Monday, August 17, 2009

Church Experiment #33: The Leadership Summit

No, I didn’t figure out time travel. I simply didn’t go to church this week. Well, at least not the traditional definition of church. Sunday morning, I woke up and realized one of the year’s most significant spiritual moments happened outside of a traditional church setting. And since this experiment is primarily about reconnecting with God, it would have been silly to ignore the revelation simply because it didn’t fit within the constricting box of my experiment.

In other words, this is the post I believe I am supposed to write this week (even though you’ll notice this week’s date is actually before last week’s date), regardless of official protocol, so here we go.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.

23 comments:

Jon said...

Awesome. I love the honesty in your blog. That message is great. I can't wait to listen to the sermon when I have 40 free minutes.

j steg said...

What about middle children?

DanThoms said...

What you said here reminds me of the new Nooma video Corner. It's about how Grace isn't "fair." I guess it all comes down to, God looks at the heart. Which is why just doing good doesnt' cut it. There are characters in the Bible that show this very clearly. Like King David. That guy did some God awful things and yet he was a man after God's own heart. Anyhow, very thought provoking.

Rohmeo said...

Steve,

I've been following your blog since the first couple weeks and this is the first time I can see a more genuine vulnerability on your part that this is really all about Christ and not us.

I read Tim Keller's "The Prodigal God" when it came out last year and it changed my heart in many ways as well. I was always the "elder brother" in all my relationships growing up but in Sunday School it was always about the younger bad brother. It's more and more evident that as "Religion" gets even more popular in all it's forms these days that individual hearts are more empty than ever. Funny how that happens. Maybe that's why Christ addresses the "Religious Folks" more than anyone else.

It's a call to remember we have NOTHING to offer Him and can't do ANYTHING to earn his favor or acceptance. He has already taken care of that for his kids on the Cross out of underserving Grace and Mercy. It's a call to spur us on to do things out of RESPONSE and OBEDIENCE for what he's done with Love and Thankfulness. It's a life we should look at as we GET to do and not what we HAVE to do. Quite transforming for me...

Lydia said...

Thanks for sharing this Steve. I go to a church (have been there a long time) where there are LOTS of younger and elder brothers. I have been both throughout the years.

However, I must say, my leadership has worked hard to focus us to not worry so much about the Hand of God (what He does for us) but to look into the Face of God (who He is).

I think this is a lifelong effort to make sure we love Him simply because He is God, and He is wonderful. We can be as intimate as we are willing to be with Him and that is really all He wants, an intimate relationship with us.

What a God we serve. He is wonderful.

The Reverend said...

You know, I would have had a 1/2 a brain I would have made time for the Leadership Summit. We could have met, I could have hung with Duane . . . sigh. Next year, for sure.

matt said...

You said "notch on my Christian bedpost" and I think that's hilarious...

thecapitall said...

Amen!!!

bound4glory said...

The greatest revelation one could receive. This blog is a classic and should be read by all. Keep up the good work and may God richly bless you.

wendymhall said...

Steve, I haven't been able to describe this :"It's not in the middle, it's something else entirely...." Thank you for quoting that. There's no way to be in the middle. It's getting of the see-saw and learning about love. Thanks for puttin words to it. I love your blog!

Sarah said...

Great post, great insight. I myself have been afflicted with "elder brother disease" in my life, unfortunately, so I can relate. Gonna have to go listen to the message now!

Michael Joseph Sharp said...

Interesting. Very fitting for my life at this moment.

Sometimes, Fuller, you actually come-off like a pretty descent hum-

...Nevermind.

Christine said...

I liken myself more to Martha in the Martha and Mary story, but the message is the same, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The same principle is what Romans 2 is all about. The second half of Romans one is the "younger brother" type person. Romans 2 has two kinds of "elder brother" types - one depending on his own self-righteousness and the other depending on his background and rituals. The Bible is consistent in its message, but we have to look at it with an open heart.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
thanks so much for this! i have ranted and raved about the prodigal son parable for a few years now.
i finally get it.
now the question remains... what shall i do now that my eyes are open to the me i never thought i'd be?

thank you

Domestic Ambitions said...

I read this twice. I really loved this post and your blog. I follow everyweek and usually can't wait until you share your next experience. Keep it up.

stephanie said...

I've read your blog for years and you've never made me cry. This time you did. I'm so glad God spoke to your heart through Keller. (And if you have the chance to read Reason for God by Keller, do so. It's a great read.)

Anonymous said...

this comment is not in response to this blog. I am responding to your whole approach to this project. If you are going to visit other places of worhsip (hindu temples and such), why do you not do your homework before going? If there is anything for you to receive it is clearly prejadiced by your ignorance. An open heart requires an open mind. I am personally a christian, but I have friends who are hindu, christian scientist and so forth. I cannot expect to be heard regarding my faith if I have not taken the time to understand what may deeply matter to someone else even if it may be wrong.

Steve Fuller said...

Anonymous,

As I have stated previously, I purposefully go into each new church WITHOUT doing extensive research. My goal is to experience each new church as a first-time visitor would. If nothing else, I hope church leaders get a rare glimpse at how new people experience their churches.

And isn't actually visiting a church one of the best ways to learn about its culture? Part of this is experiment IS ABOUT TAKING THE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT OTHER FAITHS. THAT IS WHY I AM GOING TO THEIR PLACES OF WORSHIP. How is that not obvious?

life without novacaine said...

Steve, I have been following your blog for quite a while now and have even turned a few new readers towards it. What you have to say about visiting other churches has been so eye opening and I actually am envious that you are making this happen in your life.

I just wanted to tell you that you have touched so many people with your words, your wit, your insight and your careful observations. You are very inspiring. But this particular post has been the most inspiring of all. I LOVED what you had to say about the elder brother and the younger brother and could empathize with both of them. Sadly for me. You and Keller put into word what has been floating in my head for many years. Thank you! I can't wait to watch the 40 minute sermon.

Anonymous said...

But shouldn't we hate immoral behavior?Why can't I hate the sin and love the sinner? Sin is what separates us from God. When you said "That's why Christians hate immoral behavior so much," I couldn't help but be reminded of when Jesus got angry at the moneychangers in the temple and made a mess out of their tables. Or how God turned his back on his own perfect Son on the cross because he was covered in our sin. The Bible said that God forsook Jesus on the cross. There is a difference between righteous anger and sinful anger. It's a sin to hate someone because they are living in sin, whatever that may be. We should treat them as Jesus did (i.e. the woman at the well, Jesus eating with publicans and sinners, etc.) It's not a sin to hate the immoral BEHAVIOR that the Bible specifically lays out as sin.

Steve Fuller said...

Anonymous,

I don't disagree with you. I doubt Keller would either. I think the difference is our motivation. If I hate the alcoholism in you because it is destroying your life, I think that is legit (and probably normal).

But we become elder brothers when our hate is self-centered. In other words, I don't really care about you being healthy; I care about my rules, or "justice," or getting God's favor, or having other people adore me, etc.

So, you make a good point and I think we agree. There is just a fine line there that is so easy to cross (or, at least, has been for me).

Anonymous said...

ok, we're on the same page. it is such a fine line, i agree. and it can be crossed so easily. this entry really helped me, by the way, and i plan to listen to the corresponding message you linked.