Monday, January 30, 2012

for the quiet ones

some time ago, there was a thread with that asked why people who hadn't posted in a while and/or lurked did so. this may be a little late, but for those who have been more quiet of late, why have you been less vocal? if this blog were to continue, or with any future incarnations, what could change to help you find a voice here?

25 Comments:

Blogger bill Sloat said...

walt,

From my experience, the Lord created the majority of human beings to be introverts. Some people learn best by putting thoughts into words. Most, however, learn best by listening.

I agree that it is important to ask people how the expression of their thoughts to others can be facilitated. However, most will still want to watch and listen.

And, that'd be okay.

1/31/2012 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walt,
To answer your first question, the reason I have not posted on this blog recently is due to a crisis of conscience. I admire Brian Miller for creating this blog and I believe his intended purpose for it was good and continues to be good. He is a good man. However, I feel that this blog has veered from its original purpose and has turned into a place for people to unleash venomous rants against the Churches of God, General Conference. A good bit of what I read on here consists of what I would call a “venomous theological cesspool” and I will have no part of it.
Some people commenting on this blog are portraying the Churches of God as a totally-defunct organization whose leaders have sinister intentions. Now I must say that there are some things I disagree with in our denomination and I would like to see those things change. But to say that this denomination is 100% “in the tank” – well that’s PREPOSTEROUS! Do you “nay-sayers” out there read the Missionary Signal? Have you read about our emerging Conferences in Kenya, Venezuela and now the Dominican Republic? Are you aware that the New Beginnings Church in the MRC had a hand in the new work in the Dominican Republic? Are you aware of the Latino Ministries led by Pastors Caleb and Christina Acosta which is an amazing ministry to Latino people in Central Pennsylvania? What about Rod Runyan’s work with migrant workers in the Frutibelt Farmworkers? Have you followed what’s going on in Haiti through the hospital at Pierre Payen since the earthquake? Do you follow what God is doing in our other more-established cross cultural ministries (for example, Everett Teller reports of numerous conversions and baptisms in Tsaile, AZ)? On the home front with our traditional American-based ministries, are you aware of the Sent NE Northeast Church planting network in New England? What about the cluster of congregations forming in North Carolina? Did you know that the Latrobe congregation (ARC) and New Providence Church (ERC) have launched off-campus satellite congregations to reach a new demographic? Have you read about Pastor Derrick’s unique ministry in Kansas City, MO? What about the national renewed interest in church planting? Is the MLI all for nothing?
So, all of you ranters and ravers out there – let me ask you this: If you do think that the Churches of God is defunct in almost all areas, why do you NEVER speak of the good things God is doing through us? Even if you believe that the CGGC is 95% defunct and 5% on the right track, why do you never mention the 5%? You people probably have one of two problems (or a little of both): 1) You have experienced some sort of hurt and bitterness and you are refusing to do the godly thing and forgive a person or even a situation; 2) You have a wickedly-salacious desire to spread bad news and gossip just like much of the national news media.
Walt, to answer your second question, I would love to participate in a future blog. I would prefer one that focuses on putting our denomination as the primary focus and the latest trends in contemporary Christianity second (like emerging church, missional, etc.). I plan to participate, if I am invited to do so, on a future blog. But if it turns out to be a “venomous theological cesspool” then I will have no part of it.
God bless the Churches of God – may she continue to move forward with kingdom work with our without a blog, and may she CERTAINLY move forward in spite of her detractors.

-George C. Jensen, Lead Pastor
Enola First Church of God, ERC
Enola, PA

1/31/2012 9:29 AM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

George,

Did you ever receive my email reply from awhile back? If not, I can resend.

Brent

1/31/2012 10:22 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Bill,

Statistics show that 60 to 75% of the population are in fact extroverts. Introverts often find that fact surprising.

George,

Thanks for the kind words. I agree with the assessment that the work of the blog is not currently helpful to the overall situation of the denomination, and that finding another way to bring prophetic voices into the mix is necessary.

