Saturday, July 26, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
...Education policymakers and reformers don’t champion the humanities chiefly because, for all the noise they make about keeping us aware of our higher purposes or enriching us with the noble and beautiful, the humanities as actually taught and studied today have virtually nothing profound or even interesting to say. “The humanities’ diminished state is to a large degree self-inflicted . . . Much of what is rewarded as advanced thinking on campus is undecipherable, trivial, filtered, or capricious. Hiring, tenure, soft money, and university publishing help protect these modes of thought.”Dehumanizing...Reduction...Mere - those words ring and ring in my head as I read that. There are two phenomena I see that result in this bleak picture.
It is ironic that, far from helping us understand what it means to be human, the humanities are deeply dehumanizing. When they are not enslaving us to arbitrary identity categories based on our race, sex, class, and (now) sexual preference, they are exalting the sovereign self and its arbitrary tastes as the measure of all things. Math and science are generally the fields singled out as allegedly hostile to the cultivation of humane life. It’s true that scientific technocracy is a real danger, but it’s not clear to me why a pseudo-scientific reduction of the human being to a mere material body is more dehumanizing, or more on the rise in our culture, than a pseudo-humanist reduction of the human being to a mere receptor of aesthetic stimuli, or a mere participant in identity politics. Indeed, the worst reductionists among the humanities and the worst reductionists among the sciences often join arms and make common cause...
The first is the view that education is the passing on of "information." It's not - education is about knowledge and wisdom. Information is reducible; knowledge and wisdom are expansive. Information can be reduced, packaged and readily and objectively measured. Knowledge and wisdom involve things like character in the application of the information, something that can only be judged subjectively. Any fool can pass on information, only a person of knowledge, wisdom and character can pass on knowledge and wisdom. Information can be placed in a computer program and passed on in an entirely mechanical fashion. Passing on knowledge and wisdom requires messy human interaction.
The second is the absence of God. This has been said so often that it is almost cliche' But truly when there is no Almighty to make man look upward, all becomes merely mechanical.
I blame the church for this. We have retreated into therapeutic personal religion and left the world to rot.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Nah - Just Seven Ways To Grow
- Desire growth
- Accept correction
- Listen to wiser voices
- Invest in others
- Recognize weaknesses
- Refuse mediocrity
- Embrace failure
I realize that Edmondson's blog is for people that want to be leaders, but I think he does s disservice by putting this post this way. He serves to set apart common Christian growth as something reserved for leaders and that the average church attender need not bother. Either that or he perpetuates the presumption that we are all leaders.
In a sense we are all leaders, but not in the get in front and organize the church sense. But organizational problems are the least of my concerns. What does concern me is that common Christian maturity is being placed in the realm of leadership. This is how the church got into the mess to begin with.
Frankly, the church needs more common Christan maturity and less leadership right now.
growth leadership maturity
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I am forced to wonder if the culture God needs to create in the church is one of "innovation?" Is the mission of the church any different now than it was 2000 years ago? Of course, we may be discussing innovation in the limited sense of how we fulfill that mission, but even about that I wonder.The next time I hear a pastor argue that what the church really needs is more innovative pastors I might lose my hair. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against innovation or against innovative pastors in principle. The church certainly needs transformation and we desperately need folks with new ideas. My problem is with our temptation to locate innovation with the clergy and the way it perpetuates a savior mythology, one that oppresses them as much as it does us we lay folk.That’s a quote from Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Our churches need, desperately, to become places of change. While the occasional new idea from the pastor can be good modeling, the pastor that innovates continuously sucks the air out of the church and leaves no room for innovation elsewhere. Our churches would be better served by clergy who excelled at creating and nurturing cultures of innovation.
I would expect that some might say that this sentiment is nice but they know, or serve, churches where creating a culture of innovation is impossible. Where we find this to be true we should be quick to lock the doors and shutter the windows. Before we do this however, we should consider that there is a difference between a church that continuously rejects its pastor’s new ideas and one that refuses to create their own when given a chance.
The Spirit of God is the church’s true innovator. Relocating the process of innovation where we know the Spirit resides – the community – is our most faithful path forward.
