Thinking Out Loud

March 3, 2016

When the Big Box Retailer is a Big Box Church

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:12 am
The Whosoever Will Rescue Mission, San Francisco, date unknown. Every community has a unique ministry history and individual challenges.

The Whosoever Will Rescue Mission, San Francisco, date unknown. Every community has a unique ministry history and individual challenges.

Over the past twenty years we’ve seen a phenomenon in retail where big box retailers, sometimes called “category killers” have set up shop in cities and towns and in the process destroyed the livelihood of locally-owned, community-focused, mom-and-pop businesses. In my town we had four stores that sold office supplies which, over a period of about four years, disappeared off the map after Staples arrived. Perhaps where you live you’ve seen independent bookstores close when Barnes & Noble arrived; this in the era before A-zon finished the job for most of them.

There’s a difference between a “chain” of stores, and big box retail. Chains are stores like what you had, only affiliated with an organization for national marketing. A privately owned store can join a chain.

In the analogy we’re heading to here, chains are like church denominations. And sometimes a denomination will work hard to have representation in a local area. Historically however, they start small and build organically.

A big box retailer has more than name recognition. Their motto is, ‘If you build it big they will come in big numbers.’ Having so much more money to throw around than a basic chain, they create large environments and offer discounts.

In the world of what we call “multi-site” churches, growth often happened out of necessity. The original church was simply unable to handle the crowds, and because people were driving great distances, rather than expand the existing physical location, they basically replicated what they were doing in a different location, including having the sermon projected on a big screen.

North Point Community Church fits that definition. Starting from their original location, they’ve slowly spread out to encompass an area that is mostly north, northeast and northwest of downtown Atlanta. While they have a number of affiliate churches, North Point itself has never parachuted into completely foreign territory. They’ve never announced that the next church will be in Tulsa, or Boulder, or Scranton. Their geographic reach is well-defined.

On the other hand, there are also megachurches that have other sites which are not as huge as the parent location. In Ontario, Canada, The Meeting House has about 20 satellites, but some of them started out and small, and I believe a couple are still in that <100 average attendance category.

And then there is East Side, in Anaheim, California which, for whatever reasons, has a single satellite location in Park Rapids, Minnesota. I don’t know the history, but one has to assume this began with a nucleus of people in that area who were drawn to a particular style of teaching; or that the church identified this community as having a need, and proceeded to do something missional and meet that need.

Which brings us to Hillsong. In an article entitled Hillsong Church: Do Not Colonize San Francisco, Nate Lee responds to a video posted by Ben Houston:

Hillsong SF is not something I am looking forward to. In fact, their video offends me. And it makes me extremely sad for this city and what it is becoming. And I am convinced, beyond any doubt, that Hillsong SF has absolutely nothing to do with God’s Kingdom here in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a city under siege. There is a war going on here that can’t be seen or understood through the eyes of a naïve, idealistic pastor. So when Ben Houston shows up in his overly-produced video saying, “San Francisco is a city where we see great potential,” it’s painfully clear that he has no idea of the context onto which his words fall. Guess who else saw “great potential” in this city? The real estate agents, developers, and city officials who have destroyed neighborhoods, broken up families, and displaced poor people of color for their own idealized, dystopian visions for San Francisco. What kind of “great potential” does Hillsong fulfill with its presence? And why would this random Australian dude ever think he’s qualified to evaluate this city’s potential? San Francisco is not a hopeful candidate auditioning for his religious services. We have bigger things to worry about.

I’m so tired of this. I’m tired of pastors coming to San Francisco, posting pictures of bridges and crooked streets and declaring how much they love this city without actually understanding any of it, without being hurt by it, without any scars to show or dirt on their shoes or callouses on their hands…

…Any kind of language that implies that God’s work or God’s plan starts when we arrive (e.g., “God has a great plan for this city!” “San Francisco is a city where we see great potential!” “In San Francisco, the best is yet to come!” – Ben Houston) is indicative not only of terrible theology, but of white Christian exceptionalism, the oppressive belief that the correct kind salvation and healing can only be facilitated through us, on our terms with our methodsand us always happens to be white missionaries, white pastors, and white churches.

