Thinking Out Loud

August 15, 2012

13 Measures of a Healthy Church

Found this at the blog of Paul Clark, Vision Meets Reality. While this may seem basic to some of you, IMHO you can never emphasize these essentials enough.  The temptation is to read this too quickly. Slow down and ask yourself how your church ranks according to these criteria.  For those who want to read at source, click this link.

Along with sound theology, we also believe that there are other elements that make up a healthy church: At Fairhaven Church, where I’ve served for 10 years, we have identified 13 measures that we believe define a healthy church. We’ve created a dashboard report around these measures which our leadership and Board review each month.

  1. People are coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. Our missions program is expanding locally, nationally and globally.
  3. People are making public professions of faith through baptism.
  4. Attendance in worship services is increasing.
  5. The worship experience is vibrant, enthusiastic and intergenerational.
  6. There is broad participation in serving throughout the ministries.
  7. New ministries are beginning as God imparts vision.
  8. Guests are being connected to church life.
  9. Covenant membership is increasing.
  10. Our budgetary needs are being met.
  11. Leaders are being developed and placed in ministry roles.
  12. Scripture is central to our message.
  13. Staff relationships are healthy.

Wednesday Link List returns next week.

December 14, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Christmas List Lynx

Here’s this week’s list; remember to have your suggestions in by 8:00 PM on Mondays to make sure that they get considered.

  • North Point Community Church’s “Be Rich” campaign breaks all previous records for giving to local charities as reported at CBS News Atlanta.
  • For those of you who missed the last decade completely, the BBC re-traces the history of the WWJD slogan in light of its re-emergence in the Occupy Protests.
  • This week’s top music video release introduces recent Nashville resident, singer-songwriter Jesse Santoyo.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling means the end of churches meeting in schools in New York City and eventually, beyond.
  • Vital question for worship leaders — and others — at Zac Hicks’ blog: Is the Lord’s Supper a Funeral or a Feast? s
  • Churches in Santa Monica, California are almost completely shut out of the 21 spaces where they normally erect nativity scenes because of strategic planning by atheist groups.
  • If you’re into Bible translation issues, here are three academic presentations on video by NIV, ESV and HCSB representatives, and a Q&A and response video with all three, from Liberty University’s Bible Translation Symposium.
  • Lost files found: This has been bookmarked in my computer since February; it’s a short article by a Minneapolis author, Tyler Blanski who has a book with Zondervan forthcoming later in 2012.  This deals with rethinking sexuality or you could check out his blog.
  • Lost files found #2: Another February flashback, Perry Noble asks if there’s anything you’re holding on to that God wants you to let go.
  • From our Pastor True Confessions Department, Kevin Rogers gives his personal reasons for not practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting.
  • Video recently posted, but apparently dating back to 1989, here’s a cultural artifact guaranteed to make you smile. Or something.
  • A Kentucky pastor reports he has canceled a church vote banning interracial couples. But you get the impression this fight ain’t over.
  • This video is from last year, and we may have linked to it then, but I needed something seasonal, right? Enjoy The Digital Story of the Nativity.
  • Mark Galli says there’s a need right now for more chaplains and fewer leaders. Sample: “We find ourselves in an odd period of church history when many people have become so used to large, impersonal institutions that they want that in their church as well.” This discussion really swims against the current.
  • Another Christianity Today item: Anthony D. Baker surveys what’s going on in church life, particularly as it affects our children, and finds us doing all manner of things except actually teaching the gospel.
  • First there was Rachel Held Evans’ 2010 list of 13 things that make her “…A Lousy Evangelical,”  and now it’s Michael Camp’s 31 reasons why he “…Left Evangelicalism and Became a Progressive, Not a Liberal.”
  • Big Bang Theory Department: Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider believe they have confirmed the existence of The God Particle.
  • Ever been in a group of people where someone outside the circle only asks the husbands the “What do you do for a living?” question? Michelle Garred guests at Eugene Cho‘s blog.
  • Sadly for some, this time of year is just an excuse to drink, even if they do so in the name of remembering ‘the reason for the season’ as this advent calendar found at Ironic Catholic indicates:

November 1, 2011

What War Looks Like at Church

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:15 am

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had only ever known one pastor, Dr. James Kennedy; and he was certainly no slouch in the pulpit.  So when Tullian Tchividjian became the church’s only other pastor ever, nothing, not even the pedigree of being a grandson of Billy Graham could save him from the conflict that erupted in the early months.

