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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Is This The Church?

[Club Christ kids playing during a break from their studies]

Many people I know are critical of the Christian Church, and a lot of times, rightly so. We have not done a real good job lately connecting to people in our communities, being what Tony Campolo calls agents for change in a hurting world.

For whatever reason, and frankly, there are many, there is the impression that the church is only interested in people for her own selfish interests.

In many churches it is impossible for those with an entrepreneurial spirit to start new ministries that reach into communities and address the problems people face in everyday life. Sometimes because those ministries are not 100% focused on the spiritual life of the individual.

I have often struggled with this and the resultant lack of presence, us bible folk call it salt, in the communities and neighborhoods around our churches.

This reality has forced those entrepreneurs, sadly, to go outside the church to do the work of the Gospel.

One of those ministries here in Las Vegas is Club Christ. This ministry, started by my friend Evan Hartsell, is the church in the community. It is people being Christ in a hurting world instead of just talking about it.

Today the Las Vegas Sun, a traditional liberal newspaper in our city, ran a great story on the ministry of Club Christ on their front page. Check it out here.

And then, if you are a church goer, ask yourself this question. Why does someone have to work outside the church to do, or start a ministry like this?

The answer might help explain why statistics show little or no church growth over the last few years.

Comments on "Is This The Church?"


Blogger Van Zan said ... (12:45 AM) : 

Nice to see a religious group - which are seldom among my preferred things - attempting a broadly practical and positive action for the community, instead of furthering partisan and narrow agendas.

I wish Evan Hartsell luck, although I think transforming communities is not "for Christ", but for justice and happiness.


Blogger Grace Explosion said ... (6:15 PM) : 

Hi Dave,

I responded to your quote on my Safety of Secession blog. I think it might blow your mind.


I was endowed with these rights by my Creator... full rights. Check it out. :) It's what our founders knew... and what we must know... to not be robbed of our rights in the Lord Jesus Christ... perhaps.

Have a great day and be blessed.


Blogger Pastor David Curtis said ... (9:59 AM) : 

Van Zan - Please let me ask for your forgiveness for the many times that the church (both God's people and organizations) has missed the calling and has elevated selfish agendas over concern for people. That type of actions is not what God has called his people to and I sincerely apologize to you and anyone else who has been hurt by these actions done in the name of Christ.

About Dave's post:

This is exactly where the church (God's people) need to be. It is a sad statement (yet necessary)that you even need to ask the question of why does some have to outside of the church (organization) to start a ministry like this.

The problem is that we as individuals become emotionally attached to certain programs or structures that were once effective (altough sometimes they never were) and now are no longer accomplishing the mission. Church leadership needs to cast a compelling vision to God's people to free up volunteers and dollars to go towards existing ministries or new start ups that are actually reaching people with the love of Christ. We have to be humble enough and bold enough to set aside our own agendas or plans to help resources ministries that are truly making a difference.

It isn't that churches can't start ministries like Club Christ, it is just that often because of poor leadership it is far easier to accomplish ministry like this outside the confines of the church (organization).


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (10:23 AM) : 

Pastor David wrote:
"it isn't that churches can't start ministries like Club Christ, it is just that often because of poor leadership it is far easier to accomplish ministry like this outside the confines of the church (organization)."

So David, how can we change it?

You are, of course completely accurate in your assessment, but how can we get past it?

In my experience, many folks would just rather not fight to do this within the church, choosing instead the para-church model of working outside the local church because of the inherent difficulties.


Blogger Pastor David Curtis said ... (11:00 AM) : 


Here is the link for that video I mentioned on my blog.


First we have to ask if the parachurch model is actually a bad model? I don't think that it is entirely bad but I don't want to create and easy out for churches that are doing the mission.

I think what makes it the most difficult to do a non traditional ministry through a church context is the issue of salary and staffing. If it were entirely volunteer then it is much easier for a church to get something off the ground. Many people who feel led to start ministries like this want to do it free from the burden of outside employment. This requires fundraising and such to staff the position. Unless the vision for the ministry starts from the top of the organizational structure someone will find it far simpler to create their own organization.

I think the bigger question is why don't church leaders see the needs in the community.


Blogger Pastor David Curtis said ... (11:07 AM) : 


Here is another thought.

In my interview process with churches one of my questions for these churches was, "If money were no object, what kind of ministry would you like to see happen here." I was disappointed that so few people were able to think outside of the walls of the their church building when they thought of their dream ministry.

People in general just don't think about the needs of their communities. They think first about what programs would be of benefit to them or their families.


Blogger Pastor David Curtis said ... (11:08 AM) : 

BTW, there is a good post today on mondaymorninginsight.com on this very same subject.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (12:38 PM) : 

David, you hit the nail on the head on thinking outside the box.

We [the church] have given those on the outside the impression that we care only about those on the inside.

This is evidenced by what I am assuming were some of the answers you received to your questions.

Without naming names, what were the best and worst responses to your question?


Blogger Pastor David Curtis said ... (1:52 PM) : 

The best are worst were both from a search committee at a conservative baptist church in Yuma Arizona.

An older gentleman blurted out 'bible' when I asked what type of ministry should happen. Bible? Now I love the Word of God as much as the next conservative theologian but I think a church that has Sunday School, Bible Preaching, and midweek Bible Study is already doing a good job in that area.

On the same committee a soft spoken women spoke of her concern for single mothers in the area and how she would love to see a ministry geared at reaching out to them. What a wonderful response of a dear christian sister thinking of the needs of other around here. How she is surviving in that church I will never know.

Needless to say they went with a different candidate for that church. Probably someone who promised more Bible programs which will fuel their inward thinking and lack of concern for the lost.

How messed up can our preaching be if our preaching from God's Word causes people to be less concerned for the lost and hurting people of this world.



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