Thinking Out Loud

August 24, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Tomorrow is August 25th, which means only 4 months to Christmas. It’s never too early to start planning your advent services:

Advent Service Planning

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx – Do Not Pet

Today something a little different. Because the 30th Weekend Link List happened on Saturday, I’m going to reiterate all those links at the bottom of today’s, just ICYMI. (Statistically many of you do miss it, and this one contained some important items.)

Adam and Eve

As promised, our first ever reiteration of the weekend list experiment, not including images and witty introduction.

 

August 17, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Saw this one on the weekend; it can be ordered from Grimm.ca

Saw this one on the weekend; it can be ordered from Grimm.ca

Bridezilla of ChristLet’s be realistic here. After last week’s 38-point link list, you weren’t expecting another huge one, were you?  You do know I don’t get paid for this, right? At right, our Book Cover of the Week, published this year by Multnomah, authored by two of the Happy Rant Podcast guys.

 

How many of you have this as your life verse. See the Phil Vischer link above; this shows up starting around the 17:00 mark (or thereabouts)

How many of you have this as your life verse? See the Phil Vischer link above; this shows up starting around the 17:00 mark (or thereabouts)

August 10, 2016

Wednesday Link List

I hereby declare this link list officially opened! Not only opened but jam-packed this week! (I needed to write something here because this is the opening sentence which appears in the Twitter feed.)

GUTS Church

I keep thinking we’re pushing the envelope too far with the way some churches are named. The one pictured above is real, with several locations. I never did get the story of where the name for GUTS Church came from.

Valiant for Truth

I’d like to pretend this isn’t a thing, but I know better. The idea that students are studying and being tested on defending “the Authorized Version” means that valuable learning time isn’t being spent on better things…

Lynx with flowerThe List Lynx wanted to remind everyone that Thinking Out Loud is not an Amazon referrer and tries to avoid links to book mentions which are. Support your local brick and mortar bookstore, even if it means combing your hair, getting in your car and driving a few miles.

This t-shirt is just wrong on so many levels: Misplaced theology, boring graphic design, silly politics…

Trump Campaign T-Shirt

Last night I was still trying to decide whether the image below should be the centerpiece of its own blog post. Not enough is written on what we call “saying grace,” but the contraption below allows a family to basically roll the dice to decide which prayer to say. I’m not sure this is a type of prayer Jesus had in mind, so you might see this picture again sometime soon:

Mealtime Prayer Cube

August 8, 2016

The Minister’s Personal Library: Then and Now

When the books don't sell: Look very closely at the bottom left corner; the picture is actually unsold books waiting to be pulped. Many Christian titles suffer the same fate, but some should never have been printed in the first place.

When the books don’t sell: Look very closely at the bottom left corner; the picture is actually unsold books waiting to be pulped. Many Christian titles suffer the same fate, but some should never have been printed in the first place.

One of the peripheral things I do related to my work involves collecting used books for something called Christian Salvage Mission. I should add that I’m not very good at this as most people simply donate their books to the local thrift shop, but every once in awhile someone will greet me with a trunk load full of boxes, and often it’s a retired pastor who has reached the stage where they are giving up their personal library. They say you can’t take it with you, but these old guys — and by old guys I mean five minutes older than me — would gladly take their theology collection to heaven if they could figure out a way.

Because I’m basically nosy, I usually take the time to rummage through these boxes to see what books and reference materials shaped their ministry. Recently, I realized these books are characterized by what isn’t there:

  • there are no books on leadership principles
  • there are no books on leveraging your platform
  • there are no books on growing your church
  • there are no books on hiring best practices
  • there are no books on promoting your next sermon series
  • there are no books on launching a satellite campus

It was the first one — leadership — I noticed more significantly. I wonder how much of our present emphasis is diverting attention and energy away from pastors simply immersing themselves in the knowledge of scripture. Instead, the libraries I see include:

  • Bible commentaries
  • Bible handbooks
  • Greek and Hebrew word study
  • more commentaries
  • classic sermon transcripts
  • …did I mention commentaries?

Do you think there is something we’re losing — and I mean the church as a whole in terms of where the focus now lies — by getting entangled in so many secondary or tertiary concerns?  

In a few days, the Global Leadership Summit launches at Willow Creek. This is a great opportunity for people in business and service industries to hear from the best, including both Christian and general interest speakers. I know that many pastors also attend these events, as well as a gazillion other conferences where the goal is to extract leadership principles that can be applied to their local church. I am not dissing the idea of nurturing leadership principles in pastors and church leaders.

I’m simply noting that — if their libraries are any indication — such an emphasis did not exist in times past.

 

Theological Books

 


Yes, today is 8/8 so I posted this at 8:08. My own little OCD moment.

August 3, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Foxtrot Nov 11 2013 Predestination Free Will

This cartoon — which I discovered we’ve used before (in color) — highlights the need to be able to function on a number of levels. To some common folk, there are philosophical issues raised in the first panel which are possibly above their pay grade. But the highbrow intellectual or academic might totally miss the sports reference.

