Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hello friend?


Soul Sanctuary is a very interesting place, every week there are new people who come out. Weekly we gather to worship and we are growing, so how does the word get out? We are not in the phone book, so how do people find out about us? It is all word of mouth or from an internet search! So people come from far and wide to be a part of a gathering. Some call Soul their home and they will bleed for it. Others are wounded and are looking for a place where they can meet GOD and begin the healing process. Some are just simply committed to the people/freinds that they meet. Some are giving GOD and/or the church one last chance. For some, the church is in the area and they like what is going on. Some are looking for a place to sit, but when they realize that there may be some expectations of committment, they're gone. Some are people just checking out the latest fad and "coolest" thing....they are gone as quickly as they came in....then there are those who have a very different agenda, they are legalists. The following is a portion of an email that was sent me....allow me to share it with you....
Here is what a legalist is looking for when they walk into a church:
1. A legalist is looking for a group of people who are stern, sour, and straight-laced; who see religion as a set of rules to be kept.

2. A legalist is looking for something to criticize that doesn’t fit thier list of dos and don’ts.
3. A legalist is looking at outward appearances. They care a great deal about how you are dressed, and why you wouldn’t come to church in your very best; a coat and tie, or a nice dress. After all, this is "God’s house."
4. A legalist is looking to see what version of the Bible you use. If it’s not the King James, it better be the New King James, and if not the New King James, the New American Standard. And if not the New American Standard, they consider that you’re just wrong.
5. A legalist is looking for a place that will let them be on the inside, preferably in leadership. Because there’s a lot that could be straightened out in your church, and they know exactly what needs to be done.
6. A legalist is looking for the pastor who dares to be strong in his or her leadership. Anyone who dares to take initiative and be creative, they are going to have a problem with, and they are going to let them know it.
7. A legalist is listening to not just what the pastor says, but what he/she didn’t say.
8. A legalist is looking for a place that doesn’t trust the people in it to make up their own mind. Let’s be honest. People can’t be trusted. They need to be told what to believe and then held accountable if they don’t believe it and practice it perfectly.
9. A legalist wants the pastors email address because they want to tell him/her the points of the message that are absolutely wrong and how they are leading people to hell.
10. A legalist doesn’t like it when people smile and laugh at church. This is serious business.
11. A legalist sees the Bible as something to beat people over the head with, not to set them free.
12. A legalist wants you to take them seriously. BUT, if you do, they will rob you of your joy and they will run as many people off as possible. And they will make sure you get a new pastor because the one you have now is not acceptable!
A legalist...ummmmm...GOD still loves them...why is it so hard for others to love them?

32 comments:

Emerging From The Fire said...

I do not consider myself a legalist (an anti-legalist maybe), but somehow I ended up with a plethora of legalistic friends.

After years of listening to them (and one intervention when a group of them decided to "free" me of the "cult" of Quakerism), I have decided that at the core of things, there is a solid reason for their actions.

Many of them spent childhoods distant from God. Many spent time doing the "big sins": drug use, premarital sex, stealing, prostitution, etc.

Somehow, I think their harsh judgements of others is really a harsh judgement of themselves ... a way of reminding themselves to stay within the boundries and not fall back into their previous lives.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SoulPastor said...

I hate pulling posts. But if you have a personal issue with me, then call me. Tell me your name, address and phone number. I believe that is the biblical way...

Signed

A Fundy Soul Pastor

Anonymous said...

It's so very not a personal issue. I said nothing offensive. Nothing rude. All I did was disagree with you. I guess that's not allowed?

SoulPastor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SoulPastor said...

Anonymous

You are free to disagree, but not to name call. How can you determine if your comments were not offensive, when the person you have said them to, is offended?

You obviously live in the city. You know my phone number...you can call me if you like!

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of what was said about legalism but many of the things we are required to do, like test the spirits and search the bible, now with the versions, i prefer the king james, but i wouldnt mind reading a few others unless it were the message, or niv which i can bear with to an extent, now i disagree with legalism myself but i also disagree with seeker sensitive theology, and also that some of our churches are not being strongly lead. Though we should save some with compassion and to others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire(Jude 1:21-23). Hope this was a help

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SoulPastor said...

RE: Removal of comments.

I have a phone number.
If you wish to carry on a personal conversation, please call it.

Misty B said...

I didn't grow up in the church and I have never attended a church that would be considered 'traditional' yet I recognize bits of myself in this list. So it must be wrong:-) Just kidding.

