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Dave

Thanks as always for another great post. I struggle with watching the social segregation at our church. At dinners I will often suggest that we not sit with our usual group of friends, which includes both pastors. What I am really hoping to do is force them to sit with someone new. We are Methodists, so dinners are fairly frequent :)

- Dave

FYI: There is a word or two missing from this sentence in the second to last paragraph: "A church may publicly social and racial diversity."

Connie Lard

Another good post.

I would add "materialism" to the list.It is so pervasive in our culture that often we don't even realize we're in its grip.

ben overby

Jim,

Another pink elephant is loneliness. A recent survey indicates that a quarter of US citizens claim they have no one with whom to share their personal problems. Our society continues to fragment, leaving more and more people isolated, with large numbers of folks who claim that they are not part of any family or social group. see http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/74647403.html

And, my sense is that there are many who take their place on a church pew every week, but who would never think of being transparent within the group. Many have been burned by gossip and harsh judgments and have concluded that church is essential but not safe. Casting Crowns captures the essence of this pink elephant in their album Lifesong and the song Stained-Glass Masquerade. I close with a few lines from that song . . .

"Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart"

Ben Overby

gail

I agree with lonliness being a sad problem. I worry about the college kids away from their families, elderly widows, widowers who need someone to just listen to them, anyone who feels lonely even in a large group of people. With God's help, medication and counselling will help depression but God calls us to help the lonely. I see them come into our clinic just to talk to someone.

Rebekah Lewis Craig

I enjoy reading your posts & the comments. I love that whole Casting Crowns CD, especially Stained-Glass Masquerade. They aren't afraid to bring up tough stuff. I would like to add that another "pink elepant" is promiscuity and premarital sex. My friends and I often wonder how it might transform our younger brothers' and sisters' lives to share our own struggles, post-sin feelings, and to hear how our elders dealt with it. Would this be inappropriate in the church? Surely older people struggled, too! Equipping the youth/unmarried with more of an explanation than "just don't do it" might help them win their own battles.

Marnie Tabor

Jim, A big pink elephant I work with often is domestic violence. I never cease to be amazed at the severity of this problem in christian homes. So many people don't realize that violence is not normal or that they live in it, until someone gets killed.

Ted Gossard

Jim,
Yes. We need to have the heart (sensitivity) and eyes to see not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly- first in our own lives. And deal with it- immediately and over time.

Good challenge here. I especially appreciated your words on social segregation, though the rest is good as well.

Ted Gossard

How about crippling anxiety? Something I know about firsthand. Have come a long way on it. But it still sometimes attacks and paralyzes or numbs me.

Jim Martin

Marnie,
I am glad you mentioned domestic violence. You are so right. Thanks!

Jim Martin

Ben,
Thank you for your comment. I am glad you mentioned loneliness. You are so right about being having been burnt by gossip and harsh judgements. As you say many come to the conclusion that church is essential but not safe.

That in itself may be another "big pink elephant."

Jim Martin

Dave,
Thanks for your comment. I think that social segregation is a real problem in a lot of churches.

Thanks also for telling me about the missing words. I need all the help that I can get.

Jim Martin

Connie,
I'm glad you mentioned materialism which is a much bigger issue than a lot of us (including myself) would like to admit.

Jim Martin

Rebekah,

Thanks for your great comment. You make a great point about sexual temptation, sexual struggle, and sexual sin. And--you are so right. There must be something more we can say than "just don't do it." How is that phrase distinctively Christian.

You are the second person to mention "Stained Glass Masquerade" so I downloaded it onto my IPod. I look forward to hearing it soon.

Jim Martin

Gail,
GLad you mentioned loneliness. I think that's a big one!

Jim Martin

Ted,
So glad you mentioned anxiety. That can be so defeating.

dcypl

I think the materialism and the *never* discussed reality of Christian monetary stewardship are issues I see in Western Churches.
As soon as someone mentions tithing the battle lines are drawn. Yet generosity vs income is woefully small in most churches, and the elephant sits there, but no one mutters a word. (Particularly not the paid staff for fear of looking money hungry).

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