Thanks to those of you who send me link ideas. Keep ’em coming! 

Time Needed to Appreciate This Week’s List: 14.6 minutes

References to Chick Publications and/or The Gospel Coalition do not imply endorsement

  • Instagram of the Week: You won’t believe the realistic set they built for this interview Sheila Walsh did with David Jeremiah. Looks just like New York City, doesn’t it? There’s no limit to what can be done with a good art department and special effects, huh?

Sheila Walsh and David Jeremiah

August 1, 2016

Church Overseer Positions Should Have Term Limits

Admittedly these Mormon leaders aren't the subject of this article, but it kinda set up the vibe we were looking for. Your church's head office dress code may vary.

Admittedly these Mormon leaders aren’t the subject of this article, but it kinda set up the vibe we were looking for. Your church’s head office dress code may vary.

If you attend a denominational church, somewhere, in some city, there is a head office where resides the President or Bishop or whatever your church calls the guy with the biggest office. It is undoubtedly a multi-staff office with various sub departments dealing with the major aspects of church life. For example, one office is probably assigned to the Director of Missions. Another may concern itself with the movement of pastors from one part of the country to another as vacancies arise. A third might give oversight to both local church and national office finances. You might even have 20 or 30 such titles held by various people.

Additionally, if your church is of any size, there are regional or district offices which in some respects replicate the positions of the national office.

The number of people employed at the national or district office is beyond the scope of this article, except to say that it is very easy to move into an office and simply never move out. Such people, I would call, church administration lifers.

Many of these are former pastors, which is a rather odd way of saying that they are now — currently — trained as pastors and hold theological degrees, ordination and denominational credentials. If they chose to, they could at any time step into one of their local church pulpits.

Often the district overseers do that just that on the occasion of the anniversary of a church, the ordination of a pastor, or some other special occasion. This may involve simply preaching the same sermon in different locations, with little advance preparation time required. After the service, they shake a few hands, possibly stay for lunch, and then Monday morning they are back walking the administrative halls of their tribe.

It is nice work if you can get it, and many pastors in the trenches aspire to be promoted to a district position; still in ministry and still salaried, but free from the messiness of having to shepherd a local church congregation.

…and now we get to the meat of this article…

I would contend that with time, this drift away from involvement in a local church is detrimental to their ministry life and eventually impedes their effectiveness as an overseer. True, I’ve heard stories of some very senior church administrators who continue to teach a Sunday School class in their local congregation, but such stories are rare. I would argue that many overseers are cut off from church life, especially if they have been at the position for some time.

When I worked in Christian camping, I made a suggestion one year that each of us on senior staff be associated each week with a cabin and a counselor. I remember doing this myself. At least once a day I ate a meal with the boys, I spelled of the counselor for evening devotions one night, and I went on a one hour boat trip with the kids to a nearby island. While doing all this, I continued to do all of the administrative things required of me in the course of a day.

A few other senior staff caught the vision for this, but mostly, the concept was not well-received. The built-in assumption was that those of us in leadership were to somehow distance ourselves from what was going on in the cabins. The campers were the junior staff members’ responsibility, not ours. I disagreed. I felt we could only do our job effectively if we were maintaining direct contact with the people we served. For me, this was a matter of management style.

Twice in my life I did consulting for Christian publishing companies, while at the same time being a vendor for their products. I was involved in setting policies — including a couple of price increases — which would directly impact me as a customer. In both cases, the senior leadership of the company felt that I brought a freshness to their operations that could only come from also being a customer.

But we’re drifting away from denominational and district offices of your church’s denominations.

The thing I want to end with here is the idea of people being church administration lifers. I don’t think that in the case of ordained clergy who have come up through the ranks this is a good idea. I’ve heard stories of church overseers who reached their “Where do I go from here?” moment and decided to head out to the mission field. Brilliant!

For most however, a return to the trenches is a logical option. Which is why I think there should be term limits on these administrative positions. After a given point in time, the term expires, a new person is given the office, and the former President or District Superintendent returns to some form of pastoral ministry.

Who did I have in mind when I wrote this? Nobody in particular, though these articles often begin with conversations involving specific people. But this has been brewing in my head for a long time, and it is evidenced in my associate cabin leader concept at camp that this isn’t a new philosophy. Rather, I think it’s something that is desperately needed. It’s a win for the denomination because they experience different people in leadership. It’s a win for the local church which gains a pastor who has such a big-picture perspective. Finally, it’s a win for the man or woman whose skills I believe would otherwise atrophy doing the corner office thing and the potluck lunch circuit for all those anniversaries and ordinations.

head of the denomination


Fun image-based, partially-relevant places to visit after reading this article:

July 27, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Coffee With Jesus - True Peace

Coffee With Jesus bookOur graphics this week come from Coffee With Jesus, which is also available as a book from InterVarsity Press (IVP). (Two books now, actually.) Blogger Clark Bunch introduced me to the David Wilkie comic many years ago and he one of them weekly as part of his Happy Monday feature. You can get your own dose daily on the Radio Free Babylon Twitter feed. Also check out a 2014 interview Paul Pastor did with the creator.

