A little blog from an upstart theologian that will do its best to exemplify Christ while sharing a thing or two along the way.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Congrats to the Memphis Declarers
We have for years needed a resolution expressing out heartfelt expression of repetance for actions within our beloved Southern Baptist Convention. Meeting over Monday and Tuesday of this last week a group of fine Baptist leaders have drawn together just that. The Memphis Declaration (as available from Art Rogers' blog) if a fine read and, I believe, a God glorifying expression of repetance and hope for a new era of cooperation and Kingdom growth in the SBC.
It is good to read Wade Burleson's comments on his blog that reflected the movement of the Spirit of God in this meeting. We need humbled, God given leadership in every one of our churches and church agencies. May God's blessings continue to flow out of this declaration and we see a revival of humbled, broken Kingdom work put forth in our blessed convention.
Have a wonderful National Day of Prayer! posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:45 AM
Thursday, April 27, 2006
On the Immigration Issue
Apologies to interrupt my Evangelical Vision for the Emergent Church posts but I feel compelled to post something about this issue. I believe the evangelical church, my home denomination in particular, has no position to assert any kind of political capital on this issue.
The immigration should be considered a purely political matter that has no room in our churches for condemnation or comment. To do so turns our pulpits and pews into a political action campaign which Christ never intended our churches to become. We are to be "salt and light" to our world and not political pontificators seeking an edge into every scenario playing itself out in our political town square.
These immigrants, regardless of their status, should welcomed into our churches and given a cup of cold water and our clothes if necessary while sharing Christ's love with them. We should offer no condemnation to their cause, no promulgation of their activities, but only a place of solace and restoration where they can find the love of Christ expressed for their souls. Teach them the Gospel, live out the Gospel, and win them with the Gospel.
There is no room in our churches or denominations for political posturing of any kind on this issue. We should simply voice our opinions outside the realm of the church if it our course, but never use Christ's Bride to win political points in our culture.
God bless...may His light lead us to a higher walk posted by Preachin Jesus | 9:40 PM
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Authentiquity: Reforming the consumer mentality by not adding to it
Let me begin by restating a major point from above: the Established Church in North America (even the world) absolutely needs the Emerging/ent Church. I wish to restate this often, not only do I believe to be true, because I wish to convey my deepest belief that there are good things going on within the EC while there are some questionable things going on. I believe we are at a critical moment in the life of the Evangelical Church in America, or the western world, where must begin to determine if our aspirations are for building God’s Kingdom or building men’s kingdoms. Too much of what goes on at many IC churches is bland religiousity and personal pastoral pride over legitimate Kingdom building ministry…of course I give pause to remember that there are many good IC churches out there. We in the IC need the vision and passion of the EC and their desire for authenticity if we intend to grow and be fruitful for the Kingdom.
We have the consumerist mindset down in the IC. I can sit down and lay out a great marketing plan for at least three IC church structures that will almost guarantee a 1,000+ congregation in a couple of years. Granted there will be a marked departure from, in my view, biblical reason…but we have mastered the ability to draw large crowds. One thing the EC objects to about the IC is the rampant consumerism present in her congregations and public message. I believe this to be an accurate critique. Nearly every preacher boy coming out of our seminaries has been told that in order to be successful in ministry you need: a) a big church, b) a big budget, c) a big book, d) a big television ministry. Now certainly this is not a message coming from the leaders of our seminaries, rather it is bred in the cultures of many of the church and conferences they are attending as they get that pricey education. While there are some aspects to making your church more appealing to the lost and dechurched of this world, no one should deny the excesses. We have encountered the modern day Johann Tetzel and welcomed him into too many of our congregations in the IC. He sits among us and makes us mindful of his presence as we acquiesce to his “newer” indulgences. How many times have slick marketers come along and transformed a growing ministry from its biblically authentic roots into a money machine to line their own pockets? These are some of the most blatant excesses the EC is addressing in the IC…yet they do so with a 2x4 lodged in their own eye.
The day I knew the EC was probably never going to grow beyond a movement (like the Purpose Driven or Willowback movements) was the day when I wandered through a Christian bookstore (again, I acknowledge there is no such thing as a “Christian” bookstore…but only a bookstore promoting a decidedly Christian catalog) and saw a leader in the EC who had his latest two books placed in video format for us in a small group Bible study…even though that leader had been quoted as saying the Bible isn’t that awfully useful in the previous months. The original impetus behind the propagation of EC literature was to use the media as a sounding board and way to get the message beyond Mars Hill (if you will allow an illusion.) The EC was wise, imho, to publish a number of profound works to bring attention to the growing excesses within the IC, particularly the evangelical side of things. They got their message out and Christendom was made aware of their presence and positions (well more of the former than the latter.)
Then it seems that some in the EC have begun to take their writings and use of the media to the next level where they are going beyond just pointing out problems and began to pontificate about their model(s) and how their knowledge of the problems. Unfortunately there has not much in the way of solutions to come from the EC in addressing the excesses and perceived problems in the IC. While the EC has been great to offer its critique of everything in the IC from homiletical style to carpet choices, the offerings of effective solutions have been limited at best. As the EC stands now it is coming to a place where the established media outlets are willing to out their biting critiques, which they know the masses will buy, yet there is the need for answers and solutions to the critiques. The EC is obligated to provide these answers and solutions, and for them to grow outside of a movement they must provide them.