1/31/2012 11:06 AM  
Blogger Dan Masshardt said...

I don't expect it, but I'd like to here from some others too.

1/31/2012 12:20 PM  
Blogger ps1226 said...

I have seldom writen to the blog. My concerns are that of theological purity from a biblical perspective. I struggle with partisipating in conversation that deminish or detract from the foundational truths of scripture. I am slightly to the right of Moses and make no appology for being there. Call me what you will: conservative, fundamentalist, right wing but call me Biblical. When the discussion is about giving a reason for the hope in us I want to partisipate. I love advanced appologetics and theological discussion. Iron sharpening Iron.
GEORGE,
Love you and appreciate you but if the basket is full of bad apples, I am not saying it is, but if so lets get the bad apples out before the basket is in total ruin. I am sure those in high position feel that is what they did with me. So be it. But how do you justify, Pastors living below poverty level while having an office staff of 7? with most above 30K? in an office with a cost of who really knows how much? I have no idea how we call ourselves Biblical when the sheep lead the shepherds as if they are hirlings. I really no longer have a dog in the fight which is why you did not and will not see me at Doubling Gap. I truely hope and pray you are right. Only time will Tell. All will stand before the Bema and give an answer to the one who knows for what is done.
BILL,
Appreciate your mind and our discussions. Also appreciate your tolerance of my opposition from time to time. Hope to keep in touch with all before heaven.
As to those I have not met or had opportunity for discussion. Our prayers are with you. Shalom

1/31/2012 2:50 PM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Brian: "Statistics show that 60 to 75% of the population are in fact extroverts. Introverts often find that fact surprising."

Interesting. I'd love to know where those stats come from.

The last DISC seminar I attended, suggested that the largest part of the population falls into the S category--the most introverted of the introverted.

Studies, studies, studies.

2/01/2012 9:13 AM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Stan,

I am slightly to the right of Moses and make no appology for being there.

I think you are misrepresenting Moses. As I pointed out, based on the John Winebrenner's founding vision for the Church of God and the CGGC Mission Statement which reclaims that vision, you are quite the modernist.

Call me what you will: conservative, fundamentalist, right wing but call me Biblical.

I might call you fundamentalist, but in the Church of God world, that is also progressive.

In any event, the body needs people as gifted and as in love with the Lord as you are to be indefatigable in calling its people to live lives that produce the fruit of repentance.

2/01/2012 9:21 AM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/01/2012 10:33 AM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/01/2012 10:40 AM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Part 1

"So, all of you ranters and ravers out there – let me ask you this: If you do think that the Churches of God is defunct in almost all areas, why do you NEVER speak of the good things God is doing through us? Even if you believe that the CGGC is 95% defunct and 5% on the right track, why do you never mention the 5%? You people probably have one of two problems (or a little of both): 1) You have experienced some sort of hurt and bitterness and you are refusing to do the godly thing and forgive a person or even a situation; 2) You have a So, all of you ranters and ravers out there – let me ask you this: If you do think that the Churches of God is defunct in almost all areas, why do you NEVER speak of the good things God is doing through us? Even if you believe that the CGGC is 95% defunct and 5% on the right track, why do you never mention the 5%? You people probably have one of two problems (or a little of both): 1) You have experienced some sort of hurt and bitterness and you are refusing to do the godly thing and forgive a person or even a situation; 2) You have a wickedly-salacious desire to spread bad news and gossip just like much of the national news media."--George Jensen

George,

Thank you for that courageous paragraph, one that I am sure speaks for many, many people in the CGGC. I will respond from our history.

First, though, I have a few comments about what you actually said.

1. As far as I can tell based on my reading of this blog, no one here has ever suggested, as you say, that "the Churches of God is defunct in almost all areas."

