Thinking Out Loud

April 3, 2014

Gaining Platform; Rites of Passage

Platform

I frequently look at Christian leadership blogs which seem obsessed about helping pastors and authors build their platform on social media. If that in itself is a stated goal, then I think the type of advice offered may serve some practical good.

But I also keep wondering if true respect is not also built in what might be called ‘the crucible of affliction;’ that is to say, that various people in various types of ministry endeavors have earned the right to be heard because they faced a great test, or championed a great cause.

The challenge is that not everybody gets to climb Mount Everest, nor does everyone want to. The type of platform that some people want to see built is gained only through some newsworthy accomplishment.

The other side of the challenge is that those who want to enjoy a healthy following and a strong platform are concerned only with what can be measured statistically, and stats alone seem to be a rather hollow way of measuring the worth of an individual.

I think platform is good only if leads you to another objective beyond selling your book or gaining social media followers. Utimately, however, it’s who you are that counts. That’s not something you can engineer. It’s not something you can quantize statistically, either.

Mission Trips

It’s true that short-term mission tourism has become an industry onto itself, and there have been various articles posted online, including some here, that have engaged the sport of mission trip bashing.

But lately I’ve been wondering if it isn’t really some necessary rite of passage; the third point of a three pronged initiation into Christian service: Salvation, baptism, short term mission. Or, “When did you become a Christian?” and “When you were baptized?” followed by “Where did you go for your mission trip?”

It almost seems that to lack this quintessential experience — as I freely admit I do — is to have a personal story that is somehow more shallow. When people ask me to document my ministry experience I find myself sometimes apologetically saying, “Everything you can imagine except third-world missions exposure.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe I’ve had some rich experiences; maybe it’s reflective of a greater spiritual inferiority complex. I’m just thinking that maybe we’ve been too harsh when it comes to mission trip bashing, provided the trip has been designed to be more than a tourist visit.

Although I’ve never done it, my ideal for you, your son, or your daughter would be to connect with the six month Discipleship Training School at Youth With A Mission bases around the world; each one of which has both a training and a field experience component.

Read more:
Short Term Mission Trips: Yea or Nay?, November 2008
Short Term Mission Trippers as Seen by Full-Time Missionaries, April 2012
Another Critique of the Short Term Missions Movement, June 2012

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April 3, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Not new, but too good just to link; you have to watch this…

  • Edith Shaeffer, wife of the late Christian philosopher Francis Shaeffer, has died at age 98
  • A member of The Church on the Way in Valencia,CA — and grandson of Jack Hayford, the church’s founder — is now back home uninjured after being kidnapped last week in Mexico.
  • Singer Carrie Underwood and NHL hockey player Mike Fisher discuss their shared faith in Jesus.
  • Know the song “‘Tis a Gift To Be Simple”?  Terry Mattingly says that definitely applies to the new Pope.
  • Yes the Easter story really happened in a real place, and if you want, you can even get the GPS coordinates.
  • And did they play that “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a-Coming” video at your church this week? Here’s the text for all you aspiring preachers to give it your best shot.
  • And don’t miss this story about church pyrotechnics gone awry. This could have ended very badly.
  • Also at Parchment Pen: Did the author of the Gospel of Mark sleep in the nude?  The public wants to know.
  • Sandy Patti is headlining at Carnegie Hall with the Manhattan Pops Orchestra and the pianist formerly (and still) known simply as Dino.
  • For 32 years, Rick Warren said ‘no’ to the idea of doing a radio show. But then a year ago
  • A friend of ours, Rick Webster, pastor of The Third Space church in Peterborough has written Introducing Jesus — but he doesn’t use the word pastor, preferring Spiritual Wilderness Guide and Community Architect. We don’t normally do this here, but you can order the book online
  • From the artist who brought us the Reimagine song, a cover of Larry Norman’s UFO song.
  • Canadian author and blogger Sheila Wray-Gregoire says that if you are concerned for someone, you need to ask yourself three questions before you say anything.
  • Another Elevation Church high-tech year end summary. Does your church’s annual report look like this?
  • Maybe some cartoonists can illustrate complex issues, but Dave Walker finds himself somewhat lost for ideas in Uganda
  • Okay, Doug Wilson, curiosity was killing me when you wrote Good Friday and the Death of Same Sex Envy. (And then he also discusses pattern recognition, too.)
  • Shauna Niequist is the wife of a Christian musician and daughter of a world famous pastor. And a published author.  But she still deals with jealousy.
  • Money Where Your Mouth Is Department: Michael Kelley offers us two things we can learn from the Veronica Mars movie campaign on Kickstarter.
  • How about another 30-or-so links, all on the subject of apologetics? And don’t miss the first comment. 
  • Blog flashback — one year ago: James MacDonald’s holiness test.
  • The latest addition to our “lost song” collection at YouTube is this original version of God and Man at Table by Craig Smith. 
  • And I didn’t realize until today how much this song and this song sound alike. Guess some classic gospel music or CCM just flies under the copyright radar.

