Worth Pounding the Table Over

I am not a debater, but I surely tried this week. In a women's Leadership series I attended with Lori Salierno, she said that when we find the thing that makes our heart beat faster and makes us want to pound on the table for the matter at hand, that is where our vision and leadership should begin to form. This week an innocently forwarded link set my heart pounding, put my little fingers to the keyboard and has kept me up late at night exchanging ideas. I risked my image (not that I truly have one or worry about it as long as I am honoring God) and opened my heart to this topic and now there is no stopping me...I know what I believe and am surprised in the ferocity of my expression.

As I have said all along during the past two years for my life as a Jesus Freak; "The only thing wrong with Christianity is the Christians! " It is so difficult to be a really good example of Christ's love on earth every minute of every day. I am always failing but then again I do keep trying.

My church, Granger Community Church, grabs the attention of the non believer, they strive to be seeker friendly, and they are a huge part of why I am a follower of Jesus Christ today. They love people as a church right where they are, they speak the local language so the message isn't lost, and they build believers who can go out and love the world. Unfortunately there are a lot of fundamentalists who not only disagree with GCC's format and methods, but they judge and condemn and tear apart the foundation of what WE DO because it isn't what they do.

If it was up to them I would be blindly going to hell. I think the wild, loving, out-loud environment at GCC works. And I will be working within the church in any way they will have me....I'm pounding the table for modern evangelism! I was feeling I needed more depth from my church, more serious study and less fun. I was considering looking at other churches that were simpler, smaller...but I have grown so much at GCC and I have so many relationships that I was really torn. After this week I realize my growth isn't going to come from attending another church...my growth is going to come from doing at THIS church what was done for me. It isn't about me, it is about people like who I used to be.


At last! I found something that is worth pounding the table over: http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/archives/2005/10/granger_a_great.php

I should have three or four posts at the bottom...you will see I was QUITE passionate and QUITE lengthy. I am done with this particular conversation on this site, but I leave it a changed woman.

God gave me Ezekiel 11:19 and it clarifies what has happened to me this week:

"And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart."

I plan to do a lot more research, educate myself on other sites, the church movements in general, my bible, and of course blogging. And I may be pursuing a ministry degree in the next few years. *POUND! POUND! POUND!*

3 comments:

Broadband Guy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heather said...

What I find most interesting about this organization (I will NOT say church) is the fact that although they claim to be Bible believing and go so far as to say that they believe in the infallibility of Scripture on their website, that they are actually a congregation of the UNITED METHODIST CHURCH!!! One of the worst offenders in the mainline arena of Christianity today! However--you can tell that GCC wants to hide this fact, as you must delve deeply to find this out.

Posted by: steve at October 14, 2005 08:53 PM

That's right Steve, here's a blog entry from one of Granger's pastors announcing that someone "found out" about their church being Methodist.

These types of churches dont want to be crippled by a denominational stigma. They want names that people will be attracted to.

They should just go all out and call their churches things like: "Relevant Felt-Needs Satisfying Center" or "We're Really Cool - We're Just Like You" or "Comedy, Great Music, Good Eats!".

Posted by: Jim B. from OldTruth.com at October 15, 2005 12:55 AM

I am 33 years old and Madonna used to be my role model. I smoked, slept around for fun, swore like a sailor, dressed like I was for sale and danced like I was bought. .I was selfish, rude, cocky, proud, arrogant and egotistical and mean. I focused on what other people thought of me, how sexy men considered me, and how many laughs I could get by making fun of someone. I was smart, financially secure, and LOTS of people liked me. I wasn?t all bad; I was good to my friends. I was honest and responsible when I was behaving badly. I volunteered a little and worked hard at my job. Many people looked up to me and admired me. Life was good.