The Reformation grew beyond just a movement status for several reasons. Clearly the Reformers were passionate about their cause and believed it was God centered task, God ordained task. Also, the Reformers were able to clearly elucidate the excesses and problems with the Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, they were able to, because of recent developments of technology, able to propagate their message and distribute it quickly to the masses with a great level of precision. Notice all of these are in line with what the EC has been able to do. Yet, the one thing that was part and parcel with the Reformers’ tasks was a concurrent ability to offer cogent, biblically based solutions for their critiques. The Reformers realized for the message to be authentic and coherent they had to offer rational solutions to the problems. This is something that the EC has not done. The Reformers moved beyond the excesses of their day and did not contribute to the system. They Reformed the system, but did not further corrupt the system.
If the EC is to move beyond the movement stage and into a more established reply to their perceived issues in the IC they must begin to detach from the mindless, and mind numbing, obsession to feed the giant media beast with volumes of criticisms and begin producing peaceable solutions that are rooted in a biblical response. posted by Preachin Jesus | 2:19 PM
Friday, March 31, 2006
Inchurnational: Embracing sound theological beliefs
In examining the EC in North American ecclesial culture today there is one authentic conclusion that we must arrive at: the Established Church in North America (even the world) absolutely needs the Emerging/ent Church. A proposition such as this is risky and will certainly raise the eyebrows of the ensconced leadership of the IC, but this statement is simply too obvious as one looks at the state of the IC in North America and the world.
Why does the IC need the EC? Quite frankly Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” gives us that answer in part. Another reason is that we in the IC need a check and balance…if you will permit me a pagan illustration, a yin to our yang. One of the things that I deeply respect and love about my Christian brethren in the EC is their passion for a pure and authentic church. Many reform and recalibration movements in life and in the Church have founded themselves upon such a passion and vision. There is something refreshing and renewing about hearing the thoughts and God-given visions for a reclamation of authentic spirituality from my dear friends in the EC. As I examine the EC and have conversations with many of my friends in the IC it is apparent that many of the thoughts and goals of the EC leaders are having a positive effect on leaders in the IC, forcing them to rethink Church as usual. This is good. This is healthy. If we are to embrace the spirit of the Reformation found in the phrase Always Reforming (sempre Reforma…forgive me if my Latin is a bit off) than we need the check and balance of the EC. We need these younger evangelical leaders to smack us across the face and say “Dude, that is so 1950s” or “Why do we do that again?” and “How is that bringing people into the Kingdom?” We need the petulance of the youthful passion to counter our traditional ways of doing business/church as usual.
That said, if the EC is to continue to be a good check and balance to the IC it is imperative that the EC begin to critically assess the theological positions its leaders are taking. Doctrinal purity is the root of effective evangelistic efforts within any body. While the EC calls on us to be incarnational in our living (that is pursuing Christ’s mind and image as we live and breath) it also seems to be doubting the very doctrine that it names as a foundational tenet for its/our existence. Far too many leaders in the EC are not thinking outside the box theologically/doctrinally when it comes to major areas of doctrine outside of their ecclesiology. Rather it is far too obvious that the EC leaders are simply embracing remnants of theological liberalism and past heresies of the faith in order to attempt to gain a foothold with the disenfranchised (dechurched) former parishioners out there. They are laying hold of particularly Modern, mainline theological tenets to attempt to refute the overwhelming coherent evangelical theological corpus. In their incredulity the leaders of the EC have abandoned a more progressive (as they would call it…postmodern) approach in holding doctrine only to slink back to sublime false teachings that are rooted in Cartesian Modernism.
In their attempt to question the foundations of rout religiosity apparent in too many of our churches today they have claimed the ecclesial high ground in their local gatherings and now have begun to reexamine, to deconstruct, the very tenets of doctrine and theology which we live by in our gatherings. There is no reason to question the Virgin Birth of Christ, the Incarnation, the Trinity, and other such foundational doctrines for the sake of “reexamining” things. In doing so these leaders dump hot coals of conflict into the already tumultuous relationship between the hardliners in the IC and the innovators in the EC. While we can have some variances in theological and doctrinal positions there must come a point where we agree on some essentials as foundational for belief and being worthy of the moniker “Christian.” Yet some within the leadership of the EC seem content only to deconstruct every possible tenet of evangelical belief to replace it with some age old liberal/mainline position that is contrary to the teachings of God’s Word.
In particular the doctrine of the exclusivity of Christ has been placed under direct assault by the EC leadership as they are positioning themselves not in a new or uncharted theological camp, but rather in age old false teachings over the nature and conditions of salvation. With some leaders referring to salvation as “opt-out only” they are negating clear Scriptural teaching concerning the condemned nature of mankind from birth (John 3:16-21; Roms 3:21-26; 5:8-12; 6:20-23; Gal 3:22.) While some still suggest it is through Christ that the world has its sins atoned for, it is not through belief in Christ that one is able to enjoy in that divine gift of salvation. This is just an example of problematic doctrinal teaching within the EC leadership. If the nature and means of the central tenet of Christianity, that is salvation, is under attack and “revision” by the leadership how can the EC expect a reasonable hearing from the IC that it so desperately wants to rescue from the supposed fires of destruction.
