Monday, September 12, 2005

Putting it all together

After reading many other blogs and wondering why in the world I would spend precious time writting out my thoughts...I have broken down. I will be writing every day off? Here it goes...

I am part of a new church experience. This experience is fantastic, overwhelming and terrifying all at the same time. But here is my ramble...

Is the church to be looked at as a hospital or a hospice? People become part of a church for a variety of reasons. People leave churches for a variety of reasons. The one thing that I see in common is that people will come into a church setting with hurt and pain, and others will leave a church setting with hurt or pain.

Now, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to acknowledge that churches are not perfect places because they are made up of people. BUT....The way I see it is that people have a choice. People have a choice to work at getting better and healthier, or people can sit in thier muck and filth and not do anything about it.

At our church we talk very openly about refuge, repair and rejuvenation. The problem with a motto such as this is that many people what to stay in “Refuge.” They want to hide. It is sort of like the difference between a hospital and a hospice.

Let me say that I believe that it is ok to hide for a period of time...that is what Refuge is all about, but when do people start the process of healing? Of repair? Is there a starting time?

When you get sick what happens? First our bodies tell us that something is wrong. We usually get a confirmation of that when we go to the doctor. But if we are seriously ill, what do most people do? They go to the hospital. When at a hospital, you are there for a reason. But as soon as you walk in through the door, you begin to start the process of healing. The nurse takes your vitals, checks your history and depending what your injuries are, they may have to hook you up to an IV, give you a shot, clean and bandage, even stich a wound. As you stay there longer, they will have you eating properly, walking after surgery, using the washroom and even doing physio therapy…but you are in the process of repair, of getting healthy. You do not intend to go to a hospital to stay sick!

But if you look at the idea of "Refuge" as a hospice, that means you will lie there until you die. You assume that there is no hope to your condition, that it is terminal. If you seen refuge as a place where you can sit in your stink...then what is the point of getting better. Why wash and clean up if I can just sit down and rot. There is no point to eating properly, or of walking, there is no point to physio, it is just a matter of time…then one is gone.

Gone in more than one way. The first is that they leave the community, only to go to another place to soil it with their muck. Not concerned about cleaning up, rather only concerned about the fact that they have pain and are clear to let everybody know it. It is like the drunk in the emergency ward. He finds himself there because he got hurt falling down, but in his condition he believes that he is the only one in discomfort and that the staff should treat him as the highest priority.

Many of people fall into the lie that pain and suffering robs of us options. Yet, in the midst of hurt and pain we have options of 'how am I going to respond to my situation.' Then the classic question is "Am I going to be bitter or better?"

Any one can become bitter, it is easy to ripped apart everything and become apathetic, skeptical or cynical…anybody can do that! But it is a rare person who in the midst of hurt, pain and suffering responds to become a better person.
We have a choice to be bitter or better.



Brother Maynard said...

Hey Soul Man,

Welcome to Blogdom! Looks like I get to be the first official commenter. Way cool (do people still say that?)

Another view of the church is as an army, but the best "H" word I can come up with for that is "host" which doesn't quite do it... this would be a view of why people need to get healed (refuge, restoration) so that there's a purpose for them beyond wholeness. I'm less emphatic about the army view than I used to be... I think it's one view, but not the whole story.

I do like your hospital/hospice contrast - I'm sure we've probably known people that get admitted where the church leaders see them as entering a hospital and they think they're checking into a hospice. A rude awakening usually ensues, which is, perhaps ironically, part of the healing process for them.

Looking forward to more good stuff here! And btw, we should do coffee or lunch again soon.

Gratia vobis et pax,

Brother Maynard

Anonymous said...
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fr'nklin said...

Well, I'm second...that stinks, no one remembers SECOND PLACE...kudos to the brother for finding you first.

Admittedly, I'm one who has struggled with sitting in "muck" and criticizing the "heck" out of the church. It has taken much time, but finally, I'm at a place where I'm trying to BE what I have criticized the church for not being. It is extremely difficult, but ultimately, I'm finding that it feels like freedom.

However, I do wonder if my calling is not elsewhere...away from the "mega" and in a community of people where I feel like I'm in the same stream...? I don't fret over it, but I'm hoping...

Thanks for provoking my thoughts...


Robbymac said...

Hey SoulPastor,

It was great connecting with you and Brother Maynard last month while I was in Winnipeg. Welcome to the wonderful wacky world of blogdom.

If I could comment on the hospital metaphor -- I think what has been a problem for some people is that they DO need a hospital when they first arrive, usually because of wounding from a previous church experience.

That's not a problem, of course. Churches and church-less faith communities alike need to be places of healing.

The problem comes once these "charred stones" get healed. Often, those in leadership of the hospital have gotten used to (A) being the helper, and (B) seeing the charred stone as still (perpetually?) damaged.

