churches: judge or lead?

Churches: encouraging people to judge or to lead?

Published on: Sep 18, 2009

English: The courthouse of Tours. Français : L...

English: The courthouse of Tours. Français : Le palais de justice de Tours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dawn wrote: alot of time is involved in the justice system and of course it is a futile way to try and seek what you need or want. The justice system is a joke and not a very funny one at that…


JR replied:

To me, the court system has its function. People may believe that the function is what it isn’t, or should be a certain

English: Sanctuary of Senhor Jesus da Pedra (L...

English: Sanctuary of Senhor Jesus da Pedra (Lord Jesus of the Stone), Óbidos, Portugal Français : L’église Senhor Jesus da Pedra (« Seigneur Jésus de la Pierre ») à Óbidos, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

function or should not be a certain function, but one thing about the civil court system is that it can be slow and expensive.

To me, churches and private mediation services and so on have lots of room (almost a vacuum?) to provide valuable services which courts may not be a good fit for performing/providing. To go into the absurd, the fact that courts are not a good place to learn how to bake cookies is not really a problem. They are good for only what they are good for, and that tends to be complex controversies between large businesses- which otherwise would not involve courts.

The idea that the court system would manage social welfare services (like social work) is a rather new one as far as I know. Taking a model designed well for one particular function and then trying to stick another function on that may or may not work well- like trying to modify a car into a truck.

If I were to pick one type of organization that I would like to see handle more social welfare, I might not pick the government, but private churches. Some churches do great work 3000 miles away. Some do great work nearby. Some do both.

However, there is currently a huge gap in my opinion between what churches could provide, including with some partnership of for-profit business like a mediation counselor, and what churches have been providing (to my knowledge). Lots of churches [seem to me to be] more interested in dogma than humanity, and I experience that in many ways: first, I am interested in the promoting what I value being implemented through private groups like churches, but also a sadness and even rage at the extent to which so many churches have allowed or even led people into disputes with each other. Those disputes may be about religious dogma or family disputes relating to what I consider the failure (i.e. absence of satisfaction) of churches- and yes families, communities, individuals etc, as this is not an exclusive comment- to fulfill the function fitting to them- that is, we might say, what God has commanded for, in this case, churches to do. I have some energy around this subject, so what fits for me to do is either to somehow evoke functionality from existing churches, start a ministry, or both.

I had to go way outside of the christian tradition for the teaching of Jesus to make sense to me- and they are awesome and simple teachings. So many churches promote the worship OF Jesus and yet ignore his teachings. I call that Christolatry.

The Livingston County Courthouse and offices a...

The Livingston County Courthouse and offices are located at the end of Main Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus did not teach people to worship him, but to follow him (model him) [and not just to be able to proudly say “I copied him,” but to go beyond merely copying him to actually continuing to explore what he was exploring- even beyond that!] I challenge anyone to counter my statement with scripture. In fact, here is a scripture that “floored” me when I was 14 or so:

“They worship me in vain….” Jesus is recorded to have said that in both Mark (7:7) and Matthew (15:9). In fact, he is explicitly quoting Isaiah (i.e he overtly references Isaiah in the preceding verses):

“And the Lord said, because this people come near to me with their mouths, and give honour to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and their fear of me is false, a rule given them by the teaching of men.” That is Isaiah 29:13.

Here is Ezekiel 33:31: “And they come to thee, as if a people were coming in, and my people sit before thee: and hear thy words, and do them not: for they turn them into a song of their mouth, and their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Psalm 78:37 is this: “their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.”

So, if that is not your experience of the Christian tradition (or whatever other tradition): wonderful! My point is that the “Christian roots” of many developed countries are either glorifying God in those places, or EVIDENCING the lack of faithfulness, the lack of effectiveness, the lack of relevance- of the religious traditions in those places. The teachings of Jesus are precious to me. The traditions of churches are- well do people who are satisfied stop coming to church and instead go explore exotic eastern traditions? I’ve talked to several ministers who know that their local church and in fact their entire regional denomination affiliation is struggling- and of course there are exceptions!

Still, there is an immense antagonism in popular culture in our midst, one that the vast majority of churches which I have visited have either ignored or,in my opinion, fueled. Churches are, I propose, for this purpose: the development of integrity and functionality within individuals, families/households, and communities.

That’s the measure of the effectiveness of a church: does it prosper it’s membership and thus the wider community? Of those that do (if not all), might some be more effective at promoting happiness and functionality than others?

I went to a Sunday School session lately in which people were bemoaning the divorce rate in the US. There are two ways to look at that: “those people divorcing are the bad ones; they have failed us” or “we as a church are responsible for the happiness of humanity, starting with me personally, and extending into my community and even worldwide. Their happiness is my happiness.” (Which one sounds more like Jesus?)

