Sunday Morning, Outside the Church Building

Christian,

You may likely find yourself in a church this Sunday. That’s potentially a fine, noble, and beautiful thing. There’s nothing at all wrong with gathering in a building with people on the same journey you’re on and seeking community and inspiration and guidance there. These are in fact, wonderful aspirations. And yet for all that might go on in that building, for all you may feel and hear and experience there—I want you to know that the building is not the point.

What happens in that building is not what matters. You can spend your morning in that building; you can raise your hands skyward and be moved to tears, you can hear words that challenge and encourage and convict you, you can sing until you shake the rafters and  goosebumps line your forearms. Week after week you can enter that building and feel passionate and spiritual and committed—and week after week you can leave that building largely the way you came in, changing nothing about the world outside that building. And this, my friend, would be a sin.

That building can be incredibly seductive; promising you comfort and safety and belonging. It can make you hunger only for that building and it can lull you into believing that faith is what happens in there. You can forget what exists outside.

And so while you are inside that building on Sunday doing whatever you’re doing and feeling whatever you’re feeling, please try to remember:

Outside that building people are hungry.
Outside that building people are hurting.
Outside that building they are exhausted.
Outside that building they are terrified.
Outside that building they are alone.
Outside that building people are feeling invisible.

Outside that building people are hanging by a thread.
Outside that building they are wondering how they’re going to make it another day.
Outside that building people are falling apart.
Outside that building all hell is breaking loose.


And so consequently, outside that building—most of them honestly don’t give a damn what you’re doing inside that building.

The people outside are looking for compassion and peace and hope; they’re waiting for someone to see them and let them know that their lives matter. They’re outside that building and they need you to take something from that building, meet them where they are and show them what love looks like. That is the point of the building; putting flesh to faith. Making spiritual things tangible things.

You see friend, if what happens in that building doesn’t renovate what happens outside that building, you’ve failed. If your church were to close down today and the neighborhood around you wouldn’t profoundly feel the loss, you need to change how you do what you do in that building. If the only people who would grieve your absence are the people already in that building, you’re not doing what you’re called to do. You are hoarding blessings from people who need and deserve to be blessed.

Worship is not really what happens in that building. That is just songs and words and stories and prayers. It is religious activity, well-meaning and helpful as it may be. Worship, is a life lived changed by faith in God and burdened to reflect the character of that God to others. If the songs and the words and the stories and the prayers today don’t move you out of the building and into the paths of hurting people in a way that alters those paths—it’s all been wasted time.

That building isn’t the goal. It isn’t the thing. That building isn’t supposed to be a landing pad, it’s supposed to be a launching pad. It is supposed to be what propels you to go and be the radical, counterintuitive love you are called to be on the planet.

I know you may need and celebrate and treasure what you receive in that building, and that’s fine. That’s a good thing. Don’t feel at all guilty for that—but don’t stop there either. Whatever forgiveness or mercy or compassion or grace or love you receive in the building, needs to be passed to the world outside or it is all an exercise in selfishness. It is just sanctified consumption—a little religious retail therapy. It is carefully disguised narcissism. But there is so much more for you there in that building. There is a precious opportunity that I hope you’ll strain to embrace.

While you’re inside the church today, pray for a heart prepared to pour itself out to the waiting world. This is what worship is. That is the point: other people being loved because of your love for God. So yes, get every good and beautiful and redemptive thing in that building that you can—and remember it is not just for you.

Take it to the people outside.

 

.

 

 

310 thoughts on “Sunday Morning, Outside the Church Building

  1. Mr. Pavlovitz, can you share how you currently reach out to the needy in your community? If you are having trouble finding a way, please consider volunteering at my church, where that long list of issues plaguing the downtrodden that you say happen “outside” the church building are easily found “inside” the walls of my church. When you visit, you will see the poor being fed, the needy welcomed into a safe, caring community, and free healthcare provided for the most vulnerable. Yes, all of this is happening INSIDE our little church building. There is nothing magical about the walls of our building, other than providing a safe space for our volunteers to provide direct, hands-on care for those in need. Contrary to your assertion, the downtrodden in my community care a great deal about what happens inside our church building, because those who frequent our little building care a great deal about them. If you are ever in the Denver metro, stop on by and see for yourself, and please consider volunteering, not for our sake, but for those in need. The experience will change your heart and will change your life. It did mine. To learn more, visit our web site, and under Ministries, click on “Compassion”.
    http://www.wellspringenglewood.com

  2. At the conclusion of every Mass Catholics hear these words (or some variation of them):

    “The Mass has ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

    It is essential that we take the Truth and Peace we’ve been privileged to receive and share it with the world by our example and good works. We can’t be reminded of what those words mean too often.