As I started getting older what used to be fun wasn?t as satisfying anymore. I began to realize I needed to be truly loved, that I wanted a solid relationship that mattered, that I needed to know if God was for real. I did some church shopping and ended up going to a few different ones until I found my home church. I could feel warmth and love there. I felt more alive there. I could wear flip flops and jeans there. They even played secular songs from the radio?it was really neat because I never listened to Christian radio then but I would hear a secular song and it would make me think about Jesus and the message I had heard that week. I struggled with faith and wanted hard evidence, but I kept attending most weeks because I really had to think about the message I heard.

On November 23rd of 2003 I sat praying silently, tears streaming down my face and into my lap. I told God that I wasn?t sure I had enough faith but that if the things I heard were right, if the Bible was true that I wanted him to come into my heart, to forgive me, that I was his just as I was?and I FELT HIM. I felt the warmth, the tingling, the shift?what a gift!

As I began to explore and attend my church regularly I crossed a lot of bridges I didn?t ever plan to go over, not only was I reading the bible daily and REALLY enjoying it, but I was in a small group and they were nice to me they excepted me. I prayed more often and heard God speak to me about the changes needed in my life. I would pray and obey. I stopped having sex, swear words sounded sharp and unpleasant coming out of my mouth, and I tried to stop making fun of people?realizing that however I looked down on them God chose not to look down on me. I took classes through the church and began volunteering and growing learning. I even began to host a small group in my home! I have fed the hungry, tithed even when it hurt, I have loved on needy children, encouraged others? in their love walk, and grown in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Although I was still a role model to the people in my life, now I was a Godly role model. I only lost one friend to my ?New Life? and I love her still, we just do not spend time together. Even my friends who do not believe admire my sexual abstinence (TWO YEARS NOW!) and how much softer, gentler, kinder I am. My coworkers have commented on the difference and the peace, the maturity I have developed. I have been Master of Ceremonies for church groups of 150 to 500, I incorporate God?s word into my work training and I plan to develop my ministry as God leads me. I am a charismatic and attractive woman God has chosen to bless other people and impact everyone for His kingdom. I fail every single day, but my life is transformed and my heart is on fire for Jesus. I am alive in my love for Him and that creates a hunger for others to move towards Jesus.

Oh, I may have forgotten to mention, I attend and am a member of Granger Community Church.

GCC isn?t for everyone, but it reached me. It reaches a lot of lost people like me, and if I can make a difference following God and giving Him my life, imagine the impact of hundreds of people, no thousands of people telling their story too. Jesus can work in any situation, and he uses some of us to pull all of closer to Him.

Thank you for your web site, Ingrid. God is knows your heart is full of love for Hhim and people, thank you for providing a forum like this for us to share our hearts with each other. It is a blessing to us all!

-Heather Curlee, Trainer and Motivational Speaker


Posted by: Heather at October 18, 2005 12:58 PM

Heather wants us to think positively about GCC based on her experience there. Im sure that Heather's story is authentic, but let me propose a couple of made-up scenarios that I think demonstrate the point that is being missed by so many GCC people:

1) There is a rich man in a Bronx neighborhood, who goes around to all of the families and gives the kids lunch money, school books, and winter jackets. The parents love the rich man; they say nobody has ever done more to help the neighborhood than this man. They would do anything to defend this man, because he has done so much for them. They call him "papa Frank".

2) A village in Africa has never had running water before, but "they" came in and dug wells for them. They also brought them KJV bibles, and have been showing the villagers how to farm fields, and have even been giving the villagers religious training. The quality of life in the village has improved since they came, and many lives are being changed. The villagers are so thankful that this group has come to them, and they consider them a God-send.

In the first story above, the rich man is a Mafia king pin, who became rich through trafficking prostitution and murder for hire. In the second story, the religious group that helped the villagers is the Mormons; a cult that teaches the heresy of Christ being an angel.

Now Im not calling GCC a cult or a criminal. But I would ask them to please stop and think about those two stories. To say that a method should only be judged by 'the results' rather than an evaluation of the method itself, is wrong.

