Thinking Out Loud

July 28, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Quite honestly, I don’t know of another Christian blog that contains as many blogroll links as this one.

There’s a rule in Christian blogging that goes something like, “By their links ye shall know them.”   If you tried to evaluate this blog on that basis you’d be really confused.

Out of about 300 or so that I visit weekly, the ones that are posted here — some regularly and a few that rotate on and off — represent a rather eclectic mix of ages, geographical locations, readership size and doctrinal preferences. (Can you find the Quaker blog in the list?)

Some of them I endorse wholeheartedly, while others contain elements which are a source of potential embarrassment.   If they seem to drift too far from their original focus, I pull them from the list, but there are those who find their way back as well.   Some are dropped because they just don’t post often enough.

One thing I want to do more of in future involves finding blogs which are either just starting out, or have never attracted strong numbers and include them in the blogroll or the Wednesday Link List.   If you have a Christianity-focused blog you’d like to promote; this is a great week to put your link in the comments section.  If you are an e-mail subscriber, here’s the list you don’t usually get to see on the blog.

Regular links return next week.

Oh, Oh, The Places You’ll Go

ADDED THIS WEEK:  Devotional blog 300 Words a Day.

VIDEO LINK OF THE WEEK:  Reflections on the Ground Zero Mosque uploaded two months ago by Acts 17 Apologetics.  A rather amazing thesis, worth the 7 minutes.

“… BUT I FEEL SO RIPPED OFF, CAN’T YOU COME UP WITH A SINGLE NEW LINK?”  Okay, but there’s a lot of reading here.   Josh at the blog Enoch Route compares the notion of  “the sinner’s prayer” to a prayer that you pray before becoming a Muslim.

February 18, 2010

Christian Radio in Crisis

The names and faces are familiar as are the names of the various radio programs:

  • Insight for Living – Chuck Swindoll
  • Turning Point – David Jeremiah
  • Thru The Bible – J. Vernon McGee
  • Back to the Bible – Woodrow Kroll
  • In Touch – Charles Stanley
  • Grace to You – John MacArthur
  • Love Worth Finding – Adrian Rogers
  • Haven Today – Charles Morris
  • Let My People Think – Ravi Zacharias
  • Bible Answer Man – Hank Hanegraaff

Notice anything?   No, I mean besides the fact they’re all male.   (And all American.)  This is in every sense of the word, an “old boys network.”   Chip Ingram may still look young in his publicity shots, and James MacDonald may open with a cool David Crowder theme song, but exceptions aside, Christian radio is playing host to an older generation of radio preachers, which isn’t the generation they need to attract if the medium is to survive.

You may wish to suggest that maybe it’s just time for the medium to die off.   After all, look what YouTube has done to the hours people formerly spent watching broadcast, cable and satellite television.   The 42″ screen has unexpectedly lost ground to the 17″ monitor.    The plasma screen may be high definition, but the next generation would rather program their own visual channels, even if the images are jumpy, grainy or pixelating.

But is there an opportunity being lost?   Last time I checked, cars still come with FM radios.   It’s still the medium of choice if you’re caught in a traffic tie-up looking for an alternative route.   It’s still what you’ve got if the iPod battery fails or one of the earbuds isn’t working.   And it’s weather forecasts are still reasonably up-to-date and free-of-charge.

No, the problem isn’t with radio itself.  The problem is that a new generation of pastors doesn’t want to fuss with purchasing airtime and building that kind of media ministry.   Keeping the multi-site satellite link working weekly is enough technical challenge for one week.   The demographic they see on Sunday morning grew up with time shifting anyway.   They can PVR their favorite program and view it anytime; so they don’t need some guy on radio telling them, “Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow at 6:00 PM…”

I’ve never understood why an audio cassette version of the VCR never happened, but then I’ve never understood why for years, push-buttons allowed people to find AM and FM stations with pinpoint accuracy in their cars, while at home they had to slide a “dial” back and forth.   Even today, some digital tuners still offer frustrations unknown to driving with preset stations.

Furthermore, today’s younger pastors don’t want to start a branch of their ministry that might start bleeding red ink, which might lead to the type of on-air begging that has tainted the Christian radio medium.

No, radio just isn’t at the forefront for a new generation of Christians.   They know more about Francis Chan than Francis Shaeffer; they prefer Andy Stanley to Charles Stanley.    They download Rob Bell, discuss Greg Boyd’s take on the Gospel of Luke,  and work out to the latest Craig Groeschel sermon from Lifechurch.   They discuss the latest interview available at Drew Marshall’s website, debate the latest pronouncement from Mark Driscoll, and tell their friends about Pete Wilson’s sermon download page.

None of this is lost on Christian radio ministries.   Weekly podcasts from Focus on the Family, Greg Laurie and even John Piper rank among the top ten each week.   They’ve taken their content and propelled it forward into the new media.

Which brings us to the point of all this.   The proprietors of the new media need to make their content backward compatible.   All of this great, next-generation communication of the Good News, and so very little of it being heard over traditional broadcast frequencies.