We associate legalism with a certain set of beliefs but I am realizing after reading this that there is danger at either end of the spectrum. Something to think about...

novice said...

I think legalism is a basic human tendency, and I know I could not be the one to throw the first stone.

We build fences to create boundaries that make us feel safe. As children we need those fences in our lives because we don't understand the world outside them on our own. We're kept safe until the time we grow up and those fences aren't needed.

I see fences as representing safety, not moral boundaries. The responsibility to live beyond our fences is frightening, as is the realization that I may someday have to know enough about the world around me, spiritual and physical, to set those fences for my own children (never mind being ready to let them live beyond them when they are ready).

I see a legalist as someone who still clings to their fences. It's probably not out of malice or ignorance or personality disorders, but nowhere in their journey of faith has someone been there to gently help them step beyond. So they perpetuate the cycle, pushing other believers to live within a well-intentioned but unnecessary constraint. They have not yet found the security in their faith to walk with God through uncharted territory.

Naturally I'm not talking about commandments or Biblical guidelines to the life set apart that Christ has called His Church to live. The alternative to legalism isn't lawlessness. It's a freedom that carries a huge responsibility with it, and I'm very grateful for the believers around me who help me to walk that path in faith.

SoulPastor said...

When I posted the legalism list...I thought is was more tongue in cheek with a smatter of truth...

Thank you misty b and novice for the intelligent response to the fact that we all are tempted to be legalists!

Misty B said...

Thanks SP...

And I just wanted to say to novice that I appreciated your comments. I gave a lot of thought to the idea of fences representing safety for people as opposed to moral boundaries. I think that I can see a lot of that in my own life. It will also help me love people I see as legalists!

Anonymous said...

Ah Soul - Is that what The Secret is?

Where I thought the post was leading was for you to ask how each person "found out" about Soul. That is interesting.

I like the concept of waiting on God to rally the troups. That is actually, inspiring.

I heard a whisper about a church at the Trinity Center but didn't find any solid information albeit in the phone book or internet, until the timing was, I guess, perfect as far as God was concerned - 3 years later. A lady I was leading in a group at another church kept telling me how wonderful her church was. By the end of the session I wanted to know what this great church was? And I found The Secret!

(By the way, why was she at my study group anyhow?)...

(Oh, of course, to let me in on The Secret!)

Let me also say I am not a church hopper. I was just in a holding pattern until The Secret was revealed.

As for legalism, I know of it all too well and broke free from it years ago. It is something pretty deeply ingrained when brought up in it and hard to break free from.

Soul Sanctuary is refreshing to the liberated (and slightly rebellious).

SoulPastor said...

I respond to this post carefully...
As I read it, I am reading into it some serious sarcasm. (Rightly or wrongly)

First...the words "The Secret" simply bother me because of the book by the very name...

Secondly, I think that my question was more along the lines of "Why is it hard to love people, specifically other believers, who views or methods are not only different from your own, but they also communicate that they are right and you are wrong?"

The experience you had with a lady in your group telling others...from a different church...personally drives me nuts. But, we cannot control people, and it is something that all churches face in our consumeristic society. Even at Soul we have people who attend other churches but use the many different ministries that we have. I think that is something that we will never break, but I wish people would be more sensitive and tactful. It makes for interesting conversations when we as pastors sit down together for coffee and say....."guess who showed up? What gives?"

This morning, I am not sure how to respond to the last half of the latest comment....so I am going to leave it alone...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the reference to The Secret was mean only in gest.

It was in response to the statement:

"so how does the word get out? We are not in the phone book, so how do people find out about us?"

...almost like it is a well kept secret.

The fact is many people have read that book (not me although I know of some of its principles). Just last month I met a lady who said all the staff in her office are reading The Secret and trying to change the energy in her office. I've heard a speaker say many "New Age"(?) concepts merely counterfeit the truth of God.

By the way the lady in my group only told me about the church privately, not to the entire group. It was all good.

"Why is it hard to love people, specifically other believers, who views or methods are not only different from your own, but they also communicate that they are right and you are wrong?"
--I agree it is hard to be in relationship with people like that and especially hard when you are related to them or they are the husband of your best friend.

Anonymous said...

You are not in the phone book... you want news to travel by word of mouth... but it drives you nuts when someone says something good about your church to another Christian... huh? where do you think the majority of your church people comes from? are we only supposed to tell non christians about Soul, but not our believer friends who we know need a change too?

