Thursday, September 17, 2009

Conflicting Thoughts on History

As a church, we just celebrated a milestone anniversary. Our church just turned 100 years old, which is older than our fellowship itself. I have always been a history buff, and have been a good student of the history of our fellowship for many years. Serving in the town and church of our first denominational leaders has been an interesting twist to the perspective I have on our history as a fellowship.

In general, our early church leaders suffer local persecution for their efforts to operate in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. They were perceived as deceptive and dangerous. Pentecostalism was widely rejected by those unwilling to experience for themselves, and thus the leadership of the movement was unjustly treated. There were those who picketed and published, berated and boycotted the movement in its early years. From that perspective, we do genuinely owe them a great debt. They refused to let their faith be influenced by their experiences and perpetuated the greatest missionary work our planet has seen.

My indifference happens because many in the leadership of the movement also established a divide that is still evident today. The racial divide in our fellowship has been both divisive and devastating. Early leaders did not treat minorities with respect or equality. This is well documented and not new information. In fact, just a few years ago, the former General Superintendent issued an apology to other ethnic organizations for our approach and treatment of combined fellowship. The truth is, the minority driven denominations in Pentecostalism were formed before we as the Assemblies of God were. WE SHOULD BE ONE.

In our small town, still today there is an undercurrent of distrust. No one really discusses it, but it is there. Minority churches and majority churches can share the same doctrine and build a block apart. We have missed some great opportunities to reach minority America by issues of our own creation.

I wonder what those early leaders would say if they could see my student ministry today. Our makeup is 70-80% minority! Our strength is those they would not accept. I believe our greatest contribution toward the next hundred years will be realized by how well we bridge the chasm created by the river of our own ignorance.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Just the Facts Please

I once had a pastor who told me he did not hire anyone that salted their food before tasting it. In my confusion, he went on to explain that he did not want to hire someone prone to making decisions without all the information. I doubt very seriously that my eating habits have little to do with my decision making processes, but I do see the point.

In our tech savvy age, people can open up a blog like this one and complain and twist stories and facts to rally people to their causes. It happens every day. I read one National Football League bloggers report on how he was not allowed to have a computer or phone on while in team facilities. My home state college team did not allow phone calls or texting during practices that were open to the public. People live in fear that facts will be skewed, information released that is private, or that an expose will be written that puts them in a negative light.

If there is ever a time for informed decision making, it is now. That is not to say that information will not be twisted. It will however allow for a clear conscience for the leader. I can know that regardless of the perception, I used the information at hand to make the proper decision. Sometimes the unpopular decision.