Saturday, January 28, 2012
My Vain Attempt At Humor
J Scott Campbell
Friday, January 27, 2012
A Question That MUST Be Asked
Has Mission Become Our Idol?Now THAT is one heck of an important question. It is one of my chief contentions that the idols the church must be most wary of are not money and fame, but the stuff of the church itself. His post opens this way:
“There is a first-rate commitment to a second-rate mission.” That is what Roger, a leader in global church planting, said as he looked at the rock climbers ascending a cliff in the Alps. Many of us called into ministry feel the same way. Rather than giving our lives to climbing a rock, building a business, or amassing a fortune, we are committed to what really matters; a first-rate mission--advancing the Gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ.Whether it's "mission" or "evangelism" or "growth" the same principle applies. And mos importantly, part of what makes it "second rate" is the fact that it IS our first priority.
But what if we’re wrong?
Roger spent decades serving Christ by planting churches on four continents. But after reflecting on his labors for the kingdom of God, his confession surprised many of us. “I’ve given most of my energy to a second-rate mission as well,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. Church planting is important. But someday that mission will end. My first calling is to live with God. That must be my first commitment.”
We, our lives, are the the single most important element of any outreach ministry. Our lives speak more than our words or organizations or ministries ever will. Our lives can only be transformed in deep communion with the God that made us and forgives us, and transforms us.
I return to one fact over and over - there was something about Jesus that made him stand above the 100's of would-be Messiahs that operated in that region at that time. The resurrection certainly, but even that could be written off as a parlor trick unless there was something about Jesus Himself that made people want to believe its reality.
The Holy Spirit can give us that something, but only if we seek it. And then no ministry will be second rate.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not… Now here is the problem. Going all the way back, when Al Gore invented the Internet [he said jokingly], I made the statement off and on for 10-11 years that the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism. And, folks, thatâ€™s exactly what has happened. It's like this. How do you really know, there is so much out there! This abundance [of information] has led to skepticism. And then the Internet has leveled the playing field [giving equal access to skeptics].Todd gets pretty smarmy pretty quick and ultimately concludes:
Instead of just telling us what a huge problem something is… give some solutions. Come on folks… let’s make it happen. If the internet is the biggest threat out there, let’s mobilize and do something about it (other than trying to get atheists banned from the internet).But Todd misses the point, stirring up the base does maintains the base which in turn maintains the cash flow. And that dear friends may be the greatest danger facing Christianity today. We are rapidly becoming defined by what we oppose instead of what benefit we offer. That may reflect our culture and it may even produce "success" in terms of audience size and cash flow, but does it reflect being the holders of GOOD NEWS?
Stirring up the base just stirs up the base. It doesn’t create or do anything but get lots of amens.
Strikes me that Christ and the apostles did not spend their ministry in opposition. They acted like they were the victors. Which in fact they were.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
A BIG Difference
As a pastor, I have authority in my community. But authority is not really what I want. What I really want is influence.I really agree with this - but then I am a highly literate American with my own leadership capabilities. Many people crave someone to exercise authority over their lives.
Authority is the ability to get people to do what I think they should do. Influence, however, is the ability to move people to want to do what they need to do.
I’ve come to realize something about the difference between my pastoral authority and my pastoral influence. When I get to a place where I have to lean on authority, because my influence just won’t get the job done, I’ve probably already lost. I may be able to get what I’m after by saying “Because I’m the pastor!” or using phrases like “executive decision” and so win that particular battle. But I’m almost certainly losing the war for maturity, for the strengthening of others in my community, and in my own soul.
Not to mention submitting to authority is a large part of learning humility - something each and every one of us needs to learn more and more each day.
No one has more authority than God and He used that authority to die for us.
It's not that authority is bad - it's how we use authority that matters. It's that we earn authority as opposed to demand it. It's that as gain authority we also submit to higher authority.
Some people need someone to tell them what to do. Some people need to be enticed to do something. Some people need to be accompanied on some task. Each of those is an exercise of authority and leadership. Each of those should be exercised not in what will "get the job done," but in what will help the person we are dealing with take one step closer to having their own humble authority.
And that in fact describes the real authority in such a relationship. When you are leading someone are you submitted to them?
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Consitency and Integrity
Jesus thought differently. He said that if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones too. By implication, you will not be faithful in the big things if you are not faithful in the little ones. The same is true, according to Jesus, when it comes to honesty. He even connects stewardship of financial resources with taking care of God’s riches.This, frankly, is one of my biggest beefs with how we do church these days. Staff seems to have on/off buttons. Uber-Christians when turned on and like the rest of us, or sometimes worse when turned off. That does not make sense to me - it makes being a a Christian seem like a performance at best and a lie at worst.
Jesus helps us to understand that we are not meant to live splintered lives. How we live in private cannot be distinct from how we live in public. We are called to a life of consistent integrity, consistent wholeness, consistent living no matter the context. Of course, we will all fail at times in our effort to live this way. But our failures do not mean the vision of Jesus is wrong. They mean, rather, that we must confess them to the Lord and ask him to help us live each moment in a way that honors him and serves the interests of his kingdom.
Not only does each believer need to struggle for consistent integrity, but leadership especially needs to. Instead of worrying about looking good, we need to worry about looking like we are improving. Yes, to be in leadership means you are a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to your maturity level, but maturity for sinners such as ourselves is measured less in mistakes and more in how we handle mistakes.
Recently, a private conversation that I had with someone was reported in a publication. Prior to publication, the editor came to me to make sure the writer had permission to make the report. I understand the journalistic necessity of such a request, but found it interesting. Why would I say something to someone that I did not want everyone to hear? This did not even involve saying anything hurtful or even controversial.
I think that makes an interesting guideline - live every day as if it were going to be published. it will certainly create consistent integrity.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Let The Spirit Work
There are no “steps” to “overcoming” discouragement. There is no answer, no fix for this problem. Furthermore, the Bible was not given for the purpose of enabling us to “conquer” this or any other emotional malady. It contains no instructions to follow that will lead to an answer. When genuine Christian love and wisdom speaks to such matters, it gives no prescription to apply, no regimen to take up, no course to take, no program to sign up for, no service to attend, no dramatic experience of divine intervention to plead for.The whole list thing is what happens when the church becomes a dispensary instead of an institution that shapes people. As Mike points out, people do not operate like machines - we do not live according to a strict set of rules:
Discouragement is a part of life and must be dealt with in the context of life. The reasons we find ourselves discouraged, the symptoms we experience, and the ways we find help, relief, and renewed strength are as unique as each individual. If I were trying to help a friend make it through a time of discouragement, I might even advise him to follow one or two of the suggestions in the list above. I would not argue that they contain no wisdom. What I am saying is that when you present a list like that from the pulpit or in another form of “Biblical counsel” you have created an expectation that the Bible is an answer book for all our problems and all we have to do is grasp its principles, apply them to our lives, and voila! no more discouragement (or whatever).
When I’m discouraged today, I might need someone to challenge me to get back in the game. Tomorrow, I might realize I need to take a walk with my wife and talk some things out. Next day, I might need to take a nap. Some days, lunch with a friend is in order. Other days, being alone helps. On certain days, I need to practice prayer more fervently. Other days, that will only discourage me further, so I should go mow the lawn or watch a ballgame. There are a million reasons why I get discouraged, and a million ways to help me work through it.But such situations cannot be dealt with in mass circumstances, they take relationships, hard won, with time and love and nonsense. But for that to work in a church the few have to build such relationships with a few more, and a few more and a few more. How is that going to make me famous? Get my book published?
Not sure, but it might help some discouraged people around you.