Saturday, September 01, 2012


Comic Art


Nothing strikes terror into the heart of the superheros like the MASTERMIND. Someone so smart that they are always a few moves ahead of the competition. Schemes, layers, plans. Such a mastermind is Calculator. Frankly, guys like this make MY brain hurt. Forget the wrong physics and the impossible stunts - the most impossible feat in any scheme story is to anticipate human behavior. Guys like Calculator do not stand a chance against the simplicity of human whim. But you have to love them for the sheeer audacity of trying.

I know a lot of smart people, and typically, the smarter they are the less they understand about people. Consider.

People are just not that predictable. If they were, politics would be an entirely different game. If they were, marketing would be an entirely different game. Which brings up the real point of this post. If you are really as smart as Calculator seem to think he is, why oh why does he turn to crime? I mean seriously, a guy this smart could become a marketing consultant and make far more money far faster than any old scheme to rob Fort Knox.

Come now, think about it - if you really understood people well enough to manipulate them in accordance with your grand scheme, you could manipulate them to buy Coke. Heck, if you are that smart, they might pay you enormous sums of money NOT to be a marketing consultant just to keep the playing field fair.

Honestly, if you are that smart and can manipulate people that well, think of the money to be made as a church consultant. I mean you could create the first Gigachurch! Oh, wouldn't that be lovely - hundreds of thousands of people showing up for church on any given Sunday morning. Consider the staff you could hire, the physical plant you could build....

But NO - our guy has to turn to crime. The hardest possible way to make money there is. Maybe he is not so smart after all.

Friday, August 31, 2012


So, Sometimes Tradition Matters?!

Jon Acuff:
Every Christmas though, deep down inside, I secretly wish that my very contemporary church would go old school. All year long, I love how modern we are. Man, oh man, that speaks to my contemporary heart. That is my jam!

But, as I take my last bite of turkey on Thanksgiving Day, I turn into old school traditional church guy and start to long for an old fashioned Christmas church experience.

Most of us that are regular church-goers decry the insincerity of the "Christmas and Easter" only types.

And it seems that at those same times of year we want traditional worship?

Interesting parallel! Just sayin'

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Friday Humor

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Thursday, August 30, 2012


Maybe the Mormons Are On To Something

It is amazing what people can do when they work together. Despite not having a pastor for three years, the congregation of First Baptist Church in Spearfish Pass in South Dakota has managed to grow and they are now getting ready to celebrate the Church’s 60th anniversary.

When the last pastor left there were only four members in the congregation. In the last three years it has grown to 40 parishioners. One member has described the Church as being “blessed.”
One of the many reasons there are so many twentysomethings still in the nest is because parents forget that their job is to make adults - not "parent kids."

Pastors, I think, have the same problem. They don't want the congregation to get too mature or else they won't get to be so much "in charge" anymore.

I have said many time that one of the problems in traditional evangelical churches is that it looks like you reach a point in you Christian walk where your only option is to "go pro." That means, in part, we need to help people understand that serving sandwiches at Subway matters. But more, we need to learn to honor them in the church.

The Mormon, whatever problems they may have - have got this one right. No professional clergy. That, I believe, is one of the reasons their people are so committed to the church. Maturity in that faith is recognized and rewarded.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Well Said!

What If I Stumble is an unusual blog. It is written by a Korean American and spends a lot of time dealing with the problems particular to Korean expression of Presbyterianism. But I thought this post, copied in total great:
How many "Christians are truly believers, disciples of Christ? There are many that have a false profession of faith and no true repentance. Unrepentant "Christians" have found a home in our churches. In the Bible, repentance always comes before true faith. Many "Christians" profess to have true faith but have never truly repented. Profession of faith without true repentance, however, is an embarrassment to the church and to all true Christians.
I like that phrase "embarrassment to the church." And when you think about it virtually everything that has happened about which I feel embarrassed can be found in a lack of repentance. From pedophile priests to Jimmy Swaggart to this - all of can be explained by people who figure they are just a bit better than the rest of us and/or God.