A primary issue is that in order to get the thoughts of the collective EC out on the table, many of the leadership feel an obligation to present papers and texts which deal with central matters of faith controversially so they might engender a wider reading because of the publicity (this will be addressed later on at length.) Others are suggesting that they have to ask penetrating questions of the faith of our fathers in order to get the loyal evangelicals in our pews and chairs to examine their own belief systems. Some other leaders attempt to discount their role as theological/ecclesial leaders by remarking they are not educated enough or the positions they are pushing should not engender controversy…even though they write with a high degree of authority knowing their texts are widely read and circulated. This is akin to Charles Barkley saying “I’m not a role model” knowing well and good that kids are always looking up to their hero athletes. These are hero-pastor/teachers of the EC giving instruction in doctrine and theology, sometimes in a position of arrogance and condescension for the faithful teachings of the IC, and with that role of leadership comes the role of responsibility.
If the EC wishes to continue on its quest of bringing authenticity and purity of spirit to the Church at large it must first get its theological baggage in order and check it over hard. While they are clearly not content to just change the ecclesiological tenets of our faith, the leadership in the EC must endeavor to pursue sound doctrine and teaching (2 Tim 2:14-16; 4:1-5.) If any in the leadership are lacking in the academic realm for formal theological training (while that is certainly not a condition of leadership…just a rationalized ideal) let them get that training one way or another. There is a line of leaders in the IC which stretches from the altar of confrontation back through doors of discontent in this mighty chapel of ecclesial communion. All who are willing, ready, and able to soundly defeat the passion and vision of the EC as a whole if her leaders are not willing to get their theological baggage in check.
Christianity at its base is theological. The life of a Christian is a delicate balance of faith and reason. With a shuddering base of belief how will the house of cards that is the EC continue to exist? If the leadership of the EC seeks only to line their pockets with the monies of controversy where will the faithful followers end up? If the motives of the leadership of the EC are just to rediscover theological error and not truly bring about a purer and more authentic church, why bother?
Christ calls us to something greater, a greater belief, a greater faithfulness than to simply point out everything problem and past discarded false teachings. The Gnostic Gospels were left behind because they misrepresent Christ not because the author was blackballed. We must trust the intentions of our fathers and the faithfulness of God to maintain sound doctrine in His Church through the ages.
The Established Church needs the Emerging/ent Church. We need them to be incarnational in their living and sound churchmen in their polity. We need them to go beyond the discarded tenets of old and look forward to future with hope and pure vision. If they fail…they will simply pass into the category of fad or movement and be a footnote in God’s Story of His faithfulness to the nations. posted by Preachin Jesus | 2:32 PM
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
An Evangelical Vision for the Emerging Church
As we head bravely into the new millennium there have been a wide variety of changes and shifts within our societies locally to globally. The advent of the information age has moved from possibility to reality allowing more interaction and connectedness than ever before. The continued polarization of the American political landscape has begun to divide our country along party lines. With the AIDS crisis in Africa looming as a more pressing threat for global humanitarian organizations, coupled with increasing politically stability throughout that (and other continents) there have been so many pressing concerns that even our venerable 24 hour news channels have not been able to keep up.
For we Christian Evangelicals we have found ourselves looking past the impending Y2K threat, and prophesied global extinction (which might or might not have ushered in the Second Coming of Christ) and towards the future of a supposed post-Christian environment globally. In an attempt to answer to a supposedly post-Christian climate some Christian Evangelicals, and mainline Christians, have begun to start churches with an ear and attitude towards answering or accommodating this climate. While many terms have abounded to describe this phenomenon, recently the term “Emerging Church” has classified the movement more formally. Of course with any new movement, whether positive, negative, or neutral in its affects/attitudes towards the Established Church there is a storm of controversy and contention around the things of that movement. A wall of conversation has descended over the entire Emerging/ent Church topic with a cacophony of voices seeking their place for understanding and being understood.
It is no small truth that the Emerging/ent Church has engendered enough of a conversation over its tenets and propositions that it has created a unique sub-culture within the Church and culture. With a growing awareness of and accessibility to Emerging/ent Church gatherings more and more evangelicals are discovering this movement. With this growth many of the leaders within the Emerging/ent Church have sought out the literary market and used the electronic means to promulgate their message throughout society. Many of the leaders of the Emerging/ent Church began with simple texts and statements which were largely ignored by the mainstream evangelical press, but through the seedbed of discontented younger Christians the message began to grow. In truth the first book about the Emering/ent Church I read was Leonard Sweet’s Postmodern Pilgrims which introduced me to some of the concepts behind the changing tides of ecclesiology in North America. Now, five to ten years later, the Emerging/ent Church has their own publishing arms and have begun to produce texts which seek to better postulate their positions on the nature of the Church, the nature of society, the nature of their beliefs, and the nature of the opportunities available to Christianity. Of course the ubiquitous term of Emerging/ent Church carries with it the incredulity towards definitions. Talking with different people from different clans of the Emerging/ent Church brings out different definitions...most of which are at war with each other. Wikipedia has given some space to this ecclesial manifestation by suggesting it seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christianity as its mainly Western members live in a postmodern culture. Moreso, I suggest the Emerging/ent Church is a collaboration of younger dechurched thinkers who seek to reconstruct the very essence of church from its supposedly sordid past into a vibrant fellowship earmarked by authenticity and vunerability. Perhaps nothing is more clear in this movement it is that most of the Emerging/ent Church folk are:
They have been heard and the evangelical arm of the Church has begun to respond. Of course I need not get into the history or analysis of the contemporary issues confronting all involved, others are doing this far better than I could hope. Rather it is my thought offer an evangelical vision for the Emerging/ent Church for the next five to ten (twenty?) years in light of the recent events. Over the next several posts I will assert that there are several key factors for the Emerging/ent Church to embrace if they ever plan on going from a simply movement or sub-culture of Christianity to a place of substantive contribution to the Church as a whole. As the Emerging/ent Church enters into a second stage of awareness it enters a time critical to its continued existence and viability. Of the particular points that I will be entering into over the next several posts:
The posts which preceed from this point are my observations after interacting with and conversing with those in the Emering/ent Church for six plus years. Also, that hereafter for my sanity's sake I will refer to the Emerging/ent Church as the EC and the Established Church as the IC. posted by Preachin Jesus | 2:32 PM
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Atheist blogging on church
Some might have heard about an atheist, Hemant, who sold his services on eBay. Of the people who put out bids, the emergent website off-the-map.org ended up submitting the winning bid. They then enlisted this avowed atheist to go to differing churches in the Chicago area and visit them as a "Mystery Worshipper" to examine them from a truly unchurched/non-christian perspective. His blog is found right here.
