Thinking Out Loud

March 31, 2011

Christianity 201

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:17 pm
Happy Birthday to Us!
The brother blog — I’m a guy and I can’t say “sister blog” — to this one, Christianity 201, concluded its first year this evening, and begins year two of providing devotional content and Bible study discussion material.  Its motto is “digging a little deeper.”  Check out C201 by following this link.

200 People Are Skipping Church on Palm Sunday

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:14 am

I’ve never been prouder of an initiative launched by the church we’ve attended — off and on — for 20 years since moving an hour east of Toronto.

Call it “reaching out,” or “community involvement,” or whatever you want.  Cobourg Alliance Church has decided to participate — in a huge way — in the annual walk for Multiple Sclerosis; a walk which just happens to fall on Palm Sunday, what most would consider the third most important Sunday of the year after Easter Sunday and Christmas Sunday.

The church will still hold worship services for those who wish to attend, but the nearly 200 people who have signed up so far is a significant percentage of the regular attendance at church in this town of only 18,500.

Participation also means fundraising, and the pastor, Andre Turcotte, is hoping that the church will be one of the top fundraisers in the area.  Those who can’t walk significant distances will be acting as volunteers. There are five individuals and/or families in the church dealing with MS.

I’m sure that organizers of events like this notice a dearth of participation from churchgoers when the events are held on a Sunday. “Skipping Church” is a big sacrifice for those who grew up believing the place to be on Sunday morning is singing the hymns and listening to a sermon.

Instead, this congregation will be busy “being church.”

Though we will be leading worship at another church that Sunday, we will be watching this with interest, and praying that it shows to the local community that Christ followers are willing to, literally, put feet to their beliefs; not just ‘talking the talk,’ but, literally, ‘walking the walk.’

March 30, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Here we link again…

  • Topping the link list this week is my other blog, Christianity 201, which celebrates its first anniversary on Friday.
  • As the above picture indicates, The Book of Mormon, the book, is now The Book of Mormon the broadway play.  Even LDS leaders admit that the founding of their religion is a somewhat colorful story. (I think the guy in the forefront was working my street last week…)
  • The book Radical by David Platt was a big seller this summer, with some themes in common with Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. Here’s a link to the free download of the preview chapter for the forthcoming sequel, Radical Together.
  • Only six percent of Christian couples pray together?  Pete Wilson lays that statistic out as the basis for a seven day challenge to his congregation.
  • A related item:  Canadian Dave Carrol — a confirmed ‘scrapper’ —  talks about learning the art of ridiculous love.
  • Another Canadian, former Cambridge Vineyard pastor Robert Hall died suddenly in a construction accident on the mission field in Zambia.  He leaves behind three young children and his wife Kate who is the daughter of Canadian broadcaster Jim Cantelon and his wife Kathy.
  • A final Canadian story: Linda Bond was elected — on the first ballot — as head of the Salvation Army International; the fourth time in 150 years that a Canadian has held the post, and the third time the denomination has elected a woman.
  • In light of the latest teapot tempest over ‘that’ book, Rachel Held Evans considers The Future of Evangelicalism.
  • Dean Lusk finds some of those really old Bible translations, like the NLT, in need of an update in this more contemporary paraphrase of Romans 2.
  • The Maccabeats are back.  This time the theme is the Feast of Purim, aka the story of Esther, like you’ve never heard it before.  (Actually we’re about ten days late, Purim was March 20th this year.)
  • And while we’re YouTube linking, Darrell from Stuff Fundies Like explains the fundamentalist aversion to playing cards.
  • At the blog Biblical Preaching, a look at the problem of preaching moralism.
  • With Good Friday and Easter Sunday inching closer, I want to share a site with you that is very useful if you lead worship or prepare the quotations that often appear on-screen during weekend services.  Here’s what Daily Christian Quote offers for Good Friday.
  • Dave at a new blog, Armchair Theology is running a series of Bible misunderstandings under the title, Calling God Fool.  Click to link to the blog and then scroll into the middle of March posts.

March 29, 2011

When Youth Ministry is Priced Out of Reach


Youth Pastor: …So guys, thanks for coming out tonight, I think we all had a great night, and don’t forget to bring five dollars with you next week. I can’t tell you what it’s for, but don’t forget… five dollars. Goodnight.

 

[30 Minutes later]

Student Youth Intern: So can you tell me what the five dollars is for?

