Thinking Out Loud

October 6, 2012

Knowing When It’s Time To Quit

A year ago at this time I wrote an open letter to Harold Camping congratulating him on exercising the wisdom to step down from his ministry following several errant end-of-the-world predictions. While it may seem harsh, I then addressed a few other letters to Christian leaders I felt should do the same.  I feel the need to share those again, but this time around I want to follow up with some other material which had appeared here earlier the same month.


Dear Pat Robertson,

I have always greatly respected you ever since reading your early biography Shout it from the Housetops as a much younger Christian. You don’t know this, but one night while you were still in the old Spratley Street Channel 27 studios, I was in your office and sat in your chair; and the next day was privileged to watch The 700 Club from the control room. You’ve played a big role in my life and taught me much about both faith and media.

But like the letter above, I’m wondering if perhaps it’s time to step back from the microphone and the camera and allow God to work through others. Remember that story in Shout It… where you were doing a telethon and God told you to, “Get out of the way”? Well, perhaps we’ve reached a similar juncture. Many of your recent pronouncements have been unusual to say the least, and I suspect even some of your staff are concerned. You built a great broadcasting network and a great university, and you’ll always have my respect for that. I just want to see the story end well.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Jack Van Impe,

You have been relentless in your pursuit of relevant television ministry, especially where the prophetic writings of scripture intersect with the pages of the local newspaper. Your awareness of current events coupled with your Bible knowledge have given you a unique voice among Evangelicals.

But lately, you’ve been somewhat seduced by the writings of Noah Hutchings, who I guess is also trying to stay attuned to what’s going on in the world, but has lately focused his attacks on other Christian pastors, writers, organizations and ministries. You know, we need to be discerning to some extent, but we can’t spend valuable television airtime attacking each other, especially in a public forum. You’ve run a good race, but perhaps it might be time to step down before it all ends badly.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Fred Phelps,

By now you’ve seen the above three letters, and you’re probably thinking that I’m going to advise you that perhaps it’s time to step down as well, right? But really, step down from what? Your ‘organization’ consists of only a handful of mostly family members, and truly gives new meaning to the term, ‘a tempest in a teapot.’

While you are semi-skilled at getting media attention — which says more about the need of print and electronic news organizations for the sensational than it does about the content of your message — the scope of your ‘tribe’ represents such an infinitesimal percentage of Christians in the United States that it’s amazing that even the most news-hungry reporters still bother sending a film crew. You’ve had more than your fifteen minutes of fame, and every American with either a television or a newspaper subscription knows who you think God hates. It’s too bad you never considered using your immense media platform to actually preach the gospel; the story that begins with, “For God so loved the world…”

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.



Serve God When You’re Young… and Ready

I’ve written before, including this article, how increasingly, so much of what goes on in the modern church is a young man’s game. We often tell teens and twenty-somethings that they need to “maximize their impact for God” while they are young. And certainly, when it comes to serving in tropical rainforests, helping out in the high arctic, or ministering in communities located at high elevation, you want to have youth or fitness on your side.

But I’m also reminded of the number of times those opportunities were afforded to me — especially those where a church turned their worship time or pulpit time over to me — where I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have anything close to resembling the wisdom of age, and I’m still not sure I do. But I do know that I wish I had known then what I know now.

So here we have a dichotomy between offering ministry experience to the young and inexperienced, and then denying the older and wiser those same opportunities because all the time-slots are full.

However, I also have to ask myself if I would be that older, wiser person if those early opportunities to fall flat on my face had not been offered to me. So…

To the young:

  1. Take the opportunities as they present themselves. Paul told Timothy not to allow anyone to look down on him because of his youth; but
  2. Get all the training and preparation you can get for each individual assignment.
  3. Know what ministry roles not to accept because of lack of spiritual fitness in that particular area, or lack of Biblical understanding.
  4. Get connected with an older — the older the better — person in your faith community who can mentor you in specialized ministry positions, as well as a general mentor for your overall spiritual journey.

To the old(er):

  1. Yes, you have more experience and can do a better job. Now get over it. The chain of grace isn’t constructed that way. In some institutions, maybe, but not a fully functioning organic church.
  2. Find young people who are teachable and are willing to be mentored. Meet them halfway by learning about and connecting with their culture, their technology, their family situations.
  3. Mold and shape them through encouragement, not criticism. Avoid the “in my day this is how we did it” type of stories, and instead, use non-directive responses, i.e. questions.
  4. Become a translator. Not a Bible translator, but someone who takes solid spiritual concepts from past devotional writers and Bible commentators, and asks, “How would the next generation communicate that same idea?”

Those are my suggestions for today, and you should listen to them, because I am older and wiser, and if you don’t, I’m calling the pastor and telling him that everybody’s doing it wrong and instead, they should all listen to me.

Seriously, I do think there’s something here worth considering. Does your faith family give equal weight to encouraging the next generation and appreciate the wisdom and experience of older participants?

The graphic above is from a book on inter-generational ministry, the other side of the coin, how churches can reach a wide variety of ages. Read more on this topic from Zondervan author Dr. Jeff Baxter

October 27, 2011

Harold Camping Resigns from Family Radio

Dear Mr. Camping,

I was just getting ready to retire myself — for the night, that is — when I caught this post over at the blog Bene Diction, and learned of your decision to step down.  While I haven’t agreed with you on everything lately, I applaud your realization that perhaps it is time to hand the reins over to the next generation, and your decision to act on that realization sooner than later.  I wish you all the best in whatever remaining years God grants you.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


More details at this Christian Post story.

