Thinking Out Loud

September 1, 2010

Wednesday Link List

The August Bank Holiday brought U.K. Christians to Cheltenham for the annual Greenbelt Festival

Welcome to September!   Here’s where the three w’s took us this week:

  • CNN has an interesting piece about Kenda Creasy Dean, author of Almost Christian, a book about ‘professing’ teen Christians whose faith the author views as “mutant Christianity.”   Read more.
  • David Fitch looks at the “ritualized” activity we call “going to church;” and thinks the “going” should be more connected to everyday life.   More at Reclaiming the Mission.
  • Talbot Davis doesn’t spend a lot of time in courtrooms, but couldn’t help but notice that the place seemed eerily familiar.
  • Zach N. at Vitamin Z has a video embed of Joshua Harris taking 15 minutes with Francis Chan discussing where The Chanster sees his post-Cornerstone future heading.
  • Challies spotted this insightful analysis by Russell. D. Moore on the weekend’s unscheduled revival meeting — attracting anywhere from 87,000 to 287,000 depending on who you ask — in Washington featuring Fox News’ Glenn Beck.
  • A speaker at England’s annual Greenbelt Festival suggested on the weekend that despite his previous sympathies, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is sidelining the LGBT agenda in favor of the issue of church unity.
  • What do you do when an old flame pops up on Facebook and wants you to “friend” him or her?   Janell Williams Paris thinks this through for your consideration.
  • If your musical taste runs to classical stylings, here’s a video discovery of  Camilla Kerslake and a string section performing “Abide With Me.”
  • Justin Wise asks himself the question, “Who is my pastor?”  Check out his multiple answers.  Can you relate?
  • Legal battles notwithstanding, The Shack author Wm. Paul Young continues to look forward to the day that a movie version of the book becomes reality.
  • A February, 2009 post at this blog continues to attract readers and the occasional comment, as those with allergies continue to deal with people wearing perfume at church.
  • Some inane antics at The Thinklings where it’s time for your favorite TV show, America’s Next Top Pastor.
  • Our cartoonist this week is Dennis Fletcher with the appropriately named Fletch cartoon at Baptist Press.  (Click image for more.)

February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday Link List

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.

Some weeks the link list is rather lame, but this week, any one of these links could have been expanded into a full post.

Checking out a few of these takes time, but this week I urge you to make the time for topics here that interest you.

  • A movie originally scheduled for release in 2007 providing scientific verifcation of Bible continues to grow in scope, sometimes crossing into new political sensitivities.   Read the ongoing story from WorldNetDaily about the film, The Exodus Conspiracy.
  • Brian McLaren calls him “the Emergent Buddhist.”  The  YouTube  vid title is “Zen Monk Hip-Hop Rap & The Monk Bar.”  Gee…I wonder where they’re borrowing these concepts from?   Do they have megatemples?  See it here.
  • If you’re in children’s ministry, you need to read this.   We already know Gen-X and Generation-Y.   Now read about Generation-Z.
  • Here’s a freedom of religion story that has attracted nearly 700 comments at USAToday:  Muslims have announced that airport body scanners violate Islamic law.   The story is no surprise, really, but keep reading,  it’s the comments that reflect the American mood, running about 20:1 along the lines of, “If you don’t like it, you can walk.”   There’s definitely a lot of anger out there.
  • Matt Appling at The Church of No People blog and Pastor of Levi’s House inteviews athiest Bruce Sheiman, author of An Athiest Defends Religion (Alpha Books, 2009).   Sample quote: “…It is questionable whether there has actually been a rise in militant atheism. More likely, there has been an increase in the vociferousness of existing militant atheism.”
  • Fellowship Church’s Ed Young becomes the latest pastor to come under news media scrutiny, though he seems to defend himself admirably in a 25 minute briefing to his church.   Here’s what channel 8 had to say (8 minutes long) and Ed’s response.   But not everybody was impressed.
  • A Christian version of Second Life?   Apparently.   Read Virtual World News to find out about the upcoming Universe of Faith.   Seriously.
  • New Blog of the Week:   Orthodoxie.   A sometimes humorous look at life from an Orthodox Church perspective from Fr. Joseph Honeycutt the author of  We Came, We Saw, We Converted. Start with this piece of Poetic Lenten Humor.
  • An often seen blog on these link lists is Jeff McQuilkin, who steps into a gigantic minefield with this article on experiencing reverse prejudice.
  • Church conflict.   The very words can raise blood pressure.  David Fitch at Reclaiming The Mission searches for balance between the autocratic approach to church government and the democratic approach; and finds it in The Incarnational Approach to Leadership.
  • All you diehard, hardcore Rob Bell fans will want to check out this five-page article at Leadership Journal where he unpacks his preaching process and suggests that the results aren’t yet in as to a possible dark side of video preaching.
  • I love the name of this Kentucky town:  Falls of Rough.   Poetic, huh?   Anyway the blog for the Yeaman Church of Christ there has a short post titled, Why Do I Need The Church.
  • Greg Atkinson thinks the song Meteor Shower by Owl City represents the future of worship music.   Check out his thoughts, and then — ONLY if you live in the U.S. — check out the song at lala.com.
  • Another Christian book, CD and DVD website, Title Trakk claims to have all the answers, reviews, interviews, etc., with, not surprisingly, the appropriate links to iTunes and A-zon, and other commission-paying sites.
  • Tim Archer takes a somewhat op-ed view of everybody’s efforts in Haiti, and expresses three concerns about the relief frenzy.
  • Mark Driscoll’s book for men, Porn Again Christian is still available for free online reading at Re:Lit.   Mark doesn’t pull any punches or waste words on this topic.
  • This week’s comics are from Joe McKeever at Baptist Press (upper) and Australian John Cook at A Time to Laugh


