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September 28, 2006

MLK Jr., Men and the Church

Alex Burt and Fred Voltmer both have wonderful observations stemming from MLK Jr.'s comment about the relationship between the Church and the state. And it wasn't what I was thinking about when I read the quote: I was thinking about how the Church should neither be beholden to the state, waiting for its lead, or seeking to live out its mission solely via the state (i.e., laws), but rather should lead by example.

But of course, that idea leads into Alex's and Fred's comments about the current state of some/many of today's churches: all talk (and much not very substantial) and very little action. "That must explain why in many churches you will have more women than men," observed Alex. To that I'll add that you'll also have many very dissatisfied women (not to say that church is for "our satisfaction" -- actually, that's the problem, that too many churches seek only to "satisfy" its congregants) -- that is, women dissatisfied because they also are looking for that significance, looking to live out their faith, not just hear feel-good Sunday morning talks.

Personally, I'd like to see more regular involvement in global humanitarian aid, including putting our money into ministries overseas. And of course, the local involvement in their own communities is a very visible witness of who the Church is. Alex's practical recommendations, "taking food out to where the homeless hang out and preach the gospel to them . . . Having car repair days for elderly or single women, helping needy people with chores around their houses, etc.," I think, answer Fred's question ("Any thoughts on how to give the average man in the church a significant action role that is both genuine and compelling enough to keep him coming back?").

And if your church isn't doing that, sir -- or ma'am -- I'd suggest not waiting for them to do so, not even simply suggesting they do, but taking the initiative to begin such a ministry yourself, to offer to be a lay leader. I bet a lot of overworked church leaders/staff would welcome it. Churches need to move beyond the "here's how you make your own life better" messages to "here's how we make our community and culture better, redeeming and restoring it for the kingdom of God" actions. We also need great Christian worldview teachers in the churches to help offer members a better apologetic for why their faith is not about themselves, but about how we should live in the world -- great worldview teachers like the Wilberforce Centurions, like Diane Singer and Jeff Clinton. Why don't you consider applying for the 2007 class?

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J.F. Morgan

Women today do want their faith to be real -- to be vital. They certainly do not want to hear a good talk when they go to church. I personally love to see real commitment on the part of fellow believers. I find that most are just waiting for the opportunity to help. Leadership only is lacking.

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