2. You attribute the opinion of the 'ranters' to such things as being emotionally distraught, being unwilling to forgive or to possessing a "wickedly-salacious desire to spread bad news and gossip just like much of the national news media?"

Heavy stuff, George.

I can only imagine that when you think of me, those are the adjectives that come to your mind, my brother and that saddens me. It is, however, par for a course I have been playing on for more than four decades.

What you have written articulates very clearly something that I began to observe when I attended my first East Pennsylvania Conference in 1976, i.e., there is a counter culture in the Churches of God and that those in the prevailing leadership culture don't know what to do with it and that, ultimately, those in leadership are angry that the counter culture exists and even more angry about what the counter culture stands for.

2/01/2012 12:12 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I'm going to step in.

This is one day after the blog was to end.

This is NOT going to be the moment to have an explosive conversation.

The blog currently exists for transition.

2/01/2012 12:27 PM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Part 2

In my many years in this body, I begrudgingly, came to admire the counter culture. While those people were mocked, belittled and ignored, they were tenatious.

And, more importantly, what the counter culture stood for in those early days, history has affirmed. In the early days, they said to the prevailing culture:

1. The seminary is too liberal.
2. It doesn't prepare its students for ministry well.
3. The Churches of God has diminshed the authority of Scripture.
4. And, the Churches of God has, itself, become too liberal.

Looking back into the mid 70s, few would argue that the counter culture was correct on all points.

I confess to being embarrassed for the outsiders in the past in the past. I confess to cringing when one of them had the audacity to speak up on the Conference floor. I confess to wanting to be accepted by the in-crowd. I confess to thinking that they were all:

-Seeing the Churches of God as 'defunct.'
-Emotionally defective.
-Lacking in the ability to forgive.
-And, able to think only bad things about our body.

Just as you yourself have just done, George.

But, in time, I realized that the counter culture had it more right than leadership had it. That was a hard pill to swallow!

2/01/2012 12:41 PM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

Brian,

If you are referring to my comments, my goal was not to ignite another "controversial/not to be resolved on this blog" conversation.

2/01/2012 12:43 PM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Part 3

I described your paragraph as courageous, George, because your paragraph is the most honest, public airing of the prevailing culture's sentiments as I have ever encountered.

Oh, I've heard people whisper those things or say them loudly and proudly behind a closed door in a Commission setting. But, never has anyone come public with them as you have. You are a rare man, George. You have a transparency about you that can only come from His Spirit. Despite what you obviously think of me, I admire and love you.

As far as I can tell, the big picture view of the CGGC today is not pretty.

I hang out with Church Planters and I know that much of the rosey evidence you present reflects a part of our reality.

But, you and I know that many of our congregations lack spiritual vitality. We know that few of our congregations are kingdom-focused in ministry. We know that many are declining numerically. We know that too many of them are on the verge of closing.

We know that we've been stymied in our attempts to articulate a contemporary Doctrinal Statement since we began to attempt to what? five years ago?

We know that the Credentials proposal that was presented at the 010 General Conference recieved strenuous opposition and could only be passed with the promise that something better would be presented in three years.

You probably know as well as I that many of the people invited to participate in MLI have declined the opportunity. (I am right, aren't I, that our own Region's leadership has found better things to do?)

2/01/2012 12:45 PM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Part 4, Sorry Gang:

What I have learned over the past 45 years is that, all of that time, there has been an active counter culture in our body.

I've reached two conclusions about that counter culture.

1. Those people, not the people in Conference offices and on the Commissions, are the people who have gotten big things right. (And, I know that you personally agree with them historically.)

2. People in leadership have and do still dismiss those people out of hand. And, they do it with the sentiments you've just put into writing.

Counter culture people are seen by prevailing leadership culture people as ignoring the good things that are going on as if those good things are the only things going on.

They have always been described with adjectives like 'ranters' and 'ravers' and, sometimes, 'wicked.' I've heard it over and over again.

They are regarded as being emotionally defective. (How demeaning and disrespectful!)