January 21, 2010

Eight Things To Look For In A “Real” Church

It’s less like a train station and more like the pub in Cheers.

In yesterday’s link list, I included David Fitch’s piece “Eight Things You Should Notice At a Missional Sunday Gathering” from the blog Reclaiming The Mission.   I can’t think of anything better today than to amplify the ideas contained in this excellent article.

As someone who has had their work ripped from their blog and reposted in a variety of different forms, I want to make it clear that I’m paraphrasing, extrapolating and putting my own spin on David’s text.   You are therefore strongly urged to read the original blog post.    Also, he is claiming these as features of missional churches.   I am suggesting that he’s touched on something that goes far beyond that church definition.

  1. Team Leadership, i.e. not autocratic.   At the end, people leave having heard the sound of many voices.  What’s often termed “a plurality of leadership.”  This can include invisible leadership.   If there is a senior pastor, he or she is often in the background, or mingling among the ‘common folk.’
  2. If there’s a script for the service, it’s written in pencil on the back of an index card.   In other words, there is flexibility and flex time (they’re different) built into the service planning.   There can be a commitment to excellence, but some of the best worship will take place in moments that are fragile or even tentative.   There’s room for the Holy Spirit to break in through people who have a variety of giftings, and also through people who we may not consider gifted at all.  There’s every attempt to create visitor-friendly environments, but not to necessarily control those environments.
  3. There is ample evidence that the people gathered together are in community with one another.   This happens naturally, not with name tags or photo directories.    It’s less like a train station and more like the pub in Cheers. Connection to the larger world takes place in mid-week situations, though there are many openings for those people to be assimilated into the community.
  4. You see similarity to the diversity of the early church, where there was neither Jew nor Greek (ethnicity), male nor female (gender), slave nor free (status), etc.   This doesn’t mean that these people exist in sub-groups or cliques, but there is full integration, perhaps even in small groups if they exist.
  5. Warmth, friendliness and caring are communicated naturally.   There are no greeters at the door because everyone knows to give a welcome to someone walking in; they want to do this.   No time is spent “passing the peace” or shaking hands because everyone has already connected with the people sitting near them before the worship has begun.
  6. The true service and indeed the life of the congregation kicks into high gear when it ends.  The real ministry takes place after the last speaker has finished.   A day after reading David’s article, I read about a dream someone had where the pastor said, “And now we’ll begin our time of worship;” and at that moment the ushers flung open the doors and the people filed into the streets.    (Wish I could find the link.)
  7. The service is interactive.   Fitch talks about having the chairs arranged in a circle instead of in rows.   That’s just part of it.   There is the expectancy that everyone has something to contribute, and some of those contributions may be spoken words to everyone else.   Everyone gives.   Everyone receives.   Think of a Pentecostal or Charismatic service but without the “forms” or “attachments” present there when someone has a word in tongues or a word of prophecy.
  8. Fitch’s eighth point is ethnic diversity which I’ve already included in number 4.   I’d simply add this:  No one is left out.   The ‘flavor’ of the church’s programs reflects the people who are actually present; furthermore they play a part in the development of those activities or ministries.   Also — and this is often the tough one — the diversity should be reflected in staff and leadership positions, too.

