Saturday, July 14, 2007


A few weeks ago, I got into a "discussion" with a very vocal and active poster in the theology forum of one of the church leader chat sites that I am a member of. This particular area of this forum is considered by many (especially myself) to be a hotbed for theological debate, most of which is very pointless, IMO. And, while I rarely post in this forum, I decided to join in this particular conversation with the hope that this discussion could be different. Unfortunately, the conversation was not much different than the rest…the subject and actual conversation doesn't really matter...what matters is that I came out of our conversation with a very clear reality about the time I spend on these forums. Three very real and necessary questions formed in my head as I continued over the course of a few days in this discussion:

1) How valuable was this conversation for my personal spiritual growth ?

2) How valuable was this conversation for the spiritual growth of the other person(s) reading and posting?

3) How is this conversation helping me to fulfill my purpose of loving God, loving others, and reaching people to discover life in Christ?

About this particular conversation, the three answers to these questions were, respectively: No Value, No Value that I Can See, and Not At All.

Sometime in the middle of my forming these questions in my mind (in my best Nacho impersonation), on another of the church leader site that I am a part of, the following was posted by one of the Moderators on a thread that was simultaneously locked because of the heated and futile debate over a dead-horse subject:

“I'm going to close this thread. I believe it has ran its course.

Before I lock it, I'd just like to say something to a few of you on some direction for the forum as a whole. Not specifically just this thread... it's only a small part of it.

To those of you willing to listen:

Make it a point to notice those who are almost always on this forum, they practically live here. They've lost their balance. That alone says a degree of unhealthiness.
Make it a point to notice who has something to say about every issue...
Make it a point to notice those who always respond to some kind of a debate calling it Christianity.
Make it a point to notice who are the ones that constantly goad others to respond and seem to enjoy it.
Make it a point to notice those who always think they are right and have all the answers.

Have you noticed who they are?

My advice to you: please ignore them. Stop allowing them to draw you into these ridiculous and yes, I'll even say childish debates. All it does is make you look bad, it hurts your credibility as a leader and a man or woman of God... and they win.

This isn't a test of wills... and it isn't supposed to be a constant oneupmanship. Nor is it a contest to see who is smarter and who is the king of the mountain of the debate.

Don't give in. Let them debate with themselves and dig their own holes. Eventually they always do. Without an audience... without those who respond to their constant attempts to "stimulate your thinking" by circular "biblical" arguments that only end badly, choose to not partake in their game. Believe me, they can call it whatever they want, but it IS a game. One that some play on a regular basis.

Here's a challenge... Spend all that incredible energy that you focus on the debate or the argument and turn it into energy used in ministry to God, His people and His Kingdom. Focus on convincing people who can be convinced... people you can convince of the good things of God. Things that make a difference.

Can you imagine the mountains that you would move for the Kingdom? It would be amazing. You'd become one of those people that we all hear about. The ones we look up to who are mountain movers in the Kingdom.

Stop wasting your time and energy on the what steals your time and energy. I have incredible respect for some of you guys... and I hate seeing waste so much time that could be spent in better ways.

Yes, I realize this is correction. For those who "have ears to hear", they will hear it and begin to have the potential to be mountain movers for the Kingdom.

For the rest............ ?”

Ouch…and not for the rest of them, but for me. This post really drove home what I had been thinking, and for a long time more than just those few days…that I’ve really wasted so much of my time even just reading and being entertained by these debates, much less being a vocal part of them.

How many times have I read (and yes, I’ve used this a few times myself) the excuse for posting rhetoric and meaningless debate: “But, it helps me to figure some things out so that I can be ready when I really need to discuss these things with somebody who matters…” IMHO, it’s about time that I stopped talking about figuring these things out and started just getting out there and practicing them…

So, in light of my new convictions, I began asking God to change my desire to be one of those people mentioned in that Mod’s post…and I began praying that others on the forums I frequent would also begin to view their lives differently as well…not for God to change their minds on certain issues so that they would all confess that I’ve been right all along, but so that we would all begin to use our time more wisely, to spend the time on these forums to encourage and advance our united mission, and to actually spend less time on these forums and more time on our mission.

Which is actually part of the reason I’ve begun blogging…I can say what I want to say, and delete anyone who comes in here and comments with an agenda. I can spend more time simply fleshing out (through experience and practice more than just talk) some real, practical, missional issues on my own (or with some help from some like-minded people) so that I can be clearer about my purpose and the time I spend fulfilling my mission. I can talk about the real things that I’m doing, hear about the real things that others are doing.

Anyway, God is changing my heart, and it appears he’s working on some other’s as well!


1 comment:

Steve said...

Nate, I couldn't agree more with your "three very real and necessary questions" about forum participation. While on one hand often wondering whether certain forum squatters have any kind of witness in their everyday life beyond the silence of faceless cyberspace conversation, on the other, I find myself drawn in like a magnet to the same forums just to see what these squatters are gabbing about this time or even debating. How many minutes, even hours, in a week, have I wasted on pointless stuff? Sure, there are some interesting and helpful threads for worship leader and worshipers. But many (most) are a waste of my time.

Not that I'll cut out forums cold turkey, but I like where you're going here, Nate. (You're a better man than I when it comes to pursuing a blog!) This looks like it will be a better investment of my online browsing time.