    • A Catholic Perspective troll, you have an excessive amount of gall to claim you repeated are reminded to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” and then come here and fail to do so. Wow, that has gotta keep you in the penalty box. What a sham you prove your religious faith to be.

      • When I was in RC private school and later on in confirmation class, it was explained to us quite clearly that “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” means that we show our love and service to the Lord in love and service to our fellow human beings, no matter who they are.

  3. I love what John Paul writes and it makes me think and feel as though there is hope. Because in my experience , his voice in the Christian world is desperately needed.

    I hoped the comments would be as helpful, thoughtful, and uplifting as the author of the post. Many are. But thanks to A Catholic Perspective and a couple of others, my stomach is churning, I feel upset and I can’t continue in this negative place. It is sad but I literally find it takes me to a dark place. I have to leave.

  4. Hey—look. I have an idea that might work. For those of you who would like to do so, I can set up a blog of my own called the J. P. Safe Discussion Zone. Every time John Pavlovitz posts a main post to his blog, you can read it on his blog and then come over and discuss it in my safe zone. Trolls will be blocked.

    • Perfect idea. That way you all can agree together and talk about how brilliant JP is and how smart all you are for recognizing his genius. You can call it the SDZ, and it’ll be just the place to keep out all disagreement while concentrating all safe, identical and utterly boring viewpoints. This is exactly how we do it in our great country.

      • Oddly enough, that is exactly how it is done in this nation as well. No one posts with the certainty and arrogance of the folks I object to better than those used to having their bias confirmed and their superiority reinforced in their own safe spaces. Then they seek sites like this to unload on and diminish the “sinners” and the dare to doubt doctrine “morons”.

        The point you all are missing (deliberately IMO), is that there are subjects for which the efforts of a “Tom Cottone” or “A Catholic Perspective” and others do indeed stifle people sharing their stories of struggle and hurt such that our understanding and conversation are both incomplete and unsatisfying. That is not a healthy community. And their interruption is meant to do that.

        What you miss is that this complaint is not about us wanting to “agree together and talk about how brilliant JP is and how smart all you are for recognizing his genius”. Not even close. But, I suspect you know that too.

        And it has nothing to do with wanting to “keep out all disagreement while concentrating all safe, identical and utterly boring viewpoints”. Again, far from it.

        When you don’t get something, it appears to be in neon!

        • All are quite welcome to share your stories of struggle here without fear of trolls. It seems to me that many of these trolls only want to share their viewpoints as much as others want to share your stories of struggle.

          • Yes, I am sure it does seem to you “that many of these trolls only want to share their viewpoints as much as others want to share your stories of struggle”. Clearly all evidence points to you being right. And they are just sincerely trying to help anyone who dares to not see things their way too.

            • What he said, ….Not True. The first time I commented was to just say how much I liked what was said and that I agreed. Simple enough, you would think, right. Joe C and a few other angry bitter souls started calling me a baby killer. That is their idea of a discussion. It is pitiful and I would feel a whole lot better if it was an out of control 13 yr old than grown people. I so, want this to be a safe place for people to be able to talk about their experiences good and bad and not fear condemnation. A lot of people suffer from PTSD in regards to churches and the last thing they need is someone telling them to quit whining and get on with life. I really hope this gets fixed somehow because all of the lovely people are leaving and I for one miss them. Peace,

              • I’m sorry if Joe C really called you that. That is uncalled for and just plain wrong. He definitely needs to tone down his rhetoric and be more respectful.

                • People have tried, Patrick, to no avail to convince him of these things.

                  What is so sad is that at Christmas he was moved to apologize for his ungentlemanly behavior which was caused by his excess of zeal for his subject.

                  So when he calls people names etc, he clearly knows what he is doing and he just plain doesn’t care if he does harm.

                • Except it didn’t happen Patrick. I am very weary of the drama queens lying and distorting what I say, and their paranoia in seeing me in a bunch of other posters who obviously are not me. You will probably be accused of being me too if that hasn’t already happened.

                • Patrick, I challenge you to go through my posts on this page and then show me my bad rhetoric and where I called people names.

                  Also, Gloriamarie’s friend Charles calls nice women here “bitches” if he doesn’t like their opinions. Tell him that’s not nice.

