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Random Post-Election Thoughts

I’ve been stewing on this for a while now.  Obviously…  The election was almost two weekss ago.  As the results slowly came in, and the “experts” started getting more and more befuddled, it became clear: the next President of the United States was going to be Donald Trump – like it or not.  In the aftermath, a lot of thoughts have come to my mind…

  • I could write a “Dear Donald” open letter, and say, “Hey, don’t screw up.  You won the election, but the reality show is over.  Get serious.  Get to work.  And stop with the vitriol if you really want to make America great again – whatever you think that means.”
  • I could write a similarly themed “Dear Hillary” letter, and say, “Hey, you screwed up.  You referred to people as ‘deplorable’.  You ignored what was going on.  Failed to address concerns for some people that were very serious.  And took it all for granted.”
  • I could talk about what went right, what went wrong, why this was one of the nastiest campaign seasons that I can remember.  I mean… wow.
  • I could talk about my experience as a person who really followed the political process for the very first time – talking about my journey from deciding to vote, registering, voting in the primary, and voting in the general election.  It was interesting, and nauseating.
  • I could talk about the aftermath of the election: protests, voting number, favorability, factors that I think affected the way things went down

I could talk about all of these things, but I don’t think I could do it in a coherent way.  I don’t think a series of posts really fits how I’ve gone about blogging to this point either – especially since I, at best, write once a week (though I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus the last several weeks).

So, instead, I thought, I could just say a little about a lot of things that have been going through my head as we zoom past the election and into the holiday season.  So, here goes…

  1. No-Win Situation. I made no secret that I was not a fan of Donald Trump from the beginning.  Even early in the primaries, I didn’t think he had a shot and that it was all just to get his name, his “brand” out there in front of people.  I’ve often said that he had the biggest ego on television, and I used to sit in the room while Katie watched America’s Next Top Model with Tyra Banks.  I haven’t like him since about the second season of The Apprentice.  That being said, I wasn’t a big fan of Hillary either.  When there’s that must dust kicking up around a person, you know they’ve been playing in the dirt.  She must be a capable person because she has worked at high levels in the government.  I realized that one of them was going to win.  I didn’t really like the prospect of it.  And I also made it no secret that I was voting third party… and that I was voting for the first time.  I stayed true to my word, and I voted for Johnson – even though I knew he had no chance, especially once he was denied the ability to participate in the debates.  Regardless, I voted, and I didn’t feel like I need to take a shower afterwards to get the icky feeling off of me.
  2. Unfavorable.  In polls (which apparently can’t be trusted too much), neither candidate was really looked upon too favorably.  Trump had an unfavorability rating anywhere between 52-60%, depending on the source.  Clinton was 51-57%.  In other words, a majority of the people didn’t like either candidate.  I don’t know if that has ever happened before.  What does it mean?  It tells me that there were a lot of people that didn’t like who they were voting for, but did it anyway to keep the other one from winning.  Even people that voted for Trump don’t really like him; they just really, really didn’t like Hillary.
  3. Blaming White Evangelical Christians. In the post-election daze (see what I did there?), I have seen some people who are very angry with “white evangelical Christians” for putting the votes in favor of our new President-elect.  It’s been a while, but I feel like I remember seeing that 80% of white evangelicals punched the Trump ticket.  But, here’s the thought that has been going through my head: if white evangelicals really have such an influence, why is it that on any given Sunday 80% of America is anywhere but church?  I written about this before, but America is not a “Christian” nation, as much as people like to think that it is.  I wish the Church had the influence that people seem to think it does.  But I can tell you, being somebody what works pretty closely with the Church, it doesn’t have the influence that has been attributed to it in the last couple of weeks.
  4. Insurance Rate Hikes.  Do you know what I think led to more people shying away from Hillary on election day?  The news that was coming out about insurance rates going through the roof for some people.  My opinion: that was more damaging to the Democrats than anything else during this entire election season.  People were seeing astronomical hikes in their insurance rates, and the immediate blame was placed on “Obamacare”.  Guess what – there’s a guy running who has said he will repeal it as soon as he can.  People vote according to what they think is best for them.  If they see their expenses going up because of something that one party has enacted, they are going to vote against that party.  Keep that in mind in four years if something similar happens.
  5. Protests. Why?  I understand that there are a lot of people who don’t like the election results.  I understand that there are people who have legitimate concerns about a Trump presidency, especially given his rhetoric on the campaign trail.  But destroying property, fighting with the police, disrupting traffic – none of that is going to change the past.  The results of the election are what they are.  We can get upset about it, but we can’t change it.  And let me say this: people had a chance to reject Trump as president already – it’s called voting.  They didn’t do it.  And – as a side note – anybody who didn’t vote has no business being involved in the protests either.  Do you know what is more effective than a protest?  Involvement.  If you don’t like it, get involved.
  6. Participation Trophies.  I’ve seen people, in talking about the protesters, make comments like – “This is what happens when you give out participation trophies,” and “Millenials just want everything handed to them.”  No.  Stop it.  You know who wanted participation trophies?  The trophy companies.  Their sales went up when they realized they could make participation trophies because the majority of the kids playing weren’t going to win the championship.  You know who else wanted participation trophies?  The adults running the leagues that bought the stupid things in the first place and were handing them out to the kids that didn’t ask for them.  I played on some pretty bad Little League teams.  I got participation trophies.  You know what I wanted?  I wanted the first-place trophy.  Kids who got participation trophies weren’t asking for them; the trophies were handed to them.  Several years ago, I went through my old trophies.  Do you know which ones I didn’t keep?  The participation ones.
  7. Meme Activists.  Can we stop with the memes containing clearly biased, and mostly inaccurate, “facts” – also known as opinions?  You know how I said that the protests weren’t going to do anything?  Your Facebook memes are going to do less.  Can we stop sharing those stupid things so people’s timelines get flooded with so much crap that they can’t see the pictures I’m posting of my adorable daughter?

