Where is my Church? 305 Machray Ave Wpg. MB 7 pm Sunday evenings.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

This blog site editor is Chuck Sheridan. He was the founding pastor at House of the Risen Son Church and served for 23 years. Chuck was also the founder of Bondslave Motorcycle Club.
Chuck Sheridan is now a missionary. To follow his ministry go to www.urbansubculturemissions.com

House of the Risen Son has a web site. www.houseoftherisenson.ca  Bondslave Motorcycle Club is at www.bondslavemc.ca

Friday, 24 July 2015

Heavy Heart

Heavy Heart
At the time that I write this article my heart is burdened. I am burdened for men who live with no true knowledge of who they are.  Many of the men I minister among, are bikers.  Some are Christians, many are not.  And often in the question of their identity I find that you can’t tell any difference.
  How is identity known and displayed?  Most of us wear a patch to identify who we are and who we are with.  For many men no patch means no identity!  In another arena, men are defined by their work.  The introductory question among men is, “What line of work are you in?”  It helps to settle identity.  One time as a guest speaker, I was introduced by the occupations I had held.  I didn’t think it displayed very accurately who I am.  Nor do I like being identified by the club I ride with.  The reason is not that I am ashamed of that, but it misrepresents me.  The club I ride with and associate myself with is only a tool to facilitate a common purpose.
  Recently the information came to me of another Christian biker who had left his patch to pursue an outlaw club membership!  How do you do that?  Is it like divorcing yourself from Jesus?  One Christian biker I know has rode under three different Christian riding associations in three years.  Each of the last two he joined and bought patches off the Internet.  Be sure that I disapprove of that!  Surely such membership drives know nothing of biker clubs!  But that is another issue. 
 My burden is that men need to find their identity in their relationship with Jesus.  If identity is found by some of these patch holders is in who they hang with, perhaps they need to “hang” with Jesus and be tighter with Him. When a man cannot minister without his patch on, I question his witness.  Does not his life reflect Jesus all the time?  When a man always wears his patch, and it seems like it is never off his back, I question if it is the makeup of his identity. The personal grief for me comes out of my heart’s desire to see men come into their purposes and destiny.  It is not God’s design for us to be lost or seeking and finding identity in what can be taken away from us.  Perhaps because I spend so much time speaking to men’s groups and trying to raise up men that now I am more personally challenged to teach and display to men that identity comes from relationship with Jesus.  He is a person, not a cause.  That our purpose and destiny comes from living for and with Him on a daily basis. And not being a man easily moved or guided by his feelings, I sense in me a wound when I father men who walk away from Jesus and murmur behind my back.  What godless, empty lives.

What a loss to the kingdom.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Lost in Christendom

Lost in Christendom

My one friend says we are an “out of the box” church. My other friend recently read a book, “Messy Spirituality”  and says it describes us. Here I am a pastor of a church with a couple hundred people, with very grass roots community ministry and yet it leaves me feeling, (trying to have feelings!) like an alien in Christendom.

Here we are trying to grow and build the structures to enable growth but we have no pattern. Modern church offers us patterns that fit the 20th century church, but not the church that I know, love and serve. Most of our faith community have no previous church experience. Some consider us their church but still have not made a commitment to Christ. Some consider me their pastor but have attended a worship service with us, yet make use and attend other venues we offer!

One similar example I remember, is this story. There was a church that funded a young couple who produced a ministry they had a vision for. It was to reach the youth culture with the message of Christ. This culture of youth to be reached  could be thought of as homeless but were not. They were a strong sub culture that few understood. The vision for ministry to those kids was exactly what God wanted. The place was packed with all the university age kids who weren’t in university, but looked like vampires, gothic’s etc. However when this ministry didn’t get them into the model of church, the church pulled the funds. The ministry closed. Leaving all these kids without their “church.”

The funding church measured success by getting these kids into their church. Never realizing that the church the youth called home was nothing like the middle class suburban church. The mistake was, if you accept Christ you will leave your “things”  (sub culture distinctiveness) and become like us.

In my search for how to minister better to our faith community I have questioned other pastors. They give to me what direction they can that has worked for them. The books I  read, the other pastors I can hear from etc. all leave me thinking, that their ways just won’t work with us. I yearn for the blueprints and instruction manuals, that tell me the way. But what I find is written in the language of Christianise.  Some of those patterns and blueprints I am sure are still used because the other churches are using them. Sort of like cowherd mentality. One cow wonders towards the fence so they all wonder towards the fence. Or in modern  expression, “zombie land.” The aimless wondering and following in the direction of everyone else. It must be good cause others are using that concept, pattern, program etc.. Going in that direction cause we do, cause others are, not measuring the results accurately.