Top Bible Sales 2012

May 23, 2012

Wednesday Link List


  • So let’s start with Ed Young’s Pastor Fashion blog. We’re being set up here, right? Mind you, the fashion blog and Ed’s regular blog contain the same spelling error:  Taking something to a whole other level, is whole, not hole. And that is him in the videos. So maybe this is serious. Besides, it’s not April 1st.
  • But we’re not being taken at the blog No Longer Quivering, which was one of several established to question the whole “Quiverful” movement, (Check a Bible concordance for context) not to mention Christianity itself.  Lately however, things have gotten even more complicated, as in this introduction to a 9-part post. (Note: the blog is in the middle of a move from Blogspot to Patheos.) How does a former (male) pastor move from repressing gender issues to a full-blown transition? (Did I say this one is complicated?)
  • With all the drug war violence in the news, six people weigh in on the subject of safety issues implicit in missions trips to Mexico.
  • And speaking of youth groups, Rachel Marie looks back realizing that something was seriously missing from body image pep talks.
  • If Christianity is nothing more than a “hell avoidance system,” then obviously it comes crashing down if there is no hell. That’s the subject of Hellbound – The Movie releasing in September.
  • On the world stage, two of the weekend’s religious news stories involved Twitter, in Pakistan and Kuwait.
  • 36 faculty have resigned from a Baptist college in George over its new lifestyle statement.
  • Podcast aficionados: Ravi Zacharias guested at John Ortberg’s church on the weekend. Sermon audio podcast is available.
  • Nominated for four Billboard Music Awards in April, the band Casting Crowns went on to take Best Christian Artist and Best Christian album on Sunday night. Not surprisingly, top Christian song was “Blessings” by Laura Story.
  • Know someone 15 or older who has left the church?  They may fall into the prodigal, nomad, or exile category.  Here are six things to consider which might minimize the exodus.
  • On the contrary, here’s a woman who left church around age 16, has lived that much lifetime again, but now finds herself missing God. John Shore responds.
  • Along that line, what about your friends who say they are Christ followers, but don’t like going to church?  This 3 min vid suggests they’re rejecting the wrong “church.”
  • Aaron Niequist has released the third in the series, A New Liturgy.  Also, here’s a link to another of Aaron’s projects, the song, “God’s Children.”  I love the line, “God of every class, from the greenest grass, to the underpass.”
  • From our leftover from April files, the creator of Veggie Tales is planning a new project and it’s not for kids.  Learn more about the Phil Vischer Show.
  • Lots of links from CT Inc. today. (I finally opened all those newsletters!) Here’s one by Carolyn Arends on the challenges of the term “literal interpretation.”
  • I had never actually seen the site Truthinator until Monday. It’s supposed to be “humor,” but after a few posts you realize you’ve never seen so much hate on a so-called Christian blog.
  • Looking for more reading? There’s eight great links from Saturday’s Weekend Link List.
  • Finally, if the t-shirt above isn’t exactly what you had in mind for a Father’s Day gift, if Dad thinks the local church choir sounds like a bunch of howling cats, the image below includes a link where you can buy a 8″ X 10″print of the choir in question for only $25.

