Thinking Out Loud

October 6, 2012

Knowing When It’s Time To Quit

A year ago at this time I wrote an open letter to Harold Camping congratulating him on exercising the wisdom to step down from his ministry following several errant end-of-the-world predictions. While it may seem harsh, I then addressed a few other letters to Christian leaders I felt should do the same.  I feel the need to share those again, but this time around I want to follow up with some other material which had appeared here earlier the same month.


Dear Pat Robertson,

I have always greatly respected you ever since reading your early biography Shout it from the Housetops as a much younger Christian. You don’t know this, but one night while you were still in the old Spratley Street Channel 27 studios, I was in your office and sat in your chair; and the next day was privileged to watch The 700 Club from the control room. You’ve played a big role in my life and taught me much about both faith and media.

But like the letter above, I’m wondering if perhaps it’s time to step back from the microphone and the camera and allow God to work through others. Remember that story in Shout It… where you were doing a telethon and God told you to, “Get out of the way”? Well, perhaps we’ve reached a similar juncture. Many of your recent pronouncements have been unusual to say the least, and I suspect even some of your staff are concerned. You built a great broadcasting network and a great university, and you’ll always have my respect for that. I just want to see the story end well.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Jack Van Impe,

You have been relentless in your pursuit of relevant television ministry, especially where the prophetic writings of scripture intersect with the pages of the local newspaper. Your awareness of current events coupled with your Bible knowledge have given you a unique voice among Evangelicals.

But lately, you’ve been somewhat seduced by the writings of Noah Hutchings, who I guess is also trying to stay attuned to what’s going on in the world, but has lately focused his attacks on other Christian pastors, writers, organizations and ministries. You know, we need to be discerning to some extent, but we can’t spend valuable television airtime attacking each other, especially in a public forum. You’ve run a good race, but perhaps it might be time to step down before it all ends badly.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Fred Phelps,

By now you’ve seen the above three letters, and you’re probably thinking that I’m going to advise you that perhaps it’s time to step down as well, right? But really, step down from what? Your ‘organization’ consists of only a handful of mostly family members, and truly gives new meaning to the term, ‘a tempest in a teapot.’

While you are semi-skilled at getting media attention — which says more about the need of print and electronic news organizations for the sensational than it does about the content of your message — the scope of your ‘tribe’ represents such an infinitesimal percentage of Christians in the United States that it’s amazing that even the most news-hungry reporters still bother sending a film crew. You’ve had more than your fifteen minutes of fame, and every American with either a television or a newspaper subscription knows who you think God hates. It’s too bad you never considered using your immense media platform to actually preach the gospel; the story that begins with, “For God so loved the world…”

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.



Serve God When You’re Young… and Ready

I’ve written before, including this article, how increasingly, so much of what goes on in the modern church is a young man’s game. We often tell teens and twenty-somethings that they need to “maximize their impact for God” while they are young. And certainly, when it comes to serving in tropical rainforests, helping out in the high arctic, or ministering in communities located at high elevation, you want to have youth or fitness on your side.

But I’m also reminded of the number of times those opportunities were afforded to me — especially those where a church turned their worship time or pulpit time over to me — where I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have anything close to resembling the wisdom of age, and I’m still not sure I do. But I do know that I wish I had known then what I know now.

So here we have a dichotomy between offering ministry experience to the young and inexperienced, and then denying the older and wiser those same opportunities because all the time-slots are full.

However, I also have to ask myself if I would be that older, wiser person if those early opportunities to fall flat on my face had not been offered to me. So…

To the young:

  1. Take the opportunities as they present themselves. Paul told Timothy not to allow anyone to look down on him because of his youth; but
  2. Get all the training and preparation you can get for each individual assignment.
  3. Know what ministry roles not to accept because of lack of spiritual fitness in that particular area, or lack of Biblical understanding.
  4. Get connected with an older — the older the better — person in your faith community who can mentor you in specialized ministry positions, as well as a general mentor for your overall spiritual journey.

To the old(er):

  1. Yes, you have more experience and can do a better job. Now get over it. The chain of grace isn’t constructed that way. In some institutions, maybe, but not a fully functioning organic church.
  2. Find young people who are teachable and are willing to be mentored. Meet them halfway by learning about and connecting with their culture, their technology, their family situations.
  3. Mold and shape them through encouragement, not criticism. Avoid the “in my day this is how we did it” type of stories, and instead, use non-directive responses, i.e. questions.
  4. Become a translator. Not a Bible translator, but someone who takes solid spiritual concepts from past devotional writers and Bible commentators, and asks, “How would the next generation communicate that same idea?”