But when I am told about these great programs etc. I think about how well will these concepts and programs  work with a church were the greatest percent of them have never been to another church and have no church experience.

For example, our membership class. We definitely need to revamp it again. It is a greatly modified version of what came out of Willow Creek movement.

It’s design is to find out what peoples talents and gifts and personality are and what category they fit into and then plug them into the church in a slot that suits their gifting. The people with some church experience do ok with it, but the people with no or limited church experience are just struggling and feeling like they don’t qualify. The questionnaire manual was written for Christians! And though some may have made a decision for Christ they still don’t fit the regular Christian normative experience. Their decision is probably too recent. And they don’t understand the language and the culture.

So I pray and bump around in the fog of faith. Knowing what is there and I know it is there but not seeing clearly. Trusting it is the voice of Christ I hear. However there is a cost! When you follow the less regular beaten path of your faith community, you are perceived as not successful and not on board.  Sorry we don’t fit the pattern but we are following Jesus. Just wish there was a book on church planting in subcultures that are more like pre Christian era?! Now there is another discussion, the era we are in is more like pre first century Christendom.


Evangelism First Century Style.

Evangelism First Century Style.

Sunday after Sunday it is the same. People in church who have not made a decision for the Lord. But they keep coming.  And then there are some people who consider us their church but either haven’t made a decision or attend other venues we other but do not attend worship services.

You would wonder how that is that some people  would attend but acknowledge Jesus is not their Saviour and Lord. You may question, don’t we preach the gospel? Yes we do but we grow them into the decision. We strongly believe in, “Belong, Behave and Believe” and just allow the process of growing into Christ. Some, I would say, fall into the kingdom of God. They find themselves making a decision for Jesus like some people  fall in love.

Part of it is that some people attend our church occasionally and attend somewhere else too. So we just pastor everyone who comes in and accept them as part of our community. We decided to disciple everyone, as if they were believers, even if they were not. In other words, we treat everyone as a Christian even when we are unsure if they have made a decision for Christ. We found that this pre decision discipling worked to ground them in their faith and to borrow a phrase, we “assimilate” them into the collective (the Borg of Startrek.)

Let me explain two biblical models of evangelism. The popular one, that I subscribed to for years, was the “road to Damascus.” It follows the story of Saul on the road who has a powerful life changing encounter with Christ. It leaves a great story to tell and a definitive day as to when Christ was encountered and a strong impressive story of encountering Christ in a life changing moment. It was my experience (actually on a road!) and that of thousands. At our church we still give invitations to accept Christ at a definitive “come to Christ” deciding moment. And time after time people do. For a long time it was the way we operated. And we still give these invitations.

Then we noticed something that was rather discouraging. Our record of decisions for Christ was high. High enough to cause us to boast even. But as our leadership discussed where these people were we realized many did not stay nor keep their decision for Christ.

We made another  observation. We had people who had come to Christ and we didn’t know when or that they had. When we questioned them we found some of them just “fell into the kingdom of  God.” And still followed Him. They knew they had come to Christ but it was more gradual and they weren’t sure exactly when. When they were baptized they often just made up a  date as to when they had come to Christ!

Their experience was more of a “road to Emmaus.” Walking along with Jesus, and getting to know him. Then came the revelation that this is the Saviour, and a decision to accept. We find that in our church experience our statistics of those who have come to Christ may not be as high for the records, but we retained more in the kingdom. This also went along with our method and thought to just accept people as one of us, and disciple them as if they already were one of our faith and community, then in time they will believe the same as us and then act the way a Christian should. Or in other words their behaviour becomes more Christ like.

So both styles of evangelism are biblical. And both work. When you meet the unsaved in our church, rejoice with us and let them be. They’ll get there. I love the unsaved. Such nice raw material! “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Full Throttle

I love running fast. Mostly alone and in open spaces or cutting through hilly country roads. Even better is the drag strip at our local track. But running hard without good maintance always costs you later.
Recently my wife and I went on a trip. Business and work mixed. We visited lots of  good friends along the way. Got to the business end and met the people we were suppose to and home again. But you know down time is good time. A bow that is always strung loses its strength. Sometimes it is just necessary to just set back a bit and reflect. Mind you sometimes I meet people and that is all they seem to do, is set back and reflect.
The Sabbath day was made for us. Take a day off each week and rest, reflect and pray. Even if the stores are going to be open 7 days a week. Say no. Rest and sit a spell. Unstring the bow. There are still 6 days to work.

