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.

December 21, 2015

Church Policies: What to do in the Middle of a Service When…

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:35 am

disruption in church service

Last week blogger Jayson D. Bradley asked the question Does Your Church Have a Shooter Policy? (Stop reading here, and click the picture above if you think this is something your church needs to consider.)

While potential gun violence is definitely a concern in the United States right now, it raises the question of whether or not churches, which are open to the public, have contingency plans in the event of various scenarios. Such as:

Does your church have a lock-down policy if a child is missing? We experienced something similar to this first-hand when we returned to pick up our oldest in the church we were visiting and were told, “We never had a child that looked like that here.” We found him wandering the building on his own, though he could have easily wandered outside into a busy street. (We only returned to that church for another visit when the kids were much, much older.) Churches should be just as proactive on this as schools and daycare centers.

Do people leading the service know what to do if someone starts speaking in tongues? So here I’m assuming your congregation is not Charismatic or Pentecostal, because if they are, this isn’t a problem. But in a mainline Protestant church, or mainstream Evangelical churches, this is a potential issue. Fortunately, when I served as a worship leader under various pastors, those churches were in the “open, but cautious” or “seek not, forbid not” category on tongues and prophecies, so we were prepared to roll with it. But sometimes someone may offer a prophetic word that isn’t necessarily from God, and you need a back up plan. (Also, this already-classic sermon interruption comes to mind.)

What if during the music someone starts dancing? This actually happened in one very conservative church I grew up. The woman moved into the aisle and started doing a simple two-step. That was too much. At that point, my mind blurs trying to think of what happened next, but refocuses for the memory of her being carried out sideways as rigid as a board. As Dave Barry would say, ‘I am not making this up.’ There was one man at one end, and one at the other, and she was like a piece of lumber. Just yesterday, Bill Hybels told the story of a Christmas service where people were asked to “show some love” to someone they came with, and a couple started making out.

What do you do if a baby is fussing/crying really loudly? I’ve seen this handled well, but one memory is seared into my brain of it handled badly. The family — which we learned later had never been to church before — sat on the front row of a packed inter-denominational service, and the little girl was quite animated. Finally the guest speaker stopped talking and said, “I’m not going to continue until this problem is fixed.” I’m not even sure that the mom, who wouldn’t know what’s normal in church, even realized the remark was directed at her. The ushers did nothing. (Who’s really in charge when it’s an inter-church service anyway?) And so he went on to say, “It’s still not fixed.” (To make matters worse, I was one of about 40 people on the platform and witnessed this train wreck all too closely.)  Jesus no doubt had kids running all over the place when he spoke informally, and even told the disciples not to stop them from coming. On the other hand, many of our services today are recorded for podcast and video distribution and a kid can make it really hard to hear.

What if it’s noticed that someone has quietly scooped some cash from the offering? I also witnessed this first-hand as a teenager, and have been mostly donating by check (that’s cheque for my British and Canadian readers) ever since. As someone who has worked in retail, I know that even there confronting someone who is shoplifting is difficult enough, and in that situation you actually have to wait until they leave. I think some confrontation is necessary; regardless of the resolution you seek, they need to know that you saw it and God saw it. Are they facing some need where the church could help more directly? The two guys — yes it happened more than once — in my story were looking for cash to buy cigarettes. One was the son of a prominent church leader. I was too young at the time to stand up to them, though years later I asked the sister of the second one if her brother had ever paid all that money he took back to the church. She just looked at me quizzically, and I decided to leave it there.


You be the writer: What other types of situations do you think your church should have a contingency plan for, when it comes to weekend services?

April 27, 2015

Security Threat Forces Partial Cancellation of David Platt’s Secret Church Event

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:40 am

Friday night’s Secret Church was truly held in secret

Pastor and author David Platt

Pastor and author David Platt

The live, national simulcast went out as planned from an undisclosed location, but people arriving at David Platt’s Birmingham, Alabama church with tickets to be in the live audience for Friday’s Secret Church event found themselves out of luck as security concerns forced the cancellation of that aspect of the event and the evacuation of The Church at Brook Hills.

Fox 6 WBRC reported:

…Brook Hills communications director Chris Kinsley said around 10 a.m. Friday, a threat came in to their sister organization Radical, a parachurch ministry started by Platt which provides Christian resources, including Secret Church.

Kinsley said they evacuated the entire facility, including their early learning center and preschool. Parents were contacted to come and pick up their children early.

The church contacted Birmingham police, who did a sweep of the facility and didn’t find anything. Kinsley didn’t know the details about the threat, but described it as a security threat.

Birmingham police are still investigating the threat.

The Secret Church events are modeled after something Platt experienced when traveling through Asia. People come together in unannounced locations to cram as much Bible and theological teaching as possible into a long, overnight session.  The hours-long lecture often has a broad, pan-thematic subject, such as “The New Testament;” more than one would cover in a single sermon, or even several sermons.

