A brief article in response to the newest post on the Olympic Evangelical Free blog about taking questions seriously. I hope this will give the congregation something to think about and ponder.
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”
“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.“
I am writing to remind you, dear friends,[c] that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
2 John 1:5 NLT
This is a brief post but Olympic Evangelical Free Church in Poulsbo, Washington is getting a two for one special tonight! Charlie Worley posted an article on the Olympic blog called, “Take These Questions Seriously.” So The Wondering Eagle will take these questions seriously and answer them from an outside perspective. My comments will be in red below.
As I reflect on the needs of our church, my heart is drawn to some questions that we need to take seriously and answer honestly. These questions can help us dream and do and to become the church that God wanted here when he gathered his people and launched Olympic Evangelical Free Church. Take a look at some starter questions and answer them for your self.
- If our church would suddenly cease to exist, would anybody in our neighborhood or county notice? Here is the deal Charlie I will answer these questions based upon my experience of writing this blog. These answers will be contingent upon what I have heard, the stories that I have told, and the emails I get behind the scenes. Its my belief that there are too many evangelical churches out there. There are too many bad ones, and there are many that need to be closed. Am I saying Olympic needs to be closed? Not at all…but I will say this. If Olympic is not going to be known for loving and caring about people, then yes you guys should close. If you are going to be part of the problem then yes, you should close.
- If God the Holy Spirit were to remove Himself from our church, would anybody in our church notice? I appreciate this question quite a bit because in many places you do not hear about the Holy Spirit. Instead you hear about things like doctrine and more. Its important to remember that issues like “sound doctrine” can also become idols as well.
- Would our church reach many more people who need Jesus in our area if we were truly unified by Jesus, his word and his mission for us of pursuing God, loving all people, and multiplying devoted followers of Jesus? What will it take? Evangelicals are not known for their unity, instead they are known for their division. Quick story…here in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington I knew of three different churches at one point that were doing church plants in about the same block. Three fought and competed against each other. It was a waste of money and resources. But evangelicals are not always a friendly tribe known for unity. They are best known for what they are opposed to that instead of what they believe. The emails I get from the former Christians who are atheist or part of the dones, are telling about the toxicity of parts of evangelicalism today.
- What difference would it make in our church and community if everyone who attends at OEFC were using their spiritual gifts and ministry passion? You have any idea Charlie of how many churches are more interested in controlling and lording over people then let them use their spiritual gifts? More than I can care to tell. Its a common topic that keeps popping up over and over. For many evangelical churches the end game is to control people. And they do it quite well, but of course how healthy is such an environment?
- What would our church look and act like if we were known as a “house of prayer?” This I think can be tricky given how many parts of evangelicalism struggle with prosperity theology. Where do you draw the line in being a house of prayer? What is prayed for and how are you going to deal both with the answered and unanswered prayers? Personally I deeply struggle with prayer and I pray for others and never myself.
- How would our church look if God enabled us to grow just 10% a year by new people coming to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior? See my comments on the previous post about the unhealthy obsession with church growth in evangelicalism.
- What would need to change in our church in order to reach and make disciples of 15-20 formerly un-churched children and youth from Kitsap County each year? My advice is to love unconditionally and don’t make people a project. Love people as they are and be patient with them. Here’s a question for you Charlie…will Olympic allow an atheist to come by and hang out for 5 or 7 years if he was unsure and had questions? Could Olympic endure someone asking hard questions for years or someone having a faith crisis? Or would you be the kind of church that would point to the door and say “Go!” Can evangelicals love for the sake of love alone? Since you are EFCA let me refer you to an article that was written by EFCA Eastern District Superintendent Eddie Cole that does a good job in writing about loving people in the context of teaching them about death. You can read that in “Some Thoughts on Eddie Cole’s Article in Christianity Today on Sharing the Gospel with those Who Do Not Think of Death or Eternity“
- What would it look like if our church joined hands and hearts with other like-minded evangelical churches nearby? This would be good for the EFCA, your church and others. It can teach you how to interact and work with people of differing perspectives.
- What would change if God sent a revival to our church? Here’s a thought for you Charlie….if people lived a lifestyle based on love and a deep genuine concern for others with no strings attached; would you need revival? If people regularly saw others as God sees them would you need revival? Revival is old and it can divert from key issues that pop up that need work. Evangelicalism is devoid of love…it’s why its so ugly. You know what is telling Charlie…its when the atheists email me and they are kind, loving, gentle, patient, etc…. Meanwhile the Acts 29 or EFCA pastor emails me and is short, angry, terse, upset over what I have written. I wish for a day we could exchange roles and you could do what I do; and if that happened you would be stunned. You would look at Christianity in a different light and you would see how sick it is.
- What if everyone at OEFC knew our church disciplemaking pathway and where they were on the path of growth in Christ and Christian maturity? Would that change how we do ministry and help people grow? The evangelical answer to a problem is a program. Evangelicalism is exploding with programs and yet Christianity is in a sick state today. This blog writes about the problems quite frequently.
Recommendations to Olympic Evangelical Free Church and other EFCA Churches
- Strengthen your child protection policy as I do not want to write about child sex abuse and child sex abuse cover up at Olympic Evangelical Free or any other EFCA church. The SBC has a massive problem with child sex abuse and deep down I fear and am afraid that the EFCA also has problems with this that hasn’t come to the surface yet. I do not want this blog to write story after story but if it happens then I will.
- Have the pastoral staff be transparent about their salaries and accessible to the congregation. Let the staff salaries be open to all who attend. After all at the nearby Naval Base Kitsap the salary information of Ensigns, Chief Warrant Officers, Captain and more can be accessed and common knowledge in the military. You can look up military salary information. The same is true for public service, first responders, teachers and more. Why can’t the EFCA church be that transparent about salary information so that people will know where their hard earned money is going?
- Be open about scandal and contact law enforcement when necessary. Do not try and cover it up and deal with it in-house.
- If you are going to change your doctrine and go Calvinist be open about it and let people have a say or the ability to speak out. I hear a lot about church hijackings.
- Say words like “I’m sorry” and “I am wrong…” Part of the reason why evangelicalism is profoundly sick and diseased is that people don’t say they are wrong. Christians act like they do not sin and cover it up when they do. They also don’t admit mistakes. Its why evangelicalism can be profoundly ugly. I am psychologically stuck because I had an Air Force Captain who was evangelizing me and he and I clashed and he gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at my name ability to earn income and more. It was a dark season and dragged out for years and even popped up when my Mom was ill in the hospital and before she died. It was never resolved and its why I am in pain. Christians don’t say “I’m sorry…” Its why many Christian churches and ministries are so sick and diseased. Its why many places need to be closed. A little humility can go miles if many Christians actually had the balls to say they are wrong. Plus I find it amusing that so many evangelicals are into things like “manhood” and more and yet so many men can’t say “I’m wrong, I’m sorry and will you forgive me and lets talk it out…” Despite what John Piper, Matt Chandler and David Platt teaches you are not a man because you have a penis. You are a man because you own your mistakes and you work to clean them up. Al l I wanted to hear from an Air Force Captain one day is “Dave I’m sorry…”
That’s it Olympic Evangelical Free Church, again please know I love you.