Thinking Out Loud

May 17, 2018

Thursday Link List

It’s a great weather day where I live, so for some of you, these are the only links that matter.

A few things seen the day after I would like to have included yesterday. Some of the items below are perhaps of greater interest to people in vocational ministry, but I chose things that I think all of us can connect with. If you missed the bigger list yesterday, click here.

  • Canada’s John Stackhouse guests at Lorna Dueck’s website and looks at the composition of the Willow Creek church board and how the choosing of board members can influence outcomes in situations like the one the church just faced. “From what I could read … the website indicates that the Board of Elders of this large, globally influential church features eight impressive people who are long-time members of Willow Creek and who bring a range of gifts and experiences to the Elder Board. All well and good. Collectively, however, they list not a single year of theological education. Nor do any of them have experience in pastoral ministry.”
  • Egalitarian in theory, but not in practice: Canada’s Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada — the country’s direct equivalent of the Assemblies of God — has been at the forefront of ordaining women and even having women as senior pastors. But it doesn’t always translate into actual positions being granted with what the denom would like to see. So, at this year’s annual conference in Victoria, BC, they affirmed their stance: “Two decades later, we recognize that although our accepted, official position is one of equality between men and women, that position has not translated to reality. Women continue to be vastly underrepresented both as vocational pastors and in governing roles at District and National levels, despite female students consistently attending our Bible Colleges in significant numbers. There is a gap between our official position and our lived reality.”
  • Following up on a link from yesterday, we listened to the most recent John Mark Comer sermon online. If nothing else, listen to the first 5-10 minutes. We also linked yesterday to a piece about “data dumping” where pastors simply unload a great volume of information in a non-academic, church environment. With that in mind, check out how this is done in Comer’s sermon. It’s a friendly, unthreatening approach with an admitted theology “nerd” sharing what he learned and recognizing some people may temporarily tune out. I think however, it’s also the degree of sermon prep which attracts people to his church.
  • Andy Stanley has been the most recent target of the label Marcionite, because of a sermon in the “Aftermath” series wherein he spoke of the first generation church ‘unhitching’ itself from the Old Testament way of doing things. Peter Enns addressed this a few months back, noting that God’s so-called “split personality” isn’t just apparent along the OT/NT divide: “Different portrayals of the one God are self-evident, not simply between the two Testaments but within each Testament. Israel’s Scripture does not present God in one way, but various ways—depending on who is writing, when, and for what reason. Same with the New. This is what keeps theologians so busy, trying to make that diversity fit into a system of some sort.”
  • Staying with the OT for a minute, what is the last book of the Old Testament? Did you say Malachi (the Italian prophet)? “The Bible that Jesus was familiar with, what we now refer to as the Old Testament, did not end with Malachi. In fact, it wasn’t even a single volume book. Rather, it was a collection of separate scrolls that were made to be read as a unified collection, and the book designed as the concluding crown jewel was 1st and 2nd Chronicles! Your favorite book of the Bible, I’m sure.” We don’t know how the change happened but we do know the “The general picture we get from the book is that the long years of Israel’s exile did not fundamentally change the hearts of the people. They’re still in rebellion against God, the temple is corrupted, and it leaves the reader waiting for some kind of resolution.”
  • An Arminian website offers “Five Biblical Texts that Calvinists Can’t Wiggle Out Of.” The outline parallels TULIP, and at the end, they admit their strongest case is made with “L” — an argument against limited atonement.
  • Still continuing with the number ‘5’ an article by a lawyer at Christianity Today offers five things your church should purchase before adding a coffee bar, or making another such purge. (This article may be pay-walled soon.)
  • Got an hour to think about comedy? We listened to this over two nights. Christian stand-up Jon Crist was the guest on The Wally Show (WAY-FM) and they left a camera running in the studio as they recorded the segments.
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November 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Link List - Out of Ur

I’ve checked this week and nobody in the Pentecostal community is organizing a Strange Ice Conference. So far.

The last link listed here this week is to an interview that Chrsitianity Today did with me about a month ago that I didn’t think would ever appear. Speaking of which, you can catch this week’s list at Out of Ur; the individual links will take you there now as well.

Wednesday Link List Sign
Yes, blogrolls are now uncool, but if you scroll down the right margin at Thinking Out Loud, for a limited time, there’s a list of a small selection of the places Paul Wilkinson hunts each week for buried treasure.

August 13, 2011

Trend Toward Part-Time Church Staff Raises Other Issues

With declining attendance figures, and a tight economy, many mid-sized and smaller churches are moving toward models involving part-time or bi-vocational staff.  But what does this trend mean in terms of the training that church staff committees look for in a candidate?  Normally, in any profession, one sees a full-time position as the payoff for a four year investment in college or university courses.  While one could argue that theological study is its own reward, certainly in economic terms, it doesn’t make sense to invest those years if the resultant job is only 20-30 hours per week.  And while Christian institutions of higher learning are increasingly offering specialized courses in urban ministry, student ministry, or worship ministry; these positions are most vulnerable to reduced hours or even elimination when money isn’t there.

If post-secondary education for ministry development is peaking, what happens to an entire Christian magazine industry that has budgeted vast amounts of income from advertising to Christian colleges, universities and seminaries?  I know that may seem cynical, but those adverts in those glossy periodicals are indicative of the vast amounts that have been historically spent on recruiting students.   Most Christian colleges have been in a growth mode for several decades as prosperity has allowed more people to pursue education beyond high school.  But if the economy slows and churches are cutting back available job hours, it means these institutions could see themselves facing years of decline.

Do you know anyone in ministry who has recently had their hours cut? Or lost their job completely due to the economy and/or church attendance issues?   Continue the discussion by looking at a Canadian study at ChristianWeek.org.