This is why both sides of this debate are talking-past each other. When we bring up "methods", the other side wants to talk about "results". They are not the same topic. There may be moral or biblical problems with the methods, and yet it's still possible for the method to produce "results".

Posted by: Jim B. from OldTruth.com at October 18, 2005 03:03 PM

Jim, your comments are great, thank you. I have heard those examples given in that format before and they are a very effective illustration. I am also grateful you beleive my story is authentic!

I do wonder if it could be considered judgement for us critique the Kingpin or the Mormons? Didn't the Pharisees criticize our saviour for serving the poor or sick in an unconventional manner? In both circumstances you shared, perhaps it should not be the lifestyle or belief system of the active party we focus on, but the fact that a basic human need is met.

I believe we should focus on the blessing to the people who went without while church people prayed for them somewhere a safe distance away. I know a lot of people in and out of churches who do not lift a finger to help someone, who wouldn't give a homeless person, a punk person or a prostitute a second look let alone food from their own table simply becasue they did not approve of their lifestyle or choices.

Jesus wouldn't do that, he would invite EVERYONE to his table...including the Kingpin and the Mormons and you and me and Ingrid too...and I want to follow Jesus. I think you do too, right? I think we all have a lot of things to think about, and I think I need to read more of my bible!

God bless you & keep you.

Heather

Posted by: Heather at October 18, 2005 06:19 PM

Heather,
I usually try to be kind in my comments but honestly your last comment is just too much to swallow.

I have a close relative who has been a prostitute. I'm sure if the Kingpin had been involved with her prostitution, Jesus came, smiled at him and patted him on the back congratulating him on all his good deeds, my relative would want nothing to do with that Jesus.

She would know in a very personal and awful way exactly how some of the money that kingpin had was earned.

Using the Kingpin as an example of how we should notice someone's good works instead of the evil they've done is a pretty poor choice.

How would Jesus react to the Kingpin? As he has to us all:"All your righteous acts are filthy rags. Turn to me. I will forgive your sins and make you pure."

I want to follow Jesus. I will not focus on glorifying someone's good deeds when they are following Satan.

Another topic: Perhaps you could explain more about what you mean by Jesus inviting everyone to his table.

Posted by: amy at October 18, 2005 08:02 PM

Heather:

I dont share your determination that we should refrain from making a moral or doctrinal judgment on these two (hypothecial) scenarios. For example, the Mormons may be meeting a "basic human need" as you say, but along the way - they are indoctrinating the village with a soul-damning heresy. If a Christian was present, they should feel obligated to warn the villagers of them, even though the Mormons are doing good deeds.

The point I was trying to make however, is that if we only evaluate "results" (such as the ones that you reported in your first post), without consideration of the methods that were a part of producing those results, we would be making a big mistake.

Yes, I do believe Jesus would have eaten with a Mafia Kingpin (as you say). But I dont think He would put on a pinstripe suit and carry a pistol, just to make himself more "relate-able" to him. Sure, that "would work" (He'd have an easier time of befriending the Kingpin that way), but it would fly in the face of scripture. Jesus most certainly associated with sinners, but He never conformed to their worldly or sinful ways.

Romans 12:2 tells us "do not be conformed to this world".
James 4:4 says: "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God".
Colossians 2:8 tells us: "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ".

Those are passages that I think of when I see churches doing their best to look like the world, in order to be relevant and relate-able to the world. We are to be a "peculiar people" as 1 Peter 2:9 tell us.

--Jim

Posted by: Jim B. from OldTruth.com at October 18, 2005 08:31 PM

Hello Amy, Jim, Thank you for challenging my brain and heart and soul today. I have grown a lot in a few short hours.

Amy, forgive me for offending you...I did not mean to offend, only to stir thought. I do not think you were unkind in your words at all. You were honest and correct. I am not usually a debater so I have perhaps been unclear.

God asks in the bible that we behave as one church body, he does not want a seperation and unfortuneately we have different ways of loving and showing that love...I do not believe any of us are wrong in our hearts, but we do seem to speak different languages.

