Eliza Pirosca Warden is a Romanian singer, musician and composer whom I first met in Romania in 2008. Seven years later, I hosted her at my first multicultural church and organized a tour for her to play at a few of the Romanian Baptist churches in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I've posted about Eliza before.

Since the quarantine began, Eliza has been regularly organizing musical performances on her front lawn for the community, and has recently written a song in English, "Remember Me, O God," based on Psalm 57. Lyrics below:

Remember me, O God, come to my rescue,

From death and loneliness I cry out!

Your faithfulness and love, send them from Heaven,

Fulfill Your perfect purpose for my soul.

In the midst of suffering and destruction,

I choose to trust that You are the Lord,

And when my heart is surrounded by my enemies,

I set my eyes on your unending love.

In the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge,

Till the sorrow and the fear pass away.

To You, Lord, I will give thanks among the nations,

I will awake the dawn to bless Your name.

My soul was downcast and my strength was waning,

My Lord and my Redeemer heard my cry,

His strong Hand brought me in His House of Freedom!

Praise and Glory be to God most high!

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I've posted about the work of Maverick City Music three times before. And they recently released a new song with powerful lyrics. Written by Naomi Raine, Alton Eugene, and Benji Cowart, it is cleverly titled "The Story I'll Tell." Lyrics below:

The hour is dark and it’s hard to see

What you are doin’ here in the ruins

And where this will lead

Oh but I know that down through the years,

I’ll look on this moment, see your hand on it

And know you were here

And I’ll testify of the battles you’ve won

How you were my portion when there wasn’t enough

I'll sing a song of the seas that we crossed

The waters you parted, the waves that I walked

Oh, my God did not fail

Oh, it’s the story I’ll tell

Oh, I know it is well

Oh it's the story I’ll tell

Believing gets hard when options are few

When I can't see how you're moving

I know that you're proving you're the God that comes through

Oh, but I know that over the years, I’ll look back on this moment

And see your hand on it, and know you were here

All that is left is highest praises

So sing hallelujah to the Rock of Ages


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“Really take your time with these [devotionals],” the leader said. “I know at Willow Creek, we like to microwave things.”

If you’ve read American church news in the past two years, you would know that, in March of 2018, the first allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in the Chicago Tribune against Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. Willow Creek, as it grew in its first few decades, became a pioneer for American churches in contextualized communication, leadership, and business model-based ministry growth. A few pastors quoted Bill Hybels to me over the years.

After the initial allegations, Bill Hybels denied any wrongdoing, and the church leaders defended him, implying that his accusers were colluding against him. Early April of 2018, Bill Hybels announced his early retirement. About four months later, the worst allegations against him were published in the New York Times. The new teaching pastor, Hybels’s protege, resigned immediately. Soon afterwards, the executive pastor and the entire Elder Board resigned.

This meeting was a few months later, one of several meetings where we, as a staff, tried to process this cataclysm. A leader in discipleship had given us a devotional, and he didn’t want us to rush through it.

I understand why he said that. I’ve served in liturgical, traditional, multicultural and contemporary churches, and it seems that contemporary churches have particularly adopted a ministry model that relies on proverbial microwaving, cutting corners, band-aids and not rocking the speeding boat. It’s a performance-based model that uses extrabiblical metrics, and a lot of ugly stuff, as we’ve seen, can be swept under the rug.

Examples include:

-the prioritization of efficiency over character in ministry leaders

-the avoidance of or mere lip-service to social and political issues to maintain attendance numbers

-submission to consumeristic wants instead of prayerful leadership consensus

-using extrabiblical politics and metrics to quell any relational dilemma instead of having difficult but crucial conversations

-the utilization of a purportedly universal and successful ministry method instead of local cultural exegesis

-the professionalization and compartmentalization of church staff and ministry work

-the over-structure of church government and practice

-the downplay or denial of past or present mistakes in leadership and their effects

This is the Ministry of Least Resistance. Developed by suburban megachurches and admired by many smaller (mostly white) churches across the nation, it’s a fairly simple and formulaic way of quickly growing a large church of (mostly white) attenders. It’s a powerful and popular model that is arguably too big to fail.

Despite the growing scandals that have arose from its lack of leadership accountability and other its other proverbial holes, many (mostly white) churches still aspire to be like the (fallen) giants.

But Church, we shouldn’t be part of the Ministry of Least Resistance anymore.

We need to speak truth. We need to speak about our own sin and failure. We need to hold each other accountable. We need to have deep conversations about what the Bible says about social and political issues (not parties or people). We are not speakers, entertainers, or businessmen. We are shepherds. We cannot be afraid to speak biblical and prayerful truth in love to our congregation or anyone for fear of attendance numbers.

This is not only for conscience’s sake, but because we are now visibly accountable to the world. Thanks to the ubiquity of the internet, advances in cell phone technology, and the strength of the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements, any type of hypocrisy can (and, honestly, should) become visible. For example, if a church claims to be charitable in our world of poverty, cynics can discover the staff’s house sizes and car makes. Or if a church speaks for justice in our world of racial tension, cynics will look up the racial makeup of the staff, worship song composers and maybe even the congregation.

Everybody knows about the world’s problems. And the world is watching how doctors, politicians, activists and yes, also church leaders. How can we improve? Adapt? How can we serve?

And the answer is not through the Ministry of Least Resistance. This model can easily be a brand image-conscious, self-serving, biblically-illiterate, apolitical, idle and shallow shell of the brave, selfless, humble, loving, suffering servant Church we are called to be.

Ministry is challenging work. Let’s stop using man-made methods to make it otherwise, as if Jesus said, “in this world, you might have trouble.” The proverbial corners laid out for us in the New Testament were not meant to be cut.


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