Tullian was interviewed by Drew Dick at Leadership (a Christianity Today publication) and addressed that issue directly.  I should say the article is very positive, very redemptive, and very hopeful; but I wanted to include a few of the darker paragraphs here so that some of you would have a picture of what church conflict looks like:

…[I]t’s one thing to talk about war and another to be a soldier on the ground when the bullets are flying. It was hard. It was the first time in my life where I was leading a church where I knew many people didn’t like me…

It was tremendously uncomfortable coming to worship every Sunday morning during that time not knowing who liked you and who hated you. There were people in the choir who, when I would stand up to preach, would get up and walk out. People would sit in the front row and just stare me down as I preached. It was extremely uncomfortable. People would grab me in the hallway between services and say, “You’re ruining this church, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop you.” I would come out to my car and it would be keyed. Some people would stop at nothing to intimidate.

They put petitions on car windows during the worship service. They started an anonymous blog, which was very painful. Here we were trying to build consensus and there’s this anonymous blog fueling rumors and lies. The blog almost ruined my wife’s life. Anonymous letters were sent out to the entire congregation with accusations and character assassinations. It was absolutely terrible.

…The shelling got so bad I thought to myself this was a huge mistake. Two churches are ruined now. I could hardly eat, had trouble sleeping, and was continually battling nausea. I felt at the absolute end of myself…

Until reading those paragraphs, I thought the worst thing a pastor could endure was something I saw over twenty years ago:  Being spit on.  This pastor was totally covered in the stuff as the young man he was trying to minister to repeatedly spit in his face. 

Then I read these paragraphs and thought, Tullian should not have to have gone through that.

But if you read the entire article, he might say, ‘Maybe I did need to.’ 

So what’s the worst thing you’ve seen a pastor have to endure?  Do you think agree that it makes it twice as frustrating when a pastor’s greatest opposition comes from within the congregation?

HT: Darryl Dash, who later, coincidentally turned out to be today’s photo source.

July 16, 2011

The World’s Riskiest Profession: Pastor

In the movie Fletch, Chevy Chase dons a number of disguises and aliases, at one point stating his occupation as ‘shepherd.’  The word is almost quaint with its suggestion of middle Eastern hillsides standing in contrast to the urban reality that greets most of us each day.

Still, shepherds — the spiritual kind — do exist, they’re just harder to see in a world of megachurches and multi-site churches.  And they’re harder to see in a Christian culture that seems to want to venerate its key leaders.

Mark Galli has written a landmark article at Christianity Today that gets into the mindset of what he calls, “The Most Risky Profession.”  Here are some samples, but I copy these only because statistically many of you don’t click the links; this is a great article that you should take the ten minutes needed to read sequentially.

The modern American church is very much a product of its culture—we’re an optimistic, world-reforming, busy, and ambitious lot, we Americans. In business, that means creating a better widget, and lots of them, and thus growing larger and larger corporations. In religion, that means helping more souls, and along the way, building bigger and better churches… Religious busyness will be with us always, it seems.

Translate that into church life, and we find that American churches exalt and isolate their leaders almost by design. Our ambitious churches lust after size—American churches don’t feel good about themselves unless they are growing. We justify church growth with spiritual language—concern for the lost and so forth. But much of the time, it’s American institutional self-esteem that is on the line…

With this addiction to growth comes a host of behavioral tics, such as a fascination with numbers. The larger the church, the more those who attend become stats, “attenders” to be counted and measured against previous weeks…

No longer is it a good use of the head pastor’s time to visit the sick or give spiritual counsel to individuals. Better for him to make use of his “gift mix,” which usually has little to do with the word pastor—or shepherd, the biblical word for this position. Instead, he has been hired for his ability to manage the workings of large and complex institutions. The bigger the church, the less he works with common members and mostly with staff and the church board. To successfully manage a large church, one must be on top of all the details of that institution. This doesn’t necessarily mean directly micromanaging things, but it certainly means to do so indirectly.

[M]ost pastors have become heads of personality cults. Churches become identified more with the pastor—this is Such-and-Such’s church—than with anything larger. When that pastor leaves, or is forced to leave, it’s devastating. It feels a like a divorce, or a death in the family, so symbiotic is today’s relationship between pastor and people.