Evil motives are ascribed to them.

And, their constructive criticism is considered to be nothing more than destructive gossip.

Things are no different today than they were on the first day I was given a glimpse into the inner circle.

But, I will remind you of the lesson of history. It was the counter culture whom, today, you and I agree with, George!

I've been on staff at the seminary. My wife has been on General Conference staff. I have done the Commission member thing. I won't attempt to characterize the conversations that take place in those circles other than to say that they always have had the best future of the church at their core.

You, on the otheer hand, describe what those of us in the counter culture say on this blog as a “venomous theological cesspool.”

And, when you say, "I will have ho part of it," you stand in a long tradition that has characterized CGGC leaders--a tradition I've witnessed for 45 years.

But, I encourage you to consider the lessons of history. As long as you think what you think about us, the Churches of God will continue to be what it has been--a divided body because the divisiveness come from the inside out, not the other way around.

Your paragraph is courageous. It says, in a fairly public setting, what I've only known to be said in secret. But, unless the attitude it describes is repented of, I believe we are in for more dark days.

I love you, brother. I don't consider YOU are ranter or a raver, nor do I consider you wicked.

2/01/2012 12:46 PM  
Blogger walt said...

bill et al,
as brian said, this is no longer the place nor the time to have that discussion. george was answering a question i asked, as a means to help finalize some things on the new forum. i think that that is a conversation worth having, but not here, not now. as brian said, this is now for transition only. respect his grace.

2/01/2012 6:18 PM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

walt,

I understand that we are in amoment of transition.

However, George's paragraph was so historically signficant to me, that I need to give it it's due.

2/02/2012 9:04 AM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Gang,

In order to preserve George's note for posterity for those who get the emails, I'm copying it and posting it under my name.

Presumably because he posted anonymously, I didn't get it.

bill

-----------------

To answer your first question, the reason I have not posted on this blog recently is due to a crisis of conscience. I admire Brian Miller for creating this blog and I believe his intended purpose for it was good and continues to be good. He is a good man. However, I feel that this blog has veered from its original purpose and has turned into a place for people to unleash venomous rants against the Churches of God, General Conference. A good bit of what I read on here consists of what I would call a “venomous theological cesspool” and I will have no part of it.
Some people commenting on this blog are portraying the Churches of God as a totally-defunct organization whose leaders have sinister intentions. Now I must say that there are some things I disagree with in our denomination and I would like to see those things change. But to say that this denomination is 100% “in the tank” – well that’s PREPOSTEROUS! Do you “nay-sayers” out there read the Missionary Signal? Have you read about our emerging Conferences in Kenya, Venezuela and now the Dominican Republic? Are you aware that the New Beginnings Church in the MRC had a hand in the new work in the Dominican Republic? Are you aware of the Latino Ministries led by Pastors Caleb and Christina Acosta which is an amazing ministry to Latino people in Central Pennsylvania? What about Rod Runyan’s work with migrant workers in the Frutibelt Farmworkers? Have you followed what’s going on in Haiti through the hospital at Pierre Payen since the earthquake? Do you follow what God is doing in our other more-established cross cultural ministries (for example, Everett Teller reports of numerous conversions and baptisms in Tsaile, AZ)? On the home front with our traditional American-based ministries, are you aware of the Sent NE Northeast Church planting network in New England? What about the cluster of congregations forming in North Carolina? Did you know that the Latrobe congregation (ARC) and New Providence Church (ERC) have launched off-campus satellite congregations to reach a new demographic? Have you read about Pastor Derrick’s unique ministry in Kansas City, MO? What about the national renewed interest in church planting? Is the MLI all for nothing?
So, all of you ranters and ravers out there – let me ask you this: If you do think that the Churches of God is defunct in almost all areas, why do you NEVER speak of the good things God is doing through us? Even if you believe that the CGGC is 95% defunct and 5% on the right track, why do you never mention the 5%? You people probably have one of two problems (or a little of both): 1) You have experienced some sort of hurt and bitterness and you are refusing to do the godly thing and forgive a person or even a situation; 2) You have a wickedly-salacious desire to spread bad news and gossip just like much of the national news media.
Walt, to answer your second question, I would love to participate in a future blog. I would prefer one that focuses on putting our denomination as the primary focus and the latest trends in contemporary Christianity second (like emerging church, missional, etc.). I plan to participate, if I am invited to do so, on a future blog. But if it turns out to be a “venomous theological cesspool” then I will have no part of it.
God bless the Churches of God – may she continue to move forward with kingdom work with our without a blog, and may she CERTAINLY move forward in spite of her detractors.

