Thinking Out Loud

December 19, 2014

Defining Your Terms

When you say you’re a Bible & Science ministry, does that mean

  • you believe in a literal six-day creation and a young earth?
  • you believe in an old earth; that Genesis is allegorical, that evolution is probable?
  • you focus on intelligent design and try to skip the subjects above ?

When you say you have a prophetic gift, does that mean

  • you speak forth with a prophetic voice concerning issues facing the church and/or the world in general?
  • your ministry almost exclusively revolves around end-time predictions?
  • you counsel people and help them find where they are to live, what should be their vocation, who they should marry, etc. ?

When you say your church is charismatic, do you mean

  • the music is loud and lively, and people clap and rejoice during worship?
  • your church emphasizes belief in the limitless power of God and has an active desire for a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ?

When you say you’re a ministry to Christians struggling with homosexuality, does that mean

  • you try to assist gay Christians out of that lifestyle through prayer and/or reparative therapy?
  • you try to support gays who are struggling with faith issues and/or acceptance by the church ?

When you say you’re an apostolic ministry does that mean

  • you work with church-planters and missional communities to encourage people who have the gift of apostle?
  • you are frequently addressed as “Apostle _______” as you see yourself as part of a line of apostolic succession and/or feel there is a special anointing on your ministry?

When you say you have a ministry to worship leaders, does that mean

  • you assist worship leaders in the personal spiritual development and in building the tools they need to build their teams?
  • you help worship leaders navigate areas such as song selection, instrumentation, arrangements, sound systems, etc.?
  • you exist to advance an agenda of a specific sub-genre of worship: hymns, modern hymns, ‘soaking’ music, prophetic worship, etc. ?

When you say you’re a ministry to the Jewish community do you mean

  • you stand in the Messianic tradition and want to keep as much of the Jewish ethnic and cultural flavor, while recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah?
  • you stand in the Hebrew Christian tradition which involves assimilating Jewish believers into western evangelical culture?
  • your ministry is more concerned with both the political and prophetic ramifications of the state of Israel ?

When you say you are a ‘progressive’ Christian do you mean

  • you prefer contemporary churches which don’t make a major issue out of some of the traditions and taboos which defined Christianity in the mid-20th-century?
  • you have a more liberal position on Christian doctrine and theology and Biblical inerrancy ?

When the bottom of your church sign reads, “Everyone welcome,” do you mean

  • you regularly interact with people from the wider community and while it may be a foreign environment in some respects, they would feel relaxed attending services and sense you’re genuinely glad they came?
  • people are welcome as long as they dress like you, believe the same doctrines, read the same Bible translation, vote for the same party, and conform to the church’s position on social issues ?

???

Any other positions out there that bring confusion?

December 14, 2012

I Need To Know Where You’re Coming From

When you say you’re a Bible & Science ministry, does that mean

  • you believe in a literal six-day creation and a young earth?
  • you believe in an old earth; that Genesis is allegorical, that evolution is probable
  • you focus on intelligent design and try to skip the subjects above ?

When you say you have a prophetic gift, does that mean

  • you speak forth with a prophetic voice concerning issues facing the church and/or the world in general
  • your ministry almost exclusively revolves around end-time predictions
  • you counsel people and help them find where they are to live, what should be their vocation, who they should marry, etc. ?

When you say your church is charismatic, do you mean

  • the music is loud and lively, and people clap and rejoice during worship
  • your church emphasizes belief in the limitless power of God and has an active desire for a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ?

When you say you’re a ministry to Christians struggling with homosexuality, does that mean

  • you try to assist gay Christians out of that lifestyle through prayer and/or reparative therapy
  • you try to support gays who are struggling with faith issues and/or acceptance by the church ?

When you say you’re an apostolic ministry does that mean

  • you work with church-planters and missional communities to encourage people who have the gift of apostle
  • you are frequently addressed as “Apostle _______” as you see yourself as part of a line of apostolic succession and/or feel there is a special anointing on your ministry ?

When you say you have a ministry to worship leaders, does that mean

  • you assist worship leaders in the personal spiritual development and in building the tools they need to build their teams
  • you help worship leaders navigate areas such as song selection, instrumentation, arrangements, sound systems, etc.
  • you exist to advance an agenda of a specific sub-genre of worship: hymns, modern hymns, ‘soaking’ music, prophetic worship, etc. ?

