Monday, November 28, 2005

The McChurch of Canada

We live in an incredibly rich country. The North American church tries to make following Jesus attractive and we try to get people into the door and tell people it is great, we tell them that we have ALL the programs just for them. “Just come to our church and all your dreams will come true.”

“You do not have to look after any kids, we have people to do that for you. You do not have to help by meeting new people, we have people to do that for you. You do not have to pick up a vacuum cleaner, we do that for you. Oh please, let me pour your coffee. Please, don’t give any money to help pay any bills, we have people who will do that for you.”

But we still shop for churches. We compare the services between them like we do everything else. The music is better here, but the preaching is better there. And the children’s program is just like Sesame Street over there. But then, we’d have to drive 25 minutes to get there, so it’s a tossup.

This is what I do not get. People come and consume on the local church level, but they don’t buy into it, no they wait and wait to see if they will commit. Not only do they not buy into it they don’t contribute at all. Try that in Wal-mart. Walk in and start eating the chips in the isle and walk out without paying. You won’t get very far, yet it is acceptable in McChurch. Even when you go to a movie you have to pay at the door and not half way through. Not to mention that you have no problem dropping $20 for POP CORN!!!!!!!

Consume, consume and consume and when you get ticked at the pastor or someone else you can move over to the other retailer, because they don’t know you or your history and THEY want your business. But since everything is cyclical they are bound to find out, within a year or two…because that is when you get hacked-off with someone and it is time to leave again. Patterns are so loud and clear and it is funny to see that most people are blind to them.

McChurch. Some Christians are interesting. Think about this.

-Today, across the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day;
-3 billion live on under two dollars a day.
-1.3 billion have no access to clean water.
-3 billion have no access to sanitation.
-2 billion have no access to electricity.
-A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
-The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.
-Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
-20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the world’s goods.
-According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
-Nearly 800 million people do not get enough food, and about 500 million people are chronically malnourished. More than a third of children are malnourished.
-Of the world’s 23 million people living with HIV/AIDS more than 93% live in developing countries.
-More than 840 million adults are illiterate - 538 million of them are women.
-Around 2 million children died as a result of armed conflict in the last decade.
-110 million landmines lie undetonated in 68 countries.
-Modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced into labor or sexual exploitation is about 800,000 people -- mostly women and children – who are trafficked across national borders which does not count millions trafficked within their own countries.
-Six countries can spend $ 700 million in nine days on dog and cat food.
-Effective debt relief to the 20 poorest countries would cost $ 5.5 billion - equivalent to the cost of building EuroDisney.
-Today’s world spend $ 92 billion on junkfood, $ 66 billion on cosmetics and nearly $ 800 billion in 1995 for defense expenditure.
-There is plenty of food in the world, the problem is that those who have are not distributing it properly. Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger and the large majority of those victims are under the age of 5.

Hang on….”I NEED to go stand in line at Wal-mart and get a new XBOX 360, because I can get it for only $500.”

And I am thinking…What is wrong with this picture?

We live in a world where people get angry over the things that don’t matter and don’t get angry about the things that do matter. Perhaps it is time for the church to be come angry about the things that GOD is angry about.

I wonder….does GOD do McDonalds?


the REAL Scotty B said...

Good post Gerry.

I think this post is a good one, but i mean seriously, people dont really care, of course its easier to spend 10 bucks on pop corn, why, well because you have too. At Church, they have to conform to you, without that happening then no one will come, if you dont believe me then look at the declining numbers of teens not going to church anymore. But this is the view of the Western Church in general, pentecostals, baptists, and other non traditional churches must "Sell out", there is no other way to draw ppl in, they must sell God, otherwise another non traditional church will. Why are we selling God? European churches have no problem maintaining there members, catholics, orthodox churches in Europe have no problem, they are disciplined and obidient, and have no problem with attitude problems that the West has. Im not saying Eastern churches dont have their problems, its just they dont sell their churches with fancy lights and up to date music.

As for the hunger issues and that stuff, i may make a few angry here, but technically, sometimes, it is their fault, just like the spread of aids. Yes leaders do take the food for themselves, and yes their is corruption, but seriously is people stopped having sex, there would be less kids to feed, less aids to deal with, and then they could figure out a plan to help a set number of ppl. It seems it grows larger and larger everyday, but it seems the ppl over there cannot realize that they dont need anymore kids. Whats the point of having a kid if he lives to age 5 or under. These ppl must have more common sense than this. And you may say to me that it is impossible to tell these ppl to stop having sex, well, i dont see any other ways that "seem" posiible working yet. In this world of sin, we will never get enough food to all people, otherwise you would have 100+ Iraq situations, becuase most of these countries would require war to change the views of the government.

