Thinking Out Loud

November 10, 2015

Realities of Urban Ministry

Filed under: ministry — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:51 am
Ruth was one of three women who started a weekly dinner in a rundown motel that many people called home. The organization later morphed into something a little different from their original focus, but continues to serve the same community, including some of the same people.

My wife was one of three women who started a weekly dinner in a rundown motel that many people called home. The organization later morphed into something a little different from their original focus, but continues to serve the same community, including some of the same people.

by Ruth Wilkinson (circa 2008)

We found out tonight at Dinner that [our project] had been “announced from the pulpit” at a local church. Which — once I’d clarified that it was announced and not denounced — is very cool. It’s created some interest in people who attend that church, which I’ve always pigeonholed as very conservative. So, with my stereotype in mind, I’m wondering what they’ll think of the whole thing.

One of the team is going to organize a meeting at her house for those church-folks who are interested so we can give them an idea of what ‘we do’.

I’m tempted to tell horror stories and see if it scares them off. But I won’t.

This motel unit was home to one of the many people we simply called "our friends." The front window is broken the door only locks from the outside (with a padlock) and whatever carpeting or tiles ever existed on the floor had long vanished leaving only plywood.

This motel unit was home to one of the many people we simply called “our friends.” The front window is broken, the door only locks from the outside (with a padlock) and whatever carpeting or tiles ever existed on the floor had long vanished leaving only plywood.

But I will say this:

• If you can’t sit down for dinner with 30 people, without having someone say the blessing,

• If you can’t share a meal with someone who may or not be drunk,

• Someone who may or may not be mentally ill,

• Someone who may or may not be lying to you,

• If you can’t have a conversation with someone who is smoking without making faces and waving the smoke away,

• If you can’t hear someone use the F word as a verb and an adjective and a noun and an adverb, possibly all in the same sentence, without cringing,

• If you can’t laugh at a genuinely funny crude joke, and good naturedly rebuff a truly offensive one,

• If you can’t hug someone who may or may not have Hepatitis C or AIDS,

This may not be the place for you.

(But I hope it is.)

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February 6, 2015

Rethinking The Baby Factory

This article first ran here 4 years ago, but seemed timely given Pope Francis’ comment last week, “Some think — and excuse the term — that to be good Catholics, they must be like rabbits.”  So we found this article and as a bonus, all the links still work!

This is the second of two blog posts inspired by subjects covered by Ken Gallinger, ethics columnist for The Toronto Star. This one, at this writing, is still available online under the self-explanatory title: It’s Time to Rethink Call To Go Forth and Multiply.

He begins:

Back in the days when my wife and I were spawning our three kids, that was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Indeed, back then, couples who failed to produce were looked upon with suspicion; we wondered “what was wrong with them,” even opining, if only in private, that if they were “able” to have kids and chose not to, that was pretty selfish.

But today’s truth is self-evident: There are enough of us. Likely too many. And if there aren’t too many now, there soon will be.

The reason for this discussion of course, is the sheer size of the number of us that populate this planet vis-a-vis an ever decreasing stock of natural and physical resources.

Gallinger is concerned about this, but equally concerned about the ones, “judging those couples and individuals who choose not to spawn their own replacements.” He finds both positions somewhat untenable.

I remember feeling that judgment one time about a dozen years ago when, after explaining that my wife and I had two sons, was told by an individual, “So you replaced yourself.” He meant those words in the sense of, “You’ve accomplished nothing so far.” We had clearly violated “Go forth and multiply” in his eyes, I’m not sure that our two offspring constituted having gone forth and added.

There are still denominations of Christianity wherein people are encouraged to have large families, and I’m not simply referring to old-school Roman Catholics or Mormons. In typical tongue-in-cheek style, Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like notes that “fundies” (i.e. conservative fundamentalist Christians) join the Amish in this category. (Of course, he points out that this becomes more cost-effective as the kids get older if they all learn to play a musical instrument.)

However you smile as you read SFL, there is another view, as stated by Craig Carter, professor of theology and ethics at Tyndale University in Toronto, that God has never rescinded “go forth and multiply.” He bases this on the idea that the Genesis commandment predates Israel, and is thereby not Old-Covenant specific. (In an earlier blog post, he speaks in terms of what he calls “The Contraceptive Mentality.”)

So the question — with the paragraph below notwithstanding — that I intended to ask today is this: In light of the population stats and the depletion of scarce resources; but also in light of the command given to Adam and Eve; should Christians keep making babies to the height of their ability, or is there a time when we say, “enough is enough?”

