Thinking Out Loud

March 9, 2018

A Diagnostic for Disarming Discord in the Local Church

Today I want to introduce something which will, I believe, help in the situations where there two sides to an issue being faced at the place where you worship. It won’t exactly solve anything, but it will help us all understand what it is that shapes the opinions people hold to so passionately about those color-of-the-carpet issues which often divide congregations. I call it a Diagnostic for Disarming Discord in the Local Church or D3LC for short.

I think many of our misunderstandings begin with what we’re expecting the local church to do or to provide for ourselves and the community at large, but also how we perceive the church is going to accomplish this. But much of this depends on a rather superficial factor, namely when we think our church is going to accomplish being the hands of feet in Christ in our neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities and metropolitan areas.

Basically, D3LC involves asking ourselves and the parties at odds a simple question: Do you see your church having its greatest impact in terms of what happens on Sunday morning (or if you prefer, weekend services) or do you see its greatest potential lying in the programs and outreaches and groups which are running the other days of the week?

If you see weekend worship as the primary instrument whereby God can use your church, then you’re placing a great deal of weight on your expectations for everything about that service: The general environment, the prayers and readings, the music elements and the preaching.

But if you see the many things going on during the week — the small groups, the office interactions, the midweek meetings, the children’s programs, the counseling sessions in the pastor’s office, the helping people move, the visiting of shut-ins, the meet-ups at coffee shops, etc.; then you’re going place less stress on what happens at those Sunday services. Not only to see them, but to appreciate the good that comes out of those activities.

They key to crossing over from a person of the first group to being a person of the second group is to know what’s going on the rest of the week; to know that — unless your pastor truly fits the stereotype and only works one day a week — your church is more than what happens when the congregation convenes for a weekly service of celebration, Lord’s table and teaching.

Honestly, if you don’t have a big picture view — even if you go to a little church — your perspective isn’t complete.

So… consider getting involved more. Drop in during the week with a snack for the church staff. Talk to people who are passionate, or even consumed with a mid-week program or outreach ministry.

You may find that the part you have seen up to this point is just a small part of a bigger picture.

Jesus, help us live in peace.
From our blindness set us free.
Fill us with your healing love.
Help us live in unity.

Many times we don’t agree
Over what’s right or wrong to do.
It’s so hard to really see
From the other’s point of view.

How we long for power and fame
Seeking every earthly thing.
We forget the one who came
As a servant not a king.

Jesus, help us live in peace.
From our blindness set us free.
Fill us with your healing love.
Help us live in unity.



July 3, 2013

Wednesday Link List

lynx 3Today we kick off a new chapter; the link list moves to its new home at Leadership Journal’s Out of Ur website, a ministry of Christianity Today. I’ve been reading Out of Ur since long before I started blogging, so this is a real honor. Here’s a link direct to today’s Wednesday Link List. Please be sure to click through. (They didn’t take the List Lynx pictured at right however, at least not so far…) Also remember it’s just the Wednesday list that’s moving; we’ll be back here tomorrow with the content you’ve come to loathe love here at Thinking Out Loud!

UPDATE: In November, 2013, we updated the July WLL posts here to restore the links. (The first month never had them at all here in any form.) I might periodically go back and update older ones just so we have a record here of the original sources.

June 3, 2011

Elephant Room Conference: The DVD

If you missed the Woodstock music festival in 1969, you had to wait a full year for the movie; but just weeks after James MacDonald convened the Elephant Room one day seminar which was simulcast to two dozen cities, the DVD is already available for purchase, so we decided to jump in and bought one for ourselves and a couple of extras.

The phrase, “the elephant in the room” is used to denote the thing that is hovering over a discussion, but is never mentioned.   The idea here is that pastors have things they wrestle with that are discussed backstage when they meet up at major events, but are never shared with a larger audience.  The goal was to bring those subjects into open discussion.

The seven pastors were MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, Greg Laurie, Perry Noble, David Platt, Mark Chandler and Steven Furtick who was cast as a bit of a newcomer to this “big league” group.  Actually, Furtick came across very well, presenting some very timely insights into the subjects, and the very nature of the debates themselves.  Topics included:

  • Building numerically versus building depth
  • Responding to culture
  • Compassion and social justice
  • Unity and discernment
  • The multi-site church trend
  • Money issues
  • Loving the doctrine of the gospel but not sharing the gospel

An eighth session dealt with questions that had been texted in during the conference and was actually the most interesting in many ways. 

Over the past few years we’ve seen a growing interest in ecclesiology — the study of what constitutes ‘church’ —  among what would have been traditionally called “the laity.”  Books that would have formerly been written for the exclusive reading of pastors and church staff are now being purchased and discussed by the widest range of Evangelicals, many of whom are forging ahead with startups of home churches or alternative churches.  In a sense, the things the pastors discuss quietly backstage at conferences are being discussed in church lobbies, living rooms and over kitchen tables back home. This DVD set, and the topics it discusses are thereby of interest to everyone.

But it’s not the major takeaway from watching the seminar.

What is most striking is the camaraderie that exists between the pastors themselves.  While they do disagree on some minor points, there is a genuine agreement on the things that matter; what Driscoll well-defines as the difference between national borders (which wars are fought over) and state borders (for which wars are not fought.) 

There were some highlights and lowlights in the video.  One highlight was the overall production quality.  Another was the way they kept the discussion moving, with a moderator and two rotating key opponents followed by a more open forum that allowed the other four pastors to contribute.   Another highlight was seeing that with issues such as multi-site — so much on the minds of people as changes take place quickly — the pastors themselves do not undertake moves lightly, but truly agonize over the ramifications of growth.   A lowlight — and it really has to be said — is the way James MacDonald dominates every discussion, rolling over everyone else like a freight train at times.  I guess it was his party, so he got to call the tune.

I do love the concept, however.  This was a great series of conversations and I would hope that either MacDonald’s crew, or somebody else, would put something like this together this time next year, perhaps with a different mix of pastors and church leaders.  Rather than attempting to describe it further, you can watch a few sample clips here and here

What we call church really matters, and you don’t have to be among the ‘professional’ clergy to care.

Read another review of the conference here.

Link here to an index Trevin Wax provided of participants who live-blogged the event.

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