If people are not happy in their marriages (or out of a marriage, such as a widow or unmarried co-ed) and if their lives do not work (or do), that is the “business” of churches. I say that churches have failed this country and many other countries- not the governments- and by churches I mean people like you and I.

Is the court system to blame for the high rate of divorce? That’s an odd question- even insane!

Bulloch County Courthouse in Statesboro, Georg...

Bulloch County Courthouse in Statesboro, Georgia, in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People can talk about the allegedly negative influence of TV shows or music or drugs, but the reason they would do that is because they are trying to scapegoat SOMEONE ELSE. I find it potentially insulting if someone implies that God is not capable of keeping someone so happy and functional that drugs are of no interest to them- or even “healing” them such that they miraculously recover from a whole slew of challenges- or that “negative” TV or “negative” music are more attractive to young people than “positive” social functions for youth at a church EVER COULD BE.

If people are more attracted to so-called “sin” (or sloth) than church programs, that is a revealing “report card” for the relevance of mainstream churches. If I have to start one, fine: I favor churches that dynamically promote spiritual maturity and stewardship among the membership, that promote ground-breaking private schools that people are happy to pay for and can easily afford because their participation in the church has clear, profound implications for their everyday lives including finances, and that promote social welfare services- or even hospitals, clinics and birthing centers- so that courts (and so on) can do exactly what they are best at doing… and only that, leaving the rest to operations that can specialize in promoting the social welfare.

This culture has an issue with blame and I propose that it results from an issue with guilt, and to me churches- or at least the religious practices of someone like Jesus- were specifically about relieving people of guilt, turning people from blame and scapegoating and misery and whining, and promoting the integrity (functionality) of individuals, families, and communities. Sure, you may not like how hospitals or insurance companies work. Who does!?

People complain about the economy and the government and the schools. Why are they complaining? How about we recognize that some institutions are not fulfilling our interests, then- rather than blame- get our interests fulfilled?

I’ve worked for the correctional system, and school systems, and social services. But those are like “safety nets” for when the culture itself has failed somehow to serve someone- yes, even schools. I’m not especially in favor of public education, by the way. I think schools could be better and could be worse. I praise everyone involved in them for their service and I bless them- however, I would be happy to see public schools made obsolete by a prosperous society in which private schools were so competitive and so valued by such a prosperous society that “government schools” would be schools for training teachers- like teaching hospitals at universities.

Let each college have it’s own school free to the public where teachers can be trained in real classrooms- if the college so chooses. But any failure in society or culture to me is a failure of any individual in particular and churches in general. If governments have got their hand in everything now and seem to be making things worse, perhaps that is because churches did not promote and protect their congregations (which might also be effective for attracting and keeping membership).

English: Lenawee County Courthouse, Adrian, Mi...

English: Lenawee County Courthouse, Adrian, Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People with healthy immune systems do not need the drugs of pharmaceutical companies. Communities with functional churches do not need “socialist” rescue programs from government. If physical health or mental health or social antagonism or family instability is startlingly deteriorating, the governments will likely eventually step in- but perhaps not if the churches REPENT and “get their acts together.”

I think you may know that I am a trends forecaster. I published warnings about the economic transition of recent years beginning in early 2003. I forecast the credit crunch, the real estate decline, the failure of financial institutions, and the rise of fuel prices, then the decline of fuel prices and stock prices and so on.

I also know what is coming soon in economic trends- as the forecasts of prior years have not yet been fulfilled completely, but only in their early stages. While I am not casting blame, I am identifying churches as places where the transformation which COULD happen MIGHT actually happen- like depending on what people like you and I do. In contrast, I have no confidence in government to provide long-term solutions. (See Japan in the 1990s, among other examples.)

Courts will be overwhelmed with the surge of disputes that will come before them in the coming months and years. Many people will complain about it all, but for all my complaining that I have ever done so far- and I’ve done plenty- how much good has it done me (or any one else)?

Churches can help people handle existing disputes and- even better- no longer create them. Churches can be relevant. They can be places that people simply cope with their problems- at least for a while, like forgetting them or pretending that they are not there or minor, addictive reliefs that one would be terrified to miss- or churches can be places that people experience miraculous resolutions to their perceived problems and even learn how to function effectively without what may have been a problem in their past. Maybe a church would even be so effective that people would not have to come back every week for the rest of their lives- and that would offer much more than a hour-long Sunday gathering. What if that weekly gathering was primarily for new people and the rest of the week was filled with activities so enriching to the membership and community that those parking lots were full all week?

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2 Responses to “churches: judge or lead?”

  1. apollorising2012 Says:

    Great post and blog!

  2. Alex Nagy Says:

    The first post of yours I not only like but can agree with the vast majority of. thanks for sharing.

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