And that’s just for starters.

There’s a lot more to this however than just the retail analogy I’ve presented above. It’s not just about fears of Hillsong experiencing transfer growth while existing ministries experience transfer loss. And let’s be honest, some people do change churches every few years.

In today's world, many choose a church because of its music, and the Hillsong name is immediately recognizable.

In today’s world, many choose a church because of its music, and the Hillsong name is immediately recognizable.

No, there’s more to this. It’s a matter of knowing your context. Knowing the rhythm, the cadence, the tenor of the ministries working in that community. Studying the spiritual history. Having someone with their feet on the ground for months, even years; having others who are invested in the community. Missionaries often spend a year acclimating to the culture before they ever begin a word of proclamation. You don’t just show up and expect to rock their world overnight. That is what I believe is at the heart of Nate’s concerns; it’s not just about someone building a big worship center or having brand recognition. It’s about the ‘people context’ of the city.

To return to a retail analogy — a different one — we once owned three Christian bookstores. While each carried our name, kept the same hours, stocked the same core titles, and was run by the same policies, the spiritual needs of those communities were vastly different, and the authors and ministries known to their customers were often quite unique. When asked if we were going to expand further, I said at the time, “You can’t just take a store like this one, seal it in a giant container, and drop it in to another community. The needs and interests are not the same.” It might work with a dairy store, or if you sell jeans and t-shirts, but it doesn’t work in Christian endeavor. You can’t just colonize another territory; you have to have done, and be prepared to do as much listening as you talking.

I would be ill-equipped to want to start a Christian store or a church in an area where I didn’t have some previous familiarity, or wasn’t living, or wasn’t working in partnership with some people already in ministry there; and this doubly so if that is an area where there is a history of intense spiritual warfare; and while each of those three criteria is important, I would say working in partnership would be the way to begin.

On the other hand, I would not want to be obstructionist, I would not want to stand in Hillsong’s way; but I think Nate’s concerns are very real, and because he’s there, he has the right to express those concerns or misgivings.

I just don’t think the elephant knows when it is the largest animal in the room and what responsibilities go with that privilege, any more than Staples realized they were going to put those four office supply stores in my town out of business. Or did they?

My Christian ethic compels me to wish Hillsong well, but it also compels me to equally wish all the existing churches and mission organizations in the San Francisco Bay area well also.

One more time, here’s a link to the article: Hillsong Church: Do Not Colonize San Francisco.


Thanks to David Fitch for pointing out this article to me.

 

 

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March 6, 2014

John Ortberg’s Congregation Votes to Exit US Presbyterian Denom

John OrtbergZondervan author and former Willow Creek teaching pastor John Ortberg is about to lead his congregation, Menlo Park Presbyterian, out of the Presbyterian Church USA, but the church will have to buy its way out of the affiliation. Religion News Service reports,

Members of one of the largest congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted to leave the denomination, despite facing an $8.89 million cost for leaving…

…The motion to leave the PCUSA was approved by 93 percent of the church’s members who voted, with 2,024 ballots in favor of the motion and 158 ballots opposed, according to a letter posted by Ortberg. Menlo Park determined that to keep its property and leave the denomination would cost $8.89 million, based on a summary for dismissal agreement.

[…continue reading at Religion News Service…]

But the Presbyterian name will stay with the congregation as it affiliates with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, making it the second 4,000-member sized church to do so.  A five page Rationale for Change gives reasons for both exiting the PCUSA and joining the ECO. The document does not directly address issues of sexuality and thereby makes clear that this is not the central issue. Menlo Park also operates satellite campuses using a video feed, a rarity in PCUSA churches. (A Canadian two-campus church, Connexus, is a former Presbyterian church now part of the North Point ministry family.) 