When you say you’re a ministry to the Jewish community do you mean

  • you stand in the Messianic tradition and want to keep as much of the Jewish ethnic and cultural flavor, while recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah
  • you stand in the Hebrew Christian tradition which involves assimilating Jewish believers into western evangelical culture
  • your ministry is more concerned with both the political and prophetic ramifications of the state of Israel ?

When you say you are a ‘progressive’ Christian do you mean

  • you prefer contemporary churches which don’t make a major issue out of some of the traditions and taboos which defined Christianity in the mid-20th-century
  • you have a more liberal position on Christian doctrine and theology and Biblical inerrancy ?

When the bottom of your church sign reads, “Everyone welcome,” do you mean

  • you regularly interact with people from the wider community and while it may be a foreign environment in some respects, they would feel relaxed attending services and sense you’re genuinely glad they came
  • people are welcome as long as they dress like you, believe the same doctrines, read the same Bible translation, vote for the same party, and conform to the church’s position on social issues ?

???

Any other positions out there that bring confusion?

February 16, 2012

Jews for Jesus: Ministry Life on the Frontlines

For this writer, a sidebar to the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s was what might best be termed the Messianic Movement. As a young Christian, I remember hearing the middle-eastern-flavored music of the groups Lamb and Liberated Wailing Wall, and as someone trying to find relevant resources to communicate the Christian worldview, I was intrigued by a series of rather crudely drawn tri-folded 8 1/2 X 11 tract-substitutes called ‘broadsides’ which tended to be reflective of current events and trends.

The common thread between the music and the literature was an organization called Jews for Jesus. But it turned out there were many groups involved in evangelism to the Jewish community where I lived.  In later years I would attend a Friday night service in Toronto as part of a congregation whose worship style was not much different than the synagogue I’d passed a mile down the road, but whose belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah constituted a great divide.  I would later learn the difference between Messianic Jews (the type of service I’d attended) and Hebrew Christians (whose worship style was more like any given Baptist group on a Sunday morning.)

But when Jews for Jesus came to Toronto and held a major rally in a Toronto high school, I knew I had to be there. 

It turned out I was not the only type of person who wanted to attend. The event was met with protests by the Jewish Defence League. Shouts of “Jews don’t switch” greeted attendees, and once the event itself got underway, it was constantly interrupted by high-pitched whistling that may have come from human or mechanical sources, or both.

Unfortunately, I’d made the mistake of inviting my parents to join me, and in all their years of attendance at church and evangelistic meetings, they had never had to deal with counter-protests, and their discomfort throughout the entire meeting was evident; though I think we were all a bit on edge that night.

Flash forward several decades: When an opportunity to review a new biography of Moishe Rosen, the founder of Jews for Jesus, I was not to let the opportunity pass by.  The book Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus is written by his daughter, Ruth Rosen with the intimacy and passion that only an immediate family member can bring, and published by Thomas Nelson.

Like so many others, Moishe Rosen and his wife experience estrangement from their families when they ‘come out’ as believers in Yeshua and begin attending a local Baptist church.  But the calling to ministry takes place over a number of years, and Rosen actually serves 17 years with another mission before spinning JFJ off as a separate entity.

Early chapters of the book highlight something my wife and I felt after twice attending Missionfest: While this type of ministry is unique, there are in fact dozens of organizations tripping over themselves trying to reach the Jewish community with the good news of Jesus. The zeal is common to all, but the methodology often differs greatly.

The book also presents the challenges a Christian leader faces when their vision places them as leader of a team. With my previously mentioned acquaintance with the ministry, I always viewed Rosen’s greatest strength as frontline evangelism, but the book shows him struggling with administration, staff recruitment and training and organizational politics.

While the Bible promises that all who endeavor to live Godly lives in Christ will face persecution, this multiplies many times over when the stated goal of the mission is to convert people steeped in a belief system so very foreign to Christianity, yet joined by a common book (the ‘first covenant’ of our Christian scriptures) and history.  I actually learned a term I had not encountered before: The word “antimissionaries” describing those bent on preventing groups like JFJ from delivering their message.