You know, it's funny - technology has changed so much about how we do things, and yet nothing has changed. Take wood working for example. We have developed all sorts of machines to aid the wood worker. But to build a truly excellent piece of furniture, no matter how much of that vaunted technology the builder will employ, it will come down to the builder using chisels and abrasives to fine tune the joints to that perfect fit. Sure, you can buy lots of furniture built entirely by machine, but it is of lesser quality that the stuff where the artisan has done his best.
Regardless of how much we innovate in the church, making disciples will come down to what it has always come down do. SO the question becomes do we need to innovate so we can make more "cheaper knock-off" Christians or do we need to build the skills necessary to build the finest Christians out there? There are economic reasons why we buy cheap knock-off furniture, but what is our motivation to settle for cheap knock-off Christianity?
The reason we buy cheap knock-off furniture is a lack of capital. we can never get enough cash together to buy the good stuff so we get the lesser stuff. We will probably have to replace it again in our lives, but at least we can afford it. Can people replace Christianity later in their lives when it breaks down due to inferior construction?
To learn how to wood work well, you learn the old skills first. Until you can handle a plane a chisel and sandpaper - a table saw and router are cool, but your work product is still mediocre. I think rather than innovate, the church need to learn the old skills first. We are craftsmen, not manufacturers,
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The Pastoral Role
According to Ephesians 4:11-12, pastors and other church leaders are to do something for you. This something may indeed involve preaching and caring and leading. But the primary task of pastors is to equip God's people for their work of ministry. To make it more personal, the primary task of your pastor is to equip you for your ministry. Or, it might be better to say that your pastor's job is to equip you to live your whole life as ministry.My question is, "What constitutes our ministry?" I think that too often that question is answered by cramming people into little boxes marked "trivia the church needs done." Yes, there is much necessary to the operation of an institution like a local congregation and yes all of it is ministry of some form or another-but recruiting and motivating volunteers does not constitute preparing people for ministry,
I realize that most church members do not expect their pastors to equip them for ministry. Our expectations have been shaped by centuries of church life that has exalted ordained ministry as "the ministry" and minimized the calling of all Christians to be ministers of Christ. Yet, in the last sixty years, Christians throughout the world have been rediscovering the biblical truth that all of God's people are ministers, and that pastors have the primary responsibility of training and encouraging the true ministers for their true ministry.
A second point I would like to make is that ofttimes ministry is not what we do, but who we are. What is essentially Christian about helping put on a congregational dinner versus doing the same thing for the PTA? Is it just the fact that it is for the church that matters? Ministry is often not about the work itself, but the quality of the work and the attitude of the worker.
Jesus did not come to make us do "stuff," He came to change who we are - to recreate us. It is that recreative process that pastors are supposed to be aiding. I wonder how many pastor do?
Monday, July 21, 2014
Can You Answer This Question?
This common way of speaking is not supported in Scripture, however. For example, let's look closely at Ephesians 4:11-12. In this passage, we have clear identification of the kinds of people we would call ministers: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. But are they the ministers? Are they the ones who do the ministry of Christ?This is so right and yet so abused. So often we tell people they are fulfilling their ministry by inviting their neighbor to church. It's not that numerical growth in church is a bad thing - it's that such serves to narrow the vision for what constitutes ministry and to reinforce the understanding that any ministry other than invites belongs to the professionals.
No, not according to this passage. The NIV translation says that these leaders are "to equip his [Christ's] people for works of service" (4:12). That's a reasonable paraphrase, but it can blunt the sharp edge of the original language. A more literal translation is found in the ESV and the classic RSV, where it says that the leaders are "to equip the saints for the work of ministry."
Thus, according to Ephesians 4:11-2, the leaders of the church are to equip the saints (all of Christ's people) for ministry. The leaders are not the primary ministers. Rather, the ministers are the people of God, who have been drafted into God's ministry, and who are to be equipped for their ministry by the leaders. When we call these leaders "ministers" or when we say that they have gone into "the ministry," we run the risk of obscuring the fact that, according to Scripture, all Christians are ministers ... including you.
I am increasingly running into professionals that jealously guard their territory. When an able volunteer comes forward they are squelched because the staff member has a job to protect. I understand volunteers are hard to control, often unreliable and sometimes not very good. But I wonder...
...Do we really need to control things that tightly?
...Are we relying on God if we are worried about the reliability of the volunteers?
...What matters more - the development of the volunteer or the quality of the program?
...Why can't we "make" volunteers that do not have these problems?
church ministry professionals