Saturday, January 02, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
New Year's Greetings
Thursday, December 31, 2009
New Year's Eve Illuminated Martin Luther Hymn
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tell It Like It Is - What A Concept
But what if we took the idea of helping people find a church to the next level? What if instead of just pointing to other churches, we were honest about what people would find at our church? What if we acknowledged our flaws up front so visitors could find out now instead of after six months of pew-warming? What if we gave visitors fair warning about our flaws, issues and firm convictions?He then goes on to rather sarcastically provide a number of suggestions - some of them funny if you are in the right mood, but in another mood just disturbing. He closes with:
What about your church? If you had to give fair warning to a visitor, what would your church say? They may be honest, embarrassing or nothing to apologize for, but visitors should know. They'll find out eventually.What a concept - "They'll find out eventually." Could not agree more. He aims his sarcasm at things like worship styles and stances on homosexuality, but what if we aimed deeper - discussed spiritual matters?
Too often we offer people salvation without transformation. We talk about "your sins are forgiven," but mention the "go and sin no more" only in the deepest darkest recesses of a barely attended Sunday school class.
Why do so many churches have a revolving door? Is it really about stuff like worship style and altar calls? Or maybe its because they come and find no roots? Trees, even in a storm, generally stay put when their roots are deep and strong.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Uh, This Is Bad - No Wait...
Then I read the piece and ot even more worried:
With the economy gasping for life last spring, about 1.3 million people gathered in 5,600 churches nationwide to behold the nation's leading prophet of personal finance.Yeah, that Elmer Gantry, prosperity gospel, sticky floor in the theater feeling sort of came all over me. But I kept reading.
Televised live from a church in Edmond, Okla., Dave Ramsey's infomercial-style "Town Hall for Hope" was a masterful mix of inspiration, humor, advice, marketing and the Bible from a man dressed in jeans, dark jacket and an open-collar shirt.
Turns out the guy hands out some pretty good advice
- work hard
- live within your means
And the "objections the piece raises are interesting
- He operates as a for profit business
- He once bk'ed
- he charges a lot for his advice services
- he's rich
Hmmmm, now I not so sure what to make of this. I will not conclude this post with a final judgment, but rather trying to establish some standards by how to determine whether this is a good or a bad thing. Certainly the objections they raised in the piece are no measure. There are good rich Christians and they actually charge for their services. If they are good at them, they charge a lot for them. Profit is not inherently evil, and being a ministry is about what you do and how you do it more than whether you structure as a profit or non-profit corp.
The piece is a typically secular take on something that is really a spiritual matter. The fact of the matter is, if we are truly people indwelled by the Holy Spirit seeking to hold other more important than ourselves, then all that we do is ministry, for profit or not.
But then the question is, is there value in what he offers? About this I have no idea. I do think there are many, many people out there that treat Christians purely as a marketplace or demographic and will do whatever it takes to harvest profits from that group. Many by giving people something to absolutely waste their disposable income on. Don't know if that is the case here, frankly, if he is giving out good financial advise, then the charges are justified, both becasue of the value of the advice and becasue people take far more seriously that which they pay for, than that which they receive free of charge.
Frankly, the only thing I do not see in the piece is the only thing I see that truly troubles me - no mention of the tithe. THAT is a significant part of any serious financial plan. But then this piece is written from such a skewed secular perspective, that I have no idea whether he mentions it or not.
The bottom line is that this piece may be one of the best example of the world placing its values on something that we would judge on an entirely different set of criteria. I have no idea if Dave Ramsey is good bad or indifferent - I do know MSNBC doesn't either.
Monday, December 28, 2009
What Do You Want to Do?
The church I serve is possible not because the church will never change but because the gospel will never change. Brian McLaren argued that because communities of faith reach out to new cultures, the gospel must change (McLaren, “The Method, the Message, and the Ongoing Story,” in The Church in Emerging Culture; Five Perspectives, 2003, 206). I disagree. The reason I am a Christian, the reason I am a pastor is because the gospel does not change.My initial reaction to this piece came in that last paragraph with its "I don't want...I want structure." Those "I's" just sort of stuck out at me - like they were in the wrong place. Then it dawned on me that I often write posts that sound exactly the same. Is the presence of the "I" always indicative of selfishness?
There is so much talk about the church today. Church growth has been replaced by church innovation. Community has been replaced by authenticity. The mega church has been replaced by the multi-site campus. Much of this talk is centered around the need for the church to change. Perhaps. I certainly appreciate innovation (as I type this on a laptop computer). Furthermore, I realize that tradition is often merely the innovations of a bygone era.
Nonetheless, as a pastor I don’t want to spend my time looking for a new gospel that better reaches the culture. Nor do I want to look for the latest innovation to make the church I serve more relevant to the culture. I want to crisply, freshly, truthfully, spiritually, and powerfully apply God’s Word to the church and the culture. My prayer the first day of my ministry here in Atlanta and my prayer over a year into it remains the same: “Lord, help me trust that your Word will build your church.”
Of course not. What's the difference? Well, preceding that last paragraph, Aaron talks about many ideas that others want to do. I want a big church, I want a multi-site church. While Aaron (and I pray myself, but make not actual claim) wants to place himself in the hands of another.
"I give over,...I submit,...I listen,...I obey...." These are the "I's" that God wants from us. These are the legitimate use of the word "I." These should be the desires of our heart.