…And now the twist.

Views on this subject in the last couple of decades have been moderating lately because of data showing that the Muslim population is expected to double worldwide in 20 years. There is an us versus them mentality that would want to suggest we must continue to procreate lest we be outnumbered.

Should this be a factor in our thinking as we try to answer the “How many” question?

About the first chart: Not all experts agree. Some see an industrialization of the rest of the world contributing to a slowing of birth rates with a peak population of about 9.5 Billion.

April 27, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Link suggestions are welcomed.  Use the contact page or simply leave a comment on the previous week’s link list.  Not all suggestions are used right away.

  • Pastors think about things the rest of us probably never consider.  If the “invitation” or “altar call” at the end of the service is a spiritual make-it-or-break-it time, you want to do your best, and while pastors want to be spirit-led, there is a science to these things.  Steven Furtick takes us behind the scenes into his own thought processes on this as he prepared for Easter in a two part discussion on this here and here.  Both videos run about 12:00 total. They spared no expense on their welcome package for seekers, either.
  • And wow! Talk about behind the scenes.  Dan Bouchelle invites us to consider a handful of reasons Why There Are So Many Angry Pastors’ Wives. More things you probably never contemplated.
  • The ABC 20/20 show a few weeks back raised awareness of things done in the name of Christianity in some fringe conservative churches right here in North America. How about a baby getting beaten in the middle of a church service, with the pastor urging on the activity? I’d be most willing to dismiss this story were it not for other online confirmation. Actual quotation from this pastor: “My wife and I have a general goal of making sure that each of our children has his will broken by the time he reaches the age of one year.”
  • Colton Burpo, the central figure of the book Heaven is for Real is a little older now than he appears in the book’s cover shot at right.  USAToday caught up with him having lunch at T.G.I. Fridays and talks with dad Todd about the runaway success of the Thomas Nelson paperback.  BTW, Colton wants to be a musician someday.
  • Lots of stuff in this one that Canadians already knew, but for my American readers, Kevin Platt has a succinct summary of Crandall University’s Sam Reimer’s Five Differences Between Canadian Evangelicals and U.S. Evangelicals.
  • Cathleen Falsani notes the forthcoming movie based on Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, and suggests some other books that should be, or are being considered as feature films.
  • Just as The Shack brought critiques like Finding God in the Shack (both versions) so Rob Bell’s Love Wins begat Christ Alone by Mike Wittmer.  At least the introduction isn’t invective: “I respect Rob Bell. He wrote Love Wins to start a dialogue about the most important issues of our faith, and this book is my attempt as an evangelical to join that conversation.” Read more about the first of many responses to Bell’s book.
  • And if you can’t get enough of the R.B. debate, here’s a one-hour radio show from England that gets to the heart of the issues.
  • Listen to the Neue Magazine podcast featuring an interview with worship leader Kari Jobe.
  • Speaking of worship music, Daniel Jepsen posts all eleven verses to O, Sacred Head Now Wounded.   (I think it’s eleven, I lost count!)
  • Lets go three-for-three on worship:  Several bloggers have posted this powerful modern worship song, The Man Jesus Christ Laid Death in His Grave by John Mark McMillan; this posting at Vitamin Z has the lyrics, too.
  • In a rather tedious Q & A in the wake of a television interview released at Easter, Franklin Graham discusses politics, and the Obama Presidency in particular.
  • Tim Challies has been digesting a John Temple book, Family Money Matters and offers eight ways we can resist temptations to consumer spending.
  • Congrats to Jon Acuff on three years and 1,000 posts of the sometimes humorous, always thoughtful blog Stuff Christians Like.  Here’s the top ten posts.
  • Can you really preach powerfully and expect people to take you seriously when your standing — in your best suit — in a wading pool?  This guy thought so.