Youth Pastor: Actually, I haven’t decided yet. But these kids all come from wealthy families and we’ll do something off-budget that we wouldn’t have done. Maybe we’ll just order pizza.

Youth ministry is pricey.

Or maybe it’s just that ministry is pricey.

A piece at this blog a few weeks ago about camp ministry ended up generating some comments about the costs of sending kids to summer camp, comments which were heartfelt, but a little bit of an aside to the intended main topic of that article.

Then last week, my review of the Passion 2011 Conference music CD resulted in some off-blog discussion urging me to tackle the subject of the cost of youth ministry.

There are three ways to look at this, the first of which I’ve hinted at in the introductory ‘skit’ for this blog post, which is to consider all the “extras” parents are expected to dig deep into their pockets for, both at church and school.

In the state province where I live, the Governor Premier has just ordered the Department Ministry of Education to follow a new set of guidelines with respect to what parents can be asked to shell out for their children’s education.

There are various articles online about this, like this one, which notes:

Fifty-three per cent of Ontario high schools charge fees for art classes, 41 per cent charge fees for physical education and 26 per cent impose extra costs for music courses…

This results in the new directive:

Ontario’s Ministry of Education has released new guidelines clarifying when a school can ask students for extra cash.

Under the guidelines, released Friday, schools cannot charge for textbooks, science lab materials, art supplies or musical instruments.

Schools cannot apply a fee to anything that is mandatory, essential for classroom learning, or the completion of a course, including a student registration fee.

“There should be absolutely no fee associated with any requirement for course completion for graduation,” Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky said.

It is in this type of environment that youth pastors have felt no hesitation in asking the kids — most of whom turn around and ask their parents — to bring money for this, that, and the other thing.

But there’s a second concern here: On budget, youth ministry can be staff intensive.  In a somewhat smaller church we attended a few years back, there were five staff positions.  Two were the senior pastor and the secretary.  The other three were for a children’s ministry director, a youth ministry director, and a youth intern.  In a town where many college-aged kids left town eight months of the year, it was not lost on the older people in the church that 60% of the church staff were ministering to the needs of people under age 18.

The third area where youth ministry gets expensive has to do with the costs of print materials and curriculum.   As someone who is employed in a business that sells youth ministry materials, you’d expect me not to bite the hand that feeds.  In truth however, the cynic in me sees a few hungry publishers simply trying to carve out their piece of the pie.  Sorry, but someone needs to say that.

Everyone is tripping over everyone else trying to be first in line for a piece of the action.  After all, the churches have the money, right?

The pastor’s wife had rarely not been at his side in their nearly 40 years of ministry, but bedridden with the flu, he trudged the walkway from the manse to the church alone that Sunday night.

When he returned two hours later, she asked him, “Did you give an invitation?”

He smiled and replied, “Yes, and I had two-and-a-half people come forward.”

She stared at him for a few seconds, and then said, “You mean two adults and a child?”

He winked at her and responded, “Nope.  Two kids and an adult.”

The above story is meant to convey that, with their whole lives stretched out before them, the faith steps of a child or teen are vitally important.  And many people who espouse this will say that you can’t put a price on reaching a young person with the saving message of Jesus Christ.

But somewhere along the line, that evolved into a thinking that ministry can take place on a fee-for-service basis. And it’s further complicated when the fees have to be paid “up front” before a child or teen can attend or participate in the event in question.  And it’s even further complicated when the group is a mix of “have” and “have not” families; wealthier families mixing with people who have had to deal with foreclosures or evictions.

So it’s not surprising that some people are concerned about the effect of all this on the poorer kids on the fringes.

I’m concerned about the message that it sends to all the kids.

…Last time I checked, the gospel was supposed to be free.


(NLT) III John 1:7 For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers.

March 28, 2011

Building Community Through Church Directories

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came

~Theme from Cheers TV-Show

It was a heated congregational meeting that had been called nearly twenty years ago to address the implications of the rapidly growing church going to a two service format on Sunday mornings.  The usual pros and cons were being kicked around when a woman at the back stood up and voiced an issue I hadn’t foreseen; “But we won’t all know each other.”

I never thought of that.

This was a church where, heretofore, everybody knew who everybody was.  The kind of thing you expect in a rural church environment.  Suddenly, that was about to change, and there was apprehension if not plain fear about the implications of going to church on Sunday morning and not being in command of the first and last names of all the people in the auditorium.

