So in case you are not familiar with FAQ culture, it means "Frequently Asked Questions." Now in church life, this does not always mean that these questions are asked of the pastor. It could be through any number of ways that people are asking these questions. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions, if you ask the wrong person...you may get the wrong answer! Which defeats the purpose of asking the question. So I would like to field a few of those questions that may be floating around about what is going on at Peace Haven:
1. Why do you use the NLT (New Living Translation) of the Bible?
This is a question that could occupy several pages, but I will simply answer that we believe that it represents a great balance of biblical scholarship using the most current resources, manuscripts, scrolls, etc. and the modern vernacular of people today. God's Word is intended to communicate, so why not use a translation that is easily understood. For more information, visit this great link.
2. Why don't you wear your "Sunday best" when you preach and require others to do the same? We have searched scripture and do not see where that is biblical. We also want to remove as many unnecessary stumbling blocks as possible when it comes to reaching unchurched people. If that means wearing jeans...so be it!
3. Why don't you have an invitation at every service?
We do...but many times it is a reverse invitation in which we encourage people to get some coffee and talk about what God is doing in their lives. Once again, there is little biblical basis for a public aisle walking experience. Baptism is a public profession of their faith and we also invite the church to "hug their necks" when we share about their decision on the following Sunday. So we are pretty laid back when it comes to how people respond to God...we are just thrilled that they are!!!
4. Why don't you have a Sunday evening service?
While we value the tradition of many churches to hold such services, the culture has changed and we are seeking more effective ways to minister at various times and in different ways toward God's greater glory.
5. If you are striving to be a church for the unchurched, does that mean that you compromise the gospel? On the contrary, we seek to preserve the essential truths of the gospel and communicate them in a way that inspires and encourages living, vibrant life change and faith. So while our methods may be different, the good news remains the good news.
6. Why do you use so much video and media?
If you spend any time with people who are unchurched (as well as churched these days), that is a significant part of their lives and identities. We have been a culture fascinated by movies for years, so why not follow Paul's example in Acts 17 where he quoted poets that the people were familiar with? It is the same principle only with a modern technological slant, but there really is little to no difference. We have had numerous people say that they understood better as a result of this multimedia approach.
7. Why don't you talk about the biblical languages more?
In some contexts we do, but in worship on Sundays we try to avoid it. If we are serious about making our faith accessible to the unchurched, then we communicate differently. Some may accuse us of watering it down, but really it is embracing the challenge of communicating the truths gleaned from hours of study and preparation in a way that a child, an uneducated person, or someone new to the faith can understand. When you study the teachings of Christ, he made things very simple most of the time (and people still didn't understand!). Our other small groups and Wednesday evening studies tend to consider some of those finer points.
8. Why are you different?
When Paul wrote that he wanted to be all things to all men in 1 Corinthians 9:22, it was so that they might know his great God! That is our goal. There are plenty of churches in Wilkes county who are doing the same thing everyone else is doing, but that is not who God has called us to be. We get many guests who come to check us out and decide that our family is not for them. While that grieves us, we know that there are many more who have found a home at Peace Haven when they may not have been accepted anywhere else. We don't just tell people "come as you are" because it makes a catchy slogan. We really mean it and live it every day. And let me tell you...that is messy! We minister to broken families, people dealing with addiction issues, and many other challenges that are not for the faint of heart. Why? Because that is who God has called us to be at Peace Haven.
So that is probably enough for now. I'm sure that there are some residual FAQ's out there that I missed. Shoot me a message on this blog, by email, social media, etc. and let me know what needs to be addressed when we consider...THE SEQUEL!
Keep on truckin' for Jesus and keep it between the ditches!
Oh and Happy Easter! Here's a little old school Ray Boltz just for the fun of it!
We've all done it, right? There's that herd mentality of wanting to go where "the Spirit is moving" or "God is on the move" in the region where you live. The burden of not only finding a church, but having peace that you and your children will thrive in that context can be mind boggling.
It reminds me a lot of my dedication to Speedway gas stations. I'm addicted to Speedway. I've got the rewards card, the app on my phone, and just this morning I got $10 (not $1,2, or 3, but $10) in free gas due to a promotion that they were running!!! So while I am a big fan of these stations (don't even get me started on cheap drinks for the kids), not all stations are created equal. The one on hwy 421 almost always is the cheapest if I'm going that way and have time, but I won't EVER buy food there again if I need a quick fix. That food poisoning experience is not one that I care to repeat. I stopped at another this morning that did not have any gift cards for the $10 promo that I wanted to reap, so I had to go elsewhere (major fail on their part...how long have you known about that promotion?). So I finally found a station that has never steered me wrong, always has what I'm looking for (despite the fact that it is smaller than the other two), and the employees are much cooler (in a Hank Hill kind of way).
I know, you are wondering..."Will this dude ever get through his Speedway diatribe and make a point?" The church is not Speedway. It is not even Burger King. We may not always have the gift card that you want, you may not always get things your way right away (often it will not be your way AT ALL unless that fits with the vision of our church, the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God), and there may be times when you don't feel warm and fuzzy because the stuff of life is not always warm and fuzzy.
But, but, but...sorry. Read your Bible. That church doesn't exist in the Bible! They had issues. Life was messy. Yes, FEELINGS WERE HURT! (Heaven forbid right?) Somehow the blood of Christ served as the glue that held this rag tag, diverse group of people together. It is when we journey far outside of the faith, into the wonderful world of cultural Christianity that we conjure these images in our minds that there will be a perfect church that is true to all of the wonderful pictures on social media (you do know that social media only tells part of the story right?).
Bottom line, the church in all of its glory is still full of people who sin. Much like the analogy of the sheep in scripture, people stink, bite one another, attack the shepherd, and even get lost sometimes. The call to ministry, whether vocational or lay leadership, is lonely and often thankless. We don't do it for fame or glory, except for God's greater glory. The church is not a haven for consumers to get their bargain of the month or even free stuff (except for amazing grace) as much as it is a place to come and die as a disciple of Christ who is passionate about making disciples. A good friend of mine has reminded me recently that the people who join our church family are exactly the ones who need to be with us or who God has led to Peace Haven. That really is the essence of this post. Spiritual growth may not have the best website (although ours stands up to just about any) or the best music (even though we continue to grow in this area), but we are a band of brothers resolved to know Christ and make him known. We have worked and continue to work to be a church that loves God extravagantly, extends grace and salvation to everyone within our reach, and is tangibly faithful to the disciple making process (no pew potatoes allowed). If that is the kind of church that you are looking for...come and die. Its that simple.
The clip that I've shared below is an old friend of our family who just released his new CD. Check it out!