Those are my suggestions for today, and you should listen to them, because I am older and wiser, and if you don’t, I’m calling the pastor and telling him that everybody’s doing it wrong and instead, they should all listen to me.

Seriously, I do think there’s something here worth considering. Does your faith family give equal weight to encouraging the next generation and appreciate the wisdom and experience of older participants?

The graphic above is from a book on inter-generational ministry, the other side of the coin, how churches can reach a wide variety of ages. Read more on this topic from Zondervan author Dr. Jeff Baxter

October 27, 2011

Harold Camping Resigns from Family Radio

Dear Mr. Camping,

I was just getting ready to retire myself — for the night, that is — when I caught this post over at the blog Bene Diction, and learned of your decision to step down.  While I haven’t agreed with you on everything lately, I applaud your realization that perhaps it is time to hand the reins over to the next generation, and your decision to act on that realization sooner than later.  I wish you all the best in whatever remaining years God grants you.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


More details at this Christian Post story.

Now then, if I may, a few other notes to others…


Dear Pat Robertson,

I have always greatly respected you ever since reading your early biography Shout it from the Housetops as a much younger Christian.  You don’t know this, but one night while you were still in the old Spratley Street Channel 27 studios, I was in your office and sat in your chair; and the next day was privileged to watch The 700 Club from the control room.  You’ve played a big role in my life and taught me much about both faith and media.

But like the letter above, I’m wondering if perhaps it’s time to step back from the microphone and the camera and allow God to work through others.  Remember that story in Shout It… where you were doing a telethon and God told you to, “Get out of the way”?  Well, perhaps we’ve reached a similar juncture.  Many of your recent pronouncements have been unusual to say the least, and I suspect even some of your staff are concerned.  You built a great broadcasting network and a great university, and you’ll always have my respect for that.  I just want to see the story end well.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Jack Van Impe,

You have been relentless in your pursuit of relevant television ministry, especially where the prophetic writings of scripture intersect with the pages of the local newspaper.  Your awareness of current events coupled with your Bible knowledge have given you a unique voice among Evangelicals.

But lately, you’ve been somewhat seduced by the writings of Noah Hutchings, who I guess is also trying to stay attuned to what’s going on in the world, but has lately focused his attacks on other Christian pastors, writers, organizations and ministries.  You know, we need to be discerning to some extent, but we can’t spend valuable television airtime attacking each other, especially in a public forum.  You’ve run a good race, but perhaps it might be time to step down before it all ends badly.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Fred Phelps,

By now you’ve seen the above three letters, and you’re probably thinking that I’m going to advise you that perhaps it’s time to step down as well, right?  But really, step down from what?  Your ‘organization’ consists of only a handful of mostly family members, and truly gives new meaning to the term, ‘a tempest in a teapot.’

While you are semi-skilled at getting media attention — which says more about the need of print and electronic news organizations for the sensational than it does about the content of your message — the scope of your ‘tribe’ represents such an infinitesimal percentage of Christians in the United States that it’s amazing that even the most news-hungry reporters still bother sending a film crew.  You’ve had more than your fifteen minutes of fame, and every American with either a television or a newspaper subscription knows who you think God hates.  It’s too bad you never considered using your immense media platform to actually preach the gospel; the story that begins with, “For God so loved the world…”

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.

