The above is taken from a Wall Street Journal article about European Cathedrals being sold off, this one in Holland was re-purposed as a skateboard park. The story reads, “Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.”
We’ll flip the order this week and start with some fun things, and then go for the PARSE links second…
- Newsweek’s cover on the story on the Bible was a bit of train wreck. One writer thinks Newsweek should issue a formal apology, in fact it takes Dr. Michael Kruger a second blog post to complete his listing of the many errors in the piece.
- And now, the encyclopedia of all things Bono. (Scroll down to ‘J’ to see why I included it.)
- Taking this six-part outline to heart could totally revolutionize your Bible reading.
- I’m betting you’ll want to share this link, or copy/paste the thing into emails: The classic story of the four blind men and the elephant, somewhat revised.
- Ben Witherington III on who exactly is Mr. 666?
- Break free from a North American perspective with this Top 100 Christian movers and shakers list from the UK.
- You have to give the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. credit for coming up with the term Evangomercials™. (And trademarking it!)
- “Youth group was different for each of us, but there were a few sermons we probably all heard growing up.”
- Using a celebrity death as a sermon talking point: This is not for those who already have high blood pressure. All that this sermon delivers is anger.
- Shameless promotion of online friends: Rick Apperson, who blogs at Just a Thought has a new book: Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ.
- The death of a transgendered teen last week is suggested as a wake-up call for the church.
- A blog with no archives, no history? Yes, but if Then My Youth Said the blog is anything like @thenmyyouthsaid, you’ll want to get in from the beginning. (But should a youth minister be giving driving lessons?)
- KidMin volunteers frustrated by craft time? Send them to Crafting the Word of God.
- The next time your spouse suggests you’re spending too much time blogging, you can suggest they compare to the time this guy puts into posts like this.
- Finally, to my readers: If some day all the Christians you know disappear, you can check out The Left Behind Letters.
For your own supply of Church Gro, click this link.
Here’s what we posted at PARSE today:
- What One Woman Thinks of Women’s Ministry – “If I wanted to learn how to decorate cupcakes, I would take a class in it. If I wanted to be educated on strategies for decorating my home inexpensively from Winners, I would just, you know, go to Winners. Or Pinterest. But I’m here with you now because I want what the world cannot give me. We’re choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics, and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up. We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community.”
- Pastoring Grief – “When we sit with someone who has encountered devastation it can be scary… This is one place I am helped by the Quaker tradition. In fact, I believe – if not always practice – that my role is not to have the answers, give good advice, or “heal” another person at all. All I am to do is create a safe space where he or she can begin – or continue – to listen to the Inward Teacher. My work is to create a space where their soul can be honored and held. This type of listening comes in the form of seeing each meeting as a divine “Opportunity.” In Quaker parlance, an Opporunity – with a capital O – is where both people sit, listen and discover where the Spirit is moving in another. Being comfortable with silence is essential, allowing the wounded person to be the focus of the conversation and to carry it where they will.”
- Missing the Text Because We Know it So Well – “Unexamined familiarity will prevent you from looking at the Book. Because such familiarity crowds out curiosity, it imperceptibly stiffens necks, hardens hearts, and deafens ears. Familiarity may lead us to assume things that are not in the text, and it may blind us to things that are… the unfamiliar-but-wildly-curious folks see things I’ve never seen… My familiarity tricked me into thinking I knew the story, but I had missed the point.”
- Time Travel: Before the Megachurch Set the Agenda – “I grew up in small churches that my father pastored, but when I moved into full-time ministry I was involved in mega-churches as an associate pastor. I have spent my adult life attending large churches, and it had been many years since I had not been in a church service where the crowd outnumbered a Friday night high school football game. Stepping away from the big-church scene and stopping by to visit a small church turned out to be a greater blessing than I ever expected. My memories had forgotten the close bond and camaraderie that one feels in a smaller group of people.”
- Lament for a Closing Bible College – “I am sad for the broader trends that this decision reflects for Christian higher education. Sad that theological education is no longer the priority for young adults and their parents that it once was… I am sad for how the news of Bethany’s closing is, in many ways, symptomatic of far broader church trends… I am sad that more effort is often put into hyper-pragmatic church-planting techniques than the preserving of spaces for theological education that has as its goal the forming of Christian character and the training of Christian leaders. But most of all, I think, I am sad that the world will now have one less good place where young women and men can encounter Jesus and learn to love each other in the context of community.”
- Inside Female Thought Processes – “Am I enough? Sometimes, I don’t feel like there is enough of me to go around, and it can be exhausting. When I was teaching, I would wake up and pour into my husband and kiddos and spend some time in prayer. Once I arrived at school, I would pour into my students. Once I got back home, I would make dinner for my family, run my kids to their various activities, and end the day by pouring into my husband and kids once again. I was honestly a shell of a person. I had been pouring out all day into the ones I love and doing something I loved to do, but I was completely spent.”
- Rethinking the Bible College Degree– “From early on in my academic life, I was confused. I knew that a Bible college would prepare you to do the work of the Lord; I knew I wanted to be a missionary in post-communist Russia. I was prepared to be poor for the rest of my life, but I didn’t understand that one could live in deficit, that dreams could be deferred by the crushing realities of student debt. When the financial aid office of my Bible college draped their offers of loans in front of me, I confronted them. Do you really think you should be pushing debt onto missionaries and pastors? I asked them… While this might be a workable financial constraint for many, it can prove crippling to the very students that Bible colleges cater to—those who want to minister, either as pastors or teachers or overseas missionaries.”
- Making the Case for The Local Church as Dating Site – The same week the Christian Mingle movie releases on DVD, we’re offered a different view: “Every year, between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, online dating registrations soar. There are a myriad of reasons for this: the difficulty of holidays spent single; New Year resolutions; desire to not be by themselves in dark, winter nights; pressure from family; and more. One thing is clear, it is written on the heart of every man and woman that it is not good for them to be alone.” A call for the church to prayerfully set up potential couples.
- Moving Forward by Looking Back – “I set goals for every conceivable arena of life: spiritual, fitness, education, ministry, publishing, financial, language acquisition, and even reading speed. These give me items for which to pray, plan, and pursue. Holding the goal in mind helps me know when to decline otherwise enticing opportunities and when to apply for those that are not forthcoming. But equally important—a discipline I am less faithful in—is pausing to reflect on past accomplishments…” Take the time to raise your Ebenezer.
- Question of the Week – “Instead of asking ‘What does this passage mean to you?’ we should ask, ‘What does this passage mean if you never existed?'” You’ll find this somewhere on Julie Roys’ radio program said by either Michael Rydelnik or Michael Vanlaningham.
- One for the Road – While other Christian news items were more pressing, this was definitely the year of Christian cinema, making this year’s list of the Top 100 films looked up at the Christian Film database all the more important.
From Daniel Jepsen’s blog Sliced Soup (click image to link):