April 18, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to WLL #100 !!  The list lynx is back for the party.

  • Okay, the story of the church in Corpus Christi, Texas that gave away cars and flat-screen TVs on Easter Sunday is so incredibly stupid that I absolutely refuse to link to it.
  • How much information is too much for six and seven-year-olds when the subject at hand is VBS stories of the persecuted church from the files of Voice of the Martyrs?
  • Here’s the Christian movie you didn’t hear about: The Church Team is a group of very astute gamblers who use their skills for good and not for evil. The film is The Holy Rollers. [alternate link for preview]
  • A woman with eight kids takes a very different look at the subject of how many kids to have and comes up with a very balanced answer. For some, maybe two is too many.
  • Author David Gregory changes publishers for the third book in the Perfect Stranger brand, Night With A Perfect Stranger.  You can enjoy a free .pdf download of chapter one at this link.
  • Cross Point Church (Nashville) Executive Director Jenni Catron shares the church’s seven staff values.
  • And do you know a new pastor just starting out?  Trey Morgan has 21 tips for a young minister, from a not-so-old minister.
  • Jamie Wright continues looking at the liabilities of short term missions: “Where Jesus appointed, we take volunteers. Where Jesus sent pairs, we send herds. Where Jesus admonished for danger and quiet humility along the road, we opt for vacation destinations and loud self-congratulations.” Amen to that.
  • The latest Top 200 Christian Blogs list is out, but once again, finishing at #201 as I’m sure we did, you won’t find this one listed.
  • Phil Johnson: “It’s my conviction that the worst, most persistent hindrances to the advance of the gospel today are worldly churches and hireling shepherds who trivialize Christianity.”
  • An update from Donald Miller on how the Blue Like Jazz movie is doing at the box office.
  • It’s been five years since BC cartoonist Johnny Hart left this earth, and blogger David Rupert reminds us of Hart’s great conversion story.
  • Looking for the perfect getaway?  You could always rent the home of Robert A. Schuller and his wife Donna for $700/night or $5,000/week which includes continental breakfast.
  • If you sponsor a child through Compassion, here’s what your sponsored child would like to know about you.
  • I finally got to hold a copy of The Voice complete Bible in my hands this week. It’s a really, really different type of translation.  Here’s a passage from Proverbs; I never knew Lady Wisdom was so attractive.  Here’s more about this unique version came to be.
  • UK cartoonist Dave Walker has created another repository for his unique gifts. Check out Dave Walker’s Guide to… which will featured non-church-themed musings. Of course, for everything else there’s the blog we know and love.
  • John Fischer blogs on the “God believes in you” theme that got me in a lot of trouble here when I tried to reiterate Rob Bell’s version of it. Let’s have another go.
  • Kurt Devine steps into a Malaysian brothel only to find that the stereotypical customer isn’t a middle-aged businessman, but someone more like himself.
  • Agitators at Indiana University try to shut down Douglas Wilson’s two lectures on sex and culture, but the show must go on.
  • And now it’s time for… Devotional Apologetics for Scientists, Engineers and Math Geeks. Enjoy Dark Matter and Layered Assumptions.
  • Tween Mania Department: It may not be The Disney Channel, but your 10-16 year olds can audition to be part of iShine this Friday in Nashville.
  • Because People Want to Know Department: Do you and your spouse go to bed at the same time?  Pete and Brandi Wilson do.
  • Speaking of which, of the writing of rather explicit books on sexuality for Christians, there is no end. Here’s an introduction to Canadian author Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of The Good Girl’s Guide To Great Sex, from her blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum.
  • Here’s a 3.5 minute conversation with God on the subject of prayer from Worship House Media uploaded to GodTube. I love the concept; hope the audio is fixed by the time you visit.
  • Not exactly the deepest list ever here, but… have your suggestions in by Monday night for next week’s list.

