Saturday, May 03, 2014
Friday, May 02, 2014
I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before.Mark Roberts:
In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.
Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.
The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.
This passage [Eph 4:11-13] deserves careful scrutiny, which I hope to provide in future reflections. For today, however, I want to step back and see the wider purpose of Christian ministry. This purpose includes: the building up of the body of Christ, which entails its unity and maturity. Notice that this purpose probably implies the numerical growth of the church, but it does not focus there. Rather, the building up of the body of Christ has to do primarily with its unity and maturity.It is important when setting goals to differentiate product from by-product. Packer bemoans what happens when by-product is deemed product.
If your church is failing in ten numbers games, the right question to ask is how are you failing at "unity and maturity." Fix the product and the by-product follows in kind.
churches numbers products
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Giving God A Bad Name
The good idea is that whatever we do in Christ's name it should be well done.
The repellent part is that using the cover charge thought as a means of measuring that quality further solidifies the idea that what is done at church is a form of entertainment. It completely ignores the work of the Spirit. Church has a bit more going on than the average night club.
Then there is the idea that it is so utterly impersonal. Most of what happens in church happens based on relationship, not presentation.
And finally, think about what people will pay a cover charge for. There is a lot of nasty stuff out there that makes a whole lot of money. It's not much of a measure, really.
I'm thinking repellent wins this one - time to move on.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
12 Game-Changing and Tweetable ProverbsOK, I confess that Proverbs tend to be "snippets" of wisdom, but "Tweetable?" I don't think wisdom can be tweeted. Out of context and out of the life of a person devoted to Christ, Proverbs are either a) nonsense of b) problematic. Wisdom is more than just little sayings. That is the biggest problem with Twitter. It is newsy, but it is structurally impossible for ti to be wise. It would be far more useful if people understood that one simple fact.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Ain't That The Truth
Monday, April 28, 2014
Can’t stop thinking about this…I object to pretty much any effort to create dichotomy between the Old and New Testaments. They are of a whole. But I find this one particularly objectionable.
Whenever Church leaders talk about how great it is to be a follower of Jesus, does it ever bother you that they always go back to the Old Testament for props for their teachings and sermons?
In the Old Testament, the reward in this life for faithfulness included the following:
Freedom from want
Respect from the community
But then in the New Testament, something else enters that idyllic picture and seems to replace it. The reward in this life for faithfulness in the New Testament:
Separation from family
Amid all those sermons on all the great stuff you’ll now get from claiming OT promises, no one seems to talk about the hallmarks of NT faithfulness and what its rewards now look like.
There are simple logical reasons to object. New Testament "rewards" were declared in a time when Christianity was not the dominate religion of the land. But it has been in the Western world for quite some time (Though who knows if that will last? - doesn't look like it.). That is to say, when the fullness of Christ's ministry is seen, would it not be reasonable to assume that the promises of the Old Testament would be upheld?
But then there are the deeply spiritual reasons for objecting. Our focus is on Christ and if we are so focused, whatever reward we receive - prosperity or persecution - large family or separation from family - will seem a) insignificant compared to the glory of Christ and b) a blessing because it originates from Christ.
We do not need such divisions, we need Jesus!