because of asinine issues (too much praise and worship and not enough hymns, the Pastor took a break from expository preaching and instead did a topical series for 6 weeks – we’re abandoning the Bible, we don’t host enough big evangelizing events that I won’t take the time to set up myself), and I just can’t help but think if some of these folks would stop whining and start trying to make a difference in the church and with the people around them, the church would be in radically different place today.



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kristi

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:31 pm


greg, it’s precisely because you are working inside a church that you are saying what you are saying. we have been in that same position before, and i think it’s a different beast altogether when you actually work on staff somewhere and have at least a bit of control over some of what happens there. you can be less critical–way less, because after all, they do put food on your table. so i wouldn’t expect you to want to compile a list of what might need to be changed.
also, lest you think we are just “shopping,” i can assure you with every fiber of my being that we are not. for 5 years we have been looking, and in between times we have tried starting our own thing in our home. we do not expect to go to any church and have it be perfect. but we do find it disheartening that so many of the churches in this area focus way too much on external “crap” and don’t really try to get down to the point of serving Jesus.
and although churches might “say” that they welcome anyone who wants to change things, shake things up, with open arms, we have seen this proven otherwise time and again. we have tried to have deep conversations with people, about, for example, living with less and simplifying our life or living in community, after which we are greeted with blank stares and fake smiles that scream, “oh, we don’t want to go that deep.”
honestly, i can say that we are just hungry for community, and i can firmly say it’s tough to find around here.



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Matt Cleaver

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm


I love Rick’s blog as well. He is very under-rated. It’s one of the few over the years that hasn’t ever dropped off of my RSS reader.
His posting is very sporadic, but when he does, it’s usually pure gold.



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kristi

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:36 pm


and greg, i just saw your 2nd comment about why you might be a little sensitive about this, and i wholeheartedly agree that those are completely asinine reasons for people to leave a church. and even though you don’t know me, rest assured those wouldn’t be reasons we would give for not picking or for leaving a church.



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Greg Gorham

posted March 31, 2009 at 1:39 pm


“greg, it’s precisely because you are working inside a church that you are saying what you are saying. we have been in that same position before, and i think it’s a different beast altogether when you actually work on staff somewhere and have at least a bit of control over some of what happens there. you can be less critical–way less, because after all, they do put food on your table. so i wouldn’t expect you to want to compile a list of what might need to be changed.”
I’m not on staff. I’m a volunteer. I get no money from what I do, and in fact, since our church is about $6,000 in the hole so far this year, I actually fund the Youth Group out of my own pocket. It would be far, far cheaper for me to not be involved frankly.



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Theresa Seeber

posted March 31, 2009 at 4:09 pm


My husband and I are in a situation much like yours Greg. We teach the first-third graders and really enjoy the community we have with them and the opportunity to share from our hearts. But we dream of something like the communities that are taking place in many places and discussed at http://missionaltribe.org/ as well as the community that is taking place at Tony’s church group called Solomon’s Porch http://www.solomonsporch.com/
Kristi, I want to pray with you. Lord, thank you so much that Rick and Kristi have decided to share their journey with us, that we might be encouraged and that they might know they are not alone. Thank you for all the awesome ways you bring your people togther, and I pray that very soon they will have some answers to the burning questions in their hearts.



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phil_style

posted April 1, 2009 at 5:27 am


ship of fools dot com
’nuff said.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 3, 2009 at 6:49 pm


Theresa, dear heart and cousin-in-law; those communities already exist worldwide. Why make another one?



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm


Ted, not so I can make a new Bride (as you have called it elsewhere), just so more people can gather in that way. Many are longing for a faith community like that, and I am definately among them. It is similar to someone wanting to start a new “church” – but it is more like establishing community with people who are seeking after God but do not desire to do it thru the systems that currently be. It is a move of God and I am being swept up in it joyfully.



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Greg Gorham

posted April 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm


Sounds like a wonderful idea! I’d love to see what you start!



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Greg Gorham

posted April 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm


That sounds like a wonderful idea! I’d love to see what you start!



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Your Name

posted April 7, 2009 at 7:48 pm


I would like to know if anyone has ever watched/heard of Sherpherd’s Chapel. Their belief that is so different from most of Christianity, is that there is no “rapture” and that it started from an 1800′s occurence from a church service tongues interpretation. I believe in the Holy Spirit and I am not sure they do, however his evidence backed up by Hebrew/Greek manuscripts seems to support this and I have never heard of this before. Does anyone know about his church??



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Carol Gallinari

posted June 27, 2014 at 10:08 am


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Timothy Schildgen

posted July 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm


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Dudley Matkowsky

posted July 26, 2014 at 3:12 am


I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)



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