Pastors aren’t the only people who find themselves trapped in a social milieu where it is impossible not to succumb to sin. It is for habitual and trapped sinners—like pastors, like us—that Jesus died. The hope is not that we can find a perfect church environment in which we can eradicate pastoral pride. The hope is that Jesus loves and uses repentant sinners despite our pride.

This does not mean Jesus doesn’t want us to change the way we do church. I sometimes wonder if he’s allowing us to reap the fruit of our churchly ambitions—with many pastors burning out or becoming cynical, or resigning in one form of “disgrace” or another—so we will discover anew why the word pastor or shepherd is the name he gives to the church’s leaders. That very name suggests that perhaps the church should not be about growth and efficiency, but care and concern, not so much an organization but a community, not something that mimics our high-tech culture but something that incarnates a high-touch fellowship. By God’s grace, there is a remnant of such churches alive and well today, with leaders who really are pastors.

Click here to read the whole piece.

February 15, 2011

Movie Rights Available, I’m Sure

If this isn’t a television Movie-of-the-Week by this time next year I’ll be most surprised.  It’s a story that’s just quirky enough for the pages of The National Enquirer, and yet I’m not sure we can ignore it completely.  Or to put it differently, when life — or the blog Bene Diction Blogs On — hands you a story like this, don’t bury it in the Wednesday Link List.

But you’re going to have to some clicking to follow the thread of this for yourself.

So here’s where it starts.  There’s a woman who has a son who is five years old and goes to a church preschool.  They have a Halloween party and he decides to go as Daphne, a Scooby Doo character who is female.  So she decides to go along with all this — he’s only five, remember — and rents the costume.  The other mothers are not so supportive.  The woman has a blog, and a gift with words, and a few days later, on November 2nd, expresses her feelings about all this online in a post titled — with tongue firmly planted in cheek ’cause he’s only five — My Son Is Gay.

The blog post goes viral. Actually, it goes capital “V” Viral. I know some of us have blogs and have a list of “Top Posts for 2010,” but we’re talkin’ — as of last night — 46,180 comments on a single item.  That’s just comments. The page views were in the millions.

Then, ten days later on November 12th she returns to her blog to report that the response has been, for the most part, supportive.

And then there are you guys. I cannot begin to wrap my mind around this outpouring of support. It is incomprehensible to me at this point. Yes, there are some out there that think I’ve made a colossal mistake and should never have ‘let’ [him] be what he wants. I respectfully disagree. I am 100% certain I did the right thing.

Did I mention that her husband is a policeman?

Did I mention she was then booked to appear on The Today Show?

The story is really heating up, and as you might expect, by November 16th, she is now in a totally defensive mode.  Martin Luther nailed 97 theses to a cathedral door, and the comparison is worthy as this mom nails 20 points of information to her blog.

Part of the reason she does this, as it turns out, is that there’s a lot of stuff taking place in the background of the larger story.  Much of that has to do with how her church responded.  But she holds back writing about that until months later, on February 3rd, where we then learn that as all this is going on:

  • She’s been accused of lying
  • She’s been accused of “promoting gayness”
  • She’s asked to take down the original blog post
  • She’s asked to consider closing her blog
  • She’s told to apologize to the women she “slandered and libeled” (this even though she referred to them only as A, B and C)
  • She is barred from receiving communion
  • In all this, she is not asked how her son is doing

I’m sure there are certain aspects to this story which leave it unfinished.  But I’m equally sure that as a family, their lives will never be exactly the same.  It’s no wonder that BDBO (the first link at top) refers to this as “spiritual care in the form of bullying.” At the intersection of Parents Drive and School Boulevard (and Church Road) things have become so serious that we’ve lost the ability to lighten up now and then and remember that we’re dealing with kids.

And S., if you’re reading this; I suppose it was inevitable that a few people might want to knock you down for the choice you made all those weeks ago, but the people in your church should not have been among that number.  We in the church so easily shoot our own wounded. For those in the church who tend to rush toward judgment, I apologize.  A five-year-old should get to have the fun of being a five-year-old.

As for the movie rights, I’m thinking of something that’s a updated spin on the hypocrisy of “Harper Valley PTA.”  The kind of script where the people demanding apologies end up apologizing.

(I decided not to borrow the child’s picture, even though I like to have a picture in each story if possible; you will need to link for this one. I just didn’t want to add to the sensationalism of a story that’s already been sensationalized.)