My last rant will be on the people getting angry over stupid issues, though i do it myself, i will admit that i do it, so thats better than 95% of ppl that do get mad over stupid things. Recently at church, a word came up in a sermon, it was the word Piss Off (enter your favorite groan, sigh, or judgmental comment here) The word, which doesnt seem to be a bad word at all, got people well, pissed off, at the person who said piss off. I dont see why ppl are so up tight, these people ruin the unity of the church because they bitch, yes i said it, they bitch about everything that doesnt agree with them. This is not the first time ive heard this in church, and i hope it wont be the last. I enjoy hearing a person get pissed off about hearing the word piss off in church. Frankly if these people are so pissed off about the word piss off, then they can Piss off cuz im getting Pissed off with them. Im sick of people who get their panties in a bunch because of something that was said that they disliked. Seriously ppl, leave your church, we dont need you, im not Pastor, but the church doesnt need ppl like you. If your gonna get angry about a little thing like the word pissed off, then we dont need you, becuase your not even taking the message seriously, you stop at the Word, and you dont listen to anyone anymore but yourself and your thoughts on the word of phrase that was said that you disliked.

The point of this rant is people are way to niave, if you cant look past the word that made you upset then how will you ever get the point of the message. The only one here thats missing something is you, you miss out on the actual point, a point that could be life changing.

Anyways another good post to get some things off my chest on this beautiful Monday morning. Have a good week all!

Edit: ppl = people, for those how dont know.

And any spelling errors, i apologize now, I am at work and trying to fit in this response with all my other work.

And no Gerry im not wearing a Skirt today, but if the weathers good tomorrow, there might be a chance.

Michael said...

Hi Gerry -

I'm not sure I see the relationship between the 2 ideas (consumerist church & misplaced anger) - but I do agree they're both important.

With all due respect Scotty B, I think your response to the poverty crisis is simplistic and convenient. It's far easier to blame the 'naieve' breeding habits of 3rd world populations than to do something about it. I think Jesus would focus on the need, before pointing out the 'folly' that created it.

With respect to the consumerist church, I think it is a difficult balance. How does the church of today stay relevant and appealing to the masses, while maintaining the integrity of the gospel? Too far one way, and we isolate the very people we are to reach; too far the other way, and we've lost the plot.

I think it can be done. What's more, I think the growth that will inevitably come from a church who appeals to the unchurched, while holding fast to the Word in its entirety, will be enduring.

Having been in 'church search' mode myself for the past several months, I took this post to heart. The challenge to myself, and others, is that once you have found your home - however consumerist the search process may appear, there is no reason to stay as a consumer.

There is much to gain in serving.


filletofsoul said...

Where do you begin after a response like that....
Have you been to or lived in Europe? That is quite the observation.
....I suppose if we just castrated the poor it would reduce the population in third world countries. Then we wouldn't need to feel as bothered by all the death. Some people might even feel like we were helping them.... after all, if we tell them to stop having sex they will probably just do it more...

Parting thought...

It is difficult at times to consider all the suffering in our world and not feel guilty about the abundance we live in. What does God want us to do about it? How can we make a difference in our lifestyles, attitudes, generousity (is it generousity if we see a need and fill it or is it just the right thing to do?) to reflect that of a follower of Christ? Is it right or wrong to perhaps feel guilty about the wealth we have? Is the blessing becoming a curse? We didn't choose into which family or country we would be born into. How do we come to terms with the fact that God has placed each person where they are?.....What about living with contentness and thanksgiving?

Lord, you have assigned me my portion, and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5&6

...when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 5:19

SoulPastor said...

WOW! Some great responses…I was beginning to feel that I was alone…in this world. But I guess I am not!!!

Let me make a few comments and then I will throw it right back at you.

“The Real Scotty B” – I have to admit that you have put in print some things that are actually very offensive if you think about it. I Trust that others will pick on those issues, so I need not respond.
And as for the anger management issue…I will provide counseling for you!!!!

Michael, welcome to the blog!
To me there is a connection between western Christian culture consumerism and misplaced anger. It all comes down to the misuse of resources and particularly money in our society.

Now, as a wealthy person, according to world standards, I have it all in my opinion, a wife, kids, a house, a couple of cars and STUFF. That is the paradox as a believer. I am not convinced that believers have to get rid of everything because GOD does provide in many different arenas. He entrusts to us this wealth to both enjoyed and distributed.

