Monday, January 12, 2015

Does That Compliment Sandwich Come on Pumpernickel?

So I have a confession. If you've been any type of long-time reader of this blog, you'll know that I like to write more about conviction than about edification. If I could choose between rebuke and encouragement... well, let's just say that my favorite part of action movies is when the good guy is about to kill the bad guy and he gives this great speech making the bad guy feel like crumbag. That speech of justice will make me cry way faster than any kissing-in-the-rain, Nicholas-Sparks deal.

However, maybe I'm realizing that it's also necessary to lift people up by letting them know what they're doing well. You ever heard of a compliment sandwich? Essentially, when you tell someone something that's difficult to hear, you're supposed to surround the difficult part with compliments, like so: "Hey man, I just wanted to tell you that you have a truly unique sense of style, but there is never a time when it's ok to wear those shorts. But I guess that's what it's like to be trailblazer - you gotta try new things!"

See? Compliment sandwich. The rebuke is the meat and the compliments are the bread!

Well, I think it's been a while since I've given any compliments, which must mean I'm missing a ton of bread. So, without further ado, let's dive into some compliments, or rather, some cool things I'm beginning to see. Here's thy loaf, dear reader:

Encouraging Trends in the Church

#1: People are getting serious about Gospel-centered community.

I think that a lot of my generation got sick of the seeker-friendly, big-show production that dominated a lot of churches we saw growing up. Mega-churches sprang up all over the place, and any initial thoughts about the coolness of the concept was overshadowed by seeing tons of people get lost in the flood of superficial relationships that being a part of a crowd generated. So, as a response to this, I've seen much of our generation get serious about not just growing wide, but deep. We've become intentional about knitting ourselves close together as the body of Christ, and for that, I'm proud.

#2: Christians are rediscovering age-old wisdom.

I'll be the first to say that I think every era is marked by its own unique brand of characteristic sin. However, every era also has its own particular, special things to share. A lot of the people growing up in my generation are getting back to literature by some great men like Martin Luther, St. Augustine, A.W. Tozer, etc. Once again, this may be a response to the self-esteem, self-help, Joel-Osteen, substanceless putrefaction that we grew up with, but either way, I'm really stoked that people are starting to learn from the ancient words of some men greatly used by God.

#3: We're learning to drop the theatrics.

I think the church is beginning to learn the greatness of transparent, drop-the-nonsense honesty. We're learning that it's ok to be straight up with God by telling Him that you're frustrated with Him (as long as you seek an answer to your frustration). We're figuring out that it's pointless to put up a white-picket, All-American-Dream, 2 1/2 children facade of idealism when our souls are burning alive. I think we're starting to show that, as Matt Chandler said, "If you're dying on the inside, die on the outside." The world that looks in at us wants to know that we'll be as honest about the truth of unvarnished, painful reality as they are, and I think we're catching on to that.

I could go on and list more things that I'm stoked to see in the church nowadays, but I think that's enough loaf for one day. That being said, be patient with me - I'm still figuring out how to dish out the dough.


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