January 6, 2011

Sending Your Pastor Back for a Road Test

This first appeared here in January, 2009.

driving-test-sample-questions-scenario1With my mind wandering during a post-supper phone call, I wondered what would happen if, just as some jurisdictions require you to do a fresh road test after 20 years in order to keep driving, your pastor had to appear before a doctrinal committee like the one that ordained him (or her) originally. Just to make sure all his (or her) doctrinal oars are still in the water.

But why target pastors? Board members and Sunday School teachers would be next, followed by you, the average Joe (or Joanne). After a couple of decades serving on committees or helping in the nursery or whatever it is you do; you’d be brought before a group of examiners to make sure that you still have a grasp on, and still hold to the basic tenets of, the core of what we call the Christian faith.

Would people be as nervous leading up this event as they would be if they had to do a fresh road test to keep their driver’s license? Do you think you could pass? Would you be praying they asked easy questions? Do you consider, “Why did Jesus have to die?” to be an easy question?

November 27, 2010

Self Editing: Careful Monitoring of What You Say

My oldest son made an interesting comment about a speaker we heard recently:  “I appreciated what she had to say, but she doesn’t self-edit.”   Self-editing involves that little 2.3 milliseconds between what your brain is thinking, and the actual movement of your lips.   It’s a brief allowance in time for you to decide what you’re about to say is not really in your best interests.   The wisdom to make this decision might arise from maybe reading a little book called Proverbs.

It happens all the time…

  • the husband who knows how to answer when his wife asks, “Does this make me look fat?”
  • the car dealer who is careful not to let slip that the $11,000 used car only fetched its previous owner $2,000 as a trade-in
  • the gift recipient who doesn’t want to admit that she already has two George Foreman grills; neither one out of the box
  • the student who doesn’t want to tell her math teacher that he has bits of his lunch on his sport jacket

…and other situations of that ilk.

What I’ve found is that sometimes we are more careful to avoid potentially awkward situations than we to avoid ones that are more blatantly hurtful.  In other words, we’re more likely to censor ourselves, or if you prefer the term, self-edit, for reasons other than those that would cause direct pain.

Maybe we think the amended adage “Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you” is true.   But neither it nor its original version comes close to the truth.   Names do hurt, and they cause damage that causes people to shut down socially, or even end up in counseling for years following the hurt.


I am always amazed that otherwise seemingly intelligent people are capable of self-editing in so many different business, educational and social situations, but lack the grace to stop their mouths in situations where they are clearly bringing hurt to someone else.

Why do they do this?

There are a number of reasons, but one of them might be that they believe that certain people are impervious to pain and injury.

And one of the groups they believe fit this category is pastors, clergy,  and people generally in ministry.   We believe they are tough enough to take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain, our words are like a cloud, bring a lot of rain.  (Wow! I should copyright that line.)   We believe that something in their seminary training gave them rhinoceros hides — skin so thick that nothing can injure them.   We believe that as God’s representatives on earth they will just smile and nod and continue to say, “God bless you.”

Well it ain’t so.

Pastors and ministry workers are people, too.   They have their own spiritual life which can be devastated by insensitive remarks.   They have their own spiritual formation happening.   If anything, their profession leaves them more vulnerable to hurt.

And they cry.

Ministry profile has its price; and some of that is increased sensitivity to careless remarks or outright criticism.   Some pastors would gladly shed the large round target that is apparently painted on all their vestments.

But for all of us, in every situation, and every type of interaction, it begins with a heightened self-editing mechanism that is set to monitor potential hurt.

Several months ago, someone in ministry I know was dealt an unexpected blow that was actually quite calculated on the part of the perpetrator, who was out to prove a point, and out to accomplish an objective, but never thought to monitor for potential long-term damage. In carrying out their crusade, the perpetrator had a billion times more than the normal 2.3 milliseconds, but never bothered to self-edit themselves.

The recipient of their words is still hurting.

Related post on this blog:  Words Matter.

Another related post: Easy To Be Hard.

November 13, 2010

The Small (with a small g) god of Modern Evangelicalism

Filed under: Church, ministry — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:42 pm

This piece appeared back in August at the blog of Daniel Jepsen, pastor of Franklin Community Church in Franklin, TN; which is just a few hundred laps south of Indianapolis.    Believing it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission, it’s reprinted here in full; but you’ll enjoy the rest of the blog, too.

God wants our participation in what He is doing.  But he doesn’t necessarily need our help.  Or our packaging of the Good News.

