Thinking Out Loud

October 14, 2014

Preaching That Shakes Things Up

Filed under: Church, ministry — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:14 am
“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed, what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties do not light up the world they live in. They don’t have Peter’s courage, who told that crowd where the bloodstained hands still were that had killed Christ: ‘You killed him!’ Even though the charge could cost him his life as well, he made it. The gospel is courageous; its the good news of him who came to take away the world’s sins.”

~Archbishop Oscar Romero – 1978 I

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February 27, 2012

Living the Red Letters

Before beginning a review of the actual content of this six-session, small group DVD by Tony Campolo, I need to take a paragraph or two to wave the flag, for this is a homegrown production.

In the Canadian Christian bookstore environment, about 90% of everything of everything on offer is U.S. produced. True, Canada is the point of origin for a number of Christian music artists; and a number of top Christian authors have a Canadian birth certificate; but many of these products turn up on the label or imprint of U.S. record labels and publishers. Material produced for domestic consumption is rather rare, though The Word Guild is always reminding me that we do have quite a few talented people who haven’t made the leap to the American market. Yet.

But a DVD curriculum? There have been a few, but nothing that takes on the production and packaging ambitions of The Red Letters featuring “progressive” Christian Democrat and social activist Tony Campolo, with Colin McCartney of UrbanPromise Toronto playing the role of interviewer.  That Tony’s blog is called Red Letter Christians and Colin’s book is titled Red Letter Revolution makes these two a natural pairing.

The six sessions deal with: What it means to be a red-letter Christian; consumerism and materialism; compassion, especially as it applies to three hot button issues — homosexuality, poverty and the environment; religion and politics; personal spiritual discipline and prayer; and the Christian life as a joy-filled life.

The DVD clips run between 8 and 17 minutes. Our normal family Bible study doesn’t use prescribed questions, and so this was somewhat foreign, but we used the small group guide and went through the five sets of questions for each episode. At first I tended to approach each set as a single question, but soon realized you could take hours to properly consider each discussion subject.

The DVD was a multi-camera production filmed at Toronto’s Church of the Redeemer whose auditorium and chancel actually serve as background. Knowing this was produced primarily for the Canadian market — though available in the U.S. on A-zon — I was significantly impressed with the camera cuts and editing.

Colin McCartney is extremely relaxed as an interviewer and Tony is… well… he is, as always, uniquely Tony Campolo. If he can’t get your small group going on some of these subjects, then nobody can. There is no denying his personal conviction that to claim to be a Christian is to make living out the red letters part of daily life.

The Red Letters DVD curriculum was produced by World Vision Canada and Colin’s organization UrbanPromise Toronto. A review copy was provided to Thinking Out Loud by Graf-Martin, a Canadian based agency providing enhanced marketing support to Christian authors and publishers,who are also rolling up their sleeves on this one to facilitate distribution to Christian bookstores in Canada.

This is a product I can recommend with confidence, and on a personal note, if you live nearby, I’d be more than happy to walk your small group through all six weeks of this excellent series. If it’s a weeknight meeting, I prefer decaf. Here’s a short preview:

March 30, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Here we link again…

  • Topping the link list this week is my other blog, Christianity 201, which celebrates its first anniversary on Friday.
  • As the above picture indicates, The Book of Mormon, the book, is now The Book of Mormon the broadway play.  Even LDS leaders admit that the founding of their religion is a somewhat colorful story. (I think the guy in the forefront was working my street last week…)
  • The book Radical by David Platt was a big seller this summer, with some themes in common with Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. Here’s a link to the free download of the preview chapter for the forthcoming sequel, Radical Together.
  • Only six percent of Christian couples pray together?  Pete Wilson lays that statistic out as the basis for a seven day challenge to his congregation.
  • A related item:  Canadian Dave Carrol — a confirmed ‘scrapper’ —  talks about learning the art of ridiculous love.
  • Another Canadian, former Cambridge Vineyard pastor Robert Hall died suddenly in a construction accident on the mission field in Zambia.  He leaves behind three young children and his wife Kate who is the daughter of Canadian broadcaster Jim Cantelon and his wife Kathy.
  • A final Canadian story: Linda Bond was elected — on the first ballot — as head of the Salvation Army International; the fourth time in 150 years that a Canadian has held the post, and the third time the denomination has elected a woman.
  • In light of the latest teapot tempest over ‘that’ book, Rachel Held Evans considers The Future of Evangelicalism.
  • Dean Lusk finds some of those really old Bible translations, like the NLT, in need of an update in this more contemporary paraphrase of Romans 2.
  • The Maccabeats are back.  This time the theme is the Feast of Purim, aka the story of Esther, like you’ve never heard it before.  (Actually we’re about ten days late, Purim was March 20th this year.)
  • And while we’re YouTube linking, Darrell from Stuff Fundies Like explains the fundamentalist aversion to playing cards.
  • At the blog Biblical Preaching, a look at the problem of preaching moralism.
  • With Good Friday and Easter Sunday inching closer, I want to share a site with you that is very useful if you lead worship or prepare the quotations that often appear on-screen during weekend services.  Here’s what Daily Christian Quote offers for Good Friday.
  • Dave at a new blog, Armchair Theology is running a series of Bible misunderstandings under the title, Calling God Fool.  Click to link to the blog and then scroll into the middle of March posts.

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