Saturday, August 08, 2015


Comic Art

Artist John Romita, Sr. 

Friday, August 07, 2015



Jeff Brumley:
For years now, some agencies and experts who coach church planters and struggling congregations have tried to steer over-eager or desperate clients away from the quick fix of sizzling worship services or other gimmicks to draw big crowds.

Instead, they attempt to lead ministers to the very time consuming process of reviving or building churches that nurture disciples and serve surrounding neighborhoods, congregational coaches like George Bullard say.

“You have to work with people in an adult discipleship process,” said Bullard, president of the South Carolina-based Columbia Partnership and general secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship. “You can’t expect to wow them with a worship service.”
They go on to talk about how it is important to understand that "a crowd is not a church" - agreed. The title of this article is "No magic bullet for church survival, Rick Warren and other Baptists say" which inspires me to add the following quip.

The church should not survive, it should thrive.


Friday Humor

Thursday, August 06, 2015


Cars and Church

David T. Koyzis writes on how the car, enabling people to travel distances to church, has changed everything:
The most important consequence of this trend is that the gathered church—as distinct from the church as corpus Christi, which is all-encompassing—has been reduced to a mere voluntary association of like-minded individuals who can join and quit, or come and go at their discretion. The church, like any other commodity in the marketplace, exists only to serve the needs of its individual members. In this respect John Locke’s definition, scarcely deemed orthodox in seventeenth-century England, seems uncontroversial today: “A church, then, I take to be a voluntary society of men, joining themselves together of their own accord in order to the public worshipping of God in such manner as they judge acceptable to Him, and effectual to the salvation of their souls” (emphases mine). Note the contrast to the scriptural definition of Church as the covenant community of those called by God into a living relationship with him.
I am not sure all the blame belongs to the automobile, but it is certainly a heavy contributor to a phenomena rightly noted. Koyis posits one solution:
We cannot, of course, return to a pre-automotive past. That option is closed to us. However, what if every new church building were to forgo the ubiquitous parking lot in the interest of restoring a normative ecclesiology? Might it force the churches to reach out to their own neighborhoods? Might it compel people to re-embrace the parish model, attending the church to which they can most easily walk? Or have the corroding powers of consumerism eliminated this as a viable possibility once and for all? Giving up our motorized vehicles will not happen any time soon, short of our oil wells finally running dry. In the meantime, we should do what we can to advance and support an ecclesiology less obviously dependent on the consumer model and more dependent on the grace of God in Christ.
Couldn't hurt, but I think the problem runs deeper. I don't think cars would make that much of a difference if we were doing other things better. Th same thing pretty much holds true for all the externalities that we rely on these days to build church, music, child services, etc.

If people in the church simply worked on being more attractive instead of WHAT would attract more people I think things would change very rapidly.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


The Unexamined Experience?

Mark Roberts:
There are at least two “audience temptations” when it comes to our worship. The first I mentioned yesterday. It’s the most pervasive temptation among Christians in our day; I think it deserves a little more scrutiny. What is it? It’s the temptation to think of ourselves as the audience for worship. The worship service exists primarily to meet our needs, to inspire us, to instruct us, to fill us up so we can live faithfully for another week. Now, I should say that these things often happen when we worship, thanks be to God. But to make any of these the primary purpose of worship is a mistake. Worship is not for us, first of all, but for God. When we allow ourselves to become the audience of worship, we are actually putting ourselves in a place reserved for the Lord. (Never a good idea!) If we remember that God is the true audience of worship, then our minds and hearts will be primed to offer all that we are to him.

[...] might ask the people close to you to help you learn to think of worship in a new light. For example, if the tradition in your family is to evaluate the music or sermon on the way home from church, you could agree together to ask new questions. Rather than, “What did you think of the sermon?” you could ask, “What helped you to worship God in the service this morning?” The support of your community will help you learn to live out the reality that God is the audience for your worship.
I have two quick reactions to that. One is that I think it is too easy to dismiss our critical faculties from use in worship. At least not worship involving the presentation of critical thinking type information like a sermon. I would challenge Mark here to describe how a sermon, usually an argument presented to the congregation, makes the audience God? If so, I would think it would be a very different thing. If it is the preacher preaching to Go, on behalf of the congregation, is that not awfully close to a priestly role?

My second reaction is that if indeed God is the audience for worship, then all questions about what attracts people to worship are null and void. As are all questions about how I think it best or "feel" it best to express myself to God - what's going on with me is not the point. What is the expression God most desires is the only question.

I won't argue that a big part of what goes on on Sunday morning is to pull us out of ourselves - that's a good thing. But if worship is to be all about God, it's going to far more radically different than anything I am hearing anyone talk about these days.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015



Miguel Ruiz @ iMonk:
Now, if that isn’t cheesy or cliche, is it at least missing something rather critical that ought to have some prominence in a church advertising campaign? There is no Jesus in the equation. Does He have anything to offer my life? Or more importantly, does He have any life to offer me? From the pamphlets we received, you might indeed assume He was anything but high up on their list of priorities, most of which reflected the first world desire of consumer culture for historically unprecedented comfortability.
Yeah, that about sums it up.

Come to think of it, this whole advertising thing is about a unified message - not mixed messaging.

Monday, August 03, 2015


Preaching Into Diversity

Richard Mouw:
I have been hearing a lot in Christian circles in recent years about the need to support people in their diverse “vocations.” That is a healthy emphasis—as long as that diversity includes serious attention to the vocations of people sitting in wheelchairs in retirement communities and a teenage boy who is trying to summon up the courage to ask a girl on a date.

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