              • What the trolls believe and what they attempt to convince people to believe, is they are poor little put upon people who only offer a dissenting POV.

                People who only want to express a dissenting POV and who which to have a conversation express themselves in respectful and validating terms. There have been those who have done that.

                But the people who come here to insult John P and those of us who like his stuff, are not people who expressing themselves in respectful and validating terms.

                I’ve said this before, no doubt I’ll say it again. It is not WHAT a person says but HOW they choose to do it.

                So when commenters spew vitriol, adopt ten different pseudonyms a day, they are going to be outed as trolls. They have self-identified themselves as something plagues the Internet and Social Media.

                When they abuse and bully they will be outed as trolls. It is the identity they wish to be known by and it is a Public Service Announcement to out them.

          • At least two or three of the people who post as anonymous are Joe ACP. I’ve already told people what I am doing with this list.

              • Sorry, Patrick, your quilt square is the one most often used by He of Many Names and that makes me nervous. He of Many Names switches identities left and right to fool people into thinking they are speaking with someone else.

              • Oh my….Gloria is making a list and checking it twice…lol…..its probably next to her list of things she expects others to pay for.

    • And you can call it….Charles’ Merry Blog of Insecure Idiots – where everyone is welcome at the table of heretical lunacy – until Charles, God’s gift to sinners everywhere – feels threatened by a different opinion.

    • Awesome idea, Charles. I’d really like that. I hope you will block all the trolls.

      Edward M would love that.

      And how about actual names?

    • I’ve thought of doing the same thing Charles, except I’m not a chickenshit and am not closed minded and would not limit my forum to those who agree with me. Diversity of thought would be most welcome. But I would wrestle with the ethics of promoting it here and spamming the board the way you and Gloriamarie do to shamelessly promote yourselves.

  5. Okay, that’s it, where are all the shiney happy people? Oh yeah, they are snuggled next to their loved ones and sweet pets curled up by their toasty warm toes. I am saddened by the comments. This beautiful church prose written by John Pavlovitz has been trampled on nastily and quite thoroughly …. *sigh*… time for my bedtime story.

  6. This classic Twilight Zone story, Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, is being played out here. Will the Martians win? Let’s stay tuned…

    Maple Street is full of playing children and adults talking when a shadow passes over, accompanied by a roar and a flash of light. Several adults are slightly alarmed by this, but they carry on with their activities. Shortly afterwards, the residents discover that their power went off, affecting stoves, lawn mowers, cars and phones. They gather in the street to discuss the situation. Pete Van Horn volunteers to walk over to Floral Street, the next street over, to see if it is affected as well. His neighbor, Steve Brand decides to go into town, but Tommy, a local boy, urges him not to leave the street. Tommy has read a story of an alien invasion causing similar controversy, and says that the monsters do not want anyone to leave the street. Furthermore, in the story, the aliens are living as a family that appears to be human. The power outage is meant to isolate the neighborhood.

    At first, Tommy’s theory is laughed off, until another resident, Les Goodman, tries unsuccessfully to start his car. He gets out and begins to walk back to the other residents when the car starts on its own. The bizarre behavior of his car makes the neighbors suspect that Les may be an alien, as suggested by Tommy’s story. One woman brings up his late nights spent standing in the garden looking up at the sky. Les claims to be an insomniac. Steve, acting as the voice of reason, tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt. Charlie Farnsworth pressures Steve about his hobby building a secret ham radio. Steve argues that the whole idea of anyone on the street being an alien is madness.

    Darkness descends and a shadowy figure is seen walking toward them. Charlie panics, grabs a shotgun, and shoots the figure, thinking it to be an alien. When the crowd reaches the fallen figure, they realize it is Pete van Horn, returning from his scouting mission on Floral Street, instantly killed from the shot. As Charlie struggles to defend his hasty action, the neighbors voice suspicions that Pete had discovered evidence that Charlie is an alien, and Charlie shot Pete to prevent him from fingering him. The lights in Charlie’s house come on, further fueling their suspicion, and even Steve is too angered by Pete’s death to defend Charlie. Charlie makes a run for his house while the other residents chase him, hurling stones, one hitting Charlie in the forehead, creating a bleeding gash. Terrified, Charlie attempts to deflect suspicion onto Tommy. Several neighbors agree, as Tommy was the only one who knew about the aliens’ plans.