And yet, time and again studies show that preaching in a effort to convict people does not lead to repentance - it leads to people leaving church. So how do we bring people to repentance?

We love them to it. People, confronted with the genuine love of Christ feel convicted in the face of that love. The love of Christ can only be borne of genuine goodness which can only come in us when WE are truly repentant and allow the Holy Spirit to go to work.

So maybe instead of trying to figure out how to bring repentance in other, we need to figure out how to do it ourselves, the others will follow.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Science and Religion - Not As Different As You Think

Presbyterian Blogger:
If we thought more about it, I’m sure we could add to this list. We Christians believe some odd, impossible things.
And that’s why I find quantum mechanics so comforting. Yes, comforting. Because it is odd and and full of impossible things. Now, quantum mechanics doesn’t prove any of what Christians believe. What quantum physics does is show us the oddness of the world. It is proof that rational, logical thought doesn’t completely explain the universe.
Fair enough - the world of quantum mechanics is full, very full of weirdness - mathematical weirdness to be sure, but weird things happen nonetheless.

Gut feelings may trump good old-fashioned facts, and even religious beliefs, when it comes to accepting the theory of evolution, new research suggests.
This needs a bit of expansion:
They found that intuition had a significant impact on what the students accepted, no matter how much they knew and regardless of their religious beliefs. Even students with a greater knowledge of evolutionary facts weren't more likely to accept the theory unless they also had a strong gut feeling about the facts, the results showed.
So, what do we conclude? Well, for starters if science and faith are "at war" it is not a war of facts and figures and reason.

Which brings me to the important conclusion, a point I have made on this blog many times. You cannot argue someone to Christ. The argument will not take hold unless there is something else at play - some "gut feel." Something has to be at play that makes people willing to accept the argument. Typically, though not exclusively that is a relationship or relationships - good ones.

Evangelism is a slow process, requiring patience of the part of the evangelizer. God's patience has extended millenia. Maybe when we think about how to change the world we need to think about how to develop our own patience.

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Monday, August 27, 2012


The Quiet Tyranny of a Church With A Large Staff

Let's forget megachurches for a minute - when you have thousands for worship, you need a big staff. Let's talk about the average church - 300-500.

When I was young the average church of 300-500 got by with a pastor, an associate pastor, a secretary, and facilities staff. In this day and age the staff may be a large as the ruling board. Sure lots of them are part timers, but the numbers are amazing. "Director of Spiritual Formation" - "Children's Minister" - "Youth Minister" - "Communications Director" - "Financial Officer" - Director of Worship" - "Sound Producer" - I could go on, but you get the idea.

There is a chicken-and-egg question when it comes to why staff have burgeoned so in recent decades. Most point to the advent of the two-income household and a subsequent decrease n the available volunteer pool. I think it is far more complex than that, but that;s not where I want to be - I want to simply talk about where we are in regards to this matter and some of the ramifications.

There are two tendencies with large staffs. One, the average volunteer or non-paid leader is going to defer to the judgement of the paid staff because they should be, by virtue of their professional status, "experts." (I can think of countless incidents where such is questionable, but it is a reasonable assumption.) Secondly, when you have that many around getting paid to do stuff, it will be harder to attract volunteers becasue most will assume we are "paying someone to do that." These tendencies produce a result - those that do volunteer never really get to become "leaders" - they are reduced to role fillers in an greater organization defined by the staff.

There is something wrong with this picture. The purpose of the church is not to build itself, but to build up those within it. In a perfect world people would come to a church for a period and then leave it ready to lead their own church - that's evangelism. Instead they come to a church and are placed in a system designed to help them remain infantile in their faith.

I have known parents so absorbed with their parenting that they forget to help their children grow up. The they are baffled when their kids never become productive members of society and are "still int he basement" at 30.

Interesting parallel, isn't it?

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