Rick Warren, Mental Health and Embracing Brokenness

This is a great blog article I wanted to share.  This great tragedy has opened up some serious dialouge in these areas.  what are your thoughts?

Rick Warren, Mental Health & Embracing Brokenness

April 11, 2013 by 

Last weekend Saddleback mega-pastor Rick Warren shared the terrible news that his 27-year-old son, Matthew Warren, committed suicide. Matthew had a history of depression and had long struggled with suicidal thoughts. Our hearts go out to Rick and Kay Warren, their family and their friends.

It’s been encouraging to see the outpouring of support for the Warrens and a flood of blog posts addressing mental illness.

There has also been criticism. It’s sad, but when celebrities struggle someone is always there to kick them while they’re down. In this case, some people are shocked that the “purpose driven” pastor could have a son who committed suicide.

Gasp! Rick Warren isn’t perfect?!

The idea of pastors’ kids who aren’t miniature pastors in training has always been fodder for ill-hearted prodding. But for someone like Rick Warren, who is more than a mere pastor, but a preacher of hope and a peddler of purpose, it seems all the more painful. How could someone like that lose a son to depression? How is it that Rick’s message has helped so many people across the world but couldn’t seem to help his own son? Why can’t he help himself? (Starting to sound familiar: Matthew 27:42)

They’re horrible questions, aren’t they? But I have to admit I asked some of those questions myself.

Aside from being mean, those questions are simply unfair. Yet they are still asked.

Why?

I think part of it has to do with this expectation that Christians have to be perfect. But we’re not. So we avoid things like mental illness, depression, pain, struggle and failure. Those things are the opposite of perfect, so we don’t dare talk about them. When those things suddenly come to light, as they always do, we’re shocked and hurt and we don’t know how to deal. We lash out with questions based on poor reasoning.

Part of the problem is our expectations. If we could just tear down that bizarre idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect, that church is a place for happy, smiling, perfect people, then these realities might not be so difficult.

Churches must embrace brokenness.

  • Church should be a place where it’s OK to struggle with depression.
  • Church should be a place that’s home to the recovering and relapsing liar.
  • Church should be a place that welcomes the alcoholic.
  • Church should be a place where leaders can have faults.
  • Church should be a place where we’re not afraid of pain.

And not just in a back room, everybody knows it but we don’t talk about it kind of way. And not in a generic, ‘oh I’m a sinner too’ kind of way. We need to be honest and up front about our brokenness. It’s more than a marketing issue—it goes to the very core of our faith. But should also flow from the top down and inhabit how we communicate. Our communication should reflect our brokenness.

It’s by embracing our brokenness that we can unseat these dangerous expectations. We can cut off those ugly questions before they start. We can allow our churches to truly be places of welcoming and love, not just for the perfect, but for the rest of us.

May our prayers be with Rick and Kay Warren, their family and their friends in this difficult time. May our churches be welcoming places for hurting people.

Some Wisdom for The Church

This is a great article from my friend Ed Stetzer.  He is the President of Lifeway Research and studies churches and culture.  What are your thoughts?

NASHVILLE (BP) — The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pontiff sparked an interesting response from much of the mainstream media in the United States. 

There was a great deal of angst, and even shock, that the Catholic Church chose a leader who holds to traditional Catholic beliefs. It appeared many were hoping the church would suddenly choose someone who would move away from all the conservative moral standards Catholics find rooted in their sacred texts, but which seem outlandish to those who have moved on to more progressive thinking.

The yearning of the media during the days leading up to the papal conclave may not have come to fruition, but it helps us consider this moment. You can see the reaction across the channels, but one example may help. For example, take Erin Burnett’s comments on CNN, including this bold statement: “The Church helps the poor and the lonely, and I bet there are a lot of people who might return to the Church if it changed.” Erin is blunt enough to say what many have thought — that if churches would just get with the times, people would return. But is there any evidence to show this to be the case? In short, no.