Prior to the vote, Ortberg led his congregation through a message titled “Immeasurably More” based on Ephesians 3: 20-21

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ortberg’s bio on Wikipedia notes:

Ortberg has published many books including the 2008 ECPA Christian Book Award winner When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, and the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award winner If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. Another of his publications, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, has sold more than 500,000 copies as of 2008…

…Ortberg earned his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College, and his M.Div. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

His latest book Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You releases April 22nd with Zondervan.

Menlo Park Presbyterian

Update: Christianity Today reported on this one day later with some helpful background links.

November 2, 2012

Skye Jethani: Multi-Site is Biblically Counter-Intuitive

This quotation is from the Phil Vischer podcast (episode 23) and occurs starting around the 32:00 mark, with this text around 35:00

If I’m going to go and sit in a room with a bunch of strangers and watch a screen anyway, why not just sit at home and watch the same thing and not have to deal with the parking headaches… Here’s the irony: In my mind: of all the religions out there, Christianity is the one for whom incarnation is absolutely essential. It’s the foundation of our faith; God became flesh and dwelt among us. That’s the incarnation. And now we are disincarnating the Church … the pastor’s just a projection of pixels on a screen, I don’t really know the people around me because it’s such a massive community that I’m just anonymous in it. And I think, frankly, that although these trends are happening… I don’t think it’s going to last…

Here’s the thing… I can come in as a guest speaker. I know a little bit about your community, a little bit about that congregation. I can say some things, I can drop some bombs, I can fly away. But when you are incarnate in that community, like this pastor [where I was last week] he’s telling me what’s going on in this church, people who are sick, families that are struggling, the nitty gritty of living life together in community and he knows these people… He takes that knowledge of his sheep into the pulpit with him as he crafts a sermon and studies the word of God, brings the reality of his congregation’s unique challenges and struggles together with the word of God. This is what you see Paul doing in Paul’s letters writing to specific churches. He’s combining the truths of the gospel with the reality of the church… The reason why God has given leaders to the church, shepherds in particular, is so that somebody on the ground is incarnate, who knows God’s sheep and can help them each with his word and the reality that they are experiencing individually and corporately in the body.

~Skye Jethani

April 25, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Heads I post this, tails I don't.

Welcome back to another edition.  Has it really been a week? And just eight more months to Christmas!

