This is part four of five in my five-part series on talking about the hard stuff within the church context. Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 by clicking on the links. This is an extension of Part 3, kind of a Part 2 to Part 3. Basically, Part 4.
11) Technology use.
I love technology. I use it every day in my workplace and at home. There’s man-made rules and blog post after blog post within the church about the use of technology and how it might be ruining our society. It’s one of those things that I think we rarely sit back and think deeper about how it can be used for good and for the Gospel.
12) Body image.
I wrote a blog post about this back in April about how I’ve personally struggled with this issue. Because it’s such a personal thing, we shy away from it. It’s uncomfortable. But, like a lot of these topics, it’s something that needs to be discussed because people are struggling with this and they feel alone. Your body is something you see in the mirror every day. Therefore, if you struggle with this, it’s something that confronts you every day. So it’s vital to have conversations about it.
13) Absent parents.
As someone who loves spending time around teenagers, I’ve seen many who have one or two absent parents, parents that either abandoned them before birth or during their life or divorced each other. And I’ve seen the devastating effects that it’s had. This goes along with No. 3 in this list. Not only do we need to talk about it, we need to get more involved in these kids lives.
14) Social media.
This goes along with No. 11. How can we use social media to benefit the spreading of the Gospel and the glorifying of God? Also, what is the appropriate behavior of Christians on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? It’s a gray area because the Bible doesn’t give us straight forward thoughts on it. But it’s worth talking about.
This might be the most divisive one on this list. Christians have sworn off (no pun intended) profanity for the most part, and I was once there. But as I’ve grown, I’ve realized something. What is profanity but something that society says is profane? What makes a word in and of itself “sinful” to use? Scripture doesn’t have a list of words we shouldn’t use. In my opinion, it’s more about the thought and intention and the heart behind it. Just like we use stronger non-curse words to convey certain things, would it be the worst thing in the world if we used what might be considered a “curse word” to strongly emphasize how we feel about something? Since this is a gray area, I don’t know for sure. Something to talk about, but ideally not in a condemning way.
16) Pastors sinning.
This is a theme that recurs every once in a while when a pastor of a prominent evangelical church steps down because some sin in his life is revealed, whether by him or by someone else. There seems to be a push to forget about those people or condemn them for doing such a bad thing. Best example: Mark Driscoll (I wrote about it here). Shouldn’t we think about this differently? I doubt that Jesus would handle things the way we have. He used a bunch of sinful dudes. Why should we expect our pastors to be any different?
17) Hierarchy of sins.
This is a difficult topic that I don’t think I fully understand. Recently, it seems as if the evangelical community has placed homosexuality on the top of the pyramid of sins, over sexual sin in the church, over lying, over gossiping, over bitterness. I don’t know what the right answer is. What usually happens in conversations like this is personal opinions getting scattered all over the place, which makes things real tricky. Personally, I just struggle to think that one sin is more important than another save for what 1 Corinthians 6:18 says: “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” But why do we make homosexuality more important?
18) Reformed theology.
The thing that ticks me off most about those in the Reformed camp is their arrogance about their theology. There, I said it. I’ve been there. I’ve been that arrogant one who won’t listen to anyone else or won’t consider that I might be wrong. I’ve been in that place where I’ve thought people who weren’t Reformed weren’t Christians. And there’s a lot of that in the Reformed evangelical camp. Why must we be so rigid to Calvinism nowadays? Have we ever considered that there’s more to Christianity than adhering to Reformed theology?
19) Consuming mainstream news media.
I’m sitting in the waiting room of a Toyota dealership right now getting my car worked on and Fox News is on the TV. Christians tend to flock to Fox News because it suits their worldview the best. That leads to a condemnation of MSNBC and CNN and more liberal news outlets. Can I be honest with y’all? I LOVE watching clips of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and old clips of The Colbert Report. They get it right more than any mainstream media effort. Anyways, who do we trust? What’s the right approach? This is tricky because people get offended and upset if you don’t agree with them.
20) Our own personal current screw-ups.
We’ll talk about the sins of the society, of others, of ourselves in the past all day long. But we shy away from talking about our current struggles. There is nothing more important to be talked about than this. If we say we believe in the Bible, we should be seeking to obey James 5:16 – “Confess your sins to one another.” There’s no qualification about who we confess to, how much we confess, when we confess, who should confess, etc. It’s simply, “Confess your sins to one another.” It’s hard and it sucks, but it’s so important to our own spiritual health and for the health of the church.
Check back soon for Part 5 – How do we talk about these things? What are some good ways to get the conversations started?