Platt brought the format to his own church and remarked in the book Radical what it was like to look out and see a packed auditorium with thousands of people quietly taking notes… at 12:30 AM. (Read a review of the book here.)

As the book gained popularity and the live events continued to attract more and more people, the church arranged for other churches in other cities to sign up for a live satellite simulcast, technically not unlike the LifeWay events with Beth Moore. Existing recordings of past events have now been translated into twelve languages.

Platt describes his events on the Secret Church website:

When we think of “church” in America, we think of going to meet at a building, singing, praying and hearing a message from a pastor or teacher. But in many places around the world, “church” meets in a home, an apartment, and sometimes even in secret. Many times there are just a few believers who know and follow Christ. These small groups of Christ-followers often meet for many hours in study, prayer, and fellowship. Sometimes they face great difficulties to meet together. In some places it may even be dangerous to gather as a church to worship, pray, and study the Word. So when they come together, they want to make the most of their time together.

Secret Church is our “house church” where we meet periodically for an intense time of Bible study—lasting 6+ hours…

Where the simulcast originated from, and the security issue’s impact on dates for the next Secret Church event were not available as of late Sunday night, nor did we know if police traced the source of the treat. Many people had traveled a great distance to be in the live audience. Watch for updates.

In addition to his role as author and Brook Hills pastor, Platt is also currently the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

April 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The timely graphic above has been making the rounds on Facebook.

  • Who was where, and when?  This Bible Gateway timeline of Holy Week is worth studying.  Click to see the post, then click again to see the image, and click a third time to enlarge it. You’ve never seen the Good Friday & Easter story in such detail.
  • And if you’re looking for a meaningful Easter song, go back a year on this blog and revisit this one.  Or this one.
  • A Christian group prayed over a section of highway leading into their town and anointed it with oil.  An atheist group decided to wash off the blessing. My favorite quote from this article: “What is inexplicable to me is how atheists or secularists could possibly be affected or  ‘offended’ by prayers when they don’t view them as having any real value?”
  • A Delta Airlines passengers refuses to shut off his iPad showing a child-centered pornographic film. The flight attendant refused to intervene.
  • Teens can see the Bully movie in Canada, but can’t in the U.S. In the meantime, the movie is drawing out discussion to a level that gives the issue some profile.
  • Mark Driscoll has stepped down from chairing the Acts 29 church planting network, turning responsibility over to Matt Chandler, which in turn relocates the ministry to Dallas from Seattle.  But he’s also stepping down from the council of The Gospel Coalition. 2-in-1 story at Wartburg Watch.
  • The blog Church and Synagogue Security News, now has a section devoted to security issues arising on mission trips.
  • CNN’s Religion blog gets inside the spiritual heritage of Oikos University, the Christian college in California where Monday’s shooting took place. Excerpt: “Korean-American Christianity probably represents the fastest-growing part of the Asian American religious landscape…”
  • If you enjoyed yesterday’s post by Alicia Yost from America’s Next Top Mommy, here’s another of her well-written adventures in parenting.
  • If October Baby isn’t playing at a theater near you, here’s the official trailer.  And here’s a review: Jeff and his wife really liked it.
  • Check out a couple of (very) modern worship songs from Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville, Ontario.
  • Seductive faith: If it feels good, you’ve done it right. But consider the source of that kind of thinking.
  • Meet Jason Meyer, touted as the successor to John Piper at Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis. Elsewhere, Piper says, “The reason we are moving forward with the succession plan now has to do with a strong conviction that good pastoring is more than preaching.”
  • Financing a Christian college education ain’t easy. But a “miracle” can happen if you’re willing to work for it!  This Canadian story mentions a few principles that may apply more widely.
  • Nobody puts their hand up anymore in school, or elsewhere.  It’s all done with clickers.  Even the kids at the Bible Quiz at Southgate Church of Christ got mentioned in this New York Times technology story. They’re using 150 of them to record answers to 180 multiple choice questions.
  • Want more links? There’s always Lisa Buffaloe’s Links to Blog Blessings. Or check out The Read and Share File at Master’s Table.
  • Note to regular readers:  The link to the Christian Blog Topsites that usually appears in the sidebar has been removed as the site was apparently hacked. My computer did not entirely avoid some consequences, but is at least functional. Citing health concerns, proprietor Mark Strohm has decided to take the site down. We thank Mark for his years of service to this blog, introducing us to new blogs and introducing new readers to ours.

February 29, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to Wednesday Link List Leap Day Edition, or as we prefer to call it, WLLLDE.

Here’s my social media observation for the day: Pinterest is to Facebook what Tumblr is to WordPress.  (Five years from now they’ll be quoting that in business textbooks.)