Perhaps it is my naivete in studying God's word, but there are some truths I learned from my church and from reading the bible and spending time with God. I am sorry I do not know the scripture references by heart yet(although I am working to memorize the entire book of Ephesians!), it is late and I am tired from caring for a friend who has lost her Mother this week so I am not going to look it all up...but the word is in my heart:

I know that all of us are sinners. I know that no sin is smaller or larger than another. I know I was told "Judge not, lest you be judged" and that Jesus asked those of us without sin to cast the first stone at wrongdoers. I know I was told to remove the plank from my eye before helping my neighbor remove his splinter. I know that every person is created by God, made in God's image and loved by God. I know that critcizing another human being is to criticize the work of God. I know the two greatest commandments are "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind." and "Love your neighbor as yourself". I know that I personally do my best to follow those and fail every day, but my heart is all about Jesus.

I also know that if someone is broken, bleeding,naked and starving they probably do not want to hear about Jesus. They probably want to be fed, clothed, and bandaged up. Maybe if that happens, they will be able or interested in hearing about Jesus. Maybe the bible says people should talk about Jesus first, or someone needs to accept Jesus as their saviour first before getting fed, bandaged or clothed. I haven't read all of it yet. Maybe the bible says the good news can only be shared in one language, so newer, fresher more modern or 'worldy' translations or interpretations are not right...but that must not be true because I have never read Hebrew or Aramaeic, my bible is written in English...so possibly in order to share God's Word we could speak to the people in the language they speak, whether it is the farmer's analogy of the seed and the field or the TV junkie's analgoy of TV families versus God'd family.

God is bigger than a book and uses MANY ways to open our hearts. For me it was a church who talked about choosing an alternate lifestyle different and hidden from a worldy lifestyle with a Matrix stage set,drama and music themed around the movie's look and feel. I was fascinated and kept coming back. I came back until I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and begun living my life for Him. That is our job, isn't it? For me, I wouldn't be a Christian if someone had tried to teach me the word before they showed me love in my own worldy language. If GCC is all of the awful things folks have said in this blog, then I am eternally grateful for the error of their ways because without them I would be going to hell and would have missed out on the greatest love life I will ever know.


My comment about Jesus inviting everyone to His table meant simply that we are all welcome to come to him, to sit with him, to eat with him, to get his grace. He doesn't care about our past, just our hearts. Maybe instead of criticizing a church's method of sharing Jesus Christ, other churches could think outside of the box and ask if there is anything to learn from it?

I beleive the bible asks us to speak the truth in love, and the first blog link I read was not in love. It sounded judgemental and condemning to me. The bible asks us when there is a conflict to go directly to our brother or sister and speak to them in love. I do not know if this one done before this blog was begun, but that seems to be the right way.

Amy and Jim, it is ok if we do not agree. I probably won't keep blogging but truly appreciate sharing with you and hearing your hearts too. I will pray you are able to continue reaching people for Christ and loving them and I pray that your own relationship with Jesus continues to bless your life.

Thank you for asking the big questions, just don't forget to answer them too!

-Heather

Posted by: Heather at October 19, 2005 12:05 AM

Heather:

I am 100 times more impressed by the things you just said about your commitment to the bible, than the things you mentioned in your first post. Keep memorizing scripture, and studying it. I think that's fantastic.

I can tell you, for me, when I started to do that, after a while - the seeker-sensitive church that I went to - did not match-up with the scriptures. The more I learned my bible, the more I knew it was time to leave. This may sound to you like a contradiction to what I just said, but the other thing that happened at the same time is that I became passionate about soul-winning.

You spoke a lot about "not judging" in your last post. I hope you will consider doing your own bible study on that topic, rather than (or in addition to) listening to what your church says about it. You see, if Christians are to isolate those "dont judge" verses in the way that you are advocating, there could never be church discipline. And if you read 1st and 2nd Timothy, you'll see Paul admonishing Timothy to make judgments. Even more than that, Paul tells Timothy that it's vital to maintain sound doctrine. One thing I've noticed with GCC is that they dont seem to want to answer anyone's concerns about doctrine. When asked to do so, they simply take cover behind "results". Im not sure why that is.