September 28, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

Into each blog some links must fall

  • Pat Robertson’s recent comments about marriage and divorce weren’t his only interesting pronouncements recently; he also said that the earthquake-produced crack in the Washington Monument was a sign from God.  
  • Clark Bunch at Master’s Table had a link to a very interesting article at a Southern Baptist blog site, where Dave Miller, in part 15 of an ongoing discussion, looks at the issue of Christian liberty.
  • Actually, I’m really enjoying Dave Miller’s writing and want to recommend another article to you which looks at the issue of “who’s in and who’s out.”  Are they “real” Christians if they believe in open theism, or approve of homosexuality. And what about Catholics?
  • Catch an interview with Rachel Held Evans on NPR (National Public Radio) which looks at her “year of Biblical womanhood” experiment/adventure.
  • Termed Ragamuffin Gospel author Brennoan Manning’s final book, All is Grace is a collection of his personal memoirs. View the book trailer.
  • Pete Wilson tackles the idea of multi-tasking.  Some of us are proud of ourselves for being able to do the mental juggling act, but a report says we actually lose productivity.
  • At C201 this week, a piece about why you should pray out loud; and a piece which deals with the idea that nobody should hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once.  And a varied collection of quotes about grace.
  • Dave Wainscott has an interesting review/promotional item about the book Jesus Freak by Sara Miles, titled, If you want to see God, sit in the smoking section. Not sure on the timing of this, but the January, 2010 release may be about due for a switch from hardcover to paperback.
  • Also in our time travel department, I noticed someone had recently linked to the home page for the Christian rock music documentary Bleed Into One, but the homepage has a 2008 copyright.  I’d never heard of this film, though it looks informative. Did this movie release?
  • I really thought that the news item here about Rob Bell leaving Mars Hill Bible Church would have produced more comments; but perhaps everyone has tired of talking about Rob.
  • Anyway, if you missed Monday’s update, it looked something like this: “So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly.  Hills that is…”  Okay, Rob Bell isn’t going to Beverly Hills, but we do know he’s going to California as per this (ABC affiliate) WZZM channel 13 report from his Sunday sermon.
  • I love author interviews; this one’s a month old, but Meg Moseley has some Q&A with Abingdon Press author Linda Clare, an author bucking the Amish fiction trend with books about Native Americans.
  • Catch a sample of Chrstine Wyrtzen’s series on Hosea; one dealing with God as unchanging; or the one containing this quote: “When Christianity thrives and being associated with a notable church brings public reward, pretense flourishes.”
  • If you want to get into the extreme sport of blog surfing, check out the section with “Links – WordPress…” in the blogroll here. You’ll get the complete range of anything tagged “Christianity” (which seems to completely update the top ten every five minutes), “Jesus,” or “Church.”  Remember, not everything you read is necessarily in favor of Jesus or Christianity, or whatever search term you use.
  • Here’s the top ten Christian songs on Christian radio as reported at Mediabase and published in USAToday. You can follow the action at this site. Click the USAToday .pdf file option.

    1  Steven Curtis Chapman  – Do Everything   1,141
    2  MercyMe – Move   1,123
    3  Matthew West – Strong Enough   1,040
    4  Jamie Grace featuring tobyMac  – Hold Me   1,025
    5  Jeremy Camp – The Way   1,013
    6 Aaron Shust – My Hope Is In You   1,009
    7  Chris Tomlin – I Lift My Hands   943
    8 Afters – Lift Me Up   886
    9 Matt Maher – Turn Around   882
    10  Laura Story – Blessings   868
  • And lastly, this item which I deliver to you without comment for your own consideration…

May 18, 2011

Wednesday Link List

[B]link and you’ll miss it!

  • The actual end of the world on the 21st is officially set for 6:00 PM (one assumes Eastern Standard Time) which ought to give me time to cut the lawn.  Respected Baptist guy Albert Mohler breaks the news, though he’s not buying it personally.
  • The wife of Elevation pastor Steven Furtick, Holly Furtick did the Mother’s Day sermon — he introduces her as the best looking guest speaker they’ve had — and now you can watch part two of a three part sermon series, Mr. & Mrs. Betterhalf.
  • Philip Yancey is touring the UK on what is dubbed the “Seasons of the Soul” tour.  Check out the story at Christian Post, as well as the tour website.
  • Canada’s national newspaper, revisits the fall from Orthodoxy in the once-great United Church of Canada in this report at The National Post.
  • Here’s a breakdown on the whole Creation-Evolution debate neatly condensed, boxed and tied with a ribbon at the Parchment & Pen blog.
  • Joyce Meyer Ministries gets hit with a $20 million lawsuit from a former employee; video clips at Monday Morning Insight.
  • The birth of a song:  Shaun Groves takes us from demo recording to pre-production track, to studio track, to mixed track, with only mastering of the song All’s Grace left to happen.
  • And our new artist this week was actually linked here once before, but I keep watching the increased following  of one-man keyboard talent Zach Havens who records and performs as To Tell.  (And I’m sticking with the comparison to Owl City!)
  • One last music-related item: A link to the Gospel Coalition audio of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s presentation,Writing Corporate Worship Music.
  • While teen pregnancy rates are dropping, in some poor and minority communities, it continues to be a challenge, as outlined in this CBN News report.
  • It’s a classic local interest story from the 1930s you’d know if you lived in Sydney, Australia; the story of the man known as “Mister Eternity.”  The full story is repeated at the Meeting in the Clouds blog.
  • A short thought from Mark Batterson: Some of the world’s greatest pastors aren’t necessarily pastoring a church.
  • Truth isn’t in the middle, but in both extremes!  To mark author and theologian John Stott’s 90th birthday in April; a tribute from IVP associate publisher Andy LePeau
  • Is AOL birthing a religious section out of Huffington’s Post faith pages?  John Shore thinks so.
  • Can’t wait for next week’s links?  Trevin Wax has an almost daily list.
  • For this week’s cartoon, it seems that Matt Mewhorter, who draws the Bleat comic, with a rather different take on things Christian, thinks Pat Robertson is somewhat confused by the current controversy over Love Wins: (Here’s a bonus panel! for you to chew on!)

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