But, even I am a consumer…we live it everyday. From the coffee I choose to indulge or the groceries that I buy. I have to feed into the machine in order to survive…not really, but I do anyways.

In my opinion, we cannot help but connect consumerism and anger. As I read those stats I tell myself that I have to do more, but I already sponsor children and give! I guess for me I see the connection and how it works from a global scale right down to where we live and gather together for worship.

Thank you for the challenge to other believers “that once you have found your home - however consumerist the search process may appear, there is no reason to stay as a consumer.” That is refreshing! I really appreciate that.

Welcome filletofsoul!
Now, you got to know with a pen name like that I am feeling a bit nervous!!!!
Anyway, that your for asking “The Real Scotty B” some real questions not too mention those you posted to me!!!!!

I went to a site today to watch a guy stand in line for hours in order to buy an XBOX 360 only to take it out into the parking lot and break it with a sledge hammer. They did this and filmed it in front of other people who would have paid some serious cash to get that XBOX in their hands. Not too mention people offering to buy the rest of the controllers after the guy just smashed the game. Part of me applauds the guy for his statement but another part of me says what a waste.

I dunno what to say…I thank GOD for blessings, but I am also grieved that as believers we can do better at some things, especially our attitudes when it comes to gathering together for worship.


LightBulb the Clown said...

Very interesting stuff. I suppose, for those whose hearts are ready, there could be conviction here. Conviction to do what, where? I could admit that I have used the McChurch. I've standed in line, placed my order, and then seen it messed up so badly, I've gone to the next McChurch counter, expecting excellence. Uhm, yes, guilty as charged. Have I learned anything? Oh yea. God has a cool way of revealing His truth, His will, especially His GRACE.

From the perspective of a comfortable middleclass Canadian attending an innercity church, this resonates with me. It increases every day. Filletofsoul brings up some interesting points. Points I have struggled with as I see poverty first hand. What do I do with my wealth/time? (and I am by no means financially wealthy - comfortable yes...) So, has God given me contentment in the lot I have been given? Nope. I don't think you can be content in affluence. I'm angry with our government to arrogantly stand before Canadians and say "we have made Canada prosperous" "we have given you 8 straight budget surpluses" "we have reduced our debt". CRAP. If we're so affluent, so prosperous, why are there still homeless, hungry people living on Canadian streets? I'm really sick of hearing that and then seeing it.

So, what are we gonna do about it? You, me, our churches, our neighbors, our co-workers...? Just don't say we'll debate it for months and have another person freeze to death on a cold Canadian winter street.

younghands said...

Mc Church! When I go to McDonalds, I have no vested interest except for the double quarter pounder, fries and a coke. I am taking what I want and paying a price for it. I don't care about the future of McDonalds or the employees just bring me my double quarter pounder, fries and a coke in 30 seconds or less. I think people are the same way with church and are willing to through $20 into the offering plate. They want value for their money. And give them what they want. And you are right this sucks. I want McChurch to be replaced by WestJet church. Why do Westjetters care so much because they are owners. Instead of taking what the company has to offer the idea is that they will make it better. What would happen if the people in church took ownership of the church to fulfill the mission statement of Jesus Christ - GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS!!!! Rich poor hungry well fed. We could change the world as a church if we truly took ownership of it instead of shopping from it.

Scotty B said...

What i said may be offensive, but in my opinion its true. Honestly i dont believe that some of these organizations are really helping the whole of the poverty stricken world.

As for the European churches, its no the fact if ive been there or not, its the fact that ive learned about them, learned the culture in Europe, and learned about Chrisitianty in Europe. I have a Prof. he is from Ukraine, he is Ukranian orthodox, he teaches Eastern Chrisitanity, a class that i am taking right now. He has facts, CNN has facts, the BBC has facts. Christianity isnt sold over there when it comes down to Traditional Christianity. Western Christianity must be sold because of the culture we live in.

AS for the castration part, i dont think i said anything about castration. That is not a realistic solution. But in a world where God is not present in 70% of the people that inhabit it, God is also a far fetched solution to most as well. Again thats just a Fact, and i dont believe that to be truth for myself, but what do we do in a world that is ever increasing in non christian beliefs.