  • Our lead item this week is a look at the idea of presence in preaching, particularly as it applies to multi-site churches where the pastor’s sermon is on a giant screen. Carl Trueman makes his point well, and if you only click one link this week, make it this one.
  • Much sadness at the U.S. headquarters of the Voice of the Martyrs charity, following the death of the executive director, who it appears took his own life after allegations of molesting a young girl.
  • The sinking of the Titanic proved to be the basis of several sermons in the weeks that followed, 100 years ago. “By the time Titanic put to sea, this language had evolved into a boast — reportedly shared with passengers — that ‘God Himself couldn’t sink this ship.’ Thus, when the liner sank on April 15, 1912, preachers on both sides of the Atlantic were among the first commentators to raise their voices in judgment…”
  • Have you ever heard of someone stating a personal opinion about something, but trying to pass it off as Biblical? SFL got over 300 comments when they ask that question. Here’s an example: “One pastor I had… said that a podium or plastic stand was unbiblical. He said that Ezra used a pulpit of wood, and anything else was sin.”
  • Chances are that Easter and Holy Week looked a lot different at your church than it does in most of the 37 pictures from around the world at Boston.com’s The Big Picture. This is a crash course on the variations of Christianity. (Higher speed internet helps on this one.)
  • While away from his home in Canada, uber-blogger Tim Challies finds his U.S. hotel causes him to pass by an abortion clinic. Sample:  “… our society not only allows this to happen, but is actually complicit in this genocide.”
  • Not far from the Lincoln Tunnel in the middle of the part of New York City they call Hell’s Kitchen, Metro Baptist, with only 100 members, provides support to about 1,500 people annually.
  • Here’s a project we’re doing personallythat I will mention again in a week or two: We’re uploading some of the ‘lost’ songs in the history of contemporary Christian music so that more people can here them. Warning: It’s a very diverse collection.
  • You haven’t fully explored the religious sector of the internet until you’ve read a few entries from Sister Mary Martha.
  • Doug Wilson picks up the effeminate worship services issue, but Mike Morrell at InternetMonk finds the whole premise misguided.
  • Meanwhile, Perry Noble thinks there more pressing problems for The Church to deal with, four problems in particular.
  • Tony Jones explains why he agrees with the critics who panned Blue Like Jazz: The Movie…And then, if you want details, there’s this review.
  • Garfield without Garfield? Actually it’s the David Crowder Band without David Crowder. They call themselves The Digital Age. Here’s a rehearsal session of How Great Thou Art.
  • Darrell Vesterfelt guests at Nicole Cottrell’s blog on the relationship between sin and insecurity.
  • Left this out last week by accident, but enjoyed reading where Shauna Hybels Niequist — okay, I added the middle part of the name; she doesn’t — finally got to meet favorite author Anne Lamott.
  • When a Canadian Christian bookstore owner is also a YouTube user, sometimes enough is enough when it comes to the relentless message that “This video contains content from EMI, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.” Time to send a wake-up call.
  • Lisa McKay, whose husband works for a humanitarian org in Laos guests at Rachel Held Evans’ blog on her fears upon becoming a new mom.
  • In Tennessee, allowing holding hands and kissing could lead to sex, so a newly legislated curriculum refers to both as “gateway sexual activity.”
  • I thought the picture below adequately describes the weather the past week across North America, where we seem to get all four conditions coming and going in any 48 hour period…

July 11, 2011

Perry Noble Lays Down The Law

NewSpring Church pastor Perry Noble has declared that he’s had enough of people arriving to church late, criticizing the music, etc.  They also have a rule that if you have to leave the auditorium during the message you cannot re-enter.  And kids under 12 are not allowed in the service at all.  A little over-the-top authoritarian?  Here’s what FBC Jax Watchdog had to say:

It ain’t easy being a member these days at NewSpring Church pastored by Perry Noble – the rules, the regulations, the sheep beatings, the curses.

According to Perry Noble, you “officially suck as a human being” if you express to Perry that you are purposely late to church because you like his preaching but don’t care for the music style.

NewSpring members need to be careful that their church doesn’t begin to fall into the category of a cult. Cults often begin by having a very demanding, charismatic leader, they will require conformity with rigid extra-biblical rules, they will devalue outsiders and non-conformists, and they will suppress dissent.

You see all four of these beginning to emerge at NewSpring. Not saying they are a cult, but when the charismatic leader starts telling people that :

  • – they can’t come back into the auditorium after the sermon starts even if they leave to tend to a child or go to the bathroom;
  • – that you suck as a human being if you disagree with the pastor over music styles;
  • – you are not allowed to designate how your donations are spent;
  • – you must give 10% of your income to the church un-designated or God will curse you;
  • – parents cannot bring children younger than 12 years of age into the church services;
  • – you must show up to church on time or you can’t get into the church service;

…then you better begin to get concerned.

So I decided to check out the sermon video for myself.  Perry makes some good points.  People have become apathetic about arriving to church on time, while they would never think to be late for work, or a sports match.  And some people seem to have no problem about the people they are distracting when they sit near the front, need to leave, and then return.  As for the issue of kids, I agree with Perry that his sermons tend toward PG-13 content.

