Archives For City Community Church

Swearing in Church #@!$%*&!

Erik Cooper —  February 24, 2011 — 7 Comments

There’s an emerging curse word in church circles today (at least my circles). A four letter word that actually has seven. It’s dirty. Nasty. Brace yourselves and stick a finger in the kids’ ears.

Pr@g&#m!

(I’m expecting my FCC fine in the mail at any moment).

A pastor announcing a new pr@g&#m at his church today is like a politician bragging about increasing your taxes. You just don’t do it. Your posts will get flagged by internet filters. It could even trigger a Dateline exposé.

Pr@g&#ms are for institutions.

Pr@g&#ms are for mass, assembly line production.

Pr@g&#ms are for religious people.

Pr@g&#ms produce 2% shifts and checklist living, not long-term Kingdom transformation.

Right?

I had a fascinating conversation with one of our City Community Church overseers last week. In the midst of our passionate dialog, he mentioned the dreaded “P-word.” After chastising his potty mouth, I asked him a serious question:

When does a valid ministry endeavor become an institutionalized pr@g&#m? When does it cross that line? What is the core difference between a pr@g&#m response and an honest, effective investment in someone’s life?

I thought his answer was intriguing. Worth posting to stir some conversation:

“Pr@g&#ms create spectators and consumers. Transformation demands participation and sacrifice.”

What do you think of that definition? Is he right? Love to hear your thoughts (after I finish sucking on this bar of soap).

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know (let’s politely say) I’m on the lower end of the bell curve when it comes to fixing anything. If you’re a car, furnace, leaky roof, broken appliance, you’re out of luck.  I wont’ even attempt a Chris Martin and “try to fix you” (yeah, that’s bad).

(My greatest success story in fighting an “Ice Dam” that formed on our roof last week was simply not adding an additional consonant to the end of that second word).

My name is Erik, and I am constructionally challenged.

And sometimes I think the Church is, too.

We’re broken people. All of us. Some of our brokenness is more socially acceptable, but all of us are cracked. Flawed at the foundation. But our churches are usually more wired to build up, not root up. To look up, not necessarily dig under the surface.

Read another book. Complete another study. Build Christian friendships. Attend another service. Subscribe to more Christian podcasts. Listen to positive and encouraging Christian music. Ingest more God-information. Construct a bigger God-edifice and you’ll effectively swallow up those broken places.

These are all worthy and noble pursuits. Imperative pieces to our Christian journey. But thrown at a shattered foundation, I fear they’re just masking an impending disaster.

I know what some of you are saying. “Hey, our church has a 12 step program. We even have a small group for porn addicts. And a staff counselor for people having marital problems.” Great! Don’t quit.

But I’m not talking about the brokenness that’s easy to see. Compartmentalize. Separate into one of those “dysfunctional boxes” that allow us to express pity with a little side of self-righteousness.

I’m talking about you and me.

Self-reliance. Materialism. Insecurity. Control. Self-protections. Immaturity. Arrogance. Past rejection. Religious abuse. Things we believe about God that just aren’t true. (Do you want to keep brainstorming this list together?)

These are just a few of the “respectable” cracks and fissures we easily overlook, drowned under a deluge of God-knowledge and socially acceptable church-culture behavior. Yet underneath, these godly facades are fueled by depression, anxiety, doubt, and fear. Do any of those words describe you?

Broken foundations.

So what’s the answer?

I think we’ve got to commit to getting our hands dirty. We need each other. The beauty and risk of godly community is where we find the courage to identify and call our broken places. But these aren’t issues we can simply reason, talk, or will our way out of.

The ultimate remedy is repentance.

Repentance begins the Jesus journey. Allows Him to begin miraculously doing what only He can do. What He promised to do. Fix our cracked foundation. I don’ care how long you’ve been a Christian, it’s time for an assessment.

What if the Church became great at repenting? At rooting out as well as building up? What if we stopped ignoring the broken places? What if we found the courage to lovingly take them on? In ourselves? In one another?

We’re not doing this well. Not yet. But this is one area of construction I’m determined to become skilled at.

This Headline Caught My Eye

Erik Cooper —  January 27, 2011 — 8 Comments

As a church planter, this headline caught my eye. As in a right hook. I may need stitches.

Read the full article here.

I suppose in the economic scheme of things, this is nothing but a logical progression. But it’s definitely got my co-pastor Nathan LaGrange and I talking at City Community Church. Is owning a building something we ever want to mess with?

We’ve become hesitant to ever say never, especially since a majority of the things we thought we knew about leading a church have completely shifted in the 22 months since CityCom’s launch. Crisis can force emotional responses (even when it’s a crisis you’re watching others face), but it can also squeeze out some brutal honesty.

So I’m curious. For those of you who are part of a church with no owned facility, do you still aspire to have one? And for those of you who do own a facility, do you ever wish you didn’t?

Tension is good for music. Notes that don’t naturally fit the chords. Melodies that depart the intended key. Progressions that take you to unexpected places.

Music that never breaks the rules is boring. A little healthy tension is actually what makes music beautiful.

Same is true for life.


This weekend my younger brother and his wife are moving to Houston. Another goodbye in a seemingly endless list of adieus over the past few years

A little more tension in the melody line.

Darren has an unbelievable opportunity to work under a successful music producer in Houston, Texas (which also happens to be Britney’s home town). He’ll be learning the ropes from an industry insider, working on some serious projects, and slowly launching his own production company (all while wearing a ten gallon hat and learning proper parts of speech for the word y’all).

Sad and exciting all wrapped into one. (Sadciting? Exsading?)

When we launched City Community Church, we committed to hold things loosely. To invest in people selflessly. To release them passionately. To see the Kingdom as bigger than our individual church community. To give until it hurt.

Little did I know how close those declarations would hit to home. And how badly they would actually sting.

So we let go. And that release brings pain. And the pain creates tension. The very tension that has the potential to fill life’s music with unbelievably beautiful melodies.

Goodbye D&B. (I guess it’s really more of a “see ya’ll”). Love you. Proud of you. Go write some beautiful, tension filled melodies (with a Texas twang).

(But don’t think for a minute I’m not subtly reminding mom and dad which one of their sons loves them enough to stick around).

Fifteen to Finish

Erik Cooper —  December 20, 2010 — Leave a comment

In light of all the stellar economic indicators and the financial pressures of Christmas, I know many of you have bags full of extra money laying around you’re just dying to get rid of, right? (Bags of small, unmarked bills with warrants attached to them don’t count).

In all seriousness, this video highlights a project we’ve adopted in a little slum off the coast of La Ceiba, Honduras.  A place that has become very special to us at City Community Church.

If you’re looking to do year end charitable giving, this would be a worthwhile investment.  This project is making a tangible difference in the lives of some amazing kids. Kids who wouldn’t have much hope without you and our partners at Mission of Mercy.

Thanks to a generous $10,000 donation, we only need $15K more to complete the final phase of this center (that also acts as a local church for the community).  If you’d like to help, you can click here to donate online, or make your checks payable to City Community Church (133 W. Market St. #102, Indianapolis 46204).

Just make sure to include “Fifteen to Finish” in the memo line for both online and physical contributions. All donations are tax deductible and can be claimed on your 2010 taxes if postmarked by December 31.

Give a gift of hope this Christmas, and then write it off on your taxes!  “It’s the gift that keeps on giving Clark…”