Interesting reading, particularly his recent visit to a smaller emerging church gathering at Via Christus. One question at the end of his blog: "I left the night trying to compare Via Christus with Willow Creek. Is one type of service more engaging than the other? Does one serve the people better? What is better: 100 churchs of 100 people? Or 1 church of 10000 people?" posted by Preachin Jesus | 7:34 AM
Friday, March 24, 2006
March Madness...and my devastated bracket
I've said this before, there are two things that don't exist:
1. A perfect church
2. A perfect March Madness bracket
Okay, what in world!?! (PJ realizes exclamation point, question mark, exclamation point is not proper grammar...but this is bloggy world) My bracket is shot. I did one for the staff here at the Atlantis Baptist Frat and then another for a group of ministers I know. My one for the Frat is done, I had UNC and Gonzaga in the final four (thankfully Texas and Villanova are still alive...today.) But I'm done! There is no way I could recover! Aaaahhh!!!
How in the world do people get paid to make these picks. I'm looking over a bunch of these experts picks and nobody has it right? How can you be an expert if your picks keep getting knocked off? Aaahhh!!! posted by Preachin Jesus | 10:04 AM
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Well to lighten the mood a bit...here's some goofy stuff
How do Pine Trees Know It's Easter? (well click and make sure your speakers are turned on)
Mr. Nice Hands (yeah...you'll need speakers to appreciate this too)
Michel Foucault Action Figure (for all you Emergent People)
Bunny Suicides (because we all want to see bunnies die...and not kittens!) posted by Preachin Jesus | 2:49 PM
Leaving Baptist Distinctives
I, PJ, have not posted much on the International Mission Board (hereafter: IMB) and Wade Burleson because so many more of the SBC bloggers have done a far better job at addressing the issues than I could endeavor. With the reports coming in now from the recently adjourned session of the IMB, it appears that while Pastor Burleson has maintained his trustee post a far more grievous action has occurred. As the Associated Baptist Press is reporting, and backed up by other bloggers, the IMB board has taken actions to end dissent by trustees and employees. To quote Greg Warner's article "The new guidelines require trustees to "refrain from public criticism" of not only trustee policies -- like the November decisions defining a proper baptism and prohibiting use of a "private prayer language" by missionary candidates -- but all "board-approved actions."
Though my current service obligations kept me from attending the Tampa Bay meeting of the IMB, I was there in spirit and prayer. Over at SBCOutpost Blog, Marty Duren has listed some one the policy revisions and additions at length. (I am indebted to my fellow SBC bloggers for their info in substantiating the issues here.) At the heart of these policy shifts are several declarations that limit the ability to either publicize current policy of the IMB or decision of that Board. Again, as the new section points out:
This is simply devastating to historical Baptist distinctives which our fine convention is built upon. Had this action taken place in the late 1970s or early 1980s the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC would have never taken place. There would have been no means of communicating the doctrinal errors, or how we should properly understand some biblical passages. These are all keys to the, rightful, conservative resurgence. Outside of the historical precedent immediately found within our own Kingdom minded, God blessed convention is the Baptist distinctives which helped formulate the United States.
The Baptist distinctive of (rightful) separation of church and state was bred out of an understanding of freedom of expression. It is imbedded in our fundamental doctrine of rights attatched to the Constitution of the United States of America. Our Baptist forefathers in England, the English Separatists, were condemned to death and forced to clandestine meetings because their particular views on baptism, ecclesiology, bibliology, etc. were in direct opposition to the presiding parties of the Church of England. How many of our forefathers were hung and beaten for their opposition viewpoints we now can freely express in our pulpits and pews every week. Think of Issac Backus, the great Baptist preacher, who worked with the leading political figures of the day to ensure the right of freedom of expression to all who would be able. This not only ensured the ability of Christianity to spread widely and faithfully throughout the United States, but the ideals to spread aboard and carry out missionaries safely (in many cases) with the ideals of freedom of expression. Think of John Leland, another Baptist preacher, who too championed the cause of freedom of expression. How would they stand today if such a policy as this were to be thrust upon them?
