Time to make the donuts?

By Scott Linscott

Imagine that you work in a donut shop. You arrive with the staff at 4:00 AM for your first day on the job. You are expecting to be elbow deep in flower but the owner gathers everyone around a dvd player and monitor and hits play. For the next two hours you sit and learn about the history of donut making. After a “discussion” which is actually mostly just filling in blanks in a workbook, you stand with your coworkers for a quick summary and then head home. No donuts are made.

The next day you come ready to bake but end up in the donut classroom again. On day two the focus is on ingredients. No donuts again. Day three is about donut making equipment. Day four is variety, day five oils and day 6 discusses the purpose of donut making. No donuts still.

By day ten you stop bringing your apron. The theory and practice of donut making is fascinating to study. On day 21 you get a different workbook and see that you will be talking about famous donut makers around the world. You even drop a few bucks into the collection for bringing donuts to new areas. Then there’s the discussions about the future and what will come, talk of serving donuts to the donutless and even discussions about what to study next.

You ask the long-time employee next to you, “have you ever actually made donuts?” He hasn’t but he tells you about a day before his time when this place produced piles and piles.

You’ve already surmised that im not talking about donuts at all. Im talking about the church of Jesus. We sure do like to talk, debate and study. We major in the minors while no one makes any donuts.

Throughout my ministry career I’ve noticed that we Christians tend to spend a ton of time majoring in the minors rather than focus on that which is clear. Some want to take class after class about dragons and beasts and endtime prophecies  while others love to study angels. Some want to talk about heaven and where it is, what it is like and what we will do when we get there while others love studying a new earth, new bodies and the second coming. Jesus told us to bring Good News to people but we seem more concerned with where the ark is now and what happened to the dinosaurs.

The excellent thing is that today you can Google all these fringe issues to your heart’s delight. You can spend hour-upon-hour researching aliens and the wheel-in-the-middle of the wheel. Or, you can study the depth of moon dust and use it to support your dedication to young-earth perspectives.

Me? I prefer to focus on the things that are clear and direct in Scripture. I’m not a big mystery chaser and I’m not interested in spending my time searching for secrets between the lines. I’d much rather spend my time focusing on the clear teachings of Christ rather than spend my time chasing mysteries.

If I were a donut maker, I’d want to make donuts. As a disciple of Christ I want to be a disciple maker.

“It is a bad symptom of any man’s state of soul when he begins to put the second things of religion in the first place, and the first in the second, or the things ordained by man above the things ordained by God. There is something sadly wrong when it is more important to us whether others are of our denomination and ceremonies rather than whether they repent of sin, believe on Christ and live holy lives.” ~ J.C. Ryle


Are we fence people or pole people?

What fences have we erected?

What fences have we erected?

By Scott Linscott

In March of 2011  I was in Los Angeles with an interesting mix of people. There were Canadian, Asians, Hispanics, Russians, African Americans and Caucasians. Some groups were loud and expressive, some were reserved, some were vocal and some were introspective. Some waved their arms in worship, some danced, some seemed prayerful, some sang out and some sang softly. And there in the middle of the crowd was our group of New Englanders with hands in pockets and eyes trained on the Powerpoint lyrics singing in a way not to disturb anyone. The amazing thing? We all fit perfectly and were at home.

I was attending my fourth Church Planters conference in preparation for our new church launch in September.

I’ve served in three different denominations and have somehow managed to always steer clear of the little distinctives while working to present rescue in Christ. I had never given it much thought until this conference where I discovered that I am more of a pole guy than a fence guy.

The host denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, was described as a “pole” denomination by one of the main speakers. I listed intently mostly because he was describing me. The ECC group, he said, includes many different methods and expressions all going out from the same “pole” of salvation in Christ alone. That rang true with me.

Some of the churches I have served in have been defined by a series of restricting fences rather than the central, unifying pole. Their fences keep them in and put up walls so that they did not appreciate or interact with others who worship Christ. I’ve never been much of a fence guy.

Have you ever seen a toddler in one of those little fenced in areas? My wife hates those things. Our kids explored. They toddled around, tested things and enjoyed playing. As they would toddle, they would often stop and look back to spot us and get their bearings. We were their “pole.”

I’ve always been biblical but not doctrinaire. I’m a pole guy. I can appreciate expressive worship and traditional. I can worship with my brothers and sisters in most any gathering when Jesus Christ is the central pole.

I’m not a fan of fences that restrict our mobility in reaching out, moving and connecting with others. Subjective fences of methodology, format and structure have penned in many a church body.

“We’ve always done it this way,” are 7 words that can kill a church. They are a tall fence. (Interesting read, “Seven Last Phrases of the Church.”)

May we always be “pole people” gathered around the centrality of Jesus Christ. There is no fence that contains Him, even the very gates of hell cannot contain the church.

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Cor. 9:22-23