BOAST

proclaiming

“Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”–2 Corinthians 10:17

Here’s a little word study for you.  In the NIV Bible, 2nd Corinthians mentions “Church” 10 times.  It speaks of “Grace” 11 times.  “Love” is mentioned 12 times.

And the word “Boast” shows up 22 times.

Paul uses that word in all his letters, but in 2 Corinthians, it’s a major theme.  He boasts about one church or another.  He boasts about God’s power.  He even boasts about what has come about from his own suffering.

If it can point to God, he boasts about it.

That’s the point of his boasting.  Not to lift himself up or make himself look good, but to highlight the work of the Lord.  Worldly boasting is bad.  Heavenly boasting?  Very good.

So, how are you doing, boasting wise?  Have you done your share of bragging for Jesus this week?  Are you part of a church that is making a difference, reaching your neighbors, and serving those in need?  Who are you telling about it?

I think my main avenue for boasting is Facebook.  I have 1,309 friends on Facebook.  High School classmates.  Current and former church members.  Colleagues.  College friends.  Family and a lot of people I probably don’t really know.

Maybe 50% of my FB Friends are church-goers.  Another 30%, I would guess, are lapsed or disillusioned Christians.  10% are agnostics, and some atheists, and the last 10% are somehow outside these categories.

I believe I have a responsibility to those 1,309 friends (even though we don’t always see each other’s posts).  My responsibility is to boast.  Here’s why:

  • The Catholic Church’s ongoing abuse scandal “proves” to so many how dangerous religion is. (And indeed, sometimes it is)
  • Stories about hypocritical Christians who look down their noses at those who are different get a lot more traction than “healthy” Christian stories.
  • Accounts of Pastors greedily asking for money, or bookkeepers skimming off the top reinforce a negative view of the Church’s relationship with money.
  • Denominational fights over issues such as abortion and homosexuality present the Church as an anxious and contentious place where other vital ministry takes a backseat.

And so on.  There is very little above to boast about.  In fact, I’d guess the Church’s PR factor is as low as its ever been.  If that’s the public image the Church offers the world, it’s no wonder our congregations are shrinking.

So here’s what I do.  I take pictures of everything exciting, vital, or worthy that my church is doing.  Special events and services, mission opportunities, partnerships in the community, and so on.  And after every event, I post the pictures to Facebook.

(Oh, and by the way, if you TAG people in your FB photos, all of THEIR friends have a chance to see your photos.  That boosts the boast!)

I want all those Christians, disillusioned Christians, atheists, agnostics, etc. to see what the Holy Spirit is doing through my church.  I want as many people as possible to see The Church alive and thriving, living out its vision (although never perfectly), and changing lives, including our own. God forbid I ever run out of reasons to take pictures.

This is me BOASTING!  Now some folks may think I’m boasting for myself, lifting up my church or myself for bragging rights.  Others may think I’m oversharing.  I suppose that’s the risk.  I suppose that’s part of why Paul brings up boasting so many times in 2 Corinthians.  He wants them to understand his true motivations.  I try to convey that as best I can.

Facebook may not be your thing.  Instagram is an excellent alternative, and reaches a younger crowd.  And if social media is not your preferred method of boasting, feel free to share your enthusiasm with the crew that meets for coffee at the McDonalds, or the folks in your Pilates class, or in your office.

Sharing the excitement of your church reaching out and touching God’s Kingdom is nothing to be silent about.  It’s the way things ought to be.  The more we boast, the more the true nature of the Church can be revealed to the world.

By the way–I’ve got room for more friends!  Friend me at https://www.facebook.com/toddmit!

If you do friend me, be sure to check out pictures from this last Sunday. We had so much cool stuff going on…

Paul could have written a whole book about it.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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DO NOT FREAK ME OUT registry

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I would like to make a statement.

Two of them, in fact.

#1.  Not changing, because of fear, is bad.
#2.  Changing, because of fear, is equally as bad.

Or, if you’d like to reduce them down even further:  Fear is bad.

I’m somewhat of an anxiety sponge, and I’ll own that.

I can take other people’s fears and allow them to amplify my own.

Because of that, I wish Facebook had a “low anxiety” setting that I could employ, because lately I’ve been hearing a whole lot of fear about The Church:

“Open letters” to the dying Church.

How-to articles to lessen the hemorrhaging of local congregations.

There are some constructive pieces, to be sure, but so much fear!

Fear about statistics.

Fear about schism.  Fear about the future.

I wonder sometimes — do folks know how contagious this stuff is?

People can read this stuff, and despair. (And then for some unexplained reason, click “share”.)

I’d like to join a DO NOT FREAK ME OUT registry.

I’d even take a test to be allowed to sign up:

__ Yes, I know about the general decline of Christianity in the United States.

__ Yes, I know that our churches have to work extra hard to be vital.

__ Yes, I know that our denomination is perilously at odds with itself on the issue of Homosexuality.

There, I’ve checked off all three.  I care very much, and am committed to doing my faithful share.

(Can I get back to Buzzfeed quizzes and pictures of funny cats?)

The truth is, any system that is in a high level of stress will not be fully functional.

So instead retraumatizing ourselves with the considerable challenges we face, let’s take a few deep breaths, praise God who reigns forever, and continue the joyful work of being, and making, Disciples.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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I’m not bashful when it comes to my position on homosexuality.

To me it’s a no-brainer.  I preach on a regular basis that Love is the most powerful force in the universe, that God’s Love can cross all boundaries and divisions.

So, love between two people of the same sex doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.  It’s Love.

This week, the Supreme Court of the U.S. is looking at California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

These are key laws that limit the rights of gays and lesbians.  The courts will be ruling on their constitutionality.  We’ll just have to see what happens.

I’m ready for these laws to change. How about you?

Now…

I am a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  We have our own set of laws that govern our behavior as churches.

Currently, our church laws prohibit gays and lesbians from being married in our churches.  And, “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained as pastors.

I’m ready for these laws to change, too. How about you?

In Romans, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel…”  Nor am I.  The Gospel rocks!  The truth of Jesus is amazing!

But I am ashamed of our church’s stance on homosexuality.  We have misread The Gospel.

What will it take for us to change?  The answer is complicated.

We’re a global church, and the attitudes toward homosexuality vary from place to place.

We’re a methodical church, and things change very slowly.

We’re a divided church on many issues.

That’s part of what makes our denomination great — people with differing opinions on social issues can call each other brother and sister and worship the same God.

But, we are not treating everyone like full brother and full sister.  And that has got to change.

I’ve thought about leaving my denomination many times, because of this issue.

But I don’t WANT to leave it.

I want to CHANGE it.

Today I was planning to write a devotion about Holy Week.

About Jesus being betrayed and denied and condemned, and our complicity in allowing something so unjust to happen.

Somehow…

I think I just did.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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