To be able to express one's affirmation is wholly human, so too it is wholly human to be able to express discontent with a policy or procedure that does nothing to aid the cause of the Kingdom. While we should endeavor not to embroil ourselves in the controversies of casual Christianity, we must also not give way to the fearfulness of freedom of expression. These recent moves by the IMB have grieved my soul dearly. I wonder how many called out young people, who with the right heart and proper convictions about their private prayer language will be turned away from God's work? How many more will suffer the slings of inability to serve because when they were a tender age they stepped into a baptismal pool in another church that thinks differently about our baptism? And what of the future decisions...will we be able to know of them. What if the representatives of our faithful churches decide that you have to be of a certain skin color to serve overseas? Or you have to preach from a particular kind of Bible? Or you have to use certain kinds of literature? Or you have to wear a tie and coat to preach? Will we know?
As my brother in Christ Tim Sweatman has put it so well: Why doesn't the Board of Trustees work on creating an environment where our missionaries feel free to speak out on issues that directly affect them instead of imposing policies to shut the mouths of those trustees who would speak out about many of the concerns our missionaries have?
Where might our might convention be today had such policies been in place as the framers of the resurgence met in dark back rooms to plan the strategy to renew our theological commitments? Would we be sending out so many into the field?
I champion the case for a local autonomous church in many of my conversations with the nattering naysayers of evangelical Christianity. How can we be truly autonomous if each church is blind to the differing viewpoints of actions taken? May God be with us. I hope and pray that this decision will do nothing to hinder His Kingdom, and I continue to pray for and affirm those in the field of mission while I do the same for those molding that field. May our convention be strong enough to say no to these actions. May we be strong enough to say no to a loss of historical Baptist distinctives. May we be strong enough to say yes to the will of God. posted by Preachin Jesus | 1:13 PM
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The Next Logical Step for Abortionists
A recent CBS.com news article, 'Roe v. Wade For Men' Suit Filed, shows the next logical step for supporters of abortion to take in their efforts to get their social agenda established. To quote the story:
The gist of the argument: If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood. The activists involved hope to spark discussion even if they lose.
The issue here is not that men can force an abortion to take place even if the mother is opposed to such a procedure; rather it allows men a get out of jail free card for their sexual promiscuity. So might be harm in allowing this to progress? Well the obvious one is an increase in the rate of abortion for "unwanted" pregnancies (PJ doesn't believe there is a such thing as an "unwanted" pregnancy since the child has no say in the matter.) Unwed mothers who have no force of law to require reluctant fathers to pony up for their deeds and would otherwise be faced with dire economic/social circumstances seem to have a greater door of "opportunity" for an abortion. Also this would simply add to the philandering of a greater number of sexual promiscuous men, who for other reason than fear of disease, would spread their seed far and wide. Finally, this usher in the day when a man can force a woman he has impregnated to have an abortion.
The logic of movement aside, this is a poor choice if a court hears. Dereliction of fatherly duties are spinning our country out of control. We men to be men and lead as they should. posted by Preachin Jesus | 4:30 PM
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
On Satellite Campus Trends
One of the hot new trends in (mega) church growth is to plant a new church that features a full staff of associate pastors and ministers, a fresh and vibrant worship team, connecting small groups, and a weekly message from the senior pastor of the mother church…via DVD/video-feed. These satellite campuses are sprouting up throughout the United States, and elsewhere in the world, and many have grown to their own large churches. Some meet in movie theatres, others in converted warehouses, others in office complexes, some in school, and a plethora of other locales. Pioneered by innovative churches such as Willowcreek and Northpoint these satellite locations offer an extended arm of outreach into other communities which would not usually be touched by a particular church. Of course in some cases this kind of church growth strategy can be more like franchising a brand than planting a true church. While these satellite campuses are growing and seeing many people connect with them, there are some questions that need to asked.
Is not the vision for the church that we have delivered to us in Scripture one which will unite Christians together in local, intimate gatherings? I of course have my reservations about mega-churches, particularly from the rampant consumerism that is found within many and this franchising mode of growth seems to only build on that feeding frenzy. Yet, there is much good being done in these gatherings. Through the satellite campus work churches are being planted in the midst of communities with substantive financial backing and strategic planning, virtually guaranteeing a good weekly turn out. These churches are given, usually, a strong leadership team of laity and pastoral staff. While many other church plants are not provided this kind of backing, these churches are established in a healthy situation of planned mentoring and guidance of the (traditionally) younger staff. This staff will inevitably reflect the values and heritage of the mother-church staff and will be trained accordingly. It seems to be a healthy situation to go into, security, facilities, and funds to build a viable church campus…than is still attached to the mother-church.
Of course the next major issue that leaps out is, how far should one church go in reaching out with their satellite campuses. For instance say a mega church in a large city near you wanted to bring a satellite campus into your area, would that church necessarily reflect values and traditions more appealing to your area than the overriding ones of the mother-church? Who elects the leadership (of course this question suggests an elected eldership is the model to use and not an oligarchy of pastoral appointments) the satellite campus or the mother-church? Can the connected pastoral staff of the satellite campus be replace at the whim of the leadership of the mother-church? Who gets to use the weekly offering of that satellite church? Does it go into a general slush fund, or is it all redirected back into that church?
Of course the final question for we good Baptists is: how much autonomy is allocated to the satellite campus for their ministry endeavors?