# # #

Some churches have always resolved the identification issue by having a bulletin board at the back with photos of “Our Church Family.”  A local church in our area raised the quality standard on this a few years back.  When the professional company doing their photo directory was done, the church was presented with a couple of beautiful, framed wall prints showing everyone’s directory photo and name alphabetically.  I’m sure it is often referred to, given that church’s size.

Another option is name tags.  Besides the risk of the pin-type tearing clothing — many churches opt for the lanyard type —  I’ve always felt it reminiscent of the “elder” name tags worn by the Mormon (LDS) missionaries who come knocking at your front door at inopportune times.  But some churches thrive on this system, with visitors quickly assigned a quickly-scribbled Sharpie version which, I’m quite sure, would make seeker-friendly advocates like Bill Hybels shudder in horror; although it beats asking visitors to stand up and give their names, a practice I sincerely hope has disappeared by now.

It also raises an issue I don’t have space to get into here:  The artificiality of the “turn around shake hands” type of forced fellowship.  Or name tags themselves.  If you click the image on the name tag at right, it will take you to a blog post on that subject.

Then there are various types of mixers including Newcomers Lunch, where established church leaders get to know recent arrivals; or the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” events where, each quarter, people alternate between being a “host” or being a “guest” at a mystery house with mystery guests.  (You can even heat things up by sending the charismatic-leaning, Arminian Smith family over for lunch with the conservative Calvinist Jones family; but who gets the Black family with their ten children?)

Of course, the organic approach to getting to know people is small groups.  You won’t know everyone, but you’ll build deep relationships and strong community with the others in your group.   And possibly at that point, knowing everyone’s name won’t be so high a priority.

Which brings us to church directories.

# # #

When my oldest son was about six I showed him an entry in our church’s directory where one couple’s name was listed, but there was no address or phone number.  It was easy to see why if you knew that he worked for the RCMP.  (U.S. readers: Think FBI.)  So I asked him, “Why do you think they don’t have an address?”

His answer was; “They’re homeless.”

I then explained the nature of his job, and the notion of privacy.  There are other examples I can think of where families have chosen to opt-out completely from even having their names listed, but in most small and medium-sized churches, a church telephone directory is still considered useful, even though some online people haven’t picked up a phone handset in years; so most people participate.

Directories easily fit into the collection of things listed above (name tags, photo boards, etc.) but offer something else: A means to get in touch, or stay in touch with other people in your church throughout the week.  You can call the kid’s teacher to see if he left his Bible in the classroom, ask the worship leader’s wife for the title of the book she mentioned in the lobby, and e-mail the woman who said she had a great recipe for carrot cake.  You can see where people live, and the names of their children.

I am convinced that these directories — with or without photos — are in another category altogether, and sincerely believe that, where feasible, every church should have one.

Especially in an age of e-mail.

I know there will be pushback on this — some people will not want their e-mail address published — but I am convinced that we live in an electronic world where not having e-mail is like buying a house and taking down the mailbox.  I believe there is potential for abuse, but it is outweighed by the contact that can take place between church family members.

As a business owner who does a monthly e-mail newsletter, I’m always tempted to steal e-mail addresses from directories, but we’ve learned over time that we’re better off initiating contact some other way before pursuing electronic communication.  However, one local church meets this problem halfway by giving business owners a back page to list their name, the name of their business, the nature of their business, and business phone and e-mail information.

That same church also has a strong push for people to submit photos.  They produce their own directory, and so there isn’t the hesitation associated with commercial photographers trying to sell families additional prints and print packages.

In an environmentally-conscious world, some churches have put their church directory online.  A login is necessary so that only members and adherents can access the information, though the same login allows those listed to update their own data.

At the other end of the spectrum, in another church that we are actively involved with, the directory is simply a list of names and phone numbers.  No indication of where people live or if they drive a great distance for worship.  No opportunity to send an e-mail; which really grates on my wife and I, who use online communication extensively.

The other major liability of that system is that children under eighteen are not listed at all.  I’m not sure I can even begin to grasp what kind of message that sends to, for example, the teens in the youth group.  (“You’re not really part of our church family.”)  It’s an oddity that sticks out all the more if your kids are accustomed to seeing their names in such a publication.  The church in question doesn’t really have a large number of children.  Coincidence?

