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You can listen to Noah Filipiak’s “Behind the Curtain” Podcast interview with Kent Carlson on the Podbean Player below or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes. (Podcast listening tip: use the podcasts app on your smartphone and listen while driving, doing chores, or working out)

Noah Filipiak interviews Kent Carlson on what led him and his team to shift the seeker-driven megachurch he founded into a church of spiritual formation. A shift that led to around 1500 people leaving the church. Kent is the co-author of Renovation of the Church, a book that chronicles the journey of Oak Hills Church and its leadership. He was mentored by Dallas Willard and currently serves as Vice President of Leadership Formation for the North American Baptist denomination.

Connect with Kent on Twitter

There’s a lot of reasons Christians don’t go to church.

Some seem legitimate on the surface, others don’t.

The Church is not perfect by any means and you’ll never find a perfect local church, but is any one Christian perfect?  Can an imperfect Christian exclude themselves from the local church based on its imperfection, when they themselves carry that same title?

Whatever the reason a Christian decides to not attend a local church, Dr. Tony Evans in his book What Matters Most calls it a sin.  In fact, Dr. Evans goes as far to say that a Christian who merely attends a church but does not partner with the ministry is sinning.  The Scripture Dr. Evans looks to for this is 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, where the Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of the human body to describe the Church.  1 Corinthians 12:27 is clear that there is no option in this, if you are a Christian, you are a part of this body:  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of itEvans describes the gruesome image of a finger dismembered from the body.  This is a problem!  If God’s design for the Church, and a local church, is for it to be many members making up one body, all connected to each other, all depending on each other, all working in harmony with one another toward the mission of Christ, then it definitely is a sin to break this design.

And showing up to church as an observer is not what the Bible is saying here.  It’s not telling the dismembered finger to go and sit next to the rest of the body and observe it.  This is just as gruesome, ineffective and against God’s design. Continue Reading…

The USA Today section of my Lansing State Journal has an article in it with the startling title “Multitasking teens pick texting over sleeping.”  The article goes on to say how teens spend around 9 hours a day on “entertainment media” which includes social media, music, gaming or online videos, (i.e. time on their smart phones) which is more time than they spend sleeping.

What struck me most about this is the power of culture to mold us and shape us.  Every generation has their “When I was your age…” story, to which the younger generation always rolls their eyes.  These stories are in response to how culture has molded and shaped the next generation in a way very different, and typically seen negatively, than the older generation experienced.

The more I think about what “culture” actually is, the more I am seeing it as a slave owner.  Pretty much anything culture tells us to do, we do.  In America, being a Christian typically just means taking a normal-looking cultural life and tacking Jesus on to the end of it.  Talking to a Hindu about Jesus is interesting because they worship a million gods and have no problem adding Jesus to this group.  It can often feel the same way with American Christians, myself included.  Our gods are just must more amorphous.

I just started reading The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen and can already tell it will be a book that changes my life.  In it he explores the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the 4th and 5th century men and women who fled to the Egyptian desert to live in solitude with the Lord rather than drown in the “shipwreck” that they saw society as. Continue Reading…