The Small god of Modern Evangelicalism

Yes, the non-capitalization of the third word in the title is deliberate.  I don’t think the god I am talked about deserves to be capitalized.  For I am not talking about the God of the scriptures, but the god that is worshipped in much of modern American evangelicalism.

This god is good, but small and not very powerful.  This god is not able to use the foolish, weak and lowly things of this world to shame and nullify the wise, strong, and powerful ((see I Corinthians 1:26-31).  That is why those who lead this god’s churches must attempt to change the foolish things into things wise in the ways of this world, and must change the lowly and despised things into things this world likes and respects.

This god and his message must be made appealing to the world, much like Mary Poppins made the medicine more palatable by a spoon full of sugar.  The sweeteners  of coolness, relevance and freshness coat the message of this god, while those doing the coating tell us it doesn’t change the fundamental recipe.  Perhaps not, but the very fact that the sweeteners are added betray a lack of faith in the inherent power of the message, and the power of the god who gives it.

It is not that the followers of this small god don’t believe the message; they just don’t believe it has much power without their help.  It’s not that they want to distort this message.  It’s just that the don’t reflect on how its distortion flows naturally from the help they give it.

This is why we see increasingly that not only do many of the leaders have a small god, but so do the people in their churches.  These are people who view god as some sort of personal life-enhancement, not the author and judge of their life. They obey his commands selectively, and feel free to ignore or re-interpret those that might cause too much change, or that conflict too fiercely with the spirit of the age.  They view his church not as something they are deeply privileged to be a part of, but something they consume like any other form of entertainment, and that had better keep the goods coming.

This leads to the following scenario, in which I will ask the reader to see past the exaggerations and ask if it does not reflect reality somewhat.

The pastor of [insert trendy name here] Church heads into his office Monday morning.  His first action is to check the numbers: attendance, giving, Google rank.  He soon begins to think of this week’s sermon and worship (or, if well organized, those of the weeks ahead).  He has 7 hours for that this week (it used to be 15, but that was before he took on more CEO type responsibilities).  How does he spend those 7 hours?  The options are basically these: exegesis, prayer, presentation, and practice.  Since his main concern (though he would never admit it) is to impress or at least interest the hearers, so that they feel good enough about the message that they continue to come (and hopefully invite friends), he ends up spending most of the seven hours on the last two.  After all, not many will notice and fewer will care if he doesn’t get the meaning of the passage exactly right.  But everyone will notice and care if he is not interesting or relevant to the felt needs of the audience.

In similar way, the worship leader, taking his cue from the pastor, chooses songs based on the criteria of what the people will find enjoyable or “meaningful”.  Of course, he would never choose songs that are not scriptural.  But that leaves a lot of leeway.  He may try to coordinate the songs with the sermon and the other parts of the service.  But he will not spend a significant percentage of his time in prayer, nor will the focus of that prayer be seeking wisdom for how God would be pleased in the worship.

The parishioners do their job on Sunday: they attend.  They are happy that their kids enjoy the music, and that the sermon is not too long.  The church is full, and seems to have energy, which further boosts their self-esteem for having chosen to be a part of such an excellent church. The message focuses on how God can improve their marriage, and they leave glad that God wants to help them.  As one wife would say later in the week, “I just love God! He does so much for me.”

Is it even possible that the children of this church will ever view god as something more than a cosmic vending machine?

This is the morass into which we have sunk.

-Daniel Jepsen

 

Related post:  The Misunderstood God

November 4, 2010

So Why Exactly Does Scandal Hit Pastors and Religious Leaders?

Mark Barger Elliott tries to deal with this question — “How can we clergy explain such egregious transgressions?”  this week on the CNN Belief Blog.   He feels there are two culprits, “the work and the person.”

Take the first one:

As a pastor I identify with the pitfalls of “the work.” Fifteen years ago I took vows “to love God, my neighbor, and to serve the people of God with energy, intelligence and imagination.”

Today, however, my job description reads like the director of a mid-size non-profit. A million dollar budget needs to be raised and a monthly payroll of 12 employees met. To tread the churning waters of shrinking resources and demands for excellent programs, I take classes on strategic planning as often as classes on the Bible.

As to the second issue:

How do we explain the moral transgressions of a profession charged to teach morality?

In my years as a pastor I have witnessed marriage vows made and betrayed. I have visited those in prison and those trapped in a prison they have made for themselves. I’ve prayed with the lost and the found, watched fortunes flow and ebb.

