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November 29, 2006

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Bill

I agree with the premise that "all of us are educated way beyond our level of obedience!" We do need to get out and live out the faith. But isn't that what reading the word of God is supposed to do, bring us face to face with conviction over our own sin...So that we will change, and walk in the light? 1 John 1:7-9

I guess I am just not feeling the pressure of thing that you are resisting against, so it feels strange that you are pushing so hard back. You have said that the "seeker church" is a straw man that is often raised but is not accurate.

Where are people just trying to gain "more and more information" without compassion and healing? Do you see this happening in our tradition?

Henry Williams

I think I see it in our tradition, in our church, in evangelicalism. Does it seem otherwise to you? Does it seem that we're engaged in the lives of people with concrete needs to the degree that we're engaged in other things? I don't see it. I think our church (and I include myself in our church) are growing in this, but I think we have a long way to go still.

I would like to see the day in our church when it seems as wrong for a small group not to engage in ministries of compassion together as it for them to not study the Bible together.

Bill

That helps me understand some more. I agree that it should be "as wrong for a small group not to engage in ministries of compassion together as it for them to not study the Bible together." I just saw "The Pursuit of Happyness" last night and it was like a punch in the stomach thinking about people, kids homeless and what it really means to families. I know how it is when my kids just need to get home and rest. Imagine having no place to rest. God intended the Church to step in and provide that for people.

As the church (small groups) we must continue doing so much more about meeting needs like that.

However I would challenge that at Five Oaks, where we fail to do compassion, it is not because we are distracted trying to "gain more and more information". I just don’t think that is the problem. I think it is because we are:
-Comfortable with all God has provided us
-Busy with our daily (over) commitments
-Happy socializing with friends
-Focused on our career
-Unaware of what the word of God says about our responsibility in compassion
-And hardhearted toward the "least" in our day.

I think that taking the time we are already spending in study, and turning it to more convicting passages of God's word will break up the soil of our hard hearts. The Word it isn't just the seed, it is the plow. All of us in American Christianity need a little tilling.

Henry Williams

I agree with everything you say is the problem.

A factor you may be missing a bit is the context of my comments. My comments are aimed at those who say, "We need to go deeper," meaning more Bible study than we're doing now. I think they're wrong. More Bible study than what we, as a church, are doing now is not the issue. (It may be for their personal lives, but not for us as a church.) More classes and information than what we provide at Five Oaks is not the key to spiritual growth or needed for spiritual growth (unless you're wired that way, and then it makes sense to look for more opportunities to learn and connect with God through learning). Getting on mission is. Getting the mission is. That's the context and my take on it.

If I may address another "need to go deeper" discussion I've had with some folks, I feel the same goes for those for whom deeper means more open and vulnerable with each other. I do believe we could be and should be more open and vulnerable with each other overall, but if the solution is closing down and circling the wagons so that we can feel comfortable enough with each other, I think that hurts our mission and it's unbiblical. The answer, in part, is less self-righteousness and more courage to share. It's coming to the conclusion that if I don't get real with someone, I'm not going to grow and then lot letting fear of being judged interfere. It's means taking a risk because you also know others are struggling and need to hear that you are struggling and will be emboldened by your example. As a church, we're not going to close things down (that's my way of describing closed groups focused on the needs of the people in them) in order to help people feel more comfortable.

Over the years several of our members have had a big problem with our open groups, and they're convinced they lead to shallow sharing and less community. That has not been my experience or the experience of most of the folks I've talked to in our church. AA never closes down and people come open and vulnerable because no perfect people are allowed in AA (they would be shouted out of the meeting). We need to get this more and more in the church. Jesus laid down the gauntlet with the Pharisees and other "I'm glad I'm not like that guy over there" folks. So the more we get it, the less people will feel they have to pretend like they have no struggles and no questions and no sins when they go to a small group and find someone new there. They'll be excited that another fellow limper has decided to join their group in the journey.

Sorry to go on and on. Not directed at you. I just feel another post coming on.

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  • I'm the lead pastor of Five Oaks Church in Woodbury, MN where we seek to help people CONNECT with others and God, DEEPEN their relationship with Christ and IMPACT the world for Christ.

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