This desired capitulation to culture is a familiar refrain. As a matter of fact, this is the story of much of mainline Protestantism in the United States. In the desire to engage culture, several mainline Protestant denominations aligned with culture’s values and in a great historic twist of irony, their churches didn’t stop shrinking. They shrunk faster.

Regardless of whether or not you believe you are right, as I assume Erin does, the claim that capitulating to the whims of culture will lead to a renaissance in religion has no statistical basis whatsoever. It seems many in the media were hoping for a liberal mainline Protestant as pope, and shockingly, a Catholic showed up.

Those espousing conservative beliefs considered antiquated by mainstream culture are often the ones experiencing growth. The Great Awakenings even provide historical precedence for this. In previous religious renaissances it was Baptists and Methodists who saw the explosive growth. Today it is the Pentecostals.

The Pentecostals, according to the National Council of Churches, are one of the few denominations actually growing in the United States. The Assemblies of God grew by 3.99 percent from 2011 to 2012, and the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World were up 20 percent from 2011 to 2012. Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a progressive mainline denomination and the 10th largest in the nation, saw a drop of 3.42 percent and the United Church of Christ, a small denomination only getting smaller, decreased in membership by 2.02 percent — and this is in one year, not a decade. The math does not look good.

My friends leading several of these growing Pentecostal denominations will assure you they have not changed their beliefs about controversial issues nor have they sought to downplay their practices, which many find odd and outdated at best. Yet, their churches are growing.

Regarding the Catholic Church, although many former Catholics from the northeastern elite have walked away from their faith, many devout Catholics consider these beliefs not something to easily discard in the name of cultural expediency.

Now, obviously, I am not a Catholic. I am not only a Protestant, but a conservative evangelical one at that. However, I do think the breathless reporting of the mainstream media, surprised that Catholics would choose someone with actual Catholic beliefs, actually shows something more about the media — their desire for religion to evolve, and, at the end of the day, a misguided impression that cultural capitulation will lead to more religious believers. 

Moving away from your beliefs neither creates converts nor reverts (those who might return, like an Erin Burnett). It simply downplays what you believe and softens your impact on a society that needs you for what you believed and acted upon in the first place.

Needless to say, I disagree with Catholics when it comes to some of their doctrine. But, even as so many keep saying, “if they would just change, I’d come back,” the last thing the Catholic Church needs is to capitulate to the culture of the day because, well, they really aren’t coming back. 

Ask the Episcopalians.

Thoughts? -Matt

Guilt by Association

It is official.  The sometimes undercover lack of tolerance for Christians is officially out in the open.  The recent story about Tim Tebow speaking at First Baptist Dallas is enough proof.  It was such a significant topic that it was part of the Sports Talk Radio scene here in Memphis.

Here is the what all the fuss is about.  The Pastor of First Dallas has stood up on some biblical issues, dealing with homosexuality.  He said it was a sin.  He has also spoken out about Islam, Mohammed and Mormonism, saying it was a cult.  So an American Pastor has given public statements based on his beliefs and what he believes the bible says, and now Tim Tebow is a homophobe and closed minded if he is invited to speak to the church, not to speak on these issues mind you… but rather his faith in Christ?

We have gone from the person making the statements being slammed, bad enough, to those who just have any association (…Tebow does not attend church there, nor has he publically spoken on any of the topics mentioned above) with the group or person being torched as well.

Gone are the days of speaking the truth or even having the freedom to have differing ideas.  We now live in a culture where any stance on truth will be met with venom. 

So be prepared.  While we desire to be full of grace and truth like Jesus was (John 1), I’m not sure the culture is down with the truth side of the equation anymore. 

Was the Early Church the Perfect Church?

Many people seem to feel that the first church we read about in Acts was the perfect church. But was it? We talked about that this past Sunday at The Fellowship. We looked at some of the hindrances to the church being effective on its mission. Check it out. Then, join us this Sunday at either our Two Rivers or our Mt. Juliet location. See you then!