-George C. Jensen, Lead Pastor
Enola First Church of God, ERC
Enola, PA

2/03/2012 9:56 AM  
Blogger Fran Leeman said...

I don't know what the plan is for a future blog, if any. I have enjoyed participating in this one when time has allowed. I do agree with Brian's assessment that it does not seem to be a positive force helping to move us, as a denomination, forward anymore (though I think at one time it was). I agree with Bill that the "counter culture" has met with resistance and that we still need change. I also agree with George that the blog has had a predominantly negative tone for some time. I also think its conversations have become increasingly meandering. My prayer for all of us is that we would grow deeper, not just in the realm of convictions and ideals, but in actual union with Christ, who is our life, who has brought us into the new creation. May we know the depth and breadth of his love, and know how to walk after him in the Spirit.

2/05/2012 4:32 PM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Fran:

I also agree with George that the blog has had a predominantly negative tone for some time.

It has, no doubt, contained numerous calls for repentance from me. It's hard for one to call for repentance be be perky at the same time. At least it was for Elijah, Jeremiah and John the B..

My prayer for all of us is that we would grow deeper, not just in the realm of convictions and ideals, but in actual union with Christ, who is our life, who has brought us into the new creation. May we know the depth and breadth of his love, and know how to walk after him in the Spirit.

Amen.

2/06/2012 10:27 AM  
Blogger Dan Masshardt said...

What bill does has a 'negative' feel, but I don't blame him for that.

bill does what he feels the Lord has put on him to do and say.

But because he has been the one doing much of the posting, the blog has been someone driven by bill's posts.

A big part of the problem is that the rest of us haven't been posting much at all. Many of us comment, but less often begin discussions.

There are exceptions even here as bill has posted about mission and his congregation's efforts to live life the way Jesus commands.

There are, of course, some other exceptions - Brent's posts on adoption for example - of items that it would be hard to construe as being negative.

2/06/2012 10:40 AM  
Blogger bill Sloat said...

Thanks, M.

I make no apologies for functioning in what I believe to be my prophetic call any where, any time and any place I can. It's a prophet's version of Paul's 'I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I may save some' thing.

It does chagrin me that by using the blog as a place to call the church to repentance, that some seem to have chosen to leave the blog. This is a problem for prophets and for the people to whom God calls them in all times and places where the people are God need to repent. Few want to repent and few want to be called to do.

And, you are correct that I often post things other than a call to repent. It seems to me that few are also interested in discussing
Sheep and Goats discipleship.

2/06/2012 10:59 AM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

Don't confuse the form of the discussion with the content of the discussion. The conversations on this blog are not the same as conversations face to face. These conversations are important, but even when about similar topics, are different from face to face discussions.

Don't panic that some have backed away from this blog. Is it possible that the CGGC is in great trouble, perhaps. But don't equate a lack of participation on this blog directly to that concern.

The lack of participation shouldn't raise deep concerns about the state of the CGGC. The lack of participation should raise deep concerns about the quality and potential for online discussions.

2/06/2012 11:12 AM  
Blogger Brent C Sleasman said...

Thanks, Brian, for all your work on this blog.

2/06/2012 8:55 PM  

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