    Lights begin flashing on and off in houses throughout the neighborhood; lawn mower and car engines start and stop for no apparent reason. The mob becomes hysterical, hurling accusations, smashing windows and taking up weapons as the situation devolves into an all-out riot.

    The scene cuts to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the shadow that flew overhead is, indeed, an alien spaceship. Its crew are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood’s power. They comment on how simply fiddling with people’s electricity consistently leads them to descend into paranoia and panic. They also discuss their intention to use this strategy to conquer Earth one neighborhood at a time.

    • Whoever wrote this– you are brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t believe I got so utterly distracted. Whew!

      • I just reposted it from Wiki. NOT my brilliant writing. But was it brilliant that I posted it? Will you be in my fan club now?

        Anyway, that is one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes and kind of reminds me of what’s going on here in this crazy thread.

        BTW, going forward, I decided to change my style to more like Dosher’s. Just say my peace in one post and stay out of petty arguments.

        • If that is one of your favorite Twilight Zone episodes, then please allow me to point out the aliens in the spaceship are today’s GOP and their leader is Trump.

          To avoide being a victim of this brainwashing and manipulation…

          One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

        • Ha ! I appreciated it Joe. It smacked me upside the head but not like the annoying pestering kind of petty pseudo rebukes– that are innuendos and snide pokes– but a good solid look in the mirror rebuke.

          again thanks for posting this this

  7. “ Ever since Homo sapiens first coalesced into tribes, war has been part of the human condition. Inevitably, warring societies portray their campaigns as virtuous struggles, and present their fallen warriors as heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for a noble cause. But death by friendly fire , which is inescapable in armed conflict doesn’t conform to the mythic narrative. It strips away the war heroes veneer to revel what lies beneath . It’s an unsettling reminder that barbarianism, senseless violence, and random acts of death are commonplace even the most just and honourable of wars. Consequently, and unsurprisingly, when soldiers accidentally kill one of their own, there is a tremendous reluctance to confront the truth within the ranks. There is an overwhelming inclination to keep unsavoury particulars hidden form public view, to pretend calamity never occurred. ….As Aeschylus, the illustrious Greek tragedian noted , ” In war, truth is the first casualty.”

    — Where Men Win Glory, John Krakauer

    • Forgiveness, Self forgiveness, Forgiving others and unselfish love of others .
      Nothing changes an person worst than what you speak of above. ONLY God can truly Heal after this terrible act.
      As we, i, you pray, trust, believe, follow, Jesus Christ he will heal and give that peace that nothing can give . life covers up past , Jesus Forgives and Heals past for a peaceful future.

  8. “ Ever since Homo sapiens first coalesced into tribes, war has been part of the human condition. Inevitably, warring societies portray their campaigns as virtuous struggles, and present their fallen warriors as heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for a noble cause. But death by friendly fire , which is inescapable in armed conflict doesn’t conform to the mythic narrative. It strips away the war heroes veneer to revel what lies beneath . It’s an unsettling reminder that barbarianism, senseless violence, and random acts of death are commonplace even the most just and honourable of wars. Consequently, and unsurprisingly, when soldiers accidentally kill one of their own, there is a tremendous reluctance to confront the truth within the ranks. There is an overwhelming inclination to keep unsavoury particulars hidden form public view, to pretend calamity never occurred. Thus it has always been, and probably always will be.

    As Aeschylus, the illustrious Greek tragedian noted , ” In war, truth is the first casualty.”

    — Where Men Win Glory, John Krakauer

  9. When you trust , believe , cast all your cares on a true, loving, Holy God , He gives you peace in the midst of trials. and rewards when you don’t expect it.
    This peace comes not from where you are in life, what you have in life, where your going, what your doing. But in a Contentment with the knowledge and understanding that you trust God for the outcome. and he makes your ways . He God give to all who by way of Prayer, Seeks to have a eternal relationship with the heavenly father who takes care of his own.
    God is always in control and will make a way of escape if we are truly listening and seeking him.
    the hardest thing in life is following with out listening to the world, and following the self centered life of all my friends and neighbors .
    God cares. He listens , He rewards those who diligently seek him. His will, His way, His direction.

    • One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Hard not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

      There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


  10. I invite everyone (Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mr. Pavlovitz and everyone else) to quit debating religious doctrine on this thread, roll up your sleeves and get out there and volunteer and make a difference in the world (if you are not already doing so, that is). It takes so little time to make such a huge difference in the life of others (and yourself). I already provided a resource for the Denver metro. Certainly a quick google search will help you find a place closer to your home (or office) to volunteer. Doing so will change more hearts and minds than any amount of pontificating on this blog. If you truly care about the downtrodden, please, instead of spending another minute critiquing the motives of others on this blog, find a local outreach (possibly in your own church) where you can volunteer and make it happen …this week! You will NEVER regret your choice to give back in this way, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is, and by the depth and richness of humanity you will discover. Who’s with me?

