Thinking Out Loud

January 6, 2018

The Steps to Decision

Two nights ago we were discussing the process by which people ‘cross the line of faith’ and identify as Christians. I looked all around for this graphic, including online, and discovered some people had improved on the one we posted in March, 2014.

Here’s what I wrote about this at the time,

A long time ago, in a galaxy rather close by, a new generation of Christians were as excited about the latest books as today’s host of internet bloggers. While we might think the universe didn’t exist until we were born, there was the same mix of academic writers as well as popular writers. One of the latter was Emory Griffin who wrote a paperback about evangelism called The Mind Changers, and in that book, he frequently quoted James F. Engel, who wrote the textbook Contemporary Christian Communications: Its Theory and Practice. I am privileged to own (somewhere in our house) a copy of both.

Engel dissected the conversion process as only a late 20th Century academic could, breaking it down piece-by-piece. But I’ve always kept a copy of this particular little chart handy, because it reminds me that making disciples (or what a previous generation called soul-winning) doesn’t happen overnight (though it can) but often involves the careful processing through of ideas and thoughts. Yes, some people encounter Jesus and the transformation can be instantaneous, but often it has to be reasoned through (or even emoted through; I don’t know if there’s a word for that) and it usually involves some other person whose gift is apologetics or just being there with love or perhaps some combination of the two.

Today, people still discuss whether or not salvation happens as a crisis experience (in a moment, in an instant) or whether it is a process experience (as C. S. Lewis defined so well in the train analogy in Mere Christianity) but if it’s a process, it might look something like Engel describes in the graphic.

I ended up repeating some of this material and going into greater detail, including a second graphic image, at this post at Christianity 201.

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December 15, 2017

Making Christian Television Great Again

test pattern

If your background is Anglican or Roman Catholic, you might think that the world of Christian television is dominated by Evangelical voices, but you’d only be partly right. In fact, Christian TV is dominated by a certain type of Evangelical, most of whom, if not Pentecostal or Charismatic, are definitely is leaning in that direction.

And that’s unfortunate because there is a wide swath of Evangelicals that simply aren’t represented in the broadcast medium:

Cerebral Christians – I’ve always wondered what a Christian television program would look like if it was created by InterVarsity. I know I’d watch. N. T. Wright is often a guest on various shows; if he were a host, I wonder who would he invite? This would be to present Christian television what PBS is to ABC.

America’s Best Sermons – There’s a ton of sermon media out there. Why should just internet-connected people get to enjoy it all? A show of best sermons would scan the internet for great material from churches that would never dream of purchasing broadcast airtime.

Christian Talk/Variety in a Live Context – In 2008, I wrote about His Place on Cornerstone Television which was set in a coffee shop but contained characters discussing pertinent issues and challenges, along with guest interviews and musicians. Truly a superior concept. You can read what I wrote at this link.

Socratic Dialog – Think about what people liked about The Shack, or Ian Morgan Cron’s Chasing Francis or the David Gregory Dinner With a Perfect Stranger series or a large number of Andy Andrews titles, and you get where I’m going with this. It would make for great television.

Bible Project – In May of last year we introduced you to two guys from the west coast with a very unique gift for explaining the Bible. Frankly, I think their work is too good to just be on YouTube. It deserves the cachet that goes with broadcast TV. You may read my description at this link.

Progressives – For all the Millennials out there, TV must seem a very old-school medium. Still, what would it take to capture the energy of those edgy podcasts and turn it loose in a more populist medium? 

Apologetics – The “extreme sport” of Christian theology and witness rarely makes it onto TV in its pure form.

Calvinists – I know this one flies in the face of some of my other writing about the dominance of Reformed theology on the internet and in Christian publishing, but the five-point crowd isn’t known for using the visual media. Anyone know a reason for that? 

Drama – Again, another question: Why should all the best examples modelling Christians in their neighborhoods, workplaces and extended families only be seen in movie theaters? Can’t Sherwood Pictures or PureFlix throw some shorter scripts together for broadcast?

Polar Opposites – Television is a great showcase for the dramatic. What if the TULIPs and the DAISYs had it out on a weekly basis? Or pit the egalitarians debating the complementarians. Or the Young Earth Creationists arguing with the Old Earth Creationists. Or the KJV-Only crowd throwing things at the NIV and NLT advocates. Or the watchdog bloggers against just about anyone. I know I’d tune in.

What Christian television that doesn’t exist would you like to see?

March 13, 2014

The Spiritual Decision Making Process

A long time ago, in a galaxy rather close by, a new generation of Christians were as excited about the latest books as today’s host of internet bloggers. While we might think the universe didn’t exist until we were born, there was the same mix of academic writers as well as popular writers.  One of the latter was Emory Griffin who wrote a paperback about evangelism called The Mind Changers, and in that book, he frequently quoted James F. Engel, who wrote the textbook Contemporary Christian Communications: Its Theory and Practice. I am privileged to own (somewhere in our house) a copy of both.

Engel dissected the conversion process as only a late 20th Century academic could, breaking it down piece-by-piece. But I’ve always kept a copy of this particular little chart handy, because it reminds me that making disciples (or what a previous generation called soul-winning) doesn’t happen overnight (though it can) but often involves the careful processing through of ideas and thoughts. Yes, some people encounter Jesus and the transformation can be instantaneous, but often it has to be reasoned through (or even emoted through; I don’t know if there’s a word for that) and it usually involves some other person whose gift is apologetics or just being there with love or perhaps some combination of the two.

