Saturday, August 10, 2013


Comic Art

Artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez 

Friday, August 09, 2013


Wive's Tales

Ed Stetzer links to Brian Orme and "10 Old Wives' Tales About Church Growth":
If You're Not Growing, Something's Wrong
That's an economic principal, not a church one. Not to mention the fact that even in economics, growth has to be managed, and managed well.
The More You Grow, the Healthier You Are
Is cancer healthy? "Nuff said."
Contemporary Music Will Save Your Church
If such externalities are what you re relying upon, then your church is simply sick. I think everybody knows about lipstick on a pig - right?
Church Growth Can Be Manufactured
Oh really? So the Holy Spirit does what we tell Him to do? I had no idea.
If Your Church Grows, Your Leader Is "Anointed"
Pseudo-Pentecostal nonsense.
If Your Church Doesn't Grow, It's a Problem with the Leader
No, it's a problem with the church, but it is the leaders job to heal the church, so there's a bit of a circle here. If its the congregation blaming the pastor then I'd say it's blame shifting.
Good Preaching Is the Answer to Growing Your Church
See music comments above.
You Will Retain a Large Percentage of Your Visitors on Special Days
This one never works, and it has been persistent throughout the modern protestant age, it's not just an evangelical issue.
The More Programs You Offer, the More Your Church Will Grow
Yes, we all shop at Wal-Mart because of the variety! I don;t think so. In factpepople of reasonable means rarely shop at Wal-Mart because they offer so much junk. Why do you think companies often ditch the acquisitions and concentrate on their core?
If You Build It, They Will Come
Of course, everybody in the Obama voting, homsexual embracing world is looking for a church home.

OK, I just needed a snark day.


Friday Humor

Thursday, August 08, 2013


Is "In" Bad?

Todd Rhoades list 5 signs of "inward drift: in a church:
  1. Most of the ministries and programs are focused on meeting the desires and needs of the members.
  2. The budget of the congregation is directed primarily at funding the projects and even comforts of the members.
  3. Conflict in the congregation is not uncommon since members are more concerned about getting their perceived needs and desires met.
  4. There is little to no focus on evangelism, reaching out to the community, and getting the gospel to the nations.
  5. Leadership is weak and reticent to address the problems, because that leadership emphasis could disrupt the status quo.
Some of these are indeed signs of trouble in a church, but I am not sure that are all relates, nor am I sure they are signs of an "inward" church - nor is "inward" all bad.

The model of the church that these points taken as a package represents is a model that says the church is almost entirely a reproductive organ. But it is not, the church is the whole body of Christ. It has system for reproduction, but it also has many more system to sustain itself. In fact, in time of crisis, the reproductive systems are some of the first that the body robs support from to use the energy for other more important survival functions.

The church is not the evangelist - the members of the church are. If the evangelists are not being cared for, they are not going to evangelize. For the body to grow, it must be first healthy. To chastise a body for caring for itself when it is ill is a bit ridiculous, don't you think? OF course such a body is going to use its resources to heal itself.

Oh, I can hear the objections now - "But the old fogies won't...." - "They never...."

Did you ever stop to think that if the problems is the members are not evangelizing that you need to make them better members, not just get new ones? If you're called to be a pastor, pastor. If your called to be an evangelist - get out of the church and into the field.


Illuminated Hymn

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013


Not Enough!

Todd Rhoades:
Thom Schultz from Group Publishing says that Group recently polled church-goers and asked them why they go to church. Here’s what they found:
51% go to worship God
10% go to learn something new
8% go to feel better
8% go out of duty–”God wants me to”
5% go for their children
4% go to be with friends
2% go out of habit
1% go because a spouse or friend expects them to go

None of that is enough! Now, I do wonder about survey design. Certainly both "worship" and "duty" and parts of a good answer, and I wonder if the respondents were not forced to pick a single answer from a list of answers. Which leads me to the real point I want to make.

One of the real problems with using these types of tools in church is that they so limit understanding. The more mature one becomes in their faith, the more complex the answer to the question, "Why do you go to church?" should be come. And yet, we expect people to give us these simple, one dimensional answers. I wonder if we even make room for people to reach maturity in the church any more.

What;s really troubling is that media ave discovered that the key is not to have a large audience, but a loyal one - one consumes first the book and then the movie, and then the TV show and then the web site and the merchandizing and the....

I wonder what a church following that marketing strategy would look like?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Theologian on Music

Thanks to Out of Ur for the link to this video of N.T. Wright discussing worship music:

Worship Songs from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

Worship songs like "teenage love songs" is quite the image, is it not? And so apt.

I have drawn the connection between "contemporary" worship and the youth ministries of my youth many times, and I think "adolescent" is a good word to describe such worship services.
As wright says, such things are useful in their place, but they also have limits. Wright describes these things as sensational but not lasting. They pull people in, but they do not lead to depth, maturity, or longing for the lasting. I saw this over and over when I did youth ministry. We were ever so successful at pulling them in and getting them excited. We were ever so good at building their loyalty to our ministry "brand." But...

But here I am now, decades later and so few are still in the church in any form. Fewer still maintain a deep and personal daily relationship with Christ.

You know, we spend so much time figuring out how to get people to church. We borrow techniques and ideas from marketing and advertising. Come to think of it, that's pretty well developed "science" these days. I think we should turn our creative energies in how to motivated people to take the next step. On-line community building is one way that the world has found to take their consumers to the next level. I wonder how we accomplish the same thing on a flesh and blood level. How do we make Jesus geeks?

Mostly I'd like to see all the creative energy that goes into designing these fancy worship services turn in that direction. We know how to get them through the door, let;s move them in deeper.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, August 05, 2013


Reading Scripture

Reformation Theology lists "16 Rules of Biblical Interpretation":
  1. Consider the Author
  2. Consider the Audience
  3. The Meaning of Words
  4. Historical Setting
  5. Grammar
  6. Textual Issues
  7. Syntax
  8. Form of Literature
  9. Immediate Context
  10. Document Context
  11. Author’s Context
  12. Biblical Context
  13. Understand the difference between prescriptive and descriptive statements in the Bible.
  14. Build all doctrine on necessary rather than possible inferences.
  15. Interpret the unclear passages in Scripture in light of the clear.
  16. Think for yourself but not by yourself.
This is really good stuff - really good. Too many people read the Bible in that "What does this mean to me?" light and never ask the question of what the author was trying to say.

The Bible speaks to us, it does not serve us.

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