 

Photos: Cross Island Chapel in Oneida, New York has turned up on this blog before, but the one in Drumheller, Alberta was new to us!

 

August 11, 2011

Baptist Music Minister Tasers Pastor in Dispute

Filed under: Church, current events — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:03 pm

When I wrote on Sunday about “Churts” — church related hurts — I was talking on an emotional level only.  But a comment yesterday from alert reader Al in Toronto pointed me to this story in Alabama.com which is indicative of why sometimes, the less you know about what’s going on in your local church, the better off you are…

MOBILE COUNTY, Alabama — A minister of music at a church in the St. Elmo community Tased the pastor who had just fired him Sunday, touching off a fight and various knife slashings, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Mobile County deputies were called just after 1 p.m. to New Welcome Baptist Church in the 8600 block of Boe Road.

The mayhem erupted when the Rev. Darryl Riley told minister of music Simone Moore that he was no longer needed and gave him a final paycheck, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Moore disagreed with the amount of the check and an argument broke out, in which Moore wielded a Taser gun, according to the account given to deputies.

Several church members became involved, including Agolia Moore, the music minister’s mother, who suffered a stab wound at the hands of a deacon, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The deacon was identified as Harvey Hunt.

People hurt in the fight were treated at a hospital and released to go home, officials said.

A warrant for second-degree assault was signed on Moore, while Hunt was the subject of a warrant alleging third-degree assault.

Moore and Riley told dueling versions of the events to a Press-Register reporter who spoke with them Monday.

Moore, with bandages on his forehead and right hand, acknowledged that he had a Taser, but denied using it on Riley.

When asked why he was carrying a Taser on Sunday, Moore said, “I didn’t trust the situation.”

Moore said he was ready to leave as minister of music, but wanted to give two weeks notice and get paid for that time. He maintained that the chairman of the deacon board agreed to that arrangement.

continue reading here

Having been in a lot of church staff meetings where “I didn’t trust the situation,” I would have to agree that packing heat is the way to go.  Or not.

March 5, 2010

Lost Voice 1 – Rick

More than three years ago when this blog was an e-newsletter, I announced something I was working on called The Lost Voice Project. Today, I thought I’d give you a sample chapter, and I’ll post others here from time to time.   After all, why have one unpublished book when you can have two?

You don’t notice it at first when you visit Rick and Emmy’s house, but after a minute or two you are somehow conscious of it:   The house is totally wired; totally high-tech.

Rick’s ability in electronics includes a specialty in the interconnecting of various devices, a specialty that pre-dates the modern computer age.   One of my personal favorites is subtle:  It’s a reading lamp next to a big chair near the television.    It’s wired into a master system that controls all the household lighting, making changes while the family is on holidays; but it’s also sensitive to someone walking into the room; it’s also voice activated; and just to make it interesting Rick added a fourth parameter, you can clap it on or off.   He admits that one is a bit over-the-top.

You’d notice more if you went to his large workshop on the north end of the house.   All kinds of things in process, some for himself, some things he puts together for friends.    Leaving church the other day, he dialed a code on his cell phone that warmed up the food in the stove for lunch.   That’s rather commonplace today, but Rick’s device was installed in 1995, when he had to use a land line to activate the thing.

By day, Rick works at something similar.  Though he’s hoping to take an early retirement in about six years, he’s kept up with all the latest technology and is one of the top guys at his office.   Mostly, he goes out on assignment to other companies; of the three portfolios he currently carries, the one that takes the majority of his days is with the State Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

In every casino, there’s an office somewhere staffed with people keeping minute-by-minute tabs on what each and every slot machine is up to.   Constant updates are now linked to video cameras.   Some can open an audio channel and listen to conversations taking place at the machines.   Rick is the guy who makes all that inter-connectivity possible.

Twice, they’ve offered Rick the same job working directly for them.    Right now his company keeps a very fat portion of the consulting fee.   Rick’s take home pay — already nicer than most peoples’ — would instantly double, but Rick’s not sure about the idea of a Christian working for the Lottery Corporation; this way he feels he’s at least one-step removed, and he can always ask to be assigned to another project.

But for Rick’s church, the decision has already been made.   He’s been pigeon-holed, typecast and labeled.   His association with the casino — which by implication is an association with gambling — simply makes him, in their view, a risk for any ministry role in the church, and because, as I said, his work for them pre-dates computer technology, that means he’s been doing projects for the lottery people on and off for most of the 23 years he’s attended Forest Ridge Church.

In practical terms this means he’s:

  • never been asked to be on the leadership board, even though he’d normally be prime candidate and make a major contribution
  • never been asked to lead a small group, even though he’s both knowledgeable and conversant about various Bible subjects
  • never been called on to read a scripture, open in prayer, or even make an announcement

Rick is one of the lost voices in the church; marginalized for what the leadership at Forest Ridge considers good reasons, but set aside nonetheless.

Rick and Emmy are faithful in attendance, though there are times in the summer when they opt to go for a drive in the country instead of attending a service; their aching to be involved more deeply is hard to bear.   And Rick is using his gifts; he’s on the board of two small parachurch ministries in the city, and at least once every six months writes a letter to the editor of the local paper that truly speaks to an issue on behalf of the Christian community.

But somewhere along the line, Rick’s name was crossed off the list of the board nominating committee, he was passed over for consideration for small group leadership, and mostly Rick does not have a ministry role or leadership role in the church because he’s never had a ministry role or leadership role in the church.

Too much time has passed, and a new generation of leaders have written Rick off.   Rick is one of the lost voices in the modern church, and it’s a shame, because he has so much to contribute.

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