Local church autonomy is a vital facet of Baptist polity and belief. The ecclesiological question raised by the satellite church deals directly with that matter. While, traditionally, local church autonomy has more to with denominational oversight/involvement in the local church life, the advent of the satellite campus might well extend this along a secondary line of thought. While it is rational to expect satellite campuses within a particular geography (say a city wide area encompassing some suburban developments) to follow closely with the direction and leadership of the mother-church is it then reasonable to suggest that a satellite campus hundreds of miles away should do likewise? What is the cut-off? I ask because frankly I just don’t know yet. Is it reasonable from a Baptist ecclesiological (or any church ecclesiology for that matter) standpoint to suggest that if XYZ Baptist Church located on the East coast decides to do a satellite location in San Francisco, California that there is no autonomy given to that local congregation in San Francisco? Are their offering receipts forwarded along to the mother-church? Does the local congregation and leadership have any say in how their budget is allocated and dispensed, or is all that decided by the regulatory powers at the mother-church?
As Baptist, particularly Southern Baptists, we must be mindful that the heart of our convention is church planting and missions for the Kingdom of God. Without these we are bereft of our Kingdom mandate and powerless in affecting our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Part of our rich heritage in these areas is to raise up like-minded, autonomous churches to accomplish this vision. How do satellite campuses fit in with this? They certainly are church plants, but it is a bit of hybrid of that idea. Yet even though a hybrid, are they any less entitled to the ecclesiology which guides us Baptists?
Questions raised are important. As I contemplate this movement by many churches I also wonder that as a satellite campus becomes a stable entity, and the congregation grows closer to their pastoral staff, and they decide to allow that staff to lead them in every aspect of their worship experience and Christian development will the mother-church allow that satellite campus to become its own, independent church? At what point does the message on tape get turned off and the on-site staff get to pastor their flock? Even more pressing, can a mother-church pastor effectively shepherd a flock two hundred miles from his pulpit?
These satellite campuses are terrific works of God to aid in the spread of our churches to communities where they might not otherwise be reached. Many good Christian people have and are attending services at a satellite campus. We have seen thousand reached with the Gospel and millions more potentially reached. The point of all this is not to condemn or berate the satellite movement, but to ask cogent questions of intent and desire. If we are to maintain our historical Baptist distinctives can we really see a franchising movement take place in our churches which overrides the call to local New Testament congregations led by God’s man preaching God’s Word to God’s People? Or will these satellite campuses usher in a new era of church planting where we see terrific results for the Kingdom in terms of lives changed because of the Gospel? posted by Preachin Jesus | 11:34 AM
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
North American Mission Board article
Okay sooo...maybe I do care about some stuff in the SBC. Well in case you haven't read North America: Hanging in the Balance, an analysis from the Christian Index (Georgia Baptist's state newspaper) than you probably need to click on the previous link and read it first. Big issues here, primarily because many people have suspected some of this for some time now.
Well, to be honest I'm not sure what to make of this article. I know that there are those within the convention hierarchy that would really like it for we mere underlings to ignore it, doubt it, and defame it...but too much of it makes sense. Do I think that this is partly tabloid journalism? I don't know. Were attempts made to reconcile the issues privately then publicly? This isn't church, but it deals with an agency of the Church. Was this article a last course to bring up private concerns that were a) ignored, b) spurned, c) redressed, d) all of the above? I don't know. From that aspect if the article truly is "tabloid journalism" than that is too bad. Yet, I must wonder, having dealt with people in the established hierarchy of the convention, if there was an attempt to ask probing questions, and that attempt drew undue threats and rebukes. Well here we are today, we can't take it back, we can't ignore it, we can't pretend that this massive, hairy elephant isn't in the room staring at us all.
Is NAMB effective? Is their corruption at their HQ?
These are the central questions behind this article. The research behind the article is credible, and it simply is the writers using stats given out by the agency to add credibility to their claims. In looking at the effectiveness I do see NAMB being effective at confronting our culture with tools for reaching the lost. I see many church plants being aided by their support. (One of the major changes in the Nehemiah Project that freed up church planters to be bi-vocational was great.) I see many friends being placed as missionaries with NAMB. What aid agency sent more people into lands ravaged by Hurricane Katrina? Everywhere you look in those places hardest hit, you see a NAMB volunteer. From effectiveness I must say that they are being effective.
Yet from my position (perhaps one of sheer incredulity) after reading article, and seeing/hearing the responses from fellow ministers who have read this article, I am left with one simple belief that reform must occur at some level of the organization. Yet reform is not a hallmark of ineffectiveness (thank you Brother Martin Luther) it is simply a reflection of troubled ways of doing things. The biggest bombshell, imho, for this article is the conflict of interest with InovaOne. This relationship must be resolved and, if found to be in error, terminated. It is a sad thing to hear of friends who have lost their jobs and been downsized so a personal friend of an executive can get rich off the outsourcing he suggested.
We in the evangelical church have failed together in one area more than any other. In allowing the slick consumerism to march boldly into our churches we have robbed the message of Christ of its true efficacy to convict and power to heal anyone. While we need smart solutions for a lost and dying world we need them to uphold the nature and purity of the Church. How many times have I seen someone shamelessly self-promoting their latest read or workbook or pointless knick-knack at a cost which more than doubles the creation cost. We have appropriated the heresy of indulgences and turned it into a palatable capitalistic solution. It saddens me that this continues on in our churches today.
The way we share our faith and act in our society must change because our society has already changed. It is not the mere suggestion of change anymore, it is the acknowledgement that they have changed. We cannot expect to ever see a campaign like "A Million More in '54" ever catch on like wildfire, so long as our culture exists as it does today. We cannot live in the past accomplishments of our brave forefathers in the SBC but must press forward to attempt greater, bolder steps of faithfulness and fruitfulness if we ever want to stem the tide of division and decay within our churches.