Monday, 16 January 2012



Here I am into the second half of my century-old life on this planet. Can you imagine living over nine centuries like some of the men of the Old Testament times? Check out Noah in Genesis 9:29. He lived 950 years!

Can you imagine Noah and all that he witnessed in his life? Think all the friends that came and went? And one wife that whole time?! Well, at least she could help with the remembering part!

Already, I have seen so many friends come and go. Some have moved away. Some got jealous or angry and stomped away. And some just passed away. All of them I miss; even the angry ones.

Life is so full of twists, turns and surprises. Just when you think you know the road, it moves or changes. Well, at least it never lacks for change.

Joys and sorrows, good memories and already a lot of faded memories.

Some of those friends were only there as long as I served their purposes. Once we did not have mutual goals, the friendship faded away.

But one part of life is always the same. My faith in God only grows. My Bible has changed. I tend to wear out the book. But when I go through the pages, I am spending time with a consistent, never-changing friend. He speaks to me from its pages. God is always the same. His presence is never far. It is because I choose to stay in close contact. Reading His Word daily, praying often. Prayer is not that hard; it is listening more than talking. Brother Lawrence, a monk from centuries ago, inspired a book. It is called “Practice the Presence of God.” There in the title is all of it. Just practicing His presence in all we do. Being together.

Friendship is cultivated the same way. It is forged by time together and by trust. God is there always. It just takes my time to forge that relationship. It takes experience to learn to trust. He never waivers. I do. Friendship takes bumps and bruises too. But I would rather have a wound from a friend then a kiss from an enemy. My God never is my enemy. He always proves faithful in the end of it all.


Fenced in geese!

Christian Culture

In the 19th century, Soren Kierkegaard told a parable.  It goes something like this:

In the barnyard are fat geese.  They are enjoying food, safety, and security.  Then one day in the fall a flock of wild geese fly overhead.  The barnyard geese start to run through the yard – squawking and flapping their wings, but never going over the fence. They had gotten too comfortable inside the fence.

Perhaps our challenge as Christian men is to consider which flock we are in.  Are we imitators and squawkers or are we really going anywhere?

Be a risk-taker and go over the fence.  Think outside the box.

Modern Christian ghetto thinking is to get people saved.  As primarily an evangelist, I am all for that.  But saved from what?  Many people come to Christ for different reasons.  Save me from my poverty; save me from my addictions.  My aim is not to deny them that, but to help them realize it is salvation from sin they need.

Great, but now saved to what?  Many modern-day Christian leaders want you to get saved to Jesus and to heaven.  But my experience, both personal and as an observation, is that you need to get saved into modern Christian culture. Lets extract you from your place and put you in here with us.

To explain, when you get “saved” you are supposed to quit smoking, cut your hair, and stop riding motorcycles.  That was what I was told.  Here I am 30 years “saved” and I’ve only succeeded at half those requirements.  For a time I even crawled into the Christian ghetto but found a loss of touch with the culture of the lost that I was to get “saved”.  I began to think and feel I was so different from them that I couldn’t communicate with them.  We no longer had the same language.  I needed to get out of the ghetto and get back to understanding the culture I was to reach.

Typically, Christians live in their own culture, losing touch with the culture around them.

How do you define a culture?  It is defined by:

1)    Language

2)    Belief system and values (this may be religion)

3)    Music and art

4)    Dress

5)    Family structure

Recently, on a trip to Mexico City, I took a trip into “Crapo Market”.  It was vendor after vendor with items for sale aimed at the subculture of Goths, skinheads, and hippies.  There I was, in Hispanic Mexican culture, observing a subculture that was typical of any North American city subculture.  It was the same dress, art and music, post-modern belief system and values, and same language.  Though the language was Spanish, the terms and idioms used were peculiar to that Goth subculture.  And in it all I saw no one trying to reach them for Jesus.  My hosts were even sceptical about our visit there.  My short observation told me this was a subculture not being impacted for Jesus.

What is my point?  Christianity in its origins was a culture creating, impacting movement.  In its origin, it was guilty of  “turning the world upside down”. It impacted and changed the Romanian empire.  It literally saved Ireland (see the real story of St. Patrick), it reformed England (re: John Wesley). It was the moulding tool for the shaping of culture in the initial Canada and United States.  We are the salt and light of society.  This means we are the saving agents of society.  We are historically the culture shapers of society!

Back to story of the geese.  Isn’t it time we go over the fence, be risk-takers, think outside the box, escape the ghetto, and be the culture shapers we are supposed to be?