# # #

Send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say…

~Lyrics from the Beatles, “When I’m 64″

In a world where privacy concerns dominate so many discussions, and insurance companies advise churches against anything with the faintest hint of liability, the idea of a church directory may seem like a throwback to a bygone era; however this writer is sold on them.  I even keep a few old ones now and then as a sort of yearbook of memories of what the church family looked like in the past. Once in awhile, I discover someone in the church family who only lives a few blocks away, or someone who lives next door to someone with whom I’ve recently shared my faith journey.

I also remain absolutely convinced that creating e-mail community is absolutely essential, especially as various factors seem to add to the isolation people experience.  Your church may prefer to do this through Facebook community; but do update the thing now and then, okay?  Computer contact is not the same as face-time, but it’s better than nothing.  And those with hesitation can always choose to opt-out of listing their online address, but I find that most choose to share their full contact information.

Also, I cannot minimize the role that both standard telephone contact and e-mail contact can play when someone in the church faces an urgent need for prayer.

# # #

If we’re a family, then family members talk to each other, right?

And church isn’t just something we do on Sunday.

March 27, 2011

Howard Jones: What is Hell Anyway?

Earlier this week, I decided to go out on a limb on Christianity 201, my devotional blog, and introduce a few readers to Greg Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  But before I embedded Greg’s sermon on Hell — spread out over three videos — I decided to write what was probably the largest disclaimer I’ve ever done.

For that one however, I skipped the Howard Jones reference.   But if someone’s got the time, I think “What is Hell Anyway” would be a timely song parody…

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past three weeks, you’re well aware that a popular Christian author has caused there to be much discussion on the doctrine of hell.   Sample topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Is hell a physical reality or is it figurative language?
  • What determines who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?
  • Is hell eternal; does it last “forever?”
  • Are there people who initially reject Christ who will somehow “accept” Him after death?
  • How is the concept of hell consistent with the loving, gracious nature of God?

…and so it goes.

Who engages in these discussions?  Again, the list includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • People who have their minds made up, and militantly defend their position and refute all other views;  some of whom view themselves as somewhat ‘contaminated’ by merely listening to other viewpoints.
  • People who simply like a good argument; people who enjoy the endorphin release that comes with lively, passionate debate, or enjoy the ‘game’ of just asking the awkward questions.
  • People who are genuinely seeking answers; people new to faith; people confused by the variants of doctrinal positions.
  • People who are relatively established in their faith, but are interested in exploring how others interpret scripture and how that affects their beliefs in other doctrinal areas.
  • People who don’t regard their views on secondary doctrinal matters as
    “set in stone” and would be open to reconsider their position of the points raised by those of different opinions were persuasive.

I think we need to ask ourselves, “Which kind of person am I?  Do I just like a good fight?  Or am I truly seeking for some answers?  Or am I simply open to hear how those with different takes reconcile other doctrinal matters?”

At that point, I introduced the videos, which you’re welcomed to watch.  T.O.L. readers can leave comments here at this post.   Link here for the sermon videos.


March 26, 2011

Passion’s Passion Evident on New Worship CD

Music Review

If someone asked you if you’ve heard the new Chris Tomlin album, you would be forgiven for saying, “Which one?”  While And If Our God is For Us is topping the Christian music charts, six of the twelve songs on Here for You were either written or co-written by Tomlin.

His music defines the sound of modern worship in U.S. churches, so that’s why I’ve begun this review of the new Passion album with a reference to the man who was arguably its weightiest contributor.  Additional songs were written by other recognizable names including Rueben Morgan, Martin Smith, Matt Redman, Louis Giglio, Matt Maher and David Crowder.

In terms of performance, five of the twelve songs are performed by Tomlin, with an additional one co-credited to Matt Redman with additional songs featuring David Crowder Band, Kristian Stanfill, Kristy Nockels and LeCrae (this being, after all, a youth-oriented project.)

With the exception of LeCrae — for me anyway, not being a rapper — these are very accessible, ready-to-sing worship songs.  The inclusion of Rueben Morgan is a good place to suggest that Here for You is very similar, on several levels, to the youth oriented worship of Hillsong United.

The live album was recorded mere weeks ago, at the Passion 2011 conference with more than 20,000 university-aged students in Atlanta, Georgia on January 1st-4th, 2011.

One of my favorite songs is Symphony, which will probably turn out to become better known as “Stand in Awe.”

The deepest oceans, rising mountains
How they sing your symphony
Let the earth fear the Lord
And all the people of the world
Stand in awe, Stand in awe.