March 30, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Here we link again…

  • Topping the link list this week is my other blog, Christianity 201, which celebrates its first anniversary on Friday.
  • As the above picture indicates, The Book of Mormon, the book, is now The Book of Mormon the broadway play.  Even LDS leaders admit that the founding of their religion is a somewhat colorful story. (I think the guy in the forefront was working my street last week…)
  • The book Radical by David Platt was a big seller this summer, with some themes in common with Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. Here’s a link to the free download of the preview chapter for the forthcoming sequel, Radical Together.
  • Only six percent of Christian couples pray together?  Pete Wilson lays that statistic out as the basis for a seven day challenge to his congregation.
  • A related item:  Canadian Dave Carrol — a confirmed ‘scrapper’ —  talks about learning the art of ridiculous love.
  • Another Canadian, former Cambridge Vineyard pastor Robert Hall died suddenly in a construction accident on the mission field in Zambia.  He leaves behind three young children and his wife Kate who is the daughter of Canadian broadcaster Jim Cantelon and his wife Kathy.
  • A final Canadian story: Linda Bond was elected — on the first ballot — as head of the Salvation Army International; the fourth time in 150 years that a Canadian has held the post, and the third time the denomination has elected a woman.
  • In light of the latest teapot tempest over ‘that’ book, Rachel Held Evans considers The Future of Evangelicalism.
  • Dean Lusk finds some of those really old Bible translations, like the NLT, in need of an update in this more contemporary paraphrase of Romans 2.
  • The Maccabeats are back.  This time the theme is the Feast of Purim, aka the story of Esther, like you’ve never heard it before.  (Actually we’re about ten days late, Purim was March 20th this year.)
  • And while we’re YouTube linking, Darrell from Stuff Fundies Like explains the fundamentalist aversion to playing cards.
  • At the blog Biblical Preaching, a look at the problem of preaching moralism.
  • With Good Friday and Easter Sunday inching closer, I want to share a site with you that is very useful if you lead worship or prepare the quotations that often appear on-screen during weekend services.  Here’s what Daily Christian Quote offers for Good Friday.
  • Dave at a new blog, Armchair Theology is running a series of Bible misunderstandings under the title, Calling God Fool.  Click to link to the blog and then scroll into the middle of March posts.

February 28, 2011

Makin’ Babies: How Many is Too Many?

This is the second of two blog posts inspired by subjects covered by Ken Gallinger, ethics columnist for The Toronto Star.  This one, at this writing, is still available online under the self-explanatory title: It’s Time to Rethink Call To Go Forth and Multiply.

He begins:

Back in the days when my wife and I were spawning our three kids, that was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Indeed, back then, couples who failed to produce were looked upon with suspicion; we wondered “what was wrong with them,” even opining, if only in private, that if they were “able” to have kids and chose not to, that was pretty selfish.

But today’s truth is self-evident: There are enough of us. Likely too many. And if there aren’t too many now, there soon will be.

The reason for this discussion of course, is the sheer size of the number of us that populate this planet vis-a-vis an ever decreasing stock of natural and physical resources.

Gallinger is concerned about this, but equally concerned about the ones, “judging those couples and individuals who choose not to spawn their own replacements.” He finds both positions somewhat untenable.

I remember feeling that judgment one time about a dozen years ago when, after explaining that my wife and I had two sons, was told by an individual, “So you replaced yourself.” He meant those words in the sense of, “You’ve accomplished nothing so far.” We had clearly violated “Go forth and multiply” in his eyes, I’m not sure that our two offspring constituted having gone forth and added.

There are still denominations of Christianity wherein people are encouraged to have large families, and I’m not simply referring to old-school Roman Catholics or Mormons. In typical tongue-in-cheek style, Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like notes that “fundies” (i.e. conservative fundamentalist Christians) join the Amish in this category. (Of course, he points out that this becomes more cost-effective as the kids get older if they all learn to play a musical instrument.)

However you smile as you read SFL, there is another view, as stated by Craig Carter, professor of theology and ethics at Tyndale University in Toronto, that God has never rescinded “go forth and multiply.” He bases this on the idea that the Genesis commandment pre-dates Israel, and is thereby not Old-Covenant specific. (In an earlier blog post, he speaks in terms of what he calls “The Contraceptive Mentality.”)

So the question — with the paragraph below notwithstanding — that I intended to ask today is this: In light of the population stats and the depletion of scarce resources; but also in light of the command given to Adam and Eve; should Christians keep making babies to the height of their ability, or is there a time when we say, “enough is enough?”

…And now the twist.

Views on this subject in the last couple of decades have been moderating lately because of data showing that the Muslim population is expected to double worldwide in 20 years. There is an “us versus them” mentality that would want to suggest we must continue to procreate lest we be outnumbered.

Should this be a factor in our thinking as we try to answer the “How many” question?

About the first chart: Not all experts agree. Some see an industrialization of the rest of the world contributing to a slowing of birth rates with a peak population of about 9.5 Billion.

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