As for the simplistic approach, i dunno, it is simple, and maybe thats what we need, everything is so complex these days. But i find it funny that all these people continue to have kids, and bring them into a world that they themselves know, or should know, that is not ideal for anyone to live in. China, for one example has put a limit on how many kids a family can have, so i dont think its to simplistic, and it seems to be working there

If God gives us jsut what we can handle, then why cant we use laws that he has given us, thorugh his children. Why cant we put Child limits and even Sex limits on people. Why becuase it is free will? Well, if thats the case then why have any laws at all, if i have free will i should be able to go out and kill scores of people, but i wont, becuase it wouldnt be the smartest thing to do, not to mention the pain i would inflict on families, etc. But is saving a child from being born into a world where he will not get fed, not get the proper water, education and will die by or b4 the age of 5, is that really a big deal to these people?

If you find my posts aggreation and offensive, the im sorry, but if you actually look into what im saying there is meaning to it, i dont hate all people and think they should all be castrated and bansihed to Hell. Half the time im saying what other people are to scared to say. I say things to make people think i guess, and its working so far, judging by the responses to my comments on Gerrys post. Im 19, but im not stupid, i have opinions, just like the rest of you. Sometime though, if God doesnt seem to be helping a certain situation, maybe we have to take control of the situations ourselves. Isnt that what God intended us to do, we were given the world to run ourselves. Maybe God wants us to come up with more drastic solutions, and if Child limits is drastic, then why arent u among the many condemning the China Baby Limitations, but at least the Chinese kids have a decent chance to live past 5. But who knows, all i know is that the methods that are used right now arent working as they were intended to, and its been years without much progress, otherwise you would hear more about the accomplishments on a unicef commercial then the downfalls of a country.

Anyways, have a nice day!

SoulPastor said...

I am wanting to hear from those in Europe and Asia who are reading these replies. You voice is important!

Maybe "the real Scotty B" needs to hear somebody who lives in the areas that he is mentioning!

LightBulb the Clown said...

Scotty B:
When you have some time, take a read at some of these articles. Be forwarned, some are long. But, it gives some interesting perspective on a "humanistic" response to the issue of the "one child" policy of China. I too would like to hear the perspective of someone living in Europe or Asia.

There will be those who agree with you. I, for one, am not. I don't think that castration, abortion, sex/child limits are the answer. Besides, I can't get past the horrible atrocities done to women, girls, unborn children aborted, through policies like this.

Scotty B said...

so then what do u suppose we do, and i never said castration, make sure u know that, or abortion for that matter. But sooner or later we are either going to give up on the whole situation, i mean basically we have, Unicef needs money more then ever now, and why, well no one is giving anymore, becuase you give and give and nothing seems to change so u dont give anymore because you feel like your wasting your money. I dont believe that violent methods need to be used but the line needs to be drawn somewhere, otherwise people will continue to die off. 3rd world countries are turning into a lost cause, look at Somalia if you want proof, you try and help, and people get killed for it. Iraq, not much good is happening there, and dont tell me that democracy is really helping there, you see the people on CNN complain about the US and how scores of people are getting killed becuase of the states being there. Afghanistan, 2 more Canadians killed 3 days ago. If we want to talk about poverty, look at France now, the poor are rebelling, but of course, because france is a rich nation the problem gets fixes quickly, its already starting to die down. These african countries have been like that for years. If we give so much money to these nations in need then why doesnt the problem go away? Thats my question.

As far as the one child limit, theres always flaws, but i mean it has controlled the population and will continue to do so, why is it so hard to do something that will help, instead of sending money that may not.

And Gerry my prof lived in europe for many years and goes there 6 times a year, for 1 - 2 weeks at a time for religous holidays and feast days on the Orthodox calender, so i would say his opionion and perspective is legitiment. So dont think i dont knwo what i am talking about. In fact they talked about this on God talk a while back as well.

SoulPastor said...

The Real Scotty B
Be careful of what you insinuate. I never said that you don’t know what you are talking about. And I never questioned your Profs integrity.
I just asked for response from people who live in those areas that hit this blog, to give either applause or a critique of your statements.

filletofsoul said...

Just to make it clear to anyone who did not catch it, I was being sarcastic in my comment regarding castration.

The Westjet Church sounds good.

LightBulb the Clown said...

My apologies to Scotty B. (re - the castration thing...) As for the abortion thing, its become a by-product of the policy in China (and a horrible one at that). I think often of 3rd world countries and what they are facing. Then, when I walk down the street, I see the poverty, homelessness, despair, right in my own back yard.

Your questions "so then what do u supposed we do?" and "If we give so much money to these nations in need then why doesnt the problem go away?" are real important. Just real tough to answer.

May I suggest something? It sounds like you are geared toward advocacy. Correct me if I'm wrong. I think you need to channel this into action. (positive action) Send letters to your MP, MLA, City Councilor. Serve in a ministry like Siloam Mission (on Princess Ave). Get involved. It doesn't get any easier and may even push you into further service (maybe overseas).