CT Stories

  • There may be some changes afoot at Christianity Today as to who can access articles online, so we’ll do these while we can.  First, in one we missed in January, T. D. Jakes revealed he’s now regarded as heretic by both mainstream Evangelicals and one-ness Pentecostals.
  • A brief rare interview Rob Bell did with CT earlier in the month. Doesn’t let the cat out of the bag as to what he’s currently working on, though. (But if you’re really into Bellmania, flash back to this piece Tony Jones did exactly one year ago, which remains in his all time top five.)
  • “A century ago, a novel called In His Steps convinced generations of Christians that Jesus would, among other things, oppose the sport of prizefighting. That novel became the ninth best-selling book of all time, and the book’s thesis found new life in the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ movement.” So begins a look at the ethics of cage fighting with three viewpoints.
  • “Here’s what you can do in a New York City public school after hours: You may gather people together once a week (or more often). You can start off with praise choruses and Bible reading. Someone can stand up and teach that Jesus is Lord, that he rose from the dead to save us from sin, and that he is coming again. Then you can break bread and pray together.  Here’s what you can’t do in a New York City public school after hours: Hold a ‘religious worship service.'” Another look at the strange situation in NYC.

Les autres links

  • With just weeks to go before release, Donald Miller and Steve Taylor sit down to discuss how Blue Like Jazz, the collection of short stories, ended up as Blue Like Jazz: The Movie, with a more cohesive storyline. 
  • Signs of the Times: There is now actually a blog with the name Church and Synagogue Security News. Tagline: Covering security and safety at places of worship and religious institutions worldwide.
  • Sarah Bolme reviews Peace Child by Don Richardson; an absolute classic missions story that many of you have never heard of. “In the book, there is a quote from a missionary talking to Don before Don embarks on the mission field. This gentleman says, “You must be prepared in the strength of the Lord, to do battle with the prince of darkness, who, having held these hundreds of tribes captive these many thousand years, is not about to give them up without a fight.” Sarah says Christian authors today face similar obstacles.
  • Zac Hicks looks deeply into the sometimes thorny issue of church membership. He offers five compelling arguments for moving from adherent to member. Which type of weekend service attender are you?
  • Who to date.
    Where to go to college.
    Who to marry.
    Where to move.
    What job to take.  — Steven Furtick thinks that knowing God’s will for your life isn’t the main point.
  • Mark Buchanan is blogging sample chapters of his forthcoming book, Your Church is Too Safe. Check out chapter five and chapter thirteen, a most interesting consideration of the types of spirits that showed up when Jesus ministered, some of which show up in our churches today.
  • In other Zondervan book news, one of my favorites from last year is being released in a teen/youth edition; look for the bright red cover for Not a Fan Teen Edition by Kyle Idleman (no link).
  • How do you get KJV-only teens revved up for the next youth conference? How about a Marine Corps themed promo video with the bold proclamation “In 1611 God forged a sword.”  Apparently before 1611 God was a little deficient in terms of a means to save the world.
  • Donation request: Tony Jones (aka Tall Skinny Kiwi) needs about $5,000 US to ship his truck from Turkey to New Zealand, where it will serve as an operations base. Funds are needed rather soon.
  • If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried at least once to learn Biblical Greek. Tyler Blanski thinks the key is learning to love parts of speech that aren’t so important in English.
  • People Department: I always look forward to Brad Lomenick’s monthly Young Influencers List; here’s the one for February.
  • I’m always interested when slightly more insider church references make it into the comics pages.  Wikipedia notes that Pluggers “…runs in 60 newspapers, mostly in the Southern, Mid-West, Plains, and Rocky Mountain states… In the context of this strip, ‘pluggers’ are defined as blue-collar workers who live a typical working-class American lifestyle, accompanied by a mentality characteristic of the veteran and Baby Boomer generations. In the comic, pluggers are portrayed in the form of anthropomorphic animals, most often a plump bear, dog, chicken, or rhinoceros…”

March 14, 2009

Now It’s Come To This: Church Security Seminars

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:20 pm

A church that isn’t thinking about security is obviously a church that isn’t following the news.     Now the issue is giving rise to seminars.    Churches seem to have unlimited money to spend on seminars and I just hope the material presented in this one is worthy of the money being spent.   I would hate to see this issue — and/or the fear and concern churches have — be exploited.  Thanks to Jim Lehmer who blogs at Lord I Believe, Help My Unbelief for sharing this item:

Train in vain

I received this in an email today because I am the webmaster for our church. I know or can anticipate all the arguments for this, but it’s still a sad sign of the times.

Church Security Training Seminar – March 24 – Leawood, Kansas

The Center for Personal Protection and Safety will be conducting a one day Church Security Training Seminar on March 24th at Church of the Resurrection 13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kansas.

Topics covered include:
-Seminar geared to a train-the -trainer environment
-Shots Fired: Guidance to Surviving an Active Shooter Incident
-Pros & cons of outsourced security guards supporting ministry organizations
-Keys to creating a healthy and safe workplace environment within your Church or Ministry
-Keys to recognizing signs of a potential crisis before it occurs
-Strategies for handling a difficult person in a public environment
-How to develop a Crisis Management Plan for your Church or Ministry
-How to train church leaders and congregation members to travel safely
-Interactive Session – Lets talk about your specific issues

Tuition:  $250

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