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 21, 2016

Most Popular Church Website Tag Line

new-website-small

Years ago my wife and I noticed that the phrase, “A Different Kind of Church” was becoming so ubiquitous to the point of being meaningless. It was a decade of great ecclesiastic shuffling, books were being written at a furious pace, and church planting was the de rigeur activity for any younger pastors or leaders who wanted to keep up with the times.

Even today, the phrase will produce about 114,000 results on Google; change the word Kind to Type and you get 42,000 more. The fastest growing church network in Canada, The Meeting House boasts it is a “church for people who aren’t into church,” which will get you almost 1,500 more results.

But these days, it seems like, where I live anyway, the most popular tag line for church websites is something like,

Website Under Construction

Admittedly one was hacked, but one church signed up with a new provider only to find themselves being down for over a year. It’s up and running as of a few weeks ago.

This week we’re visiting a church that is in-between websites, and it’s frustrating not having the advance information as to what to expect, or if the regular pastor will be speaking. At least we were able to verify the service time, and get the location from Google Maps. You are referred to a Facebook page, but it seems to be more about reflecting back to the previous weekend than looking forward to the one to come.

Someone has said that in the 21st Century, if you’re not online you don’t exist. It’s true. I’m betting that internet searches now exceed word-of-mouth as the top reason people visit a church. And don’t even mention those adverts in the weekend newspaper. Waste of money.

I recently tried to contact a pastor whose church is about 45 minutes east of me, only to discover they never had a website. Not even a static, single page. That’s a major blunder as I see it.

Service industries and other commercial ventures couldn’t tolerate being down for more than a few hours. An IT guy would be called in to fix the glitch and get the thing going. So why do churches let it slide for so long before the sites become operative again?

I think a greater level of urgency and prioritizing is needed when the site goes down. Your church can’t afford to be without it.


A year ago we linked you to this related article by Derek Ouellette

If you’re not already aware of it (and don’t mind the title) check out Church Marketing Sucks

August 20, 2016

Weekend Link List

Do you accept the one on the far right as your personal watermelon? (Must be an Evangelical thing.) Image via Rachel Held Evans.

Do you accept the one on the far right as your personal watermelon? (Must be an Evangelical thing.) Image via Rachel Held Evans. Just pray the ‘Shopper’s Prayer.’

Cat reading Dog DelusionIt’s Weekend List Link #30!

Never been here before? This weekend edition is a version of our popular Wednesday Link List. Yesterday, we discovered that all those years later, Jeffrey Smith is still writing Prayer Pups. Click the image below to read more.

Prayer Pups Church-Newsletter

August 18, 2016

One Day at the Christian Bookstore (Sort of)

From the archives at Christian Book Shop Talk, this never appeared here until now.


The exchange below didn’t actually follow the exact script shown, but when it comes to Sunday School teachers and Christian Education directors purchasing novelty items it’s a scene I’d like to see repeated…

Customer: I’m looking for something to give my Sunday School class on the first week; maybe some pencils or something…

Clerk: You know, kids are pretty high-tech these days, they’re not really impressed with pencils anymore and we’ve kinda stopped ordering them.

smileCustomer: Well, what does that leave? How about some rubber stamp things, or stickers; or one time I got bookmarks with smiley faces…

Clerk: You know, forgive me for saying this, since I don’t know you well, but maybe you should just give them you.

Customer: I’m sorry. What was that?

Clerk: Maybe you should just give them yourself. Pour your life into them. Spend time listening to their stories. Invite them over to your house a few times.

Customer: Okay. I get that. But I really felt I was meant to come in and buy something here today.

Clerk: And so you should. Invest in your own spiritual development. Build yourself up in God’s Word, and then, out of the overflow, you’ll have so much more to give your Sunday School students.

Customer: Like what?

Clerk: I don’t know. It will be different for each person. But something that challenges you to get deeper into Bible study, deeper into prayer, deeper into global missions, deeper into witness… deeper into Jesus.