This was one of those Weekend Link List weekends. Only 12 items, but it was a rather good list. Check it out. Yes, you. The one staring at the screen.

Coffee With Jesus - Talents

Since you were all good boys and girls today and clicked all your links, we’ll give you one more.

Coffee With Jesus - Closed to Dialog

July 20, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Evangelism - Moorland College promo image

The theme of the above picture is Evangelism, and was featured on Twitter in promotion of a September conference at Moorlands College in the UK.  The artist is Annaliese Stoney

I enjoyed putting this week’s list together and hope you enjoy it also. Please take some time to look over this week’s stories and opinion pieces.

Vegangelical

July 13, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Ken Ham watches from the sidelines as kids take a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Ark Encounter.

Ken Ham watches from the sidelines as kids take a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Ark Encounter. Nye said,“On a hopeful note, the parking lots were largely empty, and the ark building is unfinished. We can hope it will close soon.” More on his visit at Religion News Service.

Welcome to link list #316. As in John 3:16.

They do things like this where we live.

They do things like this where we live.

July 6, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Taste and See t-shirt

Welcome to link list #315. I don’t know why I’ve been more conscious of the numbers lately. Perhaps it’s a case of, “Have I really been doing this that long?”

We also had a weekend link list on Saturday. Probably our best. If you missed it, click this link. I think the news-writing and blog-creating machinery in the U.S. wasn’t fully cranked up after the July 4th break, so the weekend list is really worth reading.

  • We’ve seen a variety of depictions of the life of Jesus in film, but this time around it’s coming to virtual reality. “The 90-minute film will be available on all major mobile and premium VR platforms including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive, according to the companies. Pricing has not yet been set.” More info at Variety.
  • Not only were New Testament Christians never called to “execute” gays, but the actually were never told to kill anyone.
  • Here I Am To Lead Worship: So what happens when you really, really like the song but the ministry stream it flows from is considered a bit iffy by people in your congregation? This response appeared in May, but is worth studying. Priority one should be to minimize distractions.
  • After seeing the admission price, our family won’t be going to Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark Experience anytime soon. A writer looks at some issues appearing in a Yahoo News story about the opening.
  • Leadership Lessons: The childhood notion that bigger is better can creep into our thinking when it comes to our ministry life.
  • Life Lessons: It’s important to deal with conflict as quickly as possible.
  • Have problems maintaining a Bible reading and study routine? Maybe you should blame neural plasticity.
  • Several months ago we wrote about the bizarre world of domestic discipline, which occurs in some Christian marriages.  It turns up again as a reader reaches out for advice.
  • Provocative Header of the Week: A UK Christian website asks, Can You Wear a Bikini to Church? It’s an illustrated article, too. (Have you got you yet?) And a metaphor breaks out.
  • Carnival Cruises looks to group sales — including church and religious groups — for its future growth. (I got an idea: A 1 Corinthians 13 themed cruise called The Love Boat.)
  • A seasonal ministry statement worth repeating: “Camp is holy ground. Camp is the church outside of the building. Camp is kids from different congregations and cities coming together to worship and serve, to learn and love. It should not be a peripheral ministry, but one central to who and what the church claims to be. Camp is the body of Christ.” …
  • …However; while the kids are at camp or at VBS, do you want them to learn a new sport, or do arts-and-crafts, or would you rather they learned about community organization and civil rights
  • If there’s a millennial in your house, they might be suffering from Obsessive Comparison Disease.
  • As part of proposed anti-terrorism measures, Russia wants to ban religious gatherings in homes.
  • I think there’s some typos in a key paragraph, but I did resonate with this article about the “cult of positivity” and you will, too if you know people who are positive all the time.
  • Five paragraphs is all that was needed: A writer asks, “Does my pastor’s education matter?
  • With British Prime Minister David Cameron stepping down in the wake of the Brexit fiasco, there’s one thing he wants to be remembered for (and readers here will likely not agree that it was a great accomplishment.)
  • We thought it might be good to have a link item about God. (Just for something radical.) “…[W]e don’t want to make the mistake of choosing God’s immanence over His transcendence. Both are a part of His revealed nature.” When God is too close or too far
  • Oh, my!
  • Gospel music superstar Shirley Caesar was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Jumping on the Trend Wagon: Editors of Canada’s national Evangelical magazine, Faith Today, decided to go with a coloring-book themed cover this month.
  • Finally, Christian group infiltrated Toronto’s Gay Pride parade, but we’re not sure about the rather deceptive method they employed.

I Found Jesus t-shirt

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