Just don't give up!!

PS - Filletofsoul - Westjet sounds good (tongue in cheek - I'm an aeroplan member....)

Scotty B said...

The thing is that we want to help so much in 3rd world countries, to me i would rather help out the people in my city, like u said Lightbulb. Everytime i see one of those gusy on the street i try to give him whatever food i have in my car, a couple of times ive given my whole lunch to him knowing i have the cash to buy my own with ease, whereas he does not. But i walk away still feeling bad becuase that is one meal in 3 that he deserves and one meal in 21 he deserves for the whole week. Now i do not have the time, with school and work and church and sports and girlfriend and life and well you get the picture. I would love to help out some random guy everyday, every meal, maybe even get him a nice shower and some new clothes, but i cant, i do not have the time physically or mentally to do what i want to do. One of the reasons i want to be a lawyer is becuase if i made enough cash i would like to open up a non profit place, where homeless could come, get new clothes that have been donated, get 3 meals a day, have a place to sleep, and see if i cna re intergrate them into society. This may seem far feteched but with a little cash, and God's help i dont see any reason why i couldnt accomplish this. The ball would have to roll into my court and stay a little while, but God can help me with that too.

Thing is i dont want to go overseas, we have poverty here, we have aids, we have people dying of starvation. Not on as grand of scale as Afican nations, but numbers are jsut stats, i would liek to make the place i live better, let the people with overseas visions do that, i for one am not interested really in the overseas stuff. I do like to complain about it alot though as u can probably see. But i have dreams, things i want to do in life, overseas isnt my dream, not even an interest really, i just would like to see it change. But i would like to see the pverty change, the aids change, and that doesnt mean jsut africa, that means all over, including Winnipeg.

Anyways those are my thoughts, thanks for giving me some contructive criticism. I can reason if people will try to understadn what i am really trying to say, the deeper meaning of what i write down. Sometimes i jsut cant explain everything i write becauase that would take pages and pages, and no one would want to read all of it, haha, anyways, Stay Classy San Diego (love Anchorman)

Bill Kinnon said...

Real Scotty B,
Attempt to substantiate your argument with facts - that would probably help you in not needing pages and pages for explanation. Gallup polls in Europe show Christianity in a free fall - most Europeans see it as irrelevant. (There's a new tool called Google that you might want to try out - snark.)

Here's a quote from Gallup that might help you:
Out of the 25 member countries of the European Union, in only nine do at least a fifth of adults participate once a week in institutionalized religious activities, according to these self-reported data. Religiosity inevitably colors international relations, so those engaged in diplomacy should be well aware that secularization has become widespread in Europe, differentiating the European perspective from those in other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East and the United States.

Now as to your response to African issues - I'd like to you to come with me to Naivasha in Kenya. It's approximately the half way point on the road that runs from the port of Mombasa to Kampala, Uganda. The town is close to Lake Naivasha - one of the prettiest spots in the Kenyan Rift Valley - a popular tourist destination. But the tourists have little impact on the Naivasha economy. This town is the main truckstop on the Mombasa-Kampala Road. The two economic engines of the town - gas and prostitution. Now, your writings would indicate that you have a simplistic solution to the prostitution problem - people should just stop having sex, right? And this should stop the spread of HIV/AIDS for which Naivasha is the Kenyan capital (as a percentage of population).

But RSB, herein lies the rub. For some unknown reason, the Creator has designed us in a certain way. We require food to survive. And the only way to get food in Naivasha is to attempt to grow it (below subsistence farming), purchase it or steal it. The only economic option for the women of Naivasha town is to sell their bodies to provide food for themselves and their families. If they don't eat, they die - a little quicker than their approaching death from AIDS.

And these same families have to cope with malaria - a disease that is responsible for at least one-fifth of all the deaths of African kids. Africans know when they have contracted malaria - they recognize the symptoms - they just can't afford the medicine. You see, we westerners used junk science to stop the use of DDT around the world - the only real effective (and cheap) tool against mosquitos, the carriers of malaria. Here's a stat for you - malaria kills 400 Ugandas a day - equivalent to a 747 crashing each day in that country. Families are decimated by this disease - which further exacerbates the issues of poverty and the social chaos it creates.