    • Well clearly millions are “with you” because there is work being done every day, but there is still value in examining the doctrine of faith and seeing how the world comports to it, especially those claiming it as their mantle. Are we only allowed to discuss these issues when you feel it is appropriate? I am sure the majority are volunteering, either through their church or some of the other millions of groups and organizations to better society, or if not able, donating to them in other ways, I am just not clear on why voicing opinions (even disagreements) here bothers you.

      • Sandi, I am referring to those contributing to this thread who appear to be missing the point of the original post. Mr. Pavlovitz’ open letter sets up a straw-man by which to lecture Christians against the dangers of building their faith without corresponding works (a danger I agree with). I don’t like his use of stereotyping (which is why I shared my experience), but I agree with his exhortation to think outside the church (or Mosque, or Synagogue and yes, even your own home). His open letter ends with a direct call to action. Unfortunately, the people posting on this thread are taking the occasion to criticize each other (or the church) instead of answering (or even discussing) the author’s underlying call to action. I am inviting those contributing to this thread to respond to Mr. Pavlovitz’ call…if you are not already doing so (or have not done so in a while), go out and volunteer. I hope you all do, and then share your experience here. Sandi, based on your reply to me, I am curious…what am I missing?

        • I think you are missing that those in the church should already know this and be doing this and clearly they are not. If people believe charity and giving needs to be done privately and not by any government program they should be meeting the need that would make that happen. We are discussing those who claim to follow Jesus but don’t do that by volunteering themselves AND don’t support the government programs that are in place. Which is also what the commentary above is about.

          • Sandi, I am so sorry if you’ve crossed paths with Christians that fit your description. I hope you don’t see all Christians that way (just like I hope you don’t lump all blacks or Muslims or Jews etc. into single categories). Whether it is a private Christian charity or a government program, can we agree that the list of needs enumerated by the author can’t possibly be met without direct, personal, hands-on engagement? Given this, are you ready to accept the author’s challenge (and my invitation) to roll up your sleeves and get involved with those in need? If you already volunteer, can you share something about your experience? How did it affect your opinion of charity and of government assistance? Did you meet anyone that said or did something that rocked your world?

            • You are good. Being a Christian, of course I do not “see all Christians that way” but I am honest about what I do see.

              I am not sure there are other categories for Christians but Christian but if you want to give me the list I will see who I think fits where.

              Why do you assume (as you keep hinting) that I or anyone else here is not already offering “direct, personal, hands-on engagement”?

              I think I am done “sharing” on this blog altogether. Too many Christians telling me how “not like them” they are.

              • Sandi, you wrote “Why do you assume (as you keep hinting) that I or anyone else here is not already offering “direct, personal, hands-on engagement”?

                Thanks for asking this question because I know hundreds of them who do this.

                Not sure what you mean by this, but please don’t leave. You are needed.

                “I think I am done “sharing” on this blog altogether. Too many Christians telling me how “not like them” they are.”

                • The exchange with him was precisely what I meant. This place is exhausting. And that is how they drive support away.

                  • Yes, it is exhausting. That is why most days I ignore the various trolls (as soon as I realize someone is one) and concentrate on reading what people such as yourself have to say.

                    I don’t believe I have the power to convince any troll of any thing. I believe only the Holy Spirit can do that and I pray every day that She illumines all of our minds and softens the hard heartedness of all of us.

                    But come to a differnt place, Sandi

                    One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Hard not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

                    There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

                    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


                  • Don’t leave. You make some good points. Just give people who disagree with you a little space and give them the benefit of the doubt. It won’t be so exhausting then. They are good people who mean well. And also allow for the possibility that sometimes you might be the one who is wrong.

                    Peace.

              • I had the same reaction to “what are you doing”. I would like to ask you not to leave, perhaps if we hang tough we can salvage this. You are needed and heeded. I understand if you don’t though. I think the same way several times every day and then I think, Damn they are not going to do this. Peace, Love and Resist.