But some of it was very disturbing to listen to.  Is something else going on here?  Where is grace in all this?  Why give up an entire Sunday sermon to an apologetic for the church’s rules and regulations?  Let’s return to the FBC Jax Watchdog blog:

Lest you think that I’m overstating things by bringing up the word “cult” – don’t forget what happened to a critic of Perry Noble’s at the hands of staff members a few years back that is the subject of an on-going lawsuit. You see from the “you suck as a human being” quote how those who even mildly express dissent are devalued by the pastor. I would say it is this kind of rhetoric from the pastor towards dissenters that breeds the actions taken by a staff member against the Noble critic back in 2008 and 2009.

Perry Noble even tells the parents that if they don’t conform to the “authority” of the church leaders, they will breed rebelliousness in the hearts of their children . No, actually subjecting one’s self to non-biblical requirements for the pleasure of the pastor might teach your kids that they must endure spiritual abuse at the hands of an over-bearing preacher.

This is classic sheep beating. A pastor is to be the picture of humility and servant-hood for the people he shepherds, but instead Perry Noble is a stand-up comedian who makes jokes about troublesome church members, denigrates Christians who disagree with him, and lays down extra-biblical rules that are burdensome on people.Unfortunately in Perry Noble and other mega pastor superstars these days, we have professional religious men who have turned Christianity from its essence: the release of sinful men and women from the burden of having to try to please God with their works and their alms through simple faith in Christ – into a strict religious system that demands conformity to religious practices, tells people how they must think and what rules they must obey to be pleasing to God and their priest, and uses tactics of guilt and shame in the process. And, oh by the way, they get filthy rich while doing it.

I’m pretty sure that if Jesus were here, he would warn the people of NewSpring about the arrogant Perry Noble and his professional religious men and describe them as he did the Pharisees:

“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” (Mat 23:4)

June 29, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday list lynx

Christianity Today magazine has found that recent articles on worship resonate with people, and that’s reflected in the first two links this week:

  • People want services to be accessible, but D. H. Williams asks the question, ‘Are there limits to this strategy?’
  • Why did the church embrace the pop/rock style found in today’s modern worship, but not utilize jazz or big band in its day?  Lawrence Mumford looks at the diversity of worship styles.
  • And over at Relevant Magazine — which we’ll return to later here — Adam Wood reminds us that worship involves the participation of both leader and congregant.
  • Ever been stuck in a checkout line where the person in front of you seems to be buying out the whole store?  Pete Wilson was, and he was anxious to get on his way, until he suddenly saw the person ahead of him in a different perspective.
  • I understand a little of where John Shore is coming from.  He’s certainly sympathetic to people who are both gay and professing Christians. [Example]  But does he go too far in one direction?  The blogger known as The Son He Loves thinks so and calls him on it.
  • Castanea, a word meaning ‘Chestnut tree,’ is also the name of a tribal community living together in Chestnut Hill, Tenn, which serves in this USAToday story as an example of what is called The New Monasticism.
  • Dan Kimball writes about Francis Chan‘s Erasing Hell with words like these: “It comes from a heart that is broken about hell. The pages themselves almost weep it is so heartfelt written. I know that sounds kind of corny, but it is true. This is written from a broken heart on the topic and that makes all the difference.”
  • If you’ve got Adobe, here’s the link to the .pdf with the Committee on Bible Translation’s response to the Southern Baptist resolution regarding the updated NIV Bible translation.
  • Also lining up to take a shot at the new NIV — with the accompanying fifteen minutes of fame — is the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  You can read the .pdf containing the CBT’s response to the CBMW. This best addresses the so-called ‘gender issues’ in the new translation, though it won’t satisfy people who already have their minds made up.
  • Discovered a new blog this week for our “If You Want Deep, We’ll Give You Deep” department.  Check out this treatment of the subject of atonement.  (Full title: …Without the Theoretical Nonsense.)
  • With two potential Mormon Republican presidential candidates, not to mention a Broadway play, here’s ten things you may or may not know about the faith of your LDS friends.
  • And speaking of cults, Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like thinks that the proponents of the kind of faith he blogs about are actually a bit of a contradiction.
  • There’s a Christian Game Development Conference.  Who knew?  But never underestimate the popularity of computer gaming.  By the way, for bonus points, visit their site and try to find clues as to where the conference is taking place.
  • Yet another CT piece; this one on how in their zeal to expand, multi-site churches with satellite campuses are now crossing state lines
  • A Pew Forum survey shows that Evangelical leaders are less concerned about Islam and more concerned about creeping secularism.
  • Jon Acuff has four reasons why people ditch church in the summer.  (Reasons not really good enough.)
  • Finally one more from Jon Acuff and his article on Christian satire for Relevant magazine, where we find today’s closing image:

June 3, 2011

Elephant Room Conference: The DVD

If you missed the Woodstock music festival in 1969, you had to wait a full year for the movie; but just weeks after James MacDonald convened the Elephant Room one day seminar which was simulcast to two dozen cities, the DVD is already available for purchase, so we decided to jump in and bought one for ourselves and a couple of extras.

The phrase, “the elephant in the room” is used to denote the thing that is hovering over a discussion, but is never mentioned.   The idea here is that pastors have things they wrestle with that are discussed backstage when they meet up at major events, but are never shared with a larger audience.  The goal was to bring those subjects into open discussion.

The seven pastors were MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, Greg Laurie, Perry Noble, David Platt, Mark Chandler and Steven Furtick who was cast as a bit of a newcomer to this “big league” group.  Actually, Furtick came across very well, presenting some very timely insights into the subjects, and the very nature of the debates themselves.  Topics included:

  • Building numerically versus building depth
  • Responding to culture
  • Compassion and social justice
  • Unity and discernment
  • The multi-site church trend
  • Money issues
  • Loving the doctrine of the gospel but not sharing the gospel

An eighth session dealt with questions that had been texted in during the conference and was actually the most interesting in many ways. 

Over the past few years we’ve seen a growing interest in ecclesiology — the study of what constitutes ‘church’ —  among what would have been traditionally called “the laity.”  Books that would have formerly been written for the exclusive reading of pastors and church staff are now being purchased and discussed by the widest range of Evangelicals, many of whom are forging ahead with startups of home churches or alternative churches.  In a sense, the things the pastors discuss quietly backstage at conferences are being discussed in church lobbies, living rooms and over kitchen tables back home. This DVD set, and the topics it discusses are thereby of interest to everyone.

But it’s not the major takeaway from watching the seminar.

What is most striking is the camaraderie that exists between the pastors themselves.  While they do disagree on some minor points, there is a genuine agreement on the things that matter; what Driscoll well-defines as the difference between national borders (which wars are fought over) and state borders (for which wars are not fought.) 

There were some highlights and lowlights in the video.  One highlight was the overall production quality.  Another was the way they kept the discussion moving, with a moderator and two rotating key opponents followed by a more open forum that allowed the other four pastors to contribute.   Another highlight was seeing that with issues such as multi-site — so much on the minds of people as changes take place quickly — the pastors themselves do not undertake moves lightly, but truly agonize over the ramifications of growth.   A lowlight — and it really has to be said — is the way James MacDonald dominates every discussion, rolling over everyone else like a freight train at times.  I guess it was his party, so he got to call the tune.

I do love the concept, however.  This was a great series of conversations and I would hope that either MacDonald’s crew, or somebody else, would put something like this together this time next year, perhaps with a different mix of pastors and church leaders.  Rather than attempting to describe it further, you can watch a few sample clips here and here

What we call church really matters, and you don’t have to be among the ‘professional’ clergy to care.


Read another review of the conference here.

Link here to an index Trevin Wax provided of participants who live-blogged the event.

