As a minister I regularly consort with drunkards, the violent, gossips, the sexually immoral, the rebellious … and then there’s my work outside the church body…
The following is quote from a Perspective class I am taking:
When the church is isolated from society, or is seen as foreign, it cannot transform society and is in danger of elimination.
I first took this course in college in 1998. Looking back I now see how God used it to shape so much of my pastoral ministry here in the U.S. My wife and I had planned to be overseas missionaries. That has not yet come to be. God has, however, used us as missionaries here in the U.S. As our culture becomes increasingly unchurched churches seem to be struggling ever more with growth and how to effectively reach the lost.
As organizations grow older, it is natural for them to become inwardly focused and insular. The majority of my ministry life has been either in church planting or helping churches to view their own communities as a foreign mission field and become engaged with the culture around them.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
The summer after 8th grade my parents moved our family from the city to a house on five acres, twenty minutes away from a small mountain town with only one stop light. I was a bit bitter about leaving friends and conveniences. I didn’t understand all that went into that decision but I believe it saved our family. I’m fairly certain it saved me. Now with a family (and young teenager) of my own, my wife and I find ourselves contemplating a similar move.
The city has been beneficial in some ways, but there are forces at play, tearing at our family, which would be more easily mitigated against in a smaller, more rural community. Such a move would entail great sacrifice and tremendous inconvenience. But what are the hearts, minds, and souls of my wife and children worth?
We’re not talking of an attempt to flee and hide from the world. The war cannot be avoided. Nor did Christ instruct us to withdraw from the world (quite the contrary). Rather we are seeking to choose a battlefield which is advantageous to our cause.
Which battlefield depends on our strategy. And the battle plan is what we are developing now.
Dear church who adds first time guests to your mailing list,
My family and I visited you several weeks ago. While I applaud your child protection policy and had no problem filling out the information card to place my children in your Sunday morning children’s program, I did not anticipate being added to a mailing list. I don’t recall seeing any box or other indicator stating I would be added to a mailing or providing a way to opt out. In fact I purposely did not fill out the information card in the worship service. By the time of the offering where one is intended to deposit one’s information card I had already decided that you weren’t the one for me or my family.
Even though I didn’t intend to end up on a mailing list, I wasn’t upset when I received an email the next day from the pastor who preached that Sunday. I did wonder how you got my email, then remembered the children’s registration paperwork. Hey I’m glad the departments talk to each other and it sounds like you guys do a decent job of tracking guests etc. You’re follow-up needs work.
Later that day I received two more emails on different topics from the church automated mailing system. Two days after that another informational email came in. The tone of the emails (which I actually did read) assumed that as a recipient I was already either a member or sold on the church and planned to make it my spiritual home. Since neither was the case (quite the opposite) they rather torqued me off. After the fourth such unsolicited email (again, I wasn’t advised that by signing my children into the kids program I would be placed on a mailing list, nor was I provided a way to opt out) I reported you for spam abuse. (Spam isn’t too bad if it’s roasted over an open flame and placed between two pieces of camp fire toast with a slice of sharp cheddar…but I digress.) Thankfully I haven’t received any more email since then.
Yesterday, however, I received a hand written note telling me of the upcoming new member class and encouraging me to attend. Quite frankly, the card went into the burn pile…so thanks for the kindling. At least that serves a practical purpose.
So, to sum up: Thanks for reaching out. Now please stop. Don’t call us, we’ll call you (but probably not).
Jason P. Franklin
It’s been over a month since I’ve posted to my blog. My private journal isn’t fairing much better. I won’t go into it because this will just turn into a big whine fest and I’d rather not go there. I will say that while God hasn’t given me what I want, He has given me what I need.
Another reason I haven’t been writing is that I’ve been writing. Come again? I have been doing some freelance writing which has kept me busy, and quite frankly doing all that writing for cash has made me less interested in writing for pleasure (e.g. this blog). Even my short stories have fallen by the wayside as I create what other people want me to.
I’ve also been reading. A great many articles and blogs on church ministry concerns. God is in the process of reshaping my ministry philosophy. I picked up Pilgrim’s Progress again. It’s been twenty-five years or so since I read it last. I’m not qualified to review Bunyan’s seminal work. It has impacted me (again) greatly. Christian’s journey of sanctification is … encouraging, challenging, convicting, enlightening, etc. I’ve also been reading the Prose Edda (Norse Mythology). I knew Tolkien was interested in mythology in general and Norse mythology in particular, but I never realized how much his Middle Earth writings were influenced by it until now. The Eddas are not an easy read by any means, but they are interesting.
And that about wraps it up. Maybe I’ll post again before another month and a half elapses.
Jude, as a biblical author, impresses me. He impresses me for his humility. Jude was one of Jesus’ brothers…or rather half-brothers seeing as how Jesus father was God the Father and Jude’s father was Joseph. Even so, he was Jesus brother. Yet in his intro, he doesn’t claim brotherhood with Christ. Rather he says, “a servant of Jesu Christ”. That’s something. We know from the gospels that in the early part of Jesus’ ministry his family was concerned that he might be insane (Mark 3:21). Yet two of the epistles in the New Testament were written by Jesus own brother (the other being the book of James incase you missed that one). What caused these men who thought their brother was bonkers to fall as his feet and call him LORD? I really cannot fathom my own sister saying, “A servant of Jason.” Not in a million years.
No, Jude had a major conversion experience of some kind. As Christ said in Mark 6:4, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Yes this part of Jesus household came to honor him. Not just honor him, but service him. Jude’s conversion was so profound that he doesn’t even use that relationship to put forward his letter. “[A] servant of Jesus…” he says.
Humility is a lost art. In certain circles my grandfather’s name can take me quite far…and I’ve not been above dropping it from time to time in the right ears. Perhaps I should take a note from Jude.
I’ve discovered something. It is impossible for me to write at home when my wife is out of town.
My beloved went to visit family and watch her baby brother and sister graduate from high school. I’m manning the fort with the five oldest. Every five to ten minutes I’m interrupted to change a diaper, refill a cup, help with school work, or just to be shown a sleeping Furby by an excited toddler. It’s cute and all…but I’m not getting any writing done. Not here, not for my clients.
Woops, I hear the pitter patter of little feet approaching my room. Guess I better log off.