I very much enjoyed reading Called to Controversy, though some background familiarity with this type of ministry is somewhat necessary to fully appreciate Moishe’s story, since some details are narrated but not fully explained. 

Despite the opposition, Moishe Rosen believed that doing ministry should be fun. Yes, fun. He was fully energized by what he did and all that Jews for Jesus accomplished and could accomplish in the future. While Ruth Rosen does not hide her father’s faults and foibles, there is no denying is qualification as a great 20th century Christian leader.

Shalom.

Thanks to Book Sneeze, a program of Thomas Nelson Publishers for a print copy of Called to Controversy.

Here’s a link to a video of vintage (1973) Liberated Wailing Wall performing Blessed Be the Lord. While the group Lamb wasn’t directly a part of JFJ, their music was better known than LWW among ‘goyim’ like myself. This is their song The Sacrifice Lamb.

May 26, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Another Wednesday rolls around… where did you go this week online?

  • Ruth Tucker at Christianity Today marks  the passing of Moishe Rosen, the sometimes controversial founder of Jews for Jesus, as does an article in the New York Times.
  • Readers of The Internet Monk blog can catch a free download of the first chapter of the late Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity.
  • A candid Leadership Magazine interview with Francis Chan — is he ever not candid? — about how things work at Cornerstone Church.
  • While I usually laugh at the blog, Stuff Fundies Like, here’s a piece that makes a very, very solid point about Outcome Based Justification.  If just one person clicks on this…
  • Yikes!  A 13-year-old student in New York State can’t wear a rosary to school because of a statute prohibiting “gang related dress.”  Who ya gonna call?  Jay Sekulow.   But wait a minute, could the school board be justified?  The police think so.
  • Blogger Jeff Leake has reason to be proud of his talented 16-year old son, Josh Leake who has released a new album.   Right now they’re selling actual CDs, but they might want to also consider downloads.   Check out his MySpace page.
  • Trevin Wax thinks that, “Traditional evangelistic strategies are not necessarily deficient in what they say, but in what they assume.”  Read more at Kingdom People.
  • I know a number of bloggers have already mentioned this, but if you’re a parent, you need to watch this Vimeo clip from Randy Alcorn about Pornography from 12 days ago, and also this more recent one — despite the audio problems — from 7 days ago for parents who have daughters.
  • What is God’s relationship to time.   Not an easy question.   Start your thinking process at this article at Prodigal Magazine.
  • Unequally yoked?  Russell D. Moore got a letter in April about a conservative, dispensational Calvinist marrying a tongues-speaking Pentecostal.  Two weeks later, he’s still getting mail.
  • Blog discovery of the week (but it’s been around since 2007) — E-Royal by Royal Farris.   Lots of good video embeds recently.  Which is where I first saw
  • “The Gospel According To Krispy Kreme” a ten-minute YouTube video of Louie Giglio from 2009.
  • Whatever happened to scripture memory.   Here’s a top ten list of some Bible passages everyone should know by heart.
  • It would be great if God spoke to us by sending little written notes to us throughout the day.   That’s the theme of this 2-minute free sermon video download at Floodgate Productions.
  • Currently reading:  I actually don’t limit my reading to Christian books; I’m currently enjoying The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee.  (Love that middle initial!)  The book is a fascinating history of Chinese food.   I discovered Jennifer at TED Talks.
  • Currently fundraising: Chris, our oldest is going to be working in the kitchen at a Christian camp for ten weeks this summer.   Based on a 48-hour (i.e. six day) week, they’re giving him $3.00 per hour; he has to come up with sponsors for the rest.   Contact us if you want to help.
  • Currently listening to:  A Ton of Worship.  A  collection of church worship from the UK, but check out the stats:  5-CDs.  20 songs per CD.   That’s 100 songs for only $12.99 US/$15.99 CDN.  Also a kids version for $9.99 US/$12.99 CDN.   From Kingsway Music.
  • Message to certain bloggers:  Your Twitter updates are really slowing down your page loads.   Is it worth it?
  • Question to video uploaders:  Why Vimeo and not YouTube?   I have a fairly high speed connection, but the Vimeo server — especially when embedded in blogs — doesn’t even come close to the speed of the YouTube servers.
  • Our cartoon panel this week is from Calvinist Cartoons by Eddie Eddings (c/o John Scaddington).

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