            • Eric,

              Thank you for the good work you do and for being such a good example. You made the same point I tried unsuccessfully to make–to accept the challenge–“the call to action.” Instead it was used as an excuse to point fingers at other Christians for being hypocrites, etc. That’s sad, but perhaps your posts and your good example will inspire them (and me).

              • Thank you ACP! If you decide to dive in and volunteer, but are nervous about what to expect, I am happy to share my perspective on the joys and challenges of working with the elderly or the homeless. I can also give you suggestions on easing your way into this if it you find it all too intimidating.
                There are very tangible things you can do without stepping too far out of your comfort zone. And, of course, if you live in the Denver metro, I can hook you up directly.

        • You offer no evidence to support your allegations against John P’s words. Please provide them. As far as I am concerned yours is just one more accusatory voice against John. If I am incorrect, please demonstrate with actual evidence.

      • Will you allow people who join your group to make regular blurbs about their own groups and blogs, or will you consider that spamming?

  11. I guess I’m more exhausted by this ugly blog than most. There is only one person who has the ability to stop this and that is John P. And he refuses. It hurts me to say this but he is the only one responsible for this hatred. He only has to stop ONE man who posts under about 20 names to make it look like there is an army of people who agree with his hateful venom. Not true. One man. One man! And John P is obviously ok with this.

    He doesn’t read the comment? Then why have them?

    He doesn’t have to respond but he certainly should stop this or he’ll only have “Joe” and his many names to follow him. Monitor this, please. John P you know who he is. You can smell him. Everyone else can.

  12. Pingback: Today, Outside the Church Building – FairAndUNbalanced.com

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  14. My apologies to Sandi and anyone else I may have frustrated on this thread. All I am asking is that if you agree with the author’s post, please consider responding to his call to get involved. If you are confused about my motives, consider this thought experiment: If Mr. Pavlovitz and all the folks commenting on this thread (including me) agreed to get together on a regular interval to volunteer (as a team) to help the needy somewhere, the tone and content of the conversations between us would change dramatically over time, as would the way we treat each other. Mr. Pavlovitz cast a light on some unmet needs in our society, and is calling out to Christians to get involved. I agree with his call, but this is not just a Christian issue. It’s a humanity issue. Therefore I am inviting the author and all the commentators on this thread (who may not already be volunteering, regardless of religious background), to respond to Mr. Pavlovitz’ call. Equally powerful will be for those already volunteering to share stories from your experience to inspire others to do the same. My concern with threads like this is all the bickering and finger-pointing does not lead to anything good. We have the power to change all that. Responding to Mr. Pavlovitz call to get involved would lead to much good for all involved. Fair enough?

    • Eric, yes that is fair. Thank you for speaking up. It took courage– even though some, in a knee jerk reaction, misunderstood what you were saying. Thank you for your persistence.

    • Eric S continues to imply that commenting on a discussion board is somehow not “answering the call” as he puts it.

      Believe it or not, people can do more than one thing at a time. You, for instance seem to be able to drag yourself away from your sacrifice in service to comment and follow conversations here…

      People here, myself included, may well live all over the world much less the US so “getting together” is confined to this blog unless someone here is wealthy and offers to fly us all around. You mention you are in the Denver area, but I am sure many of us are on the east coast with Reverend Pavlovitz.

      How I volunteer my time and money is really not your business and will you accept it if I say I do both to the best of my ability? Or will you next insist on proof? You are starting a slippery slope.

      Sure I can tell you about taking some furniture to a family and seeing their tearful gratitude. Sure I can tell you about letting a driver who hit me from behind go without calling the police. Sure I can tell you about our food bank donations. Sure I can tell you I do not take a tax deduction for my donations. Sure I can tell you about the organizations I donate money too. Sure I can tell you how I help people who come in my path and need some human kindness. Sure I can tell you about a lot of the efforts I have made and still make, but to what end?

      Does that mean I cannot have and express the opinion that the Catholic Church (and others) storing up riches on earth as so many suffer is an obscene interpretation of service? Does that mean that I cannot notice those who deny and decry the poor as “lazy” and “bringing it on themselves” even among fellow Christians? Does that mean I should not notice those who claim to follow Jesus voting for politicians who promise to take from the programs that help “the least of these” while promising to build more nuclear weapons? Does that mean I should ignore those who preach and decry abortion only trying to stop it by legal decree rather than supporting women, children and education?

      You keep issuing this challenge as if you are implying we are not doing our part with absolutely no evidence to base that on. Why do you feel the need to talk about your own good works or ask about those of others? Is that an instruction from the Bible?

