Thinking Out Loud

December 14, 2012

I Need To Know Where You’re Coming From

When you say you’re a Bible & Science ministry, does that mean

  • you believe in a literal six-day creation and a young earth?
  • you believe in an old earth; that Genesis is allegorical, that evolution is probable
  • you focus on intelligent design and try to skip the subjects above ?

When you say you have a prophetic gift, does that mean

  • you speak forth with a prophetic voice concerning issues facing the church and/or the world in general
  • your ministry almost exclusively revolves around end-time predictions
  • you counsel people and help them find where they are to live, what should be their vocation, who they should marry, etc. ?

When you say your church is charismatic, do you mean

  • the music is loud and lively, and people clap and rejoice during worship
  • your church emphasizes belief in the limitless power of God and has an active desire for a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ?

When you say you’re a ministry to Christians struggling with homosexuality, does that mean

  • you try to assist gay Christians out of that lifestyle through prayer and/or reparative therapy
  • you try to support gays who are struggling with faith issues and/or acceptance by the church ?

When you say you’re an apostolic ministry does that mean

  • you work with church-planters and missional communities to encourage people who have the gift of apostle
  • you are frequently addressed as “Apostle _______” as you see yourself as part of a line of apostolic succession and/or feel there is a special anointing on your ministry ?

When you say you have a ministry to worship leaders, does that mean

  • you assist worship leaders in the personal spiritual development and in building the tools they need to build their teams
  • you help worship leaders navigate areas such as song selection, instrumentation, arrangements, sound systems, etc.
  • you exist to advance an agenda of a specific sub-genre of worship: hymns, modern hymns, ‘soaking’ music, prophetic worship, etc. ?

When you say you’re a ministry to the Jewish community do you mean

  • you stand in the Messianic tradition and want to keep as much of the Jewish ethnic and cultural flavor, while recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah
  • you stand in the Hebrew Christian tradition which involves assimilating Jewish believers into western evangelical culture
  • your ministry is more concerned with both the political and prophetic ramifications of the state of Israel ?

When you say you are a ‘progressive’ Christian do you mean

  • you prefer contemporary churches which don’t make a major issue out of some of the traditions and taboos which defined Christianity in the mid-20th-century
  • you have a more liberal position on Christian doctrine and theology and Biblical inerrancy ?

When the bottom of your church sign reads, “Everyone welcome,” do you mean

  • you regularly interact with people from the wider community and while it may be a foreign environment in some respects, they would feel relaxed attending services and sense you’re genuinely glad they came
  • people are welcome as long as they dress like you, believe the same doctrines, read the same Bible translation, vote for the same party, and conform to the church’s position on social issues ?


Any other positions out there that bring confusion?


  1. When you call your church a “charasmatic “church do you mean that the music is lively and people clap and reioice during worship, or do you mean your church has an active desire for a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

    Comment by Cynthia Clarke — December 14, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    • Excellent addition; I embedded it in the middle so it would look like it had been there all the time!!

      I used it word-for-word, but added the dimension of praying with expectancy, which I believe should be hallmark of all churches (and all prayers), though “gift of miracles” would be included in “manifestation of the gifts…”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 14, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  2. Two things:

    1. I’m a Preterist, semi-literal millenialist who believes God’s word is Jesus but that the words of the bible are the fully ‘Inspired words of God’ but not the literal Word of God (like if you burn a bible, you’re not hurting God’s Word, as if it were a Qur’an – correction, ARABIC Qur’an), that if Jesus believed in Adam, than either he was ‘pandering’ to the quaint traditional beliefs of the people He came to save OR He really did believe in Adam which means that there was a literal ‘creation’ as described in Genesis but that maybe it was not 6 days as we know it and that …. oh, I’m tired or typing out the myriad of things I believe. How about we just all be different, realize there’s a moral standard that God thinks to be of value and accept that Jesus came to save us because we are dorks who in our pride think we can do it ourselves … the rest is what some find worth arguing about (especially in the south, for some reason!).

    2. Oh, and with all this sexual confusion going on out there, I think I’ve figured out that, “I’m a lesbian trapped in a man’s body having a gay relationship with a straight female.” … (No wait, according to the moral outlines referred to above and the natural default of creation, I think I’m ‘normal’: an uxorious guy [a man who loves his wife]. Ooh, ‘normal’ are we Christians allowed to say that?).

    Compos Mentis

    Comment by Compos Mentis — December 14, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    • “I’m a lesbian trapped in a man’s body having a gay relationship with a straight female.”

      Must remember that line.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 14, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

  3. When you say you are a member of the Church of England do you mean Anglocatholic, evangelical, conservative-liberal or even happy-clappy?

    Comment by suesconsideredtrifles — December 14, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    • I love it! Not sure if my 74% U.S. readers would get it; I wonder how many of them have ever been in an Episcopal (U.S. name for Anglican) church. But it’s true, there is a wide variety of options beyond what we once called “high Anglican” and “low Anglican.” The Protestant mainline church in Canada is dominated by three denominations, Anglican, Presbyterian and United Church of Canada. The ones that are evangelical tend to be experiencing growth even as others are dying.

      You indirectly raise another point however, and that is the variety of faith expression you find within any given Anglican/C. of E. church. That’s where it gets really interesting.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 14, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  4. When you say that you are a Christian, does that mean that
    You will love me like Jesus commands and leave my judgement for God as the Bible asks?
    does it mean that you will judge and condemn me, and reject me until I conform to your version of Christianity practice?

    Comment by mj — December 14, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    • What you’ve got here is a much broader — and perhaps better — version of where I was coming from with the ‘ministry to gay community’ point. It’s like a bad marriage where the one spouse says he/she loves the other, but really doesn’t love them as they are, but is constantly trying to make them change.

      Actually, I’ll add a final point here that tries to incorporate this.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 14, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

  5. GREAT to delineate how a statement can be (mis)understood on more than one way… Is it any wonder we find ourselves locking horns from time to time?
    The issue may not be as big a deal as the confusion surrounding it.

    Comment by sarahtunauthor — December 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

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