Get ready for a long blog while I let out some feelings. Okay, so today I started looking at some of the links that Wade had on his blog. Eventually after looking at several I ended up at Perry Noble's blog. So I start looking around and saw he had posted a response to someone who is criticizing their way of doing church. Now, after seeing this I thought, "hmmm, how many other people who have blogs out there are criticizing Perry?" So I do some hard looking (typed in Perry Noble at Google and clicked some links) and I found some other places where people are putting him down. And I came to the realization (through some context clues) that most of these people have never been to NewSpring and most are also part of a small church.
Now let's rewind to 2001, when I was a senior in high school in the neighboring city of Anderson which is Belton. My best friends (Alyson, Amber, and Meagan) and I witnessed a lot of people leaving our "small churches" to go to the new hip feeling church called NewSpring. This is when they met at Anderson College...hadn't become University yet. I had a couple of friends that decided to go there instead of the church they grew up in and I held a little grudge against NewSpring. It didn't help that my pastor also said that these "contemporary churches" aren't preaching the word and are out to just entertain them instead of letting Jesus alone change the people. So let's just say I vowed never to go there and decided they were not helping Jesus they were only helping themselves. They were the big bad church.
Now jump to the next year when I was a freshman at the University of South Carolina. I went there and none of my friends were with me. I was on my own. I even decided to room with someone I didn't even know (although Carolyn was freaking awesome)! However, two of the guys I went to high school with that were in my outer network of friends went to USC as well: Jay Harper and Michael Marshall. And guess what their home church was…yep, NewSpring. So even though I vowed never to go I started hearing their conversations about how awesome it was and how it had changed their lives. And I really had seen a change in their lives. So now I was thinking, “I thought this was the big bad church...how can it be helping people and how can they actually be learning biblical truths (it was watered down remember)?” So finally, one week when I was back at home I pulled one of my girl pals (love you Meagan) into going with me. And although it was totally different then anything I ever knew…I actually liked it. I felt like Perry preached from the Bible and the worship felt passionate. It definitely wasn’t the feeling I got when my church would sing hymns. And everyone wanted to be there and they were excited so it got me excited.
Okay, our journey brings us back to the present. Now I have probably gone to NewSpring about 4 or 5 times and each time I really love it. It did take me awhile to adjust to Perry’s personality while preaching because he was so energetic and loud (unlike other pastors I had listened to). Now seeing that all these other people have criticized him it makes me upset. NewSpring isn’t even my church, but I feel like sometimes people who see something different immediately think it is bad. I mean my preacher growing up was an awesome man and pastor, but he had never even been to NewSpring yet he insulted it. And all these people bashing it on their blogs have never been there either. I just don’t understand how we can call ourselves Christians and chide something we have never been to. I just think the ultimate way to do things when we are Christians is to do things in love. I mean why couldn’t someone say, “Really, Perry/NewSpring, I don’t agree with some of the things you do at your church or what you said on this blog, but it seems that you are a man of God so I would like to hear your side of the story.” Or say, “This church seems so watered down or they just use media to distract people from hearing the truth that hurts…maybe I should check it out or request a video of their service to give them the a look-see.”
Technically, NewSpring has just been a personal example (there are countless other places that I am sure get the same thing) I can identify with because I saw what it is like to be on both ends and when you aren’t knowledgeable about the subject then you really can’t throw insults. And even if you are knowledgeable I still don’t think you should throw insults it should be more of a communication between two followers of Christ who care deeply for one another. And if we are the ones being insulted then we should remember the same thing. I think James 1:19-20 is perfect for this. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Anyway, this blog is SOOO long. The thing is that the small churches are for a lot of people and I am sure a lot of them reach their community and shower love on them. And then these larger churches are doing the same thing. It seems to me we shouldn’t be making excuses as to why it is wrong, but asking ourselves what are they doing to reach so many people? I think when we find that out we will see we are all doing God’s work just with different thinking and different perspectives. And I think God isn’t set on how we get there but are we actively bringing people to Christ. That’s definitely something I need to do more of. Let’s always make sure we are showing God’s love…to the lost and to other Christians.