      • Good comment. I was taught to do your deeds quietly so that the people you are helping don’t lose their dignity. I also seem to remember something about not boasting. Could be wrong.

        • Having been at this blogging thing for so long, I can tell the difference in a welcome to the effort and an effort to shame and silence. I am not too familiar with Denver but I am sure the churches there have hypocrites and “Pharisees” too. Many want Reverend Pavlovitz to stop. I hope he does not.

          • I hope John P doesn’t either. He is a sane, bright spot in a dark insane world right now. I like how you handle ACP and the others. After I read your posts I think “yup, that’s what I mean”. So thank you and keep on. Peace, Love and Resist

      • It’s wonderful that you did those acts of kindness, but you didn’t need to slam a very generous Catholic Church in the process.

  15. Sandi, thank for your honesty, and for all that you are doing, which I do not doubt is the best you can do. I applaud you and invite others to do the same. I am not judging anyone for their level of outreach, but the author sure did, and he did so very strongly (which you disagree with…none of his business, right?). I, too, wish more people were more directly engaged (and that I could also be more engaged). Mr. Pavlovitz’ post was not about the Catholic church storing up riches, and it wasn’t about giving to charity or funding government programs. It was about doing the hard work of caring, directly, for those in need. For me, the most life-giving comments on this post would be how people are already taking action (as you did…thank you), or were inspired to take action, getting their hands dirty in hands-on outreach, how it affected them, how we could improve it, and how we could invite more people to join us in meeting the long list of needs the author mentioned, including debates on the effectiveness of various programs to help the needy, based on directly witnessing what works and what does not, etc.. You and I will probably never agree on whether unrelated doctrinal bickering (as we’ve seen in these comments) helps to further the author’s call to action. I am not trying to minimize how important your perspective (or that of any other commentator) may be…I engage in and respect good doctrinal debates, and you come across as a caring and respectful debater (with an edge…I respect that). But that’s not the topic of this post. I fully respect your choice to bring up any topic you chose. I hope you likewise respect my effort to steer the conversation back to the original post…which just happens to be on a topic that I (and Mr. Pavlovitz) care a great deal about. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…” (Luke 10:2).

    • Absolutely “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…” Which is another reason why Christians fighting against government programs to help the poor, elderly, disabled, imprisoned, immigrant, and refugee makes absolutely no sense.

      The work is immense! The need is overwhelming! The pain is real. And whether we want to admit it or not, the church as a body is not meeting the need. My tiny church, where 32 is a big attendance Sunday, does much in our community including offering a food bank with supper once a month, community suppers several times a year, funeral and celebration dinners, a clothes closet, a prayer bead gift at the cancer center, on top of the individual ways many find to serve and show love, BUT the Trump voters will still stand and tell you government should not be running programs and tell you how bad immigrants and refugees are, how lazy many “on welfare” are and how hard it is to deal with “modern issues” (gays and Muslims) and even how they don’t much care for “women preachers”. So to the good Reverend’s point, many so called Christians are missing the very message they receive in that building and are not taking it outside with them. If that is too hard for you to admit, you are not alone.

      • Amen, unfortunately I have heard those arguments for 40+ years, I hope people wake up soon to reality. Thanks for your comment.

  16. Bravo Sandi! I will add, once again, that this is not someone else’s problem. This is OUR problem. This message has been there not for 40 but for over 2000 years…this is nothing new. We did not get here because our politicians (or fellow voters) have failed us. They couldn’t solve this back then, and can’t solve this now. We got here because our communities (including the church) are not doing enough. If our respective churches (or community groups) are not addressing the list of needs listed by Mr. Pavlovitz above (government programs can never address most of those issues), we need to ask our pastors (or community leaders) how we can help start an outreach program in our own church (or community) that does.

    If our churches or community groups are not bringing the downtrodden directly into our communities, and the needy are not worshiping from the seat next to us or participating in community activities with us, we need to ask why, and figure out what we need to do differently. Sandi, my church was about the size of your church when we started our outreach program. Even the tiniest of churches can make a HUGE difference in the community, and your little church will grow significantly if you keep up your focus on outreach. I am confident this is why my church has grown to the point that we can provide the services we provide. Our emphasis on outreach has probably also helped us attract outreach-minded people, which has been a huge blessing in itself. Keep up the great work!