Once again, don’t miss the original post at Reclaiming The Mission.

January 20, 2010

Wedneslinkday

This is, without doubt, the most amazing link list I’ve ever posted this week:

  • Phil Johnson wonders what Mosaic teaching pastor Erwin McManus is thinking with his production of “Casket” — wherein a guy stages his own funeral — as the play appears, in Phil’s opinion, relatively devoid of anything close to a proclamation of the gospel.    Read the piece and its comments at Pyromaniacs.
  • All the money being donated for Haiti is being ‘parked’ in a contingency account for the next emergency?   That’s the suggestion of an anonymous disaster relief worker at this “Stop Donating!” post on the blog Solar Crash.
  • Tony Campolo explains why he’d like to add “Do You Hear The People Sing?” from Les Mis and “The Impossible Dream” from The Man of La Mancha to the repertoire of your church’s worship team (!) at this interview on Christians and the Arts at the blog The Virtual Pew Daily.
  • Randy Alcorn re-examines the notion that our charitable giving should always be done in secret.   Yes, he knows that it was Jesus that suggested that, but he offers a fresh look at that passage, and a few others at Eternal Perspective Ministries.
  • Ever feel like you’re invisible?   Jeff Leake embedded this six-minute YouTube video featuring Nicole Johnson, which he says he also used at last weekend’s services at his church.   Check out his blog, The Launch Pad.
  • Darryl Dash doesn’t think it was intentional, but somewhere along the line, the “invocation” or “call to worship” which once started most Evangelical worship services, became the “welcome,” which isn’t really the same thing.   Check out this short but important post at DashHouse.
  • The Post is titled, “How Much Weight Do We Grant To Experience?” though a better, albeit somewhat longer title might be, “What are the Advantages of Aligning Oneself with Groups That Have Frequently Encountered Opposition?”   Okay, maybe the short title works just as well.   This interesting topic over at Pastor Matt‘s blog is begging for more of you to jump in.
  • Horror of Horrors!  Here’s a blog post is devoted to eight things Paul Clark enjoyed about “the little church” he visited last weekend; but it begins with describing the place as “the small church we are acquiring as a future satellite.”   It’s like the head of Starbucks saying how much he enjoyed having a coffee at the little neighborhood shop they’re about to demolish.   Well, actually there’s more to it than that.   Check out, “What I Liked.”
  • Andrew Jones aka Tall Skinny Kiwi summons all the courage he has to go inside a…  wait for it … Christian bookstore.   Apparently these places frighten him.   Read part one of the hair-raising account.
  • David Fitch suggests that if the church you’re visiting next Sunday is truly missional, there are eight things you should notice right away.    Actually, we think these eight things should be present regardless of other considerations.  Check it out at Reclaiming The Mission.   Excellent article.
  • Reformed blogger Kevin DeYoung suggests that if we’re going to toss around the phrase “social justice” we would do well to define it first.   Read his “Modest Proposal” at DeYoung, Restless and Reformed.
  • This one takes us back to December 21st (that’s light years ago in blogging terms) and a refreshing list of “redefinitions” of commonly used religious terms at the blog Kingdom Grace.
  • Pastor Mark Driscoll approaches the 14-year anniversary of Mars Hill Seattle with some things he would do differently he could.
  • Not enough links here?   How about a list of the Top 55 Pastor Bloggers.   That’s what it’s called.   Some of them are really links for pastors.     Check it out at the Online Christian Colleges site.
  • Our cartoons this week are from A Time to Laugh drawn by Aussie comic artist John Cook.

Here’s another one:

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