I've been to the NAMB HQ. There are good people that work there. Within that building is more optimism and promise for a brighter church tomorrow than anywhere else I've visited. It is a denominational agency, and yes there are people hiding out from God's call there...but there are also people doing God's work there. They have smart solutions and deep care for the lost and dying world at their doorstep.
As a younger evangelical minister I must wonder aloud at how this will affect us in the long run. I've heard a major leader in the SBC remark that the best thing for the NAMB is to sell off the building, invest the proceeds from the sale into actual church/Kingdom building activities, and start from scratch. While I don't take as drastic a stance, I do believe that some sort of repair must come off of this article. I am committed to continuing to support our local missionaries, Cooperative Program, and will continue to give to Annie Armstrong. I do however raise my eyebrows in contemplation of a veritable Pandora’s Box of issues which will be unearthed within our convention.
Do I know what to do with this article? No. I can only support, pray, and encourage those involved. posted by Preachin Jesus | 12:05 PM
Monday, March 06, 2006
funny stuff here...
Dog walks on two legs
Brokeback to the Future...I'm not endorsing or condoning Brokeback Mountain in anyway, but this is too funny
Prison Bans Magic Books...seems to be the logical conclusion
75 yr-old Grandma arrested for robbing bank
Pope has an iPod...wonder if he listens to U2 or Michael W. Smith? posted by Preachin Jesus | 7:24 PM
MacArthur on "Plexiglass Preaching"
Here's a link to a great article by Dr. John MacArthur entitled Fifteen Evil Consequences of Plexiglas Preaching. I think he's onto something here. Too many churches, seeker, emergent, evangelical, mainline, etc. are drifting into the dangerous realm of offering coffee table talks over profound, robust exposition.
great stuff here... posted by Preachin Jesus | 11:42 AM
Thursday, February 23, 2006
emergent church question
over on theOoze someone posed some questions about Emergent Church Leadership and I was the first person to post. Below is my reply with a few of their questions in bold. Uh...be warned I was feeling very cheeky!
I am wondering what an emergent/missional church leader looks like.
mostly a white male, in their early to mid-30s. A cooler haircut than your average joe-pastor type. They wear jeans and khakis with a variety of shirt styles. Maybe a piercing or two (well, at least one you can see.) They might have a visible tatoo, something spiritual in meaning than your run of the mill "I Love Mom." Probably wear cons or vans or flops or sneaks or yeah, we get the picture. They smell of Starbucks...or the local tavern (a far more pleasing aroma)...
I typed in "emergent church leader" into google image search and got this:
I dunno ;) (yes, I'm being cheeky..cause it's sooo fun!) :D
you're probably looking for something less to do with image and more to do with substance. I'd say they really aren't much different from others, only that they dress a bit different, think further outside the box, don't have rigorous schedule, and talk more about incarnational living, being authentic, and helping people figuring out Christ than Christ saving people...
How is that person different from a modern pastor?
this is what I got for "modern pastor" from google:
Also I have been thinking about the mission of the emergent church, does anyone have any ideas on how that could be worded?
angry white children of the evangelical church
actually an authentic emergent church would be Christianity sans chicanery (I'm trademarking that as I speak!)
I'm looking for information on any emergent church leadership ideas. Where do I look?
check out all the normal leadership texts and just soup em up
seriously there is really nothing new about the emergent church, nor so different that we can't use normal texts to help out
Andy Stanley's Next Generation Leader is great, but nothing new.
Leonard Sweet's Summoned to Lead is also good (and more acceptable in an Emergent Church gathering...because they screen your books for the cool factor) but again, nothing new here.
I hope I've helped...but probably not. Welcome to our happy Oozian place. I'm the resident emergent church skeptic and sorry you ran into me first. But seriously, you can learn a lot from the people here. Just hang around and see what we're screaming about :D
dang, I'm in a cheeky mood tonight ;) posted by Preachin Jesus | 9:05 PM
Reflections on Faith Struggles
Recently I've been reading much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer particularly his excellent text, The Cost of Discipleship. One point of faith that he points out is a phrase "Only those who believe obey, and only those who obey believe" and begins hashing this out as an appropriate banner for discipleship and spiritual growth in the Christian life. I was quite captured by this thought over the last several days and have begun to examine this in my life and the lives of many with whom I counsel and convo.
How often has someone come to me and said they aren't getting anything out of church or a small group they are attending. I've sometimes said "Just come and listen" or "study harder", something like that which neither answers their real query, commits me to some action, or edifies them in their time of struggle. As Bonhoeffer points out often people in our pews, chairs, or couches are struggling not with the availability to hear, but from letting go of some area of sin in their lives. To have ourselves committed to Christ is every area of our lives is the foundation for continuing to grow in our faith in Him.
