Wikipedia defines deception as “acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths or omission).” As a reference to this definition, you are being deceived when you believe someone who is propagating beliefs that are not true. You are following after someone who is teaching, sharing or preaching false things.
Easy enough to define what it is to be deceived and a little trickier to know when you are being deceived.
It may be a gut feeling that something is not right, questions about what is being shared that don’t go away or moving in a direction that is in opposition to something which you are certain is true. Conversation with friends, family, colleagues or a church community can be helpful in discerning whether or not you are being deceived. Most often I have found conversations about truth, lies and deception to best be carried out one on one.
What would you add to this response?
I recently met with a congregant who shared some deep questions with me. I asked for permission to share them on this blog to more broadly share my response.
In Zimbabwe, there did not seem to be a separation between personal holiness and social holiness.
One of the sites that we visited was planning on drilling a water well that would be able to provide water for the church members and the community. This would prevent the need to get up at 3:00 or 4:00 AM to retrieve water every day. If I remember correctly, the pastor placed this at the top of the list for the church – over getting a roof on their sanctuary.
Among the gathering that day was the tribal leaders – a man and a woman. The chief spoke on behalf of the community and spoke to the importance of the church’s priorities for the good of the entire community.
The goals of the church matched the goals of the community.
I recently finished reading The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church by Tony & Felicity Dale and George Barna. This book offers the perspective that the church may be more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ by multiplying rapidly rather than seeking to grow larger. The authors offer both practical tips and a thought framework for launching house churches and creating networks.
Tony and Felicity Dale share their stories of house church planting in both England and the United States. Some of their reminders include listening to God, focus on prayer and to model a simple pattern so that it can easily be repeated.
An outline for engagement in a house church is taken from Acts 2:42 – apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together and prayer. Each gathering includes conversation, a meal and prayer. None of these are to be the best possible (for example a gourmet chef) to encourage the participation of all. The authors suggest a framework for teaching which involves studying the scripture in a community and using symbols as a guide to the conversation.
Question mark – “something we don’t understand”
Lightbulb – “something that sheds light, either on that passage of Scripture or something going on in a person’s life”
Arrow – “represents God piercing a person’s heart – he or she has heard from God and needs to do something about it.”
The authors suggest that it is important to consider starting new groups with new people rather than assimilating others into existing groups. They suggest looking for a person whose leadership could be key in influencing a new circle of people to start the next group – a “person of peace” (see Luke 10:5-6). Finding this person of peace may be accomplished by telling one’s story as this can be a key opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. They suggest this simple pattern for sharing (pg 135):
What was life like before you became a Christian (or before your faith became real to you)?
How did you meet Jesus?
How has Jesus changed your life?
I found particularly important the reminder that there will be a difficult time of transition for persons who are moving from a more traditional form of church to a micro church. It will not be what it was, nor will it likely be exactly what is envisioned when first starting out.
Many of the themes in this book were quite helpful for those considering the possibility of living out one’s faith in a micro church. Unfortunately, the book did not flow smoothly from beginning to end and there were parts of several chapters that did not add to the advancement of the thesis. Nonetheless, this was a solid book and I recommend it for anyone considering a life of faith in a micro church.
My call to ministry has been a chain of experiences that have brought me to my current understanding of God’s call in my life. In the summer of 2002, I realized that God was not calling me to a career in biology, my field of study at the time. I considered many possibilities for life after graduation during the fall semester of my final year at Pittsburg State University. One of those possibilities was pursuing graduate theological education.
At a campus ministry reterat, as I was reading the account of Jesus calling his disciples in the Gospel according to John, I heard God speaking to me. The disciples’ question, “Where are you staying?” seemed to correspond to my question, “What is this whole seminary thing about?” Jesus responds clearly to them: “Come and see.” To me this response was Jesus saying to me, “Come and find out what seminary is about and how you can serve God in the world. Follow me and I will show you what you need to know.” As a result of this and other experiences, I enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2003 from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS.
When I enrolled in seminary I was not sure of which direction theological education would take me. Over the next few years my calling was refined from a call to seminary, to a confirmation of my place in seminary, to a call to ordained ministry serving in the local church. I graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree in May 2006.
It has been a mix of struggle, joy and surprises. I was helped primarily by my family and friends. I am currently serving as a pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
One of the positive influences in my call to ministry was an exploration event. I invite you to consider www.gbhem.org/exploration as a possibility if you are exploring a call to ministry and are between a high school senior and age 24.
We named issues of isolation / community and leadership development / mentoring as top concerns among young clergy. If you are interested, you can check out the live blogged event. But this gathering was not just about talk, we are going to do something about it and you are invited.
I am on the team that is working around building community among young clergy facilitated by online resources.
What ideas do you have that could help build community online?
What services / sites do you actually use on a regular basis?
Today I want to offer you, the reader, an invitation to connect with me. Whether this is your first time to read Thoughts of Resurrection or you are a regular visitor, I invite you to connect with me in the following ways:
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I reassert that it is crucial to share my life with colleagues in ministry because the community of the annual conference is one of the most important, perhaps the most important, community of which I am a part as a United Methodist pastor. I have found that the relationships that I have built with other clergy are important for my own soul and for my leadership in ministry. Does it take effort? Absolutely. It is important and worth it. Not being able to form real relationships is a myth of the annual conference.