Posted tagged ‘criticism’

Yelping The Church

July 1, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    June 30, 2019

 

My wife is a “yelpster”! She uses Yelp to see what people have said about restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, and businesses. On vacation we choose the eating establishment on the basis of what the Yelp reviews tell us. Sometimes we’ve been thankful for what the review has said and we’ve experienced. Other times we’ve wondered if the reviewer was at a different restaurant than the one we went to.

It’s amazing how one customer can talk about a restaurant in such glowing terms and another person can give a review that makes it less appealing than the school cafeteria. One gives it five stars and the other one star. Amazing the difference!

I noticed that people can now give church reviews on Yelp. The Bible refers to the followers of Jesus being “the salt of the earth”, but a person needs to take the Yelp church reviews with a grain of salt. One review talks about how friendly and welcoming a church is and that they have coffee and snacks available. Another talks about the biblical application to everyday living that the sermon emphasized. Still another talked about how great the music was, almost like being at a concert.

OR there were reviews that criticized the music, trashed the sermon, made fun of the pastor, lambasted the greeters for not greeting. And these were reviews of the same churches where reviewers had experienced almost divine encounters. 

Yelp is the new proclaimer! So when you invite your new neighbors to come to Sunday worship with you they may very well say that they will talk it over and get back to you…and then bring your church up on Yelp for the decision. (Church strategy: Have its members flood Yelp with great reviews!)

Here’s the thing! Yelp is all about the customer…where she can get the best service, where the best steak is served, where a trustworthy mechanic is located…it’s all about the buyer, the customer. How many times can I write that word…customer?

The church is all about the Christ. For many of us our “custom” has been to worship on Sunday morning as a part of a congregation where the name of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and worshiped. That’s our custom, but we aren’t customers.

It’s a sign of how the proclamation of the gospel has been altered when we get the idea that we’re looking for the best deal, the best music, the greatest preacher.

I get murmurings and open admissions from so many people- followers of Jesus, mind you- who talk about swapping churches, changing churches, trying a different church, as if they are changing their bed linens. There’s no connecting commitment, no sense of being a part of a spiritual community. In fact, “community” is seen more and more as existing in other places and other groups- the school they teach at, their softball team, the Starbucks they hang out at, the folks they watch the football game with. 

Perhaps Yelp is just another analyzing method for showing what the church no longer is. 

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

December 9, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   December 9, 2018

NOTE: My friend, Jim Newsome, that I wrote my November 25 blog post about, entitled “Sitting Bedside With Someone Awaiting Glory”, went on to glory on November 30. Jim lived by the title of today’s blog.  

                               

I’m sure you’ve noticed it. People in all walks and occupations of life seem to find it easier to say something negative, critical, or unkind much more than they can speak words of affirmation and positivity. 

Social media has made it easy to be mean spirited. Schools now do presentations to their students about “cyber-bullying”! School counselors now counsel students who have been bullied in text messages and had cell phone videos of them being pranked going viral. 

Recently The Today Show had a feature about celebrities who have been ridiculed because of such things as having their picture taken without makeup on (Julia Roberts), looking too muscular (Serena Williams),  and looking too much toned body-wise a week after giving birth (Jana Kramer). 

Let’s face it! If Jesus suddenly showed up at a wedding reception that was running low on wine and touched a few water glasses there would be people today who would criticize it. One of my old seminary professors, David Augsburger, wrote that when two people meet there is a natural tendency to try for “one-upsmanship”, the longing to feel more superior or important than the other person. With social media that tendency has been amplified. Being mean-spirited seems to be thought of as a way to climb up the pecking order. 

It’s a complicated web of actions and verbiage, all linked to the tendency to want to be seen as being more important than someone else. Today you will see NFL players score a touchdown and strut as if the six points they just scored is on the same plane with discovering a cure for cancer. A defensive backs will break up a pass and glare at the receiver as a non-verbal way of telling him he’s weak and no match for the DB’s skills. 70,000 people will applaud his antics!

Saying something nice about someone or doing something nice for someone raises that  person up…and there are some who are threatened that such an elevation will bring them down a notch.

The thing is…we get reputations! And those reputations are well-deserved. There are people, who when their names are mentioned, bring a smile to my face…and there are other folk whose name brings a taste to my soul like spoiled milk!

A lot of us don’t think about that before we tweet! Spoiling rather than sweetening defines us!

Saying Dumb Things

March 18, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    March 18, 2014

 

                                       “Saying Dumb Things”

 

I am a man!

That means that I often don’t think about what I say until the verbage has left my lips. I wonder if James had just said a dumb thing right before he wrote “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19) Had he just made a comment to his wife…if he was married…about the chicken being too dry or the rice not cooked enough?

I notice he addressed the words to a bunch of guys. There were probably some heading that were nodding in agreement as they read it.

I remember one time in college I had a first date with a fine young lady. I was trying to impress her with flattery about her physical features (never a good thing to do on a first date…especially at a Christian college!), so I made the comment that she was lean in some places and not as lean in others. I can still remember saying that dumb thing outside of Volkman Hall on campus. James was not speaking quick enough to my inner hearing. I didn’t hear him saying “Be slow to speak” quick enough. In the Amplified First Date Version that verse says “Better sometimes not to speak at all..especially when talking about physical features!”

Needles to say my date thought I was saying she was lean in the wrong places and not lean also in the wrong places. My hope of a second date was about as possible as Weber State’s running the NCAA basketball tournament table.

We all say dumb things, but really dumb things stay in our memory storage facility for a long time. For me in that situation, that means…40 years now!

Some might say that God led my lips to say such idiotic words in order to guide me to my future wife as a result of closed doors in other directions.

That’s almost as dumb!

Last Sunday in church I told the congregation that Carol ands I were going to vacation, but I didn’t want to say where we were going. My reason was that it was a warm spot with beaches and I didn’t want to look to uppity!

Dumb!

And then in my message I was talking about the teachers of the law questioning the authority of Jesus because he didn’t have the credentials. I equated it to what the church will have to decide on what is important the next time they do a pastoral search. How important are credentials? I was focused on the questioning of Jesus.

The congregation, however, was questioning where i was going on vacation and what I would be doing. They were thinking there was a reason I was talking about the next search for a pastor and not telling them where I would be vacating to!

Wow! James was whispering too slow to me again!

Dumb.

I think dumb words stay with us longer than words of wisdom. One of our young guys was telling me about something I said in a message a few months ago and how it impacted him. I can’t remember the message and the words. Evidently I had a fit of wisdom that invaded lack of forethought comments.

I wish those times would rise back to the surface more often than they do. They are like the cream. Dumb things said are like the sour milk. Open a refrigerator and it’s the sour milk that hits your nose a lot sooner than the cream.

Last week I was coaching a basketball game and I was pretty critical of one of my players. He made a couple of mistakes that cost us baskets in the midst of a tight game. My words defeated his spirit more than awaken his intensity. Yesterday I intentionally found ways to affirm him in the midst of the game…his defensive intensity…his decisions…and his level of play went way up.

Sometimes dumb things said cause damage in ways that are hard to recover from.

Since I’m six weeks shy of sixty I’m a little better at saying things now than I was as a pimply-faced college student…but I still have those moments when things exit my mouth and head directly towards “Trouble!”

Before Carol and I leave on vacation I’ll be able to tell our senior’s Bible study group, appropriately named “The Ageless Wonders”, that we’re going to a resort located on a beach. They will get the word out that the pastor of the past fifteen years is not being interviewed in another town by another church.

Most will be relieved. Perhaps a few will mumble “Shucks!”