    Does my church have the same problems as every other church, where some prefer to remain hands-off outside of Sunday service? Of course! And I am just as guilty as the next guy for treating this problem as “out of sight, out of mind”, as I rest in the comfort of my safe home while others sleep in the snow on the streets. This post has convicted me to re-engage, and with greater vigor.

    I have found it is much more effective to strive to solve the problem directly rather than blame others. If any of you have a pastor or community leader that is struggling to get such an outreach program started, or struggling to get volunteers from your church or your community engaged, please put them in contact with my pastor (or with me) and we can share our experience, what works, what doesn’t, the joys and the challenges, and hopefully set you up for success. Likewise, if your church or community group is doing something amazing that my church can learn from, please share! The change Mr. Pavlovitz seeks starts with us. Let’s do this!

  17. BTW: We still have a number of issues we are unable to get past that I am wondering if any of you have solved. In particular, a sizable amount of the growth of our church (and outreach) has come from the “once-homeless” community. As part of our inward-facing ministries, we have set up “life-groups” which are smaller groups that meet outside of church time for community building, fellowship and bible study. Many of our regular members are part of these life-groups. The problem is our church community is geographically diverse, meaning the life groups tend to be formed by shared geography, such that some of our members of limited means who don’t have a car, and may not have public transit options, may not feel there is a good life-group option for them.
    Only one life group (the one I belong to) is central and meets at the church, but my life group’s emphasis is on support of adoptive families (as such, all the members have adopted children). Our central group is not a good fit for those that live near the church (except those who have adopted kids!). Have you guys run into this, and how have you solved it? Any thoughts? Should we ask the other life-group members to chip in on an Uber to get remote members in? And wow should we message this out to the church community respectfully? Ideas are welcome!

    • Eric– you are awesome and inspiring and you made my day . Growth of a church is not measured in numbers rather by it’s love and outreach to a broken world. Do the outreach not to bolster attendance but to serve those who don’t or can’t make it to church. Have church in the places where there are no churches.

      Have you ever heard of under the bridge ministries ? Or lost sheep ministries? A conservative friend told me about one in her area and there are in many places across the country. Rather than bringing people to your church bring the church to people.

      🙂

      • Thank you for the kind words, Kathy! But please don’t give me the credit (read on to see why). I am not familiar with those ministries, but I will certainly look to them to see if we have some synergies. It does not look like Under the Bridge operates in Colorado, but Lost Sheep does.

        Here is why I don’t deserve any credit. When we started this ministry, we had no idea how it was going to grow. But something wonderful happened that we had not anticipated. As we were able to help folks get off the street, the once-homeless folks have become a sizable group in our church membership. These folks maintain strong connections to the homeless community from which they came. It is an amazingly powerful place to minister from, as some of these same folks now volunteer in our outreach. These wonderful people have some serious street cred, while being living examples of hope, as most if not all have conquered serious addiction (by the grace of God and with the help of a supporting and nurturing community) to finally liberate themselves from living on the street. I am in awe of the bravery, dedication and strength it must take to lift oneself up from such a low place.

        It brings tears to my eyes (in a good way) when I get the chance to work side-by-side with these amazing folks as we minister to folks still struggling to make it through each day on the street. We encourage as we can, hoping and praying we can get just one more of these folks off the street. And it breaks the heart when someone falls back to what put them on the street in the first place (that’s rare, thankfully).

        I so wish everyone could come and be part of this. Our volunteers (regardless of background or religious affiliation) extend complete respect to the needy, providing dignity to even the lowliest of these. All of my kids (10-17) serve, and now love to serve. They don’t fear homeless, poor or elderly people…rather they are able to see the beauty in each person they serve…to extend the love and respect each deserve. Meanwhile, their young hearts hurt knowing most of the folks they are serving woke up on the street that very morning. This ministry has flourished primarily because of the folks who came from the street that now provide the “anchor” of this ministry. I am a but a very small player in this (but strive to be an even bigger player, thanks to the author’s call to action).

  18. I met a kind lady yesterday who drove a friend in for lunch and to get groceries from our church pantry. She has a heart for providing comfort for the homeless in the form of a shelter. While there are many homeless shelters in downtown Denver, the homeless we serve in our church area do not have local options. Has anyone on this thread been involved in starting up a shelter, and if so, are there folks we can talk to who specialize in kick-starting a shelter ministry? Our church does not have a facility capable of providing this level of service, and I would like to learn more about what it takes and who we might partner with. Does anyone on this thread have any experience with this? Thank you for any information you can provide! Note: I will look into Lost Sheep to see what they can provide as well. Thanks!

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