…After listening to the album again yesterday, I considered continuing the usual song-by-song commentary, but I want to talk about the event itself.

In my day, the big youth events were summer festivals, but with the growth, rightly or wrongly, of the conference ‘industry,’ more opportunities are available for youth to connect with youth from other parts of the continent for corporate worship, contemporary concerts and some of the best youth communicators.

If you’re in the target demographic for these things, you need to find a way to get to a couple, at least, before you outgrow the opportunity.  If your church doesn’t send a group, start your own group, or latch on to another church’s group that’s going.  The events are expensive, but just skip a couple of video games.

If you’re outside the target demographic, but live near an event taking place, find out if they need adult volunteers.  Personally, I’d be thrilled just to be standing outside in the hallway when a thing like this is happening.

Finally, if you’re not only outside the target demographic, but are fairly certain you’d find the music far too loud, you can still be involved in something that is huge in the spiritual formation of a young person.  Consider sponsoring some teens in your church, or, better yet, setting up a subsidy fund that brings the price further below the advertised group rates.  No kid should be denied an opportunity for spiritual growth simply because they can’t afford it, and even in the most affluent churches, there are kids who can’t afford it.

I say all that because with a live conference recording like this, there’s a tendency to end the review with a trite, “You had to be there.” But in truth, “You need to be there.”  Don’t miss the next one.

…I tried to find some good YouTube clips from the conference so you could get the general idea, but they just don’t exist, so for now, I’m going to use this unofficial overview, which had only had about 90 views as of last night:

March 25, 2011

Accidental Anglican

I realized yesterday morning that I’ve accidentally become an Anglican.

Well, sort of.

You see, as an Evangelical, we base everything on the sermon.  As the sermon goes, so goes the service.  As the sermon went, so went the service.  And you could say, as the sermon will go, so will go the service.  That’s why, for example, people don’t say, “I go to North Point;” they say, “I go to Andy Stanley’s Church;” as if he owns it or something.

We like good preaching.

We also like good worship, but that’s not really a biggie since its now been proven that the Top 100 Churches in America — as selected by Outreach Magazine — are all using the same MIDI loops of Majesty, I Will Follow, and (for less cutting edge congregations) Revelation Song.

So given the choice, we choose on the basis of a good sermon.

I have three choices this weekend.

The preaching will be great at all three.

So I’m making my choice based on some advance information on the worship.  As it turns out, I have in my computer the exact worship setlists from two of my three choices for the weekend services.  This the worship-nerd equivalent of insider-trading information.

In other words, I’m choosing based on the liturgy.  I’m prioritizing the liturgy. And as every good mainline Protestant knows, as the liturgy goes so goes the service.  As the liturgy went, so went the service.  And you could say, as the liturgy will go, so will go the service.

I can’t decide if I’m being discriminating, or if I’m being shallow.

??

March 24, 2011

TSK on Bellgate

Filed under: books, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:57 am

A couple of assorted Rob Bell related sentences from Andrew Jones aka Tall Skinny Kiwi:

  • Sometimes I wonder whether the Christian church in our western countries has become, quite regrettably, a book club.  (March 18)
  • Tweeted by someone else:  “More offended by the ugliness of the Evangelical response to Rob Bell than by anything he’s ever written.” (March 17)
  • Rob Bell at 18 months: Universalist tendencies visibly apparent

    “Farewell Rob Bell” has probably become the most famous Christian tweet of all time, even though no one really knows what John Piper meant by it. T-shirts will be made. Bumper stickers. The Farewell Rob Bell Bible?  (March 13)

  • Becky Garrison:  I am commending HarperOne for a brilliant marketing plan that got their product out there in a very horrible market.  (Comment on post March 13)
  • They [the new generation of Christians] will desire a view of the end times that moves beyond a Jack Chick hell, a Left Behind rapture, and a Hal Lindsay burning-planet-ecology. (March 17)
  • Becky Garrison (again!): I’d like to mention that HarperOne has a slew of books coming out on this topic – Evolution of Faith (Philip Gulley), Desmond Tutu (God is Not a Christian), Speaking Christian (Marcus Borg) and whatever NT Wright is cranking out…  (Comment to March 17 post.)
  • It will be interesting to see how they [Bell and N. T. Wright] differ, if they differ at all. I notice that Wright’s book remains quite unchallenged by critics compared to what Rob Bell is about to put out. Maybe its weaker theologically and therefore an easier target. (Comment to March 9th post).