Some visionary person needs to create a radio outlet for the vast number of sermon podcasts being created each week by younger leaders in a new era of multi-site, emerging, missional, or just plain newly-planted churches.   It’s time the computer-less, broadband-less, or those simply out-of-the-loop got to hear what some of us are already enjoying.    And personally, I think an older generation of Christ-followers would appreciate having some fresh new voices at the table.

The content is already recorded.    The radio stations already exist.   Let’s introduce the two to each other.   Before it’s too late for Christian radio.

Related post on this blog — A fictional story about Pastor Boone, who gets offered some free radio time and instead of just putting his church service on the radio…

Related post on this blog — My proposal to make Worship Network’s Sunday Setlists into a weekly Christian radio show.

Related post on this blog — This  links to a USAToday Religion story on how Christian radio is dealing with the new economic realities, attracting younger listeners, and keeping donations coming.

Related post at The Church Report — James Dobson and son Ryan Dobson are teaming up to launch a new radio ministry.

Appendix — Arbitron Podcast demographics worth knowing — and these go back to 2006! —

November 7, 2009

Vote for Your Favorite Podcasts or Sermon Downloads

question-markSo who do you download?  Burn discs by?  Create MP3 files for?  Or simply have streaming audio playing while you’re working at your computer?

This is your opportunity to tell the world all about your favorite sermon audio source.  You can vote for popular speakers and pastors, but I’m also hoping you’ll help me discover some obscure ones I don’t know about.

I’m looking for:

  • The communications style and edginess of Rob Bell
  • The relevance and application to current situations of Andy Stanley
  • The historical and contextual information of Bruxy Cavey
  • The penetrating thought processes of Greg Boyd

I’m also looking for:

  • Good quality audio, straight forward downloading
  • Non-extremist, middle-ground Evangelical theology
  • Something that hits me where I live
  • Consistent fresh material available each month
  • Life changing teaching from someone who under 40 who has 50 years of pastoral experience.    Just kidding about the last one.

But like I said, you can simply vote for your personal favorites.

In the comment section below, right.     Go!

July 28, 2009

The Rain, The Park, and Other Things

Bruxy Cavey on “Soul Sisters”

4-week sermon audio on the Book of Ruth available for download.

bruxyBruxy Cavey may be a name unfamiliar to my mostly U.S. readers, unless you’ve happened upon his book The End of Religion (NavPress).   He is the teaching pastor of The Meeting House, Canada’s fastest growing “church movement,” and one of the few multi-site churches here, with nine locations.  The church is based on Oakville, Ontario.

When your wife has the same name as one of the books of the Bible, you pay closer attention to those sermons, so I thought I’d heard it all before when it comes to this short, OT book.   But Bruxy has a unique way of bringing classic stories to life.   This series, which will carry on with other OT and NT personalities, is aided by the fact that Bruxy lives in house full of women.   So he’s preaching to his own daughters as well as to everyone else.

We usually download the audio.   Each TMH sermon begins with a video clip and unfortunately there isn’t descriptive audio; you’ll have to just jump in with everyone else.   But if Bruxy is a new commodity for you, you might want to try your first sermon on the recently-added video download option.  You may be surprised!   Simply go their website, and then click on teaching, and then click on the Soul Sisters series.

And if you have friends who haven’t crossed the line of faith and they’re looking for something that challenges the intellect, consider The End of Religion.

Buffer Zone

Here are some lines from a song I wrote awhile back:

I used to have a job

Just half a block away

There was no separation

Between my work and pay

But now my new workspace

Is in a different place.

Though it is not that far

I have to take the car.

Yes, I know the rhyme scheme changes in the second verse, and I’ve lost the rest of the lyrics; but the point is that when I wrote this, while sometimes I get really tired of living in one community and working in another (especially when the gas/petrol prices are high) I really appreciate having a “buffer zone” between the two life components.

Buffer zones can happen in a variety of circumstances, which bring us to today’s question:  What would you think about your pastor living next door to you?   Too close for comfort?   Would you have to change anything?   How would the pastor feel about it?   What stories can you tell us about times where — in the words of Seinfeld‘s George Costanza character — your “worlds were colliding;” i.e. your boss, your kid’s teacher, or the chairman of the church board lived either next door or across the street?

Mankind Toons

Here’s a new cartoon making its debut at this blog.

Mankind Toons is drawn by Ben Bateman.   He’s got some good stuff, and choosing one for today wasn’t easy.   You can see more at   BTW, a lot of these comic creators really make us think, but they rely on contributions to do what they do… so, if you enjoy what you see, click on the site and make a donation.   Tell ’em we sent ya.

Mankind Tunes - Monkey Evolution

January 13, 2009

Buried Treasure: Short and Free Tim Keller Downloads

timothy-kellerWith some of the sermons at the Redeemer store being quite expensive compared with other churches offering sermons online, I was happy to stumble over these shorter clips from Redeemer with Timothy Keller answering some key questions in a Q&A format.   There’s a healthy mix of apologetics and ‘issue’ stuff.

Start streaming or downloading the Q&A session here.   If you haven’t read The Reason for God or The Prodigal God yet, maybe this will whet your appetite.

Suggestion:  Start with the first couple on Genesis 1 and 2, and then skip around…I’m listening to the one on the doctrine of election as a I type this.  (Don’t feel you need to agree with everything; but give him grace; these were time-pressed answers.)

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