Anonymous said...

im a bit confused too? that's how i got to soul too. how else? now am i not supposed to share the news?

SoulPastor said...

I reply as transparent as possible with the risk of being misunderstood in this static medium.

First Anony...When Soul first started it was with a number of believers who wanted to reach non believing friends and family members and create a safe place to do so. Our prayer was that GOD would bring in those who needed to hear and He did. We were so overwhelmed that our next prayer was "GOD bring in some healthy people to help us with the needs of Soul." And He did.

There is NO way that we can meet the needs of people without having some strong believers being a part of the community. And GOD has brought (called??!!) people from other communities to help in this mission.

But here lies the danger. There are those who move from church to church, from the one experience to the "coolest" one. Transient people who are looking out for themselves and what they want or need without any attempt to reaching out to the hurting world that they find themselves in.

I admit that the majority of of people who attend Soul are from other churches...does that mean that Soul is benfiting from the labour of other pastor and churches? Yes. To which I am grateful but also conflicted, as I desire to see other churches grow as well.

As a pastor, I would love to see that the majority of people who attend are new believers or people asking questions about Christ! Wouldn't that be awesome!!??
We cannot have one without the other, but there is always the danger that a community becomes closed to just believers.

I also understand that when something resonates with you, you want to tell others. It is like a beggar finding food and telling his friends where to find it. My hope is that they are not just telling their believing friends but also the non believing friends and family!!!!! That is my prayer!

Anony #2
SHARE SHARE SHARE....but be intentional with those who are not believers!

Does this bring any clarity?

Does this reply help??????

Anonymous said...

I think I'm Anony-4 just so you know it is different Anonys.

I agree with the outreach, I also believe God may call in suitable mature believers who are being underutilized in other churches because of, let's say, politics, business as usual mentality, no room or desire for creative ministry, a group of oldies who are intimidated by new people with ideas...you name it. He may also call in existing believers who are in the habit of giving to help broaden the financial base so more ministry can be accomplished.

Also since Soul is only 3 (?) years old it may not have existed when the believers found themselves in Winnipeg and were looking for a church home. Perhaps Soul is an answer to long-awaited prayer.

And, yes, those people should not be legalistic with ulterior motives but willing to embrace the mission and reach the community too.

Also I wonder since the population at Soul seems to be very young if it isn't just a natural outgrowth of maturity. ie. Young adult believers want something different from their parents, want to spread their wings independently, get married and want a new church for the two of them and so forth.

But I do understand the theory of church hopper consumerism. Aren't they really lost sheep? Something isn't meeting their void. Then again, church is complex. It is supposed to be like a family, and we are easily hurt or disappointed by family members.

SoulPastor said...

Thanks #4

On a separate note, the following is a devotion that I sent out today, and I thought that it corresponds with this thread.

(Mat 9:10-12) And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" 12 But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick."

I admit this saying isn't too difficult for me, because being exclusive has always been a pet peeve of mine! Sometimes though, some believers have the idea that we shouldn't have any non-Christian friends. We shouldn't go to "secular" places, like (name your place). I was told that a Christian shouldn't go to a secular university! Really!!!!

We are to be the salt and light for the world, and if we are not out mingling with the world, how will we share the life-and-death message of the Gospel with them?

(Mat 5:13-14) You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden."

To be sure, it's a balancing act. There are some "shoulds" that "should" be in our lifestyle. And we should be the ones who influence non-Christians. But when we start getting into the "shoulds," we can easily slip into legalism, and alienate ourselves from the people who most need our influence. Most Christians are reached not by tracts given by a stranger, but by the consistent witness of a friend. There are many ways God can use us to draw people to the Gospel. By treating respectfully the people we do business with. By listening to an agnostic friend who is going through a divorce. By discussing a movie with a friend, including comments on Christian beliefs. With the Holy Spirit and creativity, we can bring Christianity into most any discussion. So think twice before you avoid certain people or places. Jesus was out in the world, where people lived and worked and marketed and discussed. He didn't isolate Himself, and neither should we.

Emerging From The Fire said...

Soulpastor:

I am a little shocked by the comments on this post. I, of course, do not live in Canada and have never met you, so I am sure I am missing some of a bigger picture.

But, for what it is worth, I have been deeply nourished by your thoughts and found them to be a great comfort and direction in my life.

And it feels to me that God lead me to your site when I most needed to hear what you have to say.