Tall Skinny Kiwi.  Bookmark it.  Visit often.  A breath of fresh air guaranteed.  (But maybe Becky should get her own blog.  Oh wait…)

March 23, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Intro, intro, blah, blah, blah… [nobody reads this paragraph anyway...]

  • Opening and closing cartoons today are from Sacred Sandwich
  • So what do you when you’re Rob Bell and everybody who has read Love Wins and everybody who hasn’t read Love Wins is asking, “What’s up with that?”  Answer: You do what you do best and go on tour renting large auditoriums in places like New York.
  • Though I’ve never been able to visit his church, this five-minute clip demonstrates why Pete Wilson is one of my favorite pastors.
  • Honestly, I don’t make these links up.  The choir members at the big glass church must sign the “Crystal Cathedral Worship Choir and Worship Team Covenant” affirming the church’s stand against homosexuality.   Yet oddly: “John Charles, a spokesman for the cathedral, said this does not mean gays are banned from the choir.’This contract is to educate choir members about what our church believes in,’ he said.”  Read for yourself.
  • My prediction:  Within 3-5 years a segment of Calvinists and neo-Calvinists will complete their breakaway from the rest of us and form an isolated denomination called The Gospel Coalition that will separate them from both Protestantism and Evangelicalism.  They’re already building concensus for their own hymnbook.
  • The Message Bible translator — and I do mean “translator,” not “paraphraser” — Eugene Peterson has a new book out, The Pastor, A Memoir (HarperCollins) and it’s reviewed at Christianity Today by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, co-editor with Shane Claiborne on the recently released Common Prayer liturgical resource.  The review contains this quotation from the book: “”North American culture does not offer congenial conditions in which to live vocationally as a pastor. Men and women who are pastors in America today find that they have entered into a way of life that is in ruins.” The impression one gets of a book that is half autobiographical and half prescriptive.
  • Ryan Dueck asks the musical question, “Why Should We Then Blog,” which should be must-reading for those of us who blog.
  • Hannah Goodwyn at CBN News has a list of the top ten current Christian bestsellers you should read, though I personally disagree with her #1 choice, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  All are recently released except for Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.  And no mention of Crazy Love which we covered here yesterday.  Not sure why people do these lists.  Not sure why I just linked to it.
  • Speaking of books, Jason Hood writes at Christianity Today that Eric Metaxas’ book on Bonhoeffer may lead to misunderstandings as to where, from an Evangelical perspective anyway,  the subversive/pastor “fits in” theologically.
  • Meanwhile, Sherry at Semi Colon blog recommends using Bonhoeffer‘s Cost of Discipleship this year for Lent.
  • If you watched the Grammy Awards, or have an awareness of current music, you may be somewhat aware of a song that was performed as “Forget You,” but also has another similar, but different title that can’t be printed here.  So here’s an equally disturbing parody of the song from a Christian perspective, “Bless You.”
  • Mark Almlie at Out of Ur asks the question, “Is being a Protestant single pastor like being a married Catholic priest? Is it an oxymoron?”  Okay, that was really two questions.  If you’re an Evangelical, have you ever known or had a pastor who was unmarried?
  • Zac Hicks’ worship blog reviews a Neue magazine article and carefully differentiates between traditionalism and tradition.
  • The original Friendly Athiest (the one that’s not Matt Caspar) breaks out the list of the Ten Most Religious and Ten Least Religious U.S. States.  By the way, is it just me or is “Utah Jazz” a rather conflicted name for a sports team?
  • Anthony Bradley says the best apologetic is simply to live a radical Christian life, and that’s how believers in earlier generations understood it.  “Being different is a struggle for American Christians who often find it desirous to be as much like our society in every way except for the occasional Sabbath from culture for religious activities.”
  • Thom Rainer, CEO of Lifeway, which regular readers know is one of my favorite Christian publishing company in the whole world [Note to not regular readers: That was a lie] offers four principles for pastors and leaders who find themselves in a change-resistant church.
  • For Lent he went on an all-beer diet.  Seriously.  It’s a long story. He’s now up to day 15 of 40.  Personally, based on yesterday’s post, I’m not so sure that J. Wilson is going to go the distance.  The above link is to his blog, this one to a media story about him.
  • Link suggestions are always welcomed.  Here’s another from Sacred Sandwich (click images to link).


Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.