Now, RSB, I don't just know this because of my research on Google. I've been on the ground in Africa numerous times. I've worked with a medical missions team up country in Kenya - and seen the mothers who've walked for three days to get to the free medical clinic the American doctors have provided. I've seen the men, women and children who are dying because of the lack of simple medications we take for granted here in the McWest. I've shot hours of videotape of these God loved people - footage that includes people weeping at the gates of the property where the clinic was set up - because the doctors would not be able to see them - time and meds had run out.

SoulPastor - in some ways RSB has hijacked the discussion here. Unfortunately, his ignorance is not atypical of those of us blessed to live in North America. It's much easier to blame the sick and impoverished for their conditions - and there are huge issues of personal responsibility in these countries. But those issues are put in perspective when you watch adults and children scraping through stinking piles of garbage looking for food.

Jesus responds to the question, "Who is my neighbour" in his story of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps, Real Scotty B, you might want to read it. Whether you care about "overseas stuff" or not, they are your neighbours.

And Luke 12:48 reminds us that "to whom much is given, much is expected." We waste our lives on ourselves, living life large in the West - we are professional consumers - yet never satisfied.

God help us all.

Bill Kinnon said...

The last post should have said "400 Ugandans" not "Ugandas". And it should be noted that Uganda has run a very successful campaign for HIV/AIDS prevention. From this morning's Boston Globe editorial:

Uganda has also provided legendary leadership in HIV prevention, with its focus on the ABC strategy: abstinence, be faithful, and consistent condom use. Identified in the 1980s as the epicenter of the epidemic, Uganda experienced an early and severe peak in HIV prevalence that caused horrific suffering throughout the country. Its leaders, most prominently President Yoweri Museveni, fought back by speaking frankly and directly to the Ugandan population. They urged citizens to protect themselves by taking charge of their sexual behavior. New data show that Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia are achieving similar successes in prevention.

Read the entire editorial here:

SoulPastor said...

This was just uploaded at The Christian Post website.
Written by Michelle Vu:

Megachurch pastors Bill Hybels and Rick Warren both expressed their deep regrets for not joining the fight against HIV/AIDS sooner as they partner to call the Church to quickly take action in the battle against one of the world’s greatest humanitarian emergencies.

Bill Hybels, senior pastor of the 18,000-membered Willow Creek Church in South Barrington, Ill., and Rick Warren of the 20,000-membered Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. both began their sessions Tuesdays with apologies for their lack of awareness and response to the pandemic that is expected to kill 93 million people by 2010.

“Willow would be on the list of churches to get it too late,” reflected Hybels. “As I look back, I take full responsibility for this. Our church just celebrated its 30th anniversary last month. I have to live with that. I confess it. I believe it is covered with the cross but it is a mystery to me why I didn’t get it.”

Similarly, Warren lamented during the opening session, “A few years ago I had to repent. How did I miss this? What were the blinders on my eyes? You can’t just care about people spiritually but you have to tend to people physically too.”

Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife and Saddleback co-minister, also shared the burden of remorse during the press conference.

“Just go ahead and admit it. We have largely not been there,” she said. “We have to take a moment to say that we were wrong. We know that God cares about people with HIV/AIDS. We believe the church has a significant role to play.”

As a result of their realization, the two megachurch pastors and their wives – who actually were the ones to initiate the idea to their husbands that churches should respond to HIV/AIDS – co-sponsored the first international “local” church conference on the role of the Church and AIDS. One of the resounding messages throughout day was the need for churches to respond and respond quickly.

“I met a woman from Uganda who told me, ‘I think it is really great that you people come together to plan. But you have to remember that every day you come to meet, people are dying,’” said Lynne Hybels, wife of Bill Hybels.

“We didn’t know anything but we had a sense of urgency that we had to move on,” she added.

Lynne, who visited Uganda and other African nations a few years ago had described her experience as “one of the most disturbing moments in my life.”

She continued by saying, “I hated who I was. I was a privilege American to the children. I was just one more person who failed to respond to their needs. I sobbed at the horror at the moment.”

Bill Hybels followed by urging pastors and church leaders attending the conference to simply do what they can despite their insufficiencies, lack of knowledge and resources and let God take care of the rest.

“That is what God is asking – give it a shot,” said the Willow Creek Senior Pastor. “He will meet you along the way but you have to move. He will give you the people, resources, and money.”

And Rick Warren, in concluding the day, said, “When we look at AIDS crisis and the overwhelming complexities, it is despairing. But despair is the starting point, not the end. The church has to get involved.”