And that should count for something.

Anonymous said...

One thing I find increasingly difficult is being that "witness" to those who choose to live together common-law which seems to be increasing.

That very choice it seems shows their spiritual standing.

Of course when Jesus ascended he said, "You WILL be my witnesses." So regardless of our outward evangelism we will be his witness in some way.

But when/if we get into Christian discussions with these people, our beliefs threaten to undermine their very choice of living arrangement.

My mother-in-law is 80 and has been living common law for 17 years. We have to be in relationship with her, so we choose our conversations wisely. Yet our witness hasn't been enough to get her to think of the choice she has made and how it will effect her for eternity. She knows the phrase, "living in sin" and jokes about it.

At my husband's work some of the the new-hire recent university graduates are living with their girlfriend/boyfriend. They say it's because they aren't ready for marriage, but they want to be in the same city, so they might as well live together. Sadly enough, many of them it seems were never introduced to Christianity while growing up.
Their parents seem to be of the generation that said, "I'll let my kids decide for themselves." But...what do the kids have to decide on? How do they ever get into the "habit" of church attendance when it seems so odd to them?

One staff member jokes that Sunday morning "running" is his religion.

One Heathen said...

I agree with each of the statements made. Aren't those really accurate definitions of a legalist? Don't you know the people who embody those attributes? Is it your Mother? Father? Wife? Friend? Enemy?

Of course we love these people. But I think we do it based upon proximity of relationship.

Meaning, we love our legalist Mom because... well... SHE'S MOM! But we really don't like Legalist Lucy at church because you're unrelated and unacquainted.

It's perhaps indicative of most of our relationships. It could be as simple as, "We care most about those we are closest to."

This is where the hard truth of the gospel comes in... the loving your enemy bit. For my thoughts on that see---> http://poetryfrompollution.blogspot.com/2007/09/six.html

patti said...

Pre-emptive comment: the following comment is based on observations working in a homeless shelter.

I see so many homeless people who have huge boundary issues. Yet, on the other hand, they are SO legalistic about everything. It's their way or no way. And, every
parent should be ok with their child completely abusing them, because, after all, a child is always a child. And, if we have to throw away luggage / belongings that aren't claimed, well, the agency staff are awful people. Afterall, don't they realize that these belongings are all that individual would have left? So, it doesn't matter that the individual
didn't take responsibility and we don't even know WHOSE stuff is
lying around blocking pathways and emergency exits. And, who cares about responsibility - it's always someone else's fault.

Most, if not all these people who think this way have been very hurt. Most have mental illness (not that
that is the reason, but in some cases, can be a contributing factor). Many have been, or are, suicidal. But being legalistic is a safety net. If everyone follows their way of thinking, than it's a safe place. When people are challenged to think out of the box, to see grey instead of just black and white, or to look at someone else's point of view, it feels dangerous. Once people start to move forward and work on their issues, they become much more open minded and are more comfortable
questioning their beliefs and paradigms of life.

SoulPastor said...

I am not a legalist but….I am planning to visit your church on Sunday but here are some things that are important for ME…

1. I want to hear the old hymns of the faith that include deep and profound theological truths. I want to sing songs about “Here I Raise My Ebenezer” or “Angels Prostrate Falling.” These are the songs of my childhood.

2. I don’t want to sing the same chorus over 20 times, that’s not the way we did it in the good ole days.

3. I want to hear a big choir dressed in polyester robes. I have fond memories of the Sunday mornings with organs and choirs. And I miss those days.

4. I want to hear an organ playing the music of the church, not a rock in roll band with guitars and drums.

5. I want people around me to be dressed in proper church attire. We’re going to church after all not a football game. We need to wear our best. Jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, and shorts are just simply not appropriate. Suits and ties for men, dresses and skirts for the women and anyone not dressed appropriately should get the stared-down look of disapproval.

6. I want to hear a real sermon with an emphasis on hell fire and brimstone, one that gets “other people” convicted about their lack of church attendance (even though they are in fact in church at the moment).

7. I don’t want a touchy-feely sermon applied to my daily life. This is church not Oprah.

8. I want the preacher to read a long passage from the King James, close his Bible and tear off into “those people” with the fear of God.

9. I want a lot of useless information to fill up my notebook.

10. I want the sermon that will make me feel just bad enough, so I can leave feeling good about the bad I am going to do again, then come to church to be made to feel bad all over again.