“Broken” is a word that describes many of the people I have been privileged to walk alongside as a pastor.

I have also spent a great deal of time with other clergy; from preaching stars who soak up acclaim for their oratory gifts to pastors in inner-city churches barely making ends meet.

The solution to the first problem seems more simple:

One option is to intentionally separate the clergy from the church’s financial matters. Teaching people about God’s love while shaking a fundraiser’s tin cup seems to ultimately undermine one’s credibility. People suspect a bait and switch.

I wish he had been given more space to flesh this out.    He identifies a tension here, but it’s just one, and pastors are stretched physically and emotionally in so many different directions.  Is the point financial responsibility specifically, or the inconsistencies of the job?

The second solution is not so easily dealt with:

Clergy typically fall into one of two camps.

Those who, in the face of the brokenness that surrounds them, come to identify their own brokenness and in humility choose to “live with the questions,” to borrow the poet Rilke’s phrase. This person is reluctant to offer quick answers to the hard questions of life.

The other camp is clergy who choose instead to offer confident solutions to life’s struggles. The clergy I have watched transgress their ordination vows typically fall into the second camp. The temptation is to shift from speaking about God to speaking for God. When that line blurs in a pastor’s mind, all bets are off.

On this point, I wish he’d had space to discuss the “personality” as well as the “person.”   I’ve heard it said that the very personality traits which cause someone to want to be in the pulpit are the very personality traits that leave them vulnerable to temptation.   (My personal belief is that anyone in business leadership, or in a position where they are “upfront” before a crowd of people is equally prone to the same conditions.)   The second paragraph above is certainly an interesting insight into how that might play out.

To me, this is the question all of us — laity and church staff — need to be asking each time we hear a story about another fallen leader.   And “hearing” is key, because we tend to focus here in North American on Canadian and American stories, but Elliott points out there are similar stories in Europe that we’re not always being told.

I also wish he’d had time to broaden out the ending.  While pastors have made vows to serve God vocationally, each one of us has promised to honor God’s name and serve Him with devotion.   The moral collapse of a Christian leader may make headlines, but when it happens to any one of us, it is not any less significant to God.

To read the full piece, in context, which I encourage you to do, click here.

Mark Barger Elliott is Senior Pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and author of Creative Styles of Preaching.

Comments left at the original article come from the widest possible readership at CNN and should be read with discernment.

“Collapse in the Christian life is rarely caused by a blowout, but is usually the result of a slow leak. ” ~source unknown

September 17, 2010

Suppose I Were To Tell You…

I hesitated to write this.   Just three short weeks ago, I wrote about confession in general, and the website PostSecret in particular.    While it would have been more simple to devote that space to a discussion about why it is that we have this need to vent or get something off our chests, I wrote instead about the fact that this type of confession doesn’t really go anywhere beyond confession itself.   It lacks what we experience in a liturgical church service following the confession of sin:  The assurance of pardon.

Why am I returning to this subject?

Because this week blogger Mandy Thompson (who just this week, in the link list, we referred to as not that Mandy Thompson) offered her readers an opportunity to comment (in this case, confess)  anonymously beginning with the phrase, “What if I Told You…”

While this sort of thing may not be your preferred brand of reading — perhaps you consider it prurient or voyeuristic — I think that every once in awhile something of this nature bears reading; in this case for two very particular reasons.

First of all, these were Christian readers responding to the opportunity, not readers from among the general population.   In fact, a very noticeable percentage of them were pastors’ wives or pastors; something very reminiscent of Anne Jackson’s books, and her current Permission to Speak Freely book tie-in website.   Apparently, clergy families are in desperate need for an Ann Landers or Dear Abby page on which to bare their deepest hurts.

As we are all from time to time.

Secondly however, and this is why I’m linking to this today; at what I’m sure was  great personal emotional exhaustion, Mandy took the time to answer each and every response.   That’s with the number of comments closing in on 200.

What if I told you I’m impressed?

This is the blogosphere at its best.   When someone tells you that blogs are a waste of time, let them see what’s happening at MandyThompson.com, and then don’t miss some of her post-mail-avalanche comments that follow more recently.

If you’re a blogger, do you see what you do as a ministry?  Are there times someone left a comment that resulted in you taking on the role of counselor?  If you’re a reader, have you ever had a blog writer that you really connected with and received help from?    For either category, have you ever continued the dialog off-the-blog?

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