Acts Effect WEEK 4- Spiritual Integrity from The Fellowship on Vimeo.

What Husbands & Wives “Shouldn’t” Do.

Perry Noble is the pastor of a dynamic church in North Carolina whose blog posts are something I not only follow, but, enjoy reading. Recently, he posted two that I thought fit in great with our recent Family Ties series. It’s always good to look for fresh ideas and encouragement. So, when I saw these, I wanted to share them with you. I am posting the link to the one for husbands and the link for the one that speaks to wives.
Here they are. Check them out out!

WHAT HUSBANDS CAN NOT DO click here

WHAT WIVES CAN NOT DO click here

Wake Up!

This past Sunday we started a new series we are calling The Acts Effect. In this series, we will be looking at the launch of the New Testament church and the ways that God worked through His people to carry out His mission. One of the big aquestions I am asking our church is, “What is your part in the story?” If you missed this past week, I encouraged our people to join me in praying the following: God, awaken our hearts so that we obey Your Spirit and Surrender to Your Mission.

We focused Sunday on God Awakening our Hearts. Part of how this happens is when we have a right understanding of Christ Jesus. Three things to consider about Jesus that may sound “Sunday Schoolish”, but the reality is that these three things are life-changing!

1. He is our Risen Savior

2. He is our Exalted Lord

3. He is our Coming King

Check out the message from this past Sunday if you missed it here:

Don’t miss this Sunday as we continue this powerful series. Also, if you are not currently in a Life Group you are lame!! (just kidding, but you are missing out on something huge!)

See you and a friend this weekend at The Fellowship!

Matt

God, Awaken Our Heart from The Fellowship on Vimeo.

Feeling a Bit Stressed?

Anxiety and Stress seem to be the normal markers of everyday life in America. We spend millions of dollars to cope with it, using and doing things that only temporarily relieve the issue. Fortunately, God’s Word gives us a gift. If we follow the instructions laid out by Paul, we can actually live an anxiety free life! Check out this message to find out how.

Fellowship at Two Rivers- 9/16/12 from The Fellowship on Vimeo.

Wrapping Up Family Ties.

Yesterday we wrapped up our Family Ties series with a message called Priceless: The Value of Family. In it, I shared an acrostic on the word FAMILY. F-Fun, A-Attention, M-Memories, I-Inspiration, L-Love and Y-Yielding. The family is truly a launching pad for life, and I hope you’ll take a look at the video to see more of what we discussed.
We’ve experienced a great last few weeks at The Fellowship! I continue to be amazed at all that God is doing in so many lives. I’m thankful for the salvation decisions that have been made in our services, for the baptisms we saw yesterday and the awesome spirit of worship.
Join us this Sunday. For more information please visit http://www.thefellowship.cc

Priceless: The Value of Family from The Fellowship on Vimeo.

Love and Discipline

This past holiday weekend at The Fellowship we continued our Family Ties series. We have spent time over the last few weeks talking about what marriage is and really looks like, the difference between a contract and a covenant and other issues that are family related. This past Sunday, we talked about Love and Discipline. Check it out. We’ll wrap up the series this coming Sunday as we focus on the high value of family. Don’t miss it! See you there.

Love and Discipline from The Fellowship on Vimeo.

Busting the Marriage Myths.

Many of you may be familiar with the Discovery Channel TV show, Mythbusters. The Mythbusters team take popular myths and use scientific method along with their own nerdiness to see if the “myths” hold up.

Today there are a lot of myths out there about marriage. Some are: The Happily Ever-After Myth, the Love at First Sight Myth and the Perfect Mate Myth. We took a look at these and a few others this past Sunday at The Fellowship. We’re continuing our Family Ties series, where we’re using God’s testing method, The Bible, to see if these myths are true or false.
Check out here to see what we found out!

Come be a part of our worship experience at The Fellowship this Sunday at either our Mt. Juliet or Two Rivers Campus. Click here for directions and times.
See you there!

Myths of the Modern Marriage from The Fellowship on Vimeo.