Now then, if I may, a few other notes to others…


Dear Pat Robertson,

I have always greatly respected you ever since reading your early biography Shout it from the Housetops as a much younger Christian.  You don’t know this, but one night while you were still in the old Spratley Street Channel 27 studios, I was in your office and sat in your chair; and the next day was privileged to watch The 700 Club from the control room.  You’ve played a big role in my life and taught me much about both faith and media.

But like the letter above, I’m wondering if perhaps it’s time to step back from the microphone and the camera and allow God to work through others.  Remember that story in Shout It… where you were doing a telethon and God told you to, “Get out of the way”?  Well, perhaps we’ve reached a similar juncture.  Many of your recent pronouncements have been unusual to say the least, and I suspect even some of your staff are concerned.  You built a great broadcasting network and a great university, and you’ll always have my respect for that.  I just want to see the story end well.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Jack Van Impe,

You have been relentless in your pursuit of relevant television ministry, especially where the prophetic writings of scripture intersect with the pages of the local newspaper.  Your awareness of current events coupled with your Bible knowledge have given you a unique voice among Evangelicals.

But lately, you’ve been somewhat seduced by the writings of Noah Hutchings, who I guess is also trying to stay attuned to what’s going on in the world, but has lately focused his attacks on other Christian pastors, writers, organizations and ministries.  You know, we need to be discerning to some extent, but we can’t spend valuable television airtime attacking each other, especially in a public forum.  You’ve run a good race, but perhaps it might be time to step down before it all ends badly.

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.


Dear Fred Phelps,

By now you’ve seen the above three letters, and you’re probably thinking that I’m going to advise you that perhaps it’s time to step down as well, right?  But really, step down from what?  Your ‘organization’ consists of only a handful of mostly family members, and truly gives new meaning to the term, ‘a tempest in a teapot.’

While you are semi-skilled at getting media attention — which says more about the need of print and electronic news organizations for the sensational than it does about the content of your message — the scope of your ‘tribe’ represents such an infinitesimal percentage of Christians in the United States that it’s amazing that even the most news-hungry reporters still bother sending a film crew.  You’ve had more than your fifteen minutes of fame, and every American with either a television or a newspaper subscription knows who you think God hates.  It’s too bad you never considered using your immense media platform to actually preach the gospel; the story that begins with, “For God so loved the world…”

Sincerely,

Paul Wilkinson.

June 22, 2011

Wednesday Link List

To link or not to link, that is the question…

  • This is a real masterpiece, and if I could, I would steal the whole thing and post it here.  Perry Noble has written a list of ten things he desires for each and every person who calls NewSpring Church home.  Follow the link to the first one, watch any related video, and then click the arrows for each of the other nine.  Sample: ” #6 – I want every owner of NewSpring Church to know how to lead someone to Christ and feel the calling/responsibility to do so.”
  • TBN refused to air an episode of Jack Van Impe‘s weekly rant because it slammed Robert Schuller and Rick Warren, so Van Impe has decided to take his ball and his bat and go home, and has pulled his programs from the TBN schedule. “Although I understand, and actually agree with, your position that you ‘will not allow anyone to tell me what I can and cannot preach,’ I trust you understand that TBN takes the same position with its broadcast air time as well,” TBN President Paul Crouch wrote in a letter to Van Impe. More on this here tomorrow from a different perspective…
  • Here’s a great article for this time of year published a month ago at Leadership Journal, for people involved in ministry to young people who are leaving the local (church) area to go on to college.  Love what this Texas pastor says, “Our job doesn’t end at graduation, we call that ‘Day One.’  Each graduate leaving for college receives a $10 Starbucks gift card with the following instructions: go find a spiritual mentor on campus to take out for coffee.”
  • “Something good is going to happen to you.”  Remember that phrase?  I found this tucked away in a remote corner of the net, and even though it’s a full year old, someone here might like to have a look.  Randy R. Potts is now in his mid-thirties, he’s the grandson of Oral and Evelyn Roberts and he’s gay and estranged from the church.  If you’ve got 8-10 minutes take a look at life from his perspective.
  • The whole Xtra Normal text-to-animation method of making a point is awesome.  My son made one for a school presentation that he did, and here’s one I found on How to Be Really Terrible at Interpreting the Bible, aka “How To Show”  part two.
  • Two Perry Noble posts in one link list?  This is a must for singles; some of you may want to cut/paste and send this out as a FWD.  Check out Ten Reasons I Should Not Be Dating Him/Her.
  • On the one hand, I can’t believe Pete Wilson posted this video of a mother/daughter discussion on heaven and hell and religion in general; on the other hand, it’s probably more true to life than we realize.
  • On the weekend’s U.S. Open golf tournament, NBC-TV ran a video of a somewhat edited U.S. Pledge of Allegiance with the phrase “under God” edited out.  Twice.  What were thinking?  Apparently they are ready to admit they weren’t. Meanwhile the Supreme Court has decided not to hear another appeal to delete the clause from the pledge.
  • Canadian Anglicans in four churches that split from the apostate Anglican Church of Canada have decided to give up the fight to keep their buildings.  They will revert to the denomination which in fact is one of the largest holders of real estate in the country.  Legally legit I suppose, but morally wrong.
  • And speaking of Canadians, here’s a cold and snowy edition of one of the classic “religious” Peanuts comic strip — featuring Linus, of course — which actually isn’t the first time we’ve included Peanuts here in a Wednesday Link List.

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