In your last post you offered to pray for me to be "able to continue reaching people for Christ". I would request that you would instead pray that I will love His Word as King David did. That I will speak God's truth as Ezekiel did. And most of all, that I will glorify God in everything that I do. Because if I do all of that, I will also be on fire for evangelism, but I wont evangelize in such a way that is dishonoring to God, or that shows a lack of regard for His Word. I will pray the same thing for you.

Nice talking to you. Keep up the great work with your bible study.

--Jim

Posted by: Jim B. from OldTruth.com at October 19, 2005 09:59 AM

This seems to be a debate on contextualizing the gospel. Heather has been taught to reduce the gospel to fit her particular level in life. Christianity has to be authoritative and presented as truth. And scripture must be used as the ultimate standard. To create a touchy/lovey/Jesus is like my boyfriend type of Gospel, is to me, creating a false doctrine/God. This type of "gospel" would please anyone who really didn't want to/or didn't really understand the sacrifice Jesus made at cross.

Posted by: jan at October 19, 2005 10:08 AM

Heather,

Thanks for your letter. Just so we don't misunderstand each other, I don't have a problem with God using our creativity to bring people to him (songs, drama, etc). Within those truth from His Word can be expressed. I do have a problem if songs and drama are not done in a manner that pleases God. I do have a problem if the Word is neglected at the expense of "creativity."

I also have a problem with churches that send out mixed messages. One of the biggest problems with Christians today is that they spend so much time taking their values from the media. This is true even of churches that don't go all out in reaching people using secular media in the way your church does. How does your church help those people to come out from all of the pressure of taking the worlds' values as Christian values? At what point do you say of a program leave it alone?

This Sunday I was teaching a lesson about purity to some teenage girls. One page talked about listing the shows you watched and then listing various things about those shows related to whether they were teaching purity or not. I knew from the pre-class conversation that some of these girls were already letting stuff into their minds that doesn't line up with God's Word through the movies they were watching. And this is the norm for many Christians. I see this "norm" and I look at your church (from the outside, yes) and I wonder, how/when does your church deal with issues of being set apart for Christ in what we feed our minds on.

I really don't know much about your church except for the "Desperate Households" issue. (I can't get the other videos to come up.) Does your church at any point make it clear that even though they are using this program as a take-off for teaching, it is not an ok program for people to watch? How does your church apply Philippians 4:8 to things like this? Do the newcomers/unbelievers at your church assume that the believers are okay with the same choices of music and movies that they accept? Are they? It would really help me if you could answer these questions. I am trying to understand your church's philosophy and how if affects not just the unbelievers coming to your church but how it affects the believers as well.

"But what was sown on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23 NIV

Posted by: amy at October 19, 2005 05:46 PM

it should be about God....i go to Granger Community........and they are ALL ABOUT GOD and thats all that matters!

Posted by: Hannah at October 21, 2005 06:45 PM

Amy to answer you question...On the front of every bulletin there is a disclaimer that says "Any musical slection and/or media elements used in our services are for illustrative purposes only and are not an endorsement of any artist, musical group, film, or television program.

You said "I don't have a problem with God using our creativity to bring people to him (songs, drama, etc). Within those truth from His Word can be expressed."

That is exactly what Granger does. We use the shows, movies, or music to enhance the truth that is already there. There is truth in almost anything if you are willing to look for it. I'm not saying that you shouldn;t be careful about what you allow in your mind, but GCC realizes that society is a very media minded people and we use that to draw them closer to Jesus. We never neglect the bible expense of creativity.


Posted by: bridget at October 23, 2005 04:17 PM

Heather said...

(Below is the blog debate, just n case your link doesn't work!)