April 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The timely graphic above has been making the rounds on Facebook.

  • Who was where, and when?  This Bible Gateway timeline of Holy Week is worth studying.  Click to see the post, then click again to see the image, and click a third time to enlarge it. You’ve never seen the Good Friday & Easter story in such detail.
  • And if you’re looking for a meaningful Easter song, go back a year on this blog and revisit this one.  Or this one.
  • A Christian group prayed over a section of highway leading into their town and anointed it with oil.  An atheist group decided to wash off the blessing. My favorite quote from this article: “What is inexplicable to me is how atheists or secularists could possibly be affected or  ‘offended’ by prayers when they don’t view them as having any real value?”
  • A Delta Airlines passengers refuses to shut off his iPad showing a child-centered pornographic film. The flight attendant refused to intervene.
  • Teens can see the Bully movie in Canada, but can’t in the U.S. In the meantime, the movie is drawing out discussion to a level that gives the issue some profile.
  • Mark Driscoll has stepped down from chairing the Acts 29 church planting network, turning responsibility over to Matt Chandler, which in turn relocates the ministry to Dallas from Seattle.  But he’s also stepping down from the council of The Gospel Coalition. 2-in-1 story at Wartburg Watch.
  • The blog Church and Synagogue Security News, now has a section devoted to security issues arising on mission trips.
  • CNN’s Religion blog gets inside the spiritual heritage of Oikos University, the Christian college in California where Monday’s shooting took place. Excerpt: “Korean-American Christianity probably represents the fastest-growing part of the Asian American religious landscape…”
  • If you enjoyed yesterday’s post by Alicia Yost from America’s Next Top Mommy, here’s another of her well-written adventures in parenting.
  • If October Baby isn’t playing at a theater near you, here’s the official trailer.  And here’s a review: Jeff and his wife really liked it.
  • Check out a couple of (very) modern worship songs from Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville, Ontario.
  • Seductive faith: If it feels good, you’ve done it right. But consider the source of that kind of thinking.
  • Meet Jason Meyer, touted as the successor to John Piper at Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis. Elsewhere, Piper says, “The reason we are moving forward with the succession plan now has to do with a strong conviction that good pastoring is more than preaching.”
  • Financing a Christian college education ain’t easy. But a “miracle” can happen if you’re willing to work for it!  This Canadian story mentions a few principles that may apply more widely.
  • Nobody puts their hand up anymore in school, or elsewhere.  It’s all done with clickers.  Even the kids at the Bible Quiz at Southgate Church of Christ got mentioned in this New York Times technology story. They’re using 150 of them to record answers to 180 multiple choice questions.
  • Want more links? There’s always Lisa Buffaloe’s Links to Blog Blessings. Or check out The Read and Share File at Master’s Table.
  • Note to regular readers:  The link to the Christian Blog Topsites that usually appears in the sidebar has been removed as the site was apparently hacked. My computer did not entirely avoid some consequences, but is at least functional. Citing health concerns, proprietor Mark Strohm has decided to take the site down. We thank Mark for his years of service to this blog, introducing us to new blogs and introducing new readers to ours.

February 24, 2012

He Showed Up Anyway

We focus on areas where no other organization is doing work.

~Pete Wilson

Nashville pastor and Thomas Nelson author Pete Wilson has just returned from another trip to India.  A couple of days ago he wrote this:

There’s no doubt in my mind that last Friday was a highlight in ministry I’ll never forget. I stood there in a muddy pond in the middle of a remote village baptizing one person after another. For many of these individuals their baptism meant they would no longer be accepted by their families or community. One young man was told by his parents that if he went through with the baptism not only would he not be welcomed home, but he would no longer be recognized as their son and not be able to receive his inheritance.

He showed up anyway.

