Monday, January 28, 2013

Real Life, Real Community, Real Discipleship

I've always been suspicious of people trying to "sell" me religion and after studying in seminary, I'm even more annoyed by "marketed Christianity".  Christian faith should be about real life, real community, and real discipleship.  Now all three of these things can and should look a little different in different places at different times in the lives of different people.  I am not a one size fits all kind of guy and I really don't mind too much how different people do different things to form Christ-centered community.  As long as the decisions which are made by those in church leadership are made in good conscience with much prayer and reflection, and as long as the decisions don't obviously contradict the rule of faith found in scripture, I can be at peace with many ways of doing things, even if my whims and wishes aren't always met.  However, when the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected is compromised by our bowing down to Western consumer driven culture, then I get flat out annoyed.  I expressed this frustration a few years ago in a poem I wrote called Seeker Sensitive.

Seeker Sensitive 

The customer is always right; you don't want to be wrong. 
Make worship an experience, but don't make it too long.
Make me feel something special; make me feel something new...
Just don't bore me with doctrines, whatever else you may do.

I want a church that looks just like a big shopping mall.
I want a variety to choose from, bigger is better than small.
I want a cafe and an ATM machine; make mine a latte, non-fat.
I want a preacher who makes me feel good, can you handle that?

I need my needs met, even if I don't know what I really need.
But if you can meet the needs I feel, you'll succeed.
So give me your best shot, convince me church is for me...
I'll give it a try, but as for commitment, let's just wait and see.

User-friendly faith usually just ends up with a lot of people getting used. - Shay 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Here We Come

It's hard to believe that 2013 is upon us.  2012 flew by and we're already half way through the first month of this year.  Here are some things that I am thankful for from 2012 and some hopes and dreams I have for 2013.

I am thankful that Juli had the great idea to start a meetup group.  There are 45 members of this group and half of us have gotten together for Bible study, theological chats, and other social gatherings. 

It was a blessing to see family and friends in the States back in June.  What an amazing homecoming we had as our dear friend Nada was baptized into Christ on July 1, the day we arrived back to Dublin.  Of course, two days before Christmas, our friend Leon began his new life near the same spot in the Irish Sea. 

Speaking of friends and family, a lot of both have visited the Smith family over the past twelve months.  We look forward to more coming over in 2013. 

It's been a privilege to be a part of North Dublin Christian Community and the Father has really blessed our Sunday evening gatherings.  We've been averaging 15 - 25 each Sunday and there seems to be a real sense of community as we worship through the Spirit in his truth.  We're all on different stages of our journey, but we're all seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Our community life together begins on Sunday evenings and continues in various ways throughout the week.

I am excited about seeing how all of the above things continue to evolve over the next twelve months.  My expectations are not set in stone because one of the things I've learned is that God's ways are usually not our ways.  God calls us to live in today, even as we dream about tomorrow.  If we are faithful in the small things each and every day, God is faithful always and has a way of turning those small things into big things in his own time.  To God be the glory!  Great things he has done, great things he is doing, and great things he will continue to do in 2013 and beyond. - Shay