Saturday, July 13, 2013
From the herous obscura department - hence we have highlighted the character for you.
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Friday, July 12, 2013
I’m pretty sure John Wesley never had to worry about some smart-aleck college student saying “You know that story you told last week? Well, the interwebs say it’s a lie!”
I’ll say it—the internet has ruined the art of making up a good sermon illustration. Even into the early-90s, pastors could repeat heart-breaking stories with utmost confidence that their sources were sound. The intent was pure, the message strong, and the audience incapable of proving otherwise…and then along came Google.
As recently as a decade ago, the pastor knew his stories were safe until people could get home to their PCs, and even then there was a good chance that they would forget what to search for while waiting for Windows to boot. Now smartphones have given parishioners the ability to fact-check before the illustration is even complete.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is opening a mobile browser the instant I hear: “In 1859, a tightrope walker named Blondin…” But there are always prying eyes noticing that you have left the YouVersion app and are now speed-reading a Wikipedia article.
As someone who has been involved in the art of illustration fact-checking since Blackberrys were cool, I feel it is my responsibility to help the rest of you who may not know the finer points of fact-checking (a.k.a. “testing the spirits”)
I don't find this funny. I do not find it funny that pastors would present illustrative stories as fat that are not fact and I do not find it funny that people would check up on it. I assume pastors have sources for their illustrations, and they usually do. Those sources can be wrong, but if the pastor did his/her homework - LET IT BE!
If the pastor did in fact make the illustration up of whole cloth then the problems are a lot deeper than just checking the veracity of the illustration on the internet.
This is not a problem, or it is a huge problem - but it is not funny.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The Role of Music
Five Thoughts from “Church Music Month”
1. It is essential that churches and church leaders have a well-considered and carefully applied theology of worship and music.I have emphasized a couple there that I think are vitally important. I recommend that everyone that has to deal with church music, read and think about these very carefully.
2. Music should serve the larger purpose of the liturgy and worship and not be treated as an end in itself.
3. Leadership of music ministry in the church should be pastoral and not just musicological.
4. There is a place for musical excellence and “performance” as special gifted ministry within the church, but ultimately music belongs to the entire congregation as a means of worship and mutual edification.
5. Churches may have a genuine missional opportunity to provide serious music and arts education in their communities now and in the future.
church music worship
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Why are Christians such jerks?
Because people are jerks.
And then they become Christians and become less of a jerk. And hopefully less of a jerk next year and the year after that and the year after that, as their minds are renewed.Actually, I think Christians are bigger jerks than regular people because we carry with us moral authority and then because we are people, we tend to use that authority like jerks. And I think that is a problem with the Christianity we are promulgating.
We proclaim a Christianity that is about all sorts of things, morality, feeling good about yourself, prosperity. But we never proclaim the Christianity that Jesus did - one of confession and humility.
If our faith starts on our knees confessing our sin then it is very difficult to be a jerk because the starting point of our faith is in our inability, not our ability.
It is possible, just possible, that the gospel we proclaim, or at least the portions of the gospel we proclaim are making the problem worse, not better.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Trust In Leadership
- Always display confidence, but never cockiness.
- Always follow through, so don’t over-commit.
- Always put trust in others, so they’ll put trust in you.
- Always extend grace, but be firm in some non-negotiables.
- Always try to be knowledgeable and aware by constantly learning, but realize you don’t know everything and you’ll know far more with a team.
- Always exhibit humility, but take great pride in your work.
- Always value people more than you value progress.
A church is an institution that exists for a very specific purpose - leaders in the church, must be in service to that purpose - wholly and completely. Too often leaders do things to advance themselves that do not necessarily advance the purpose of the institution. That erodes my trust in them because at that point they and I are no longer focused on the same goal. Edmondson's talk of humility touches on this, but I think it needs to be emphasized. It is incumbent on a leader, especially a church leader, to spend enormous energy in self-evaluation (and listen carefully to those around them) to make sure they are focused on the goals and needs of the institution, not themselves.
The second place I lose trust in a leader is when they try to manipulate me. You know what I am talking about they resort to technique and sales trickery to get me to do something rather than reason with me. I think I may be unique in this, but manipulation is in my view a form of coercion and perhaps lying. Certainly it uses forces other that physical in its coercion and the lie is in the lack of a stated agenda, because if the agenda was stated resistance would form. It really is a form of deception. This Edmondson also strikes at briefly with his appeals to people first, but this is a little different.
If you read me as hating to deal with passive-aggressive leadership, you'd be right.
Monday, July 08, 2013
On Being Childless
I want to push back against a convention that seems to be developing in evangelical circles that if you are without children, and did not wish to be so, you ought to adopt. There is a subtle shift in adoption from a good option for a childless couple into something like a moral obligation. Or at least, a suggestion that if adoption is so good and praiseworthy, that it is bad and unworthy not to feel a call to it in such circumstances.He goes on at length to discuss the difference between a good thing and a command, and then concludes with these extraordinary insights:
Or, least glamorously of all, it may be a vocation to live, in holy contentment, with the frustration of a good and beautiful desire. To frankly recognize what has been providentially denied to you, but to live the Christian life learning to praise the God who did not provide that blessing. It’s not a vocation you can easily build a movement around. It has none of the flash and glamor of a grand adventure, but all of the romance and glory.Living in precisely that place, I can tell you that God can and does work in your life through such denials as well as through blessings. God's grace produces what is best in us, which is not always our hearts desire. Sometimes what is best comes precisely from having that deepest desire denied. That may be the hardest, but best, lesson of all.
Childless best sacrifice