Phew!  Okay, that’s a lot of really random things.

Look, I’m not saying I’m an authority on the subject.  I’m even willing to say that I might be wrong on some of this.  But, this is where I am right now.  The most important thing that we need to be able to do in this post-election hangover that we are facing is remember to be people who care about other people – regardless of their political ideology.  There was once a time when people came together to accomplish things because they believed in something greater than themselves.  I hope we haven’t lost sight of those times.

 

 

The Purpose of the Church

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At the beginning or March, our church had a Vision & Values workshop to jumpstart the conversation regarding our vision as a church.  Vision is so important because it gives us an idea of where it is that we want to be – or, more accurately, where it is that God is calling us – in the future.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing in our weekly eNews some of the discussions that we had during the workshop.  Below is what I shared in today’s newsletter, and I’ll add a few more comments afterwards.

What is the purpose of the church?

That was one of the questions that came up during our Vision & Values Workshop at the beginning of March.  In a survey that was shared with the group, there were four possible responses.

  1. To Teach the Golden Rule
  2. To Be the Moral Backbone of Society
  3. To Make Disciples
  4. To Provide Fellowship and Love One Another

Those all seem to be good responses, and I think there would be people that could make an argument for each one.  In fact, here’s how it came out:

  1. To Teach the Golden Rule – 3.4%
  2. To Be the Moral Backbone of Society – 4.1%
  3. To Make Disciples – 35%
  4. To Provide Fellowship and Love One Another – 57%

That’s right, 57% of the responses said that the purpose of the church is to provide fellowship and love one another.  Now, nobody is going to object to a church that does that, right?  But that wasn’t the question.  The question was: what is the purpose of the church?

As I read through Scripture, I don’t see anywhere that Jesus tells his disciples to get into little groups and just care for one another.  That’s because he doesn’t.  So, why do we do it?  Because it’s safer that way.

It’s safer to stay in our little group and not be intentional about making disciples.  We don’t have to fear rejection or the occasional snide remark about faith when all we do is take care of ourselves.  But that’s not exactly the life to which Jesus calls us.

Like his disciples in Matthew 28, we are called to make disciples.  To be intentional, to reach out because we have something that the world lacks – the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.  That’s the purpose of the church.  Any other group can provide fellowship and love one another – get some friends and go fishing if that’s all you want.  But if you want a life-changing encounter with the living God, and to share that experience with other people… well, that’s what the church is for.

I think too often, we forget that the church doesn’t exist for itself.  I’ve heard it said that the church is the one institution that exists for those outside of it, and there is so much truth to that statement.  So, what happened?

I’m not an expert, so let’s just clear that up right away.  I’m just a guy who does some reading, thinking and observing when it comes to churches.  But I think what happened is that we got lazy in the church.  There used to be a time when Sunday morning would roll around, and seemingly everybody would get up and go to church.  Nothing else happened on Sunday morning.  It became part of the routine, and we forgot why we were there in the first place.

We had a conversation in Bible study last night along these lines.  The staggering statistic is that as many as 80% of youth (maybe more) drop out of the church after high school.  And look around – how many college-age people have come to church in the last month (and don’t count Easter, that’s cheating!)?

Is the problem that there are atheist professors in college who influence people into dropping out?  Is the problem that they spend too much time partying in college that it doesn’t seem like church matters any more?  Is the problem that there are no “cool” churches around their campus for them to attend?  Or is the problem something else?  Is it because we have, for far too long, left ministry to “the professionals”?

“I don’t have to be involved with the youth because that’s why we hired a youth pastor” – that’s the mentality that I have seen from some people.  Somehow, we have decided to specialize and “professionalize” the church to the point that we aren’t making disciples any more.  Pastors are expected to be little more than chaplains – be there when I’m sick or going in for surgery, do my grandson’s wedding, and make sure I have a nice funeral… oh, and make sure you put on a good show this Sunday too – entertain me.

The picture I put at the top of this post was shared for a reason.  Notice: there’s a graveyard outside the building.  It’s actually very nicely kept.  I do wonder, though, what’s the inside of the church like?  Is the graveyard the only thing that is well-tended?  Or is it a place where the dry bones are coming to life?  Where God is glorified?  Where disciples are being made?

We no longer live in an age where people automatically come to church on Sunday morning.  There are a hundred other things vying for our attention.  And, you know, I’m okay with living in this new era.  It reminds me of another time when people didn’t automatically just go to church because it was the thing to do on Sunday morning.  In fact, calling it a new era isn’t really all that accurate.  It’s simply a revival of an old era – the era that started when Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples.

If we, as the Church (notice the capitalization), return to our main purpose of making disciples, then perhaps we’ll see something special once again.