11. I want a bulletin with a detailed order of service so I can know what’s coming. After all, God is not the author of confusion.

12. I want a response card so I can pick apart the sermon, anonymously of course.

13. I’m looking for a Sunday School class with denominational-approved curriculum so I can be sure there is no heresy among us.

14. I don’t want to see kids in the service. That’s why we have nurseries and baby-sitters. They disrupt the adults’ worshipful mood. In church, as in life, kids are meant to be seen but not heard.

15. I definitely don’t want to hear clapping in the service. It has no place in church. Applause is for baseball.

16. I demand a reverent mood. A reverent mood is whatever I say it is.

17. I want to hear announcements about antiquated and out-dated programs that beg people to come back to the church-house every night this week.

18. I want to hear about denominational institutions that have long lost their vision and effectiveness, but make people feel guilty for not supporting.

19. I expect a long and varied list of programs for the upcoming week, so we can get people back to the church 3 or 4 more times this week. After all, the Christian life is lived in the friendly confines of the church building not out in the nasty world.

20. At the end of the service I want to sing every verse of “Just As I Am” about 25 times.

21. I want to be let out after 1 hour, no exceptions.

22. I want to see people down front joining the church so they can take their tithing envelopes home.

These are just a few of things I am looking for. I miss the days when they really knew how to “have church.” All this talk about getting rapists, wife beaters, skinheads, tax evaders, street kids, alcoholics, warmongers, evolutionists, slumlords, the pro-choice, misogynists, the obese, and pornographers coming to church is just plain wrong. Church is for good people.

I want my church back the way God meant for them to be, back in the 50’s.

novice said...

I'm not sure about the ethics of posting church answering machine messages on the internet, but there is a great recording of a legalist phoning in to complain to the pastor after visiting a church.

Original Message

Also, someone at the church then made an awesome "dance remix" of the message.

Dance Remix

Legalism has never been so much fun. :)

SoulPastor said...

oh yes
I have those as well
Too funny

Anonymous said...

I agree with one thing on the list but I'm not sure it makes me a legalist.

As an at home mom, I like to have peace in church, and when kids are noisily shooting things across the table behind me, it bothers me because I'm trained to respond. So I feel like I'm still on duty when I hear noisy kids and they aren't even mine. It grates me.

Kids should be supervised, kids can be taught to play quietly. To me it is irresponsible parenting. Just because you were told to take your kids out once - get over it! Don't take it so personally and be found making your rules based on revenge rather than what is best for all.

By the way, I'm also annoyed when I buy tickets to a theatrical performance and the people behind me chit chat all through. It's just rude. I don't pay to listen to them all night. Some of us have a higher noise sensitivity, that's all it's about. Does that make us legalists?

km said...

i think i struggle with the legalism thing because i really need some boundaries and to know why things are done the way they are. i feel like i need to know the rules so i can follow them, mostly because i really like soul and don't want to make it look bad by not being able to answer a question, and while i have been a christian for a while i still don't know a lot, and really want to know the reasoning behind things and how to do it the right way, a lot of that comes from personal issues and the comfort of the safety of the "fences" as they were called in earlier posts. sometimes when everything else around you feels like chaos you need the safety of those boundaries to feel like you have that in your life. it is more of a guarantee if i do x, then y will most likely happen. i know it doesn't always work out that way and i know that God often has other plans and doesn't want us confined to our "pen" however we are like sheep and the pen has it's usefulness within that too.

i would also like to thank Soul for the way it is set up, my kids are some who are the noisy ones and my apoligies to those it annoys but i am grateful that i can come to a place and not feel overly embarrassed by my children and their actions or have to leave as i did when i went visiting over the summer. as a single mom i enjoy my church time and would hate to not be able to go because i have two very active kids. i like that i can send them off to soul kids for the important part-the sermon, but when they are alittle bit older i will appreciate having them with me for a while so they can learn with the whole church. Not all kids can be quiet for that long, and please cut people some slack sometimes there is just not enough fight left in us to keep after the kids for the hundredth time that morning. if you don't like the noise maybe you could sit away from the back and bring a few toys for your kids to play with quietly up there.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of scared. If I take notes because I listen better that way, does that mean you're going to think I'm a legalist?

I'm worried I might do something wrong now.

SoulPastor said...

Anony

Please remember the orginal intend of this email was to be light hearted! Someone sent me the fist post...and then the snowball rolled down hill from there...

Breathe deeply, take notes...be happy!