Sometimes the formerly-charred stones have a tough time being perceived as anything but "damaged goods", so they get frustrated that they can't participate fully in a Body that has boxed them in, and eventually leave.

This is tragic, that the very place of healing becomes a place of restriction, and therefore drives out the very ones that needed healing in the first place.

Lunch is on me next time, by the way.

SoulPastor said...


I hear you loud and clear...
But as I write, I am writing from a perspective of a pastor, of which some may say can be "jaded."

The questions I ponder are:
When does healing take place?

Why do people prefer to sit in their filth and CHOOSE not to get cleaned up or 'healthy'?

From Exodus 14-16 we see the children of Israel went from blasting Moses for taking them out of Egpyt to having a rave on the beach after crossing the Red Sea back to grumbling again in Chapter 16, thinking that things were really good in Egypt.

Their story sounds like ours...doesn't it.
Man, if only I could be Moses!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey Gerry,

Loved Soul on sunday... really made me think about some stuff going on in my life and the choice I have to be bitter or better because of it! Thanks!!!

Robbymac said...


Take a stick and smack a rock with it. It's good therapy, whether you get water from the rock or not. :)

And yes, I've also seen the other side that you suggest -- people that seem to like licking their wounds for a couple of decades, and wonder why no-one wants to "fellowship" with them...

A friend once called such a group a "hemlock house church" -- bitter people gather each week to peel the scabs off their wounds to see if they still hurt, and pass around a cup of poison for everyone to drink from.

Kinnon said...

Great to see you posting. I look forward to many more - even ones from other days of the week. And when I'm wider awake, I'll post a comment.


Grey Owl said...

Hey Soul Pastor/Gerry,

Sorry you couldn't make it to our Rendezvous at the Forks last night. Looking forward to meeting you when we connect. Did you ever get the reply I sent to your email?

Looks like a good site. Re: bitter vs better - I think that the natural reaction is to lean towards bitter - which makes us the only animals on earth that do so...

E said...

How's this... I like what AA says -
"Change occurs when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing."

Maybe healing can only begin when we are truly willing to take the risks of doing whatever it takes to lose our identity of one in need.

Scotty B said...

Sup Gerry,

This has to do with the the word refuge and may stray away from some of the other stuff you posted but i decided to talk about my feelings, hope they help.

Refuge, it seems to be all that we offer at soul, honestly, and some repair. But repair is a big word, tightening a but on a faucet so it doesnt leak is easier than replacing the whole drainage system. It seems at Soul that we offer refuge, we offer prayer for ppl who need it and that sort of stuff. But i believe that the place that we fall short is the major repairs and the rejuvenation completely.

Now dont take this personally, its not your fault, but it seems that we pray for the ppl that need help, but after, we dont have follow up, or at least it seems, and we have no Rehab, if you will. Maybe ppl leave the church cuz we offer so much refuge, but have no rejuvenation. How long does refuge have to go on for before we start hinting to the refugees that we need to have some rejuvenation. The way i see it, at least at soul is, we dont really ever push the rejuvenation.

We are so fixated on bringing in more and more ppl, refugees or not, that we are forgeting the ones that have come first. Why not rejuvenate the ones we have now, and then send the rejuvenated ones to help the ones seeking refuge. Do we really have to connect with the most ppl possible, that will come with time, but if ppl walk out of church saying ive been a refugee, so to speak, i got repaired, and i got rejuvenated. If other ppl heard this, do you think that the connection would be made. Whether you like it or not ppl need to see proof. This means that if they see ppl that have gone through all the steps of souls motto, then they will be more willing to come.

I hope this makes some sense to you, i believe that we need to see more of the repair and rejuvenation, and less of the refuge. Of course we can offer as much refuge as possible, but we must start offering the repair and the rejuventation alot more than we do.


SoulPastor said...

Scotty B

Since the use of this blog was not created to discuss the percieved strengths and weaknesses of an existing church, I will address your questions personally and not on this forum.

Scotty B said...

ok sorry about that, didnt know that, cya

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

I appreciate the reference to AA by "e" in the above comment. Beyond the shallow experience people have of 12 Steps programs (usually from TV & movies), the complexity behind it reads like a church planting manual (lacking, perhaps, a solid missional foundation).


mdehoog said...

LOve the thoughts happening here. I would be curious to discover that many time I think we define too much what it means to clean yourself up. Obviously there is no way we need to advocate people to stay where they are but how much of our 'churchy' culture has defined what that looks like. To be a good white collared beatiful person means you are close to God. What does it mean to clean yourself up? What does it mean to live in a hospice or be in need of a hospital?

SoulPastor said...


Loaded post there!
Let me ask you...what does it mean for you to get cleaned up?

Scott said...

Maybe to clean yourself up is to seek god, to find and seek him is to be in the process of cleaning up, and to love him and accept him and enter relationship with him is to be cleaned up.