Today, people still discuss whether or not salvation happens as a crisis experience (in a moment, in an instant) or whether it is a process experience (as C. S. Lewis defined so well in the train analogy in Mere Christianity) but if it’s a process, it might look something like Engel describes here:

Complete Spiritual Decision Process - James Engel

October 12, 2013

The Corruption of Online Journaling

Filed under: blogging, writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:27 am

What if instead of keeping a written diary or journal, someone offered you a free software package that allowed you to do the same at your computer; and instead of storing your writing on your computer and having to transfer files every time you bought a new machine, it allowed you to store your thoughts in the cloud, where they could also be accessed by friends and family?

bloggingdogs-thumbThat’s the theory behind the original weblogs — later shortened to blogs — such as the one you’re reading right now, and names like Blogspot and WordPress, and SquareSpace became synonymous with being able to do this in a time when the new meanings of words such as “share” and “like” hadn’t been fully developed. Blogging also replaced the Bulletin Board (or BBS) means of posting information to a wider audience (which is why foreign spammers often use the word ‘board’ in their message) and also absorbed people whose sense of online community was previously developed in online forums or chat rooms (in an age when that term didn’t only have sexual connotations).

In the last 12-24 months however, we’ve seen a big change not only in blogging, but in the various other forms of social media that have arrived more recently. As I said a few days ago, you can only be creative on so many fronts at once, and some great writers online have gravitated to fortune-cookie-length writing on Twitter, while others simply say it with pictures on Instagram. But as time goes by, platforms get corrupted as the purveyors of the free programs need to show revenue to satisfy their personal bottom line or the demands of shareholders.

Thus, you’re seeing advertising on this page you never saw before. At least I think you are. I use Firefox as my browser with the AdBlock add-on, so I don’t see advertising here or anywhere else. But WordPress will remove it entirely if I pay them $30 per year. Or at least, $30 for this year, with fees certainly due to rise. And on the Facebook page for my small business, that company is now asking for $5 every time I write something, or $30 per post, if I really want it “boosted.”

My online diary lately, for lack of a better word, has been my Twitter account. But even there, the emails I receive from them seem obsessed with the idea of me building a following, and sometimes I get people following me on the chance I will go to their Twitter and follow them, and then quietly un-following (there’s no email notification for that) once enough time has passed, or they realize they didn’t really care what I had to say.

blog-awards-humbleBlog comments (even the good ones) and Twitter ‘follows’ are essentially a new form of spam. Not in all cases, but many times.

We want to be heard. We want to be seen. We want to be somebody. We want to have significance.

Of the writing of blogs there is no end. Literally. In my quest for daily content at Christianity 201, there seem to be as many blogs — even faith-based ones — as there are grains of sand on the beach. The promise to Abraham is fulfilled, online.

So many voices screaming into the wind.

Still, words communicate. People are listening. You can have a part in what they hear. If the Butterfly Effect can be proven, it can be proven online. Someone writes something and the internet gods are smiling and the article goes viral. Got a video that reached 25,000,000 views? You’re tomorrow’s next author. (To be clear, not undeservedly so; not everyone makes it to Thomas Nelson.)

As I write this, I am active on WordPress (4 times over), Twitter, and manage a Facebook Page (for our business, under my wife’s account) and YouTube. Each has a different audience and a different purpose. I do, in fact write to be heard. I do want people to listen because I feel I have something to offer. But I recognize that I am one of millions of voices screaming into that windstorm.

However, I also recognize that the social media landscape changes rapidly from month to month (even day to day) and if God puts it into your heart to be a communicator — or an influencer —  you have to navigate the current and be willing to adapt.

April 28, 2013

When the Meanings of Words Change

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:11 am

pejoration

RadicalEnglish is a constantly-changing language. The World English Dictionary defines pejoration as “semantic change whereby a word acquires unfavorable connotations.”

I was reminded of this on Friday when a friend pointed out the title of a popular book by David Platt, Radical. The tragedy in Boston two weeks ago was a reminder of the radical elements in our world. We speak of students being radicalized.  The word has taken on nuances of meaning that weren’t present in the past.

The call of Jesus is a call to live a radical life, and nobody puts that idea across better than David Platt, which accounts for the book’s bestseller status. And we hate to have to surrender a perfect adjective to the effects of mass media and popular culture.  But it is incumbent on communicators to choose their terminology carefully; to make their message and intention crystal clear.

Do you think this is over-reaction, or do you think my friend was being highly alert in spotting a linguistic shift that has negative repercussions if we are misunderstood?

October 9, 2010

What’s Missing in the Christian Blogosphere?

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, so I thought I’d take it easy today and throw out a question:  What do you feel is lacking these days in the Christian blogosphere?   What topics aren’t being covered?   What needs aren’t being met?  How can the long-form of blog posts be more effective and fruitful in a world of 140-character tweets and one-sentence status updates?

Or feel free to suggest some area where you feel Christians could make better use of the internet in general.   Or celebrate some who already are.

Update:  Although this is an older blog post; if you find yourself here, feel free to continue to leave a comment.

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