Part of Bonhoeffer's point here is that faith and obedience work simultaneously in the life of the believer. When Christ calls someone from their boat to follow Him it is their faith and obedience working side by side which promulgates them into the disciples' life. It is through the denial of the flesh and committal to total reliance on Christ through the recognition of His ways, will, and word that we find ourselves at the doorway to discipleship. I am utterly amazed at the gracious work of God through a servant such as Deitrich Bonhoeffer. posted by Preachin Jesus | 2:38 PM
Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to deleting some old posts, compressing my archive, and reposting some oldies (and others that might be goodies...but are more likely oldies.) posted by Preachin Jesus | 12:58 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
well that's enough for now. I'll be back more and more hopefully. I need to blog more! posted by Preachin Jesus | 1:54 PM
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Shout-out to Ed Stetzer
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to Dr. Ed Stetzer, he's the bomb-diggity. Dr. Stetzer has written a terrific text Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age which has certainly impacted myself and other people in various places in Christianity. I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Stetzer the other and can attest for the voracity of both his intellect and willingness to come back early from vacation.
Check out his recent article Understanding the Emerging Church in which he gives an awfully good overview of the major components in the emerging church. posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:27 PM
Friday, May 20, 2005
Its been awhile since I've posted here...my sincere apologies are conveyed. Things have been going extremely well and I'm thoroughly loving my time here in Atlanta. I just returned from a trip to Louisville, Kentucky. During this meeting we (by we I mean my fellow ministers in residence and I) were able to meet with some wonderful people and visit a church which provided insights. This was a great trip and I benefitted greatly from the things learned and discussed.
One of the more interesting things that I had to think about was during the visit to Southeast Christian Church. This is one of the largest churches in America and runs about 20,000+ on the weekend. They do things well here. It occurred to me that one of the reasons that this church is being "successful" (I don't think numbers determines success) is because they do things well. Not perfectly mind you, but well.
They have certain procedures and directives in place that are both intentional and within their mission statement. They relate to people well and do things well and this breeds continued growth. How do they do things well? Here it is: They allow their people to do the work through service.
Sure a huge church like this (and trust me it's HUGE) could easily hire pros to come in and paint, decorate, and determine the marketting approach for their entire ministry. Yet they let the people do this through a continued culture of intentionality of service and community. This is where our churches need to be. Southeast stresses service (it's one of the things every members is expected to do) and they see their people respond.
I really believe if our churches were more intentional about doing things well and not helf butted we'd be in a better place as the Church. More thoughts later posted by Preachin Jesus | 9:02 AM
Thursday, April 21, 2005
now the new and improved Rev PJ
This last weekend was a superb blessing as I was able to be ordained for ministry by my home church in Maryland. Having the opportunity to be blessed in such a manner is something that I shall surely never forget nor take for granted. It is such an honor to be sent out by these fine people. The entire weekend was made to be an extremely special time for me and the wifey. My ordination council was superb, touching on deep theological matters as well as pastoral matters. The service was glorifying God first and edifying the body second.
I believe that every church should get the opportunity to send someone out through ordination. It is a very special time for not only the ordainee but also the ordaining church. Being able to recount how each person present had influenced and blessed my life is something that I will hold dear to me. There is something significant about being ordained, not that you take on an extra special blessing from God, but that you have the weight of the expectation for service and prayers of those who have sent you. Though I cannot really put into words all the encouragement which I received this weekend, it is a great thing to enjoy the blessing of God in this way. posted by Preachin Jesus | 9:55 AM
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Well me and Mrs PJ are heading up to the state of Maryland so I might be ordained for the ministry. Really looking forward to this wonderful event and am looking forward to family time as well. I'll update everything as soon as I get back and will hopefully have some more posts I can put up for some happy theobloggy! posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:45 PM
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Exactly what I'm talkin about
Read this article
This is exactly what I'm talkin about in relationship to ministry and the incoming generations. We are living in an "on demand" world that is getting more and more accustomed to having content tailored to meet their needs and their specific time tables. There is little separating us from entering a bold new future where the Church actually has the opportunity to greatly influence a culture who are pursuing spirituality at some level, engage them in a conversation, and show them how Christ is the true Way. How will we do this? By dropping the facades of Christianesque foolishness and embracing authenticity. We can do this by living incarnationally, that means being Christ to those around us. We can do this by realizing that our petty denominational squabbles have amounted to a bunch run off, irritated, backslidden Christians that have affected a generation to believe this:
Twenty-six percent of young Americans call themselves Protestants, but the survey showed that 14 percent of the generation belonged to "other" kinds of Christian churches.
This is amazing data, though not awfully surprising. There are tons of young people who are engaging the emerging church movement because it is demonstrating a type of Christianity that is authentic and not pedantic. Interesting too is that many within this emerging church movement are conservative in their theology, though extremely progressive in their methodology. I've been to some of these meetings where theological and doctrinal issues are discussed openly with one phrase populating all the conversation: "Where is it in the Bible?" I have my problems with some of the emergent church stuff out there because the leaders are stepping over boundaries which they should not, but I have seen this only several times.
Okay, brass tacks, what am I stoked about here? I believe we have the opportunity to shape and present a vibrant Christianity, the Christianity that we all have inside of us and have seen demonstrated throughout the ages. We can do this and bring in a generation which will have a greater impact on the world than any generation before it. And this can happen easily if our foundational churches allow it to happen. If they see the path that is before us, though possibly one that many of them will never be able to tread, and they are willing to entrust us with the keys to the journey we can make this happen. Currently we have an older generation who have seen Christianity do some amazing things, seen the world enter some amazing places, but are holding tight the keys of leadership to the chests because they do not have the faith in the younger generation that a generation before them had in them.
I'm not saying that overnight we need to see a transition from esteemed, veteran leaders in our churches to emergent, rookie leaders. I am saying that things can be done to help our churches out in this transition. Better we see a natural hand off than several