Threats of violence forced us to move the baptism service last minute…

continue reading and watch a Baptism video here

 

June 22, 2010

Radical: It Truly Is

On April 30th I responded here to the sample chapter of David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream, all the while not expecting to be given a copy of the complete book.   On Friday that changed.   I started reading around 3:00 PM Sunday and by 11:00 Monday morning had finished all 216 pages.

Radical truly is.

In the meantime, I thought I had included another mention of David Platt in the link list, but I see instead I e-mailed it to several pastor friends:

At an average of 55 minutes, David Platt’s Sunday morning sermons at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, are already far longer than those of most pastors. But to Platt, they seem awfully short. He has been struck in his travels by underground Asian house churches that study the Bible together, under the threat of persecution, for as long as 12 hours in one sitting.

He has imported this practice into a biennial event that Brook Hills calls Secret Church. Starting at 6 p.m., Platt preaches for six hours on a single topic, such as a survey of the Old Testament. About 1,000 people, mostly college students and young singles, turned out for the first Secret Church. Since then, other Secret Church topics have included the Atonement and spiritual warfare. It is now so popular the church requires tickets.

“It’s one of my favorite sights as a pastor to look out at 12:30 a.m. and see a room full of 2,500 people, their Bibles open, soaking it in,” Platt says.

Platt believes churches have lowered the bar for biblical and theological literacy by treating it as something for professionals. Equating serious biblical engagement with seminaries rather than the local church has impoverished both institutions, he says. So Brook Hills has launched its own training center for lay leaders and is preparing a one-year training program for church planters, with separate tracks for full-time pastors and bi-vocational ministers. Platt recognizes that smaller churches lack the human and financial resources to offer these programs, but he thinks the principles transfer to churches with only 50 members.

continue reading at Christianity Today

Radical is a book about the state of the American church.    But while it comes close, it isn’t too American to miss out on a larger audience.   Radical is a book about missions.   But it is engaging enough to eclipse the negative stereotypes which cause books of that genre to escape our interest.   Platt keeps it pertinent by including examples of people in his church who have allowed their lives to intersect with the lives of people in the much broader world.  Examples of people not too different from people like us.

Mostly, Radical is about you and me and all that we could be doing that we’re not doing.   He ends with a one-year challenge called “The Radical Experiment.”   Not content to simply write a book review, I decided to check out the sermon where he introduced the experiment in his home church, The Church at Brook Hills, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Platt has a quiet, gentle preaching style and a laid-back southern accent that belies the degree of challenge he is presenting to his hearers. The website Baptist 21 says, “He is a phenomenal preacher of God’s Word, we would probably label him as one of the best and certainly one of the young up and coming preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention. God is blessing his ministry as Brook Hills is growing and sees weekly attendance of over 4,000 people.”

Reading the book however, it is very clear that Platt is not entirely comfortable being the pastor of a ‘megachurch’ of 4,000 people and all its attendant accoutrements.  His frequent and intensive visits overseas mean that he is somewhat of a ‘fish out of water’ in the affluence of his home church.  I am sure there are Sundays where his heart is in another place.   Consequently, he is a liaison between the affluent North American Church, and the persecuted church overseas.

…Every few months, a book is released with a message and significance “for such a time as this.”   Books like this capture the spiritual imagination and present us with new possibilities.   Radical is that book for the summer of 2010.

I want to end this with an endorsement the book received from Russell D. Moore, whose blog is often linked here:

“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’

Read this book. Put it away for a time, if you need to, while your conscience is invaded by the Spirit driving you to repentance. And then pick it up again. After you’re done reading, I think you’ll know better how to pick up your cross and follow Christ for the advancement of the kingdom and the destruction of false dreams.”

A copy of Radical was provided by Augsburg-Fortress Canada, the Canadian distributor for Waterbrook/Multnomah. (Thanks, Norm!) The related booklet, The Radical Question is available for giveaway purposes in packages of ten.

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