April 6, 2011

Wednesday Link List

I want to do something different this week and begin with a link to a page that contains about a dozen other links.  Last week seven influential pastors gathered together to discuss “the elephant in the room” — several of them actually — at the appropriately titled Elephant Room Conference. Trevin Wax does a subject-by-subject set of links to two other bloggers, Canada’s Chris Vacher and Arizona’s Jake Johnson.  It’s not full transcripts, just what you’d expect to post yourself if you were listening with two ears and typing with two fingers (or thumbs).

The Elephant Room subjects and speakers were:

  • Session 1: Preaching to Build the Attendance vs. Preaching to Build the Attendees
    – Matt Chandler & Steven Furtick
  • Session 2: Culture in the Church vs. Church in the Culture
    – Mark Driscoll & Perry Noble
  • Session 3: Compassion Amplifies the Gospel vs. Compassion Distorts the Gospel
    – Greg Laurie & David Platt
  • Session 4: Unity: Can’t We All Get Along? vs. Discernment: My Way or the Highway
    – Steven Furtick & James MacDonald
  • Session 5: Multi-Site: Personality Cult vs. God’s Greater Glory
    – Perry Noble & Matt Chandler
  • Session 6: Money?
    David Platt & James MacDonald
  • Session 7: Love the Gospel vs. Share the Gospel
    – Greg Laurie & Mark Driscoll

…I know, I know; now you’re curious.  There are a lot of interesting quotations from this one-day conference, which originated at one of the Harvest Bible Chapel locations and was simulcast to 15 U.S. and one Canadian location.  So here again is the magic link.  Also, Zach posted a video clip from the conference yesterday.

And now here’s the rest of this week’s blog connectivity:

  • Yesterday marks one year since the passing of Internet Monk founder Michael Spencer.  His wife Denise shares Michael’s approach to adventure.
  • Tony Campolo suggests to Huffington’s readers that there’s other dynamics at play in the saga that might be called, “The Rise and Fall of the Crystal Cathedral;” dynamics owing to the changing ethnic demographics of Garden Grove, California.
  • Here’s a special link to the first chapter of former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson’s book Unplannedfile opens as .pdf .
  • If your first name is Tim and your second name begins with Ch—, chances are you have a new book about pornography.  First it was Tim Challies, and now Tim Chester.
  • Summer is coming!  If you want to get dirty on the streets of Philadelphia with Shane Claiborne’s Simple Way community, here’s how you connect to attend events.
  • Donald Miller buys a copy of Love Wins online and offers a straight-forward and concise review.
  • For all you worship leaders out there:  Here’s how to tell if you’re a classical music nerd.
  • This one’s from 2007, but our YouTube link this week asks the musical question, “What if Worship was Like an NBA Game?
  • From the blog, Small Steps to Glory, here’s a look at a modern day Goliath (well the height part anyway) which gives some perspective to the “David And” story.
  • At Arthur Sido’s blog this week, I discovered this trailer for an upcoming documentary on the education system, Indoctrination.
  • For all you techies out there, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to broadcast your church services on the internet.
  • 130 Churches in Calgary, Alberta, Canada are coming together to raise $1.5M to reduce the mortgage on a transitional housing facility established in 2009.
  • Proverbs 3 promises us, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid;when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” So then what about those of us who simply don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Ryan rumbles through a topic that I totally identify with.
  • If you find the links I run to religion stories at CNN and USAToday a little too American for you and you’d like to explore stories from the broader world of spiritual interest, here’s the link to the religion page of Reuters News Service.
  • send your own link suggestions by 8:00 PM EST on Monday.
  • Today’s picture:  Songwriter Mandy Thompson cures writer’s block by going analog:

  • I’ve always had a huge interest in the spiritual themes that turn up in the comic pages of the daily newspaper.  Comic writers can say things in ways others cannot.  I’ve used Dennis the Menace — now drawn by Marcus Hamilton — here a few times, with the result that one of the panels now hangs in my office.  Here’s another kids-eye-view of God as only Dennis can see it:

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