“The church has been missing in action. If we are the Body why aren’t we ministering with the whole Body?” he asked.

younghands said...

scotty b
I read your comments and the last one you posted makes your other comments make sense?
You said when you get enough cash, you will be able to help the poor like you want. You are right on one instance there is poverty in Winnipeg and Canada that needs to be addressed.
I guess my question for you is how much do you give now? Do you sponsor any kids? Or have you donated any money to Winnipeg Harvest so people can have Chirstmas dinners or do you have an XBOX 360. How much do you spend on McDonalds, Subway etc...
If the excuse for not helping is I don't have enough time or money. That will always be the case. Because it shows a mindset that is way to prevelant in our society "I will give if it doesn't hurt. Or I will give if it feels good." Aren't we as Christians called to give sacrificially. That means to give enough that we have go without something we want or even "need".
Generosity starts before you have enough money to be generous.

SoulPastor said...

I am watching U2 Live at Chicago and he addresses the poverty issue.
We can make a difference!

Anonymous said...

Quick note. Your new features are causing pop-ups. Yikes!

Michael said...

As far as mega churches go, I have a ton of respect for Willow Creek, and for Bill Hybels. There's a church who gets it.

As for the poverty issue, is another great resource. Oxfam's work is commendable.

SoulPastor said...

Help ME!
Help me get rid of this pop up!!!!!
Where did it come from and how can I make it go?

filletofsoul said...

Soulpastor, the article that you posted and the info that Kinnon left are hard to read. The statement from Lynne “I hated who I was. I was a privilege American to the children. I was just one more person who failed to respond to their needs. I sobbed at the horror at the moment.” really grabbed me. I believe it is disturbing when we are faced with reality and our eyes are opened. It makes me wonder what my/our response will be when we face God and give account for our lives. We may be shocked at how we see ourselves in the light of truth. I bet there will be a lot of sobbing. The needs (not just poverty) are overwhelming in our world. They are so great that it makes a person feel inadequate and immobilized. One person obviously cannot meet all the needs but that does not exempt each of us from making some positive difference. Thank goodness for the forgiveness and grace extended to us from Christ that covers all our shortcomings and failures!

I know of a family that is making the issue of poverty in our world real to their children in a small but impacting way. One Sunday each month they only eat rice. They do this to remind their children that this is the way many people in the world live daily. The money that they would have normally spent on that days groceries is given to a charity to feed the hungry. What a great way to start to teach our children about compassion and giving!

Now what are you and I going to do to start to make a differnce?

Scotty B said...


In fact i do own a Xbox 360, stood in line for 3 hours to get one too, big deal. I have donated my time to winnipeg harvest on many occasions and this year im looking to deliever the meals and presents to the families, i do have a heart you know. Sorry if i buy a gift for myself every once in a while, this is after i spend close to 5000 on school, and i only make like 10000 a year, which is far below what most people post on here make, no i dont sponser a child, i dont feel the need right now, becuase i dont really have the money, i have to be prepared for myself to pay for things such as car repairs, and other things that might come up. ?Yeah i bought an Xbox, but thats irrelavent, somewhere down the line i need to get something for myself, which doesnt happen often with my cashflow, but being an avid gamer, i decided to treat myself for a change, why does that make people upset. Maybe people shouldnt by new cars, maybe people should stop buying coffee every morning, or buying 10 lunches everyday, maybe people should stop buying anything for themselves and jsut send it all to countries whos leaders buy enough weapons that if they sold all of them food would be plentiful, and i did Google that, jsut like i did the Eastern churches, im not so sure about the other persons stats, becuase ive read different, but i have to attend to 2 midterm essays and a midterm exam that i dont have time to source all of that and what im writing on here, so believe me or not.

Heres an idea for all you guys who are mad at me for not giving my 500 to africa, why dont you not buy ur kids presents this year, instead put a card on the christmas tree and write in it, X ammount of dollars was given to X amount of people in X Place. My tree this year wont be full of presents i can assure you of that. But people will tell me well thats depriving our kids of Christmas, since when has the real meaning of Christmas been about presents. So if you wanna walk what you talk maybe consider doing that for Christmas instead of buying your kids toys they will be done playing with by 3 on Christmas day. I know i wont be getting much of naything for Christmas, and you know what, im fine with that. And hopefully i will help out with the poor over Christmas, because it makes more sense that walking around a mall for hours buying stupid things that people dont appreciate that much anyways. but i know when i see the smile on these peoples faces when i give them their presents and food, ill know ive done well, ive shown my beliefs in what ive done, even if the people i give to dont know it, they will still see my kindness.

John Frye said...

