(My thoughts below are a work in progress and I am hoping they will spark a warm, tough, loving conversation.)
I love Courageous Church. The people I pastor are a total mess. I mean that in a loving way :-)
I need them. They need me. We need each other. In so many ways this is just the church that I imagined pastoring.
Alcoholics. Porn Watchers. Gay. Oversexed. Shopaholics. Addicts. Educated. Uneducated. Churched. Un-churched. Married. Divorced. Single.
As I prepare to begin pre-marital counseling with several couples in our church (can’t wait) I noticed how many churches absolutely will not marry men or women if they are living together. If you are living together, they ask that you move out for up to six months first.
Forgive me if I sound unholy, but I found this to be a bit preposterous. Imagine this…
John & Jane didn’t grow up in church. Unsaved. They have lived together for ten years. They have three kids and love each other and the kids a great deal. They come into a relationship with God and the church and decide they want and need to get married. You are telling me that Dad needs to move out of the house before the church will marry them?
I kind of catch the logic, but I just think it is one too many hoops to jump through.
In fact, I think that all of the hoops that we make people jump through in the church are a major problem! I’m not saying that we lower our standard or quit asking people to leave some things behind to follow God, but I think we are getting pretty carried away.
I was watching Ellen Degeneres (and her wife) on the Oprah Show recently. VERY INTERESTING. Ellen clearly is not a Christian based on her comments on the show. The thing is – most churches I know would not welcome Ellen or her wife there. Period.
But is this right? Doesn’t Ellen have 1001 other things to learn about how to be a great Christian? I think so, but in order for Ellen to learn anything about grace, forgiveness, or generosity from a Christian perspective she must first change? I’m not sure that’s the right order of things.
For years I have told folk that you don’t get your life together and then come to church, but you come to church and then get your life together. Does this just apply for certain sinners?
Courageous Church is in Midtown Atlanta – the gayest part of our city. We have a few gay dudes that have started to attend. Do they have to stop being gay before they serve as an usher? Sing a song? Play an instrument?
How about join a small group? Attend Sunday service? How about attend a class for couples?
Here’s my point – I understand a hoop here and there, but I am afraid our hoops are too arbitrary and too plentiful.
After all, Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
What do you think? Let’s talk this out! What hoops that I discuss above are right or wrong? How do we choose the hoops? Why have them?