Customer: But that doesn’t directly benefit my Sunday School class.

Clerk: Actually it does directly. As you are being moved deeper into grace and deeper into knowledge; as you are being moved toward the cross; your kids will pick up on that spiritual momentum. It’s truly the best gift you can give them.

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 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

July 30, 2016

Self-Centered Worship Leading

A few years back I was sitting in the large auditorium on the grounds of a denominational campground. We were just coming up to the message, and the person chairing the service remarked about the great acoustics in the place and suggested we stand and sing the simple, one-word chorus, “Hallelujah” acapella. I was looking forward to this.

He started us off, but then, instead of going off-microphone, like you do in these situations, he just kept wailing into the mic, with the result that while we got to hear a little bit of what it might sound like if it was just the sound of our voices, we mostly got to hear the sound of his voice.

leading acapella in churchDoing this correctly is a worship-leading technique that is basic. I would have thought everybody knows this.

I should say that this a very, very personality-driven denomination, and one in which the parishioners play into the leader-driven culture by not doing anything unless their pastor tells them to do it. So while it’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s entirely possible that the second he appeared to stop singing, they would have all stopped. That would be funny.

(The solution to that, by the way involves leading with your arms. The rhythmic one-two-three-four type of hand waving you often see done in older churches is actually orchestral conducting, what you really want to do is accent the sung syllables, which is closer to choral conducting, which is also visually more worshipful.)

Anyway, I told all this to my wife a few days later — this actually happened several times, involving How Great is Our God and one other song — and she very accurately said, “that is so very dumb and so totally self-centered.”

Self-centered. Ah, there’s the problem. The secret of church leadership, no matter what your role, is to know when to get out of the way. By that I don’t mean knowing when to retire (although that’s important, too) but knowing when not to take center stage, when to let things just take place organically; when to let things be congregation-led and not top-down.

In a modern church culture that is saturated with rhythm sections (drums, bass, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, etc.) singing acapella is a refreshing change. But the entire point of the exercise is to allow the congregation to hear the sound of their own voices in a single blend. The smallest measure of musical instincts would tell you to set the microphone aside and if absolutely necessary, lead with your hands only.

That didn’t happen. It’s why it didn’t happen that concerns me. It betrays an ego so incredibly large that it affects the quality of the ministry taking place. It’s an obstruction a time in a worship service where you want to minimize distractions. Granted, I suppose you need a bit of ego to want to be on the stage, or want to write the book, or want to go on Christian television. Introverts don’t gravitate to those positions.

However, let me go on record as saying that introverts probably make the best worship leaders. Choosing a worship staff member for your church? Pick the person who exhibits the greatest humility.

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 25, 2016

Should Local Church Sermons Have Footnotes?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:11 am

PlagiarismTo what extent should the average local church pastor list all his/her sources and provide annotation for all his/her slides?

This is a recurring question in our house because, online as we are, we often recognize things preached as owing to particular websites or books.

Typically, in a pre-internet age, the pastor was expected to spend “one hour in study for every one minute in the pulpit.” I knew a few pastors who met this expectation, or at least came very, very close. Their studies were filled with commentaries, lexicons and a variety of great books. For them to pause to mention every source would severely break up the flow of their message. It was a given that not all the content was their own, but was the culmination of a week of study.

Today, people sit in the pews fact-checking with their phones, and looking for the source of unique phrases. Plagiarism, in the church at least, is a crime punishable by embarrassment and censure.

What if there isn’t a list of footnotes because great bulk from a single source was copied and pasted wholesale into their sermon notes? “That’s a lot of material to borrow from a single source without attribution;” I said to my wife after lunch the other day. Why not at least direct the congregation to that source in the event they wish to follow-up with further study?

Furthermore, what if the minister/pastor/preacher was hired on their ability to compose great sermons on their own? What if that 30-minutes-equals-30-hours rule is still the general expectation? Doesn’t that make the wholesale borrowing a more serious situation?

What say you?

 

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