I cut and pasted your "The McChurch of Canada" into my blogspot JESUS THE RADICAL PASTOR. Good stuff!! We've created McJesus with his McGospel and it's no wonder we have McChurches with scores of McChristians.

Bill Kinnon said...

Scotty B,
Let me make this short and simple, perhaps what you most need to understand in this discussion:
It's not about you!

Scotty B said...


I was answering questions that were directed at me, for me to answer, so if i cant answer them by talking about me as the person the question was directed as, then how pretell do you think i should answer them. Maybe ill ask my dog ;)

Vicki A. Davis said...

I found your website from John Frye a/k/a/ Radical Pastor. and I love it!

I see a lot of ranting about the world Population problem in these comments. It seems that the point has been lost.

This is about a lost and dying world -- dying physically and spiritually!

It is much more than the alarming stats it is about people who need Christ.

As for the guy who talked about a pastor cursing in church -- I find that incredibly offensive. We must be careful to be salt and light. We will give account for every idle word that comes forth from our mouth. Paul also warned against "filthiness," "foolish talking" and "coarse jesting." in Ephesians 5:4.

Do not confuse being radically for Jesus with being at liberty to do anything that is OK for you. You are to be tender and kind with the "weaker brother." Many of us think words such as you mention are curse words and they offend us. Have righteous anger not offensive anger.

Finally, soul pastor, where do your statistics come from -- I saw the one from UNICEF -- we're doing our foreign missions study and I'd like to use it with some adult son Wednesday. They are great!

SoulPastor said...

Bright Idea guru

One sorce for the stats was from
-I like this site because they footnote the source.

Scotty B said...

These Stats dont help to convince me Unicef is working.

And a question for Guru, what constitues a swear word. Swear words change over time, words used in the early 1900's are acceptable today as common language, words used today may be used 50 years down the road as common language.

Just wondering if it really matters if I use the F word or the S word. Does God really care? These words werent created to insult people, they have meanings jsut like all other words, Definitions if you will.

God tells us to be kind with our words to others. But if i look at my school Assignment and say that it is S***, does that matter. Or when i get upset at my school work, and say F*** It. Does god care if i say these things, or does society condemn them, so we as Christians say that if it is Society condeming them, then we as the Church must follow suit to look Holy in the eyes of Society as well.

Anyways jsut my thoughts on the issue of that. I have had a few discussions with people about this issue.

young thinker said...

With responce to what brightidea guru says about finding some words "incredibibly offensive" I have never read in the bible that "piss" or "Pissed off" is a coarse jesting, or foolish talk. Here is my question. Could the offence to the word(s) be considered a passing of judgement on whomever said it? Romans 14 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for god has accepted him. who are you to judge someone else's servent? to his own master he stands or falls. and he will stand, for the lord is able to make him stand. You can take offence to a statement or thought line but to take offence to somones vocabulary is in my opinion is wrong! I know this is way off topic but it is somthing i have been thinking about and would like feed back.

SoulPastor said...

Young Thinker...
I would agree with you...this is way off topic!

I hear your point, but just what type of feedback are you looking for?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I'm too late to respond to this thought provoking and heated blog.

I think that the idea of debating the best solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis or the nicey-nice wrapped up with a bow solution as to how you should allocate money/time to the poor and starving is quite pointless. The fact is that the UN recently published that poverty is the #1 overall cause of death in the world and that HIV/AIDS is a worldwide crisis. That in itself is unacceptable. The point is not that we figure out the solution, but rather that we are taking steps, as we each individually with our talents and resources feel called by the One who knows us best, to improve the lives of our neighbours. God has asked that each of us be faithful with what he had given to us and that we use them. Statistics are all well and good, as I appreciate scientific evidence versus naieve rants, however its about people, not numbers.

Which leads me back to the McChurch debate. Would it be inconceivable to imagine that perhaps, in tackling one of the worst pandemics of the modern era, that we could, as a byproduct, could take steps towards solving the McChurch phenomenon? In the process of others-focussed activities and allocations of gifts, whether time or financial, is it possible that there would be less room for self-focussed obsessions? It is from my limited personal experience that when we focus on others and sacrifice, just a bit, not even a lot, that there is less room for the selfish, consumeristic mentality that has lead us to the situation in which we now find ourselves.

Thanks for the space to spill some thoughts! p.s.I'm all for the WestJet Church!

SoulPastor said...

Hey Anony...

It seems never too late to add here!

You raised some great questions, to which I will refrain from responding to because they appear to be beautifully retorical in nature.
I have a naieve hope in believers to really do something sacrificial.

Feel free to spill for the WestJet Church, I love it as well.