Saturday, February 12, 2011
J Scott Campbell
Friday, February 11, 2011
Why Does This Matter?
I think our culture is, at least in some ways, getting more accepting of other cultures and colors of skin. I know my boy’s generation doesn’t even seem to think as much about this issue as my generation did or certainly my parent’s generation did. I won’t pretend racial prejudice has ended, because I know it hasn’t, especially in other parts of the world, but, things are better today than they once were in my lifetime.The answer is contained within the question - there are still separate racial cultures and people like to congregate within their own culture. If you think deeply, the Reformation was all about the ability to congregate within our own culture.
But, that’s where my curiosity begins. I see improvement everywhere except in the church. Why is that? Our churches remain segregated for the most part.
So, I have two questions. One, is it "bad" to congregate within our own culture? My response is, not necessarily. It's not about the culture, but the people within it. If I chose to visit a church in a different culture and feel excluded, then something is wrong, the culture predominates of over the hospitality of the Holy Spirit. But if the "segregation" is just a matter of cultural taste - not so big a deal.
But my second question is this - "Who Cares?" Is diversity even a biblical or spiritual concern? Hospitality is, as I have said. Love is, as I have said. But diversity? I don't think so.
Because the Reformation was, in part, about worshiping in our separate cultures it says that worship can be done in any culture and that it is worship that matters, not cultural conformity. In point of fact, it is this unhinging of worship from culture that has allowed the gospel to spread much farther much faster that otherwise possible.
If one probes this deep enough, one even finds many of the ideas that helped found the United States.
Come worship with me - I don't care about color or culture, but I also don;t care about diversity.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Is It Safe?
Jeff Dunn @ iMonk:
It’s a dangerous world out there. Lots of things to be aware of. So I think it best to identify a safe place, somewhere you can be assured of not being bothered by all of the bad in this world. And I have found just the place.You know - I think he is right and it is about more than bookstores - we are building churches that are safe places to be rather than real places to be.
It’s your nearby local Christian bookstore.
My first job was in a Christian bookstore. To this day it remains one of my favorite jobs. I got to meet many new friends and help people get books that could answer their questions, or at least help them to ask the right questions. It seems that in the 1970s there were a lot more real books available than there are today. Maybe I’m just imagining it. But I don’t recall books that told us just how God wants us to get prime parking spaces at the mall or how that our every need would always be met the moment we asked. There were books about how when one walks with God, it is a great adventure in faith that sometimes does not end with a red ribbon tied neatly.
Church should be about solving, or at least dealing with, problems - not avoiding them. Step one to coping is admitting - AND FACING - problems. Even churches that do face problems seem to be facing someone else's - short term missions trips, social justice and other movements while great are often used as dodges to avoid the problems at home.
Now here is where it gets weird to me - Church is the safest place in the world to face a problem - at least it should be.
So what are we afraid of?
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Being a Team Player
The Puritan was concerned that even his calling served the neighborhood or commonwealth rather than himself. He hardly doted on himself. Even religious activities were not to be done from selfish motives. God has justified him, having punished Christ in his place. Acceptance had been freely given, not achieved. Therefore, even developing one's personal relationship with Christ at the expense of the community was viewed as antisocial and, consequently, anti-Christian behavior.How much has Christianity become about "what I get out of it?" That's almost all of it.
Jollyblogger says in his introduction to the quotation:
As a committed individualist I approached my Christian life, for most of my Christian life in individualistic terms. I never gave thought to how my pursuit of my own spiritual growth negatively affected others. Now, as a pastor I see myself all too often.There is in this quote a very special word for pastors - people in ministry generally - I think. How many of you (Us? for I know this was true during my time in ministry) get into it "work out my calling." And yet, in accordance with this quote - such is not the point. i wonder if people who think like this even have a sense of "call"?
My guess is only in the sense that all are called - so just go serve. How many pastoral visits go unmade becasue the pastor is "called" to evangelism. How many ministry opportunities in your face are ignored because it is not "your vision"?
The selflessness that the Christian is to exhibit is extraordinary and none of us has learned - but it should start with our leadership.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
So What Do You Do?
Greg Stier has a gripe with many churches: their mission statement is a lie.Boy is that something I can relate to - I feel like the church lies all the time. When we preach love, but practice cliquishness and traffic in gossip - we lie. When we preach sexual purity, but are constantly rocked by sexual scandal, we lie. I could go on - this and so much more makes our witness ineffective and our God look like a phony. But is that what this post is about? No
Greg continues: "If we are proclaiming to the members of our congregation and community that evangelism is a primary purpose via our church’s mission statement and we are not making it a central priority of our church’s program and budgets then that mission statement is a lie."That bothers me - what solution is offered? - "Have you been equipped by your church to effectively share your faith and is someone in your church holding you accountable to do it...How many resources (time, talent and treasure) are being deployed by your church to mobilize God’s people for personal evangelism?...How much effort is being put into training teenagers and children to share their faith since they are most open to the gospel demographically?" That creates a picture for me a church that is working very hard to propagate "the lie" of gossipy love and scandalous purity.
If my church is not effectively spreading the good news of Jesus, I am going to assume it is becasue my church has not sufficiently appropriated that good news itself.
Think about this for just a minute - how hard to companies work to sell things you have to have? Not very hard really - advertising for meat for example is to say "My meat is better than his," but not, "you really need to buy meat." But products we do not need much - like another television, they work very hard to sell to us - new innovations, improvements to make our current TV look like it is not enough.
People need Jesus, so why do we have to work so hard to sell Him? I think because people cannot find the product here.
Think about it.
Monday, February 07, 2011
"To get the young people to come, you almost have to cooperate with their tastes." That's the quote from 92 year old Ethel Sprague. Ethel joined First Baptist Church of Stevens Point in 1937. She's been attending ever since...He goes on to discuss taste and change in a near dead church - but I think it is the wrong answer to the question.
How do we get young people to come to church? YOU LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!! That may involve changes in musical taste and it may not - that may involve a whole lot of things, but if all we do is accommodate their tastes all we do is make consumers of religion, not disciples of Christ.
Christianity is not something one "consumes" - at least not when it is done right - it is something that consumes us.
What truly bothers me about all this is that when we keep discussing it in these limited terms it reveals that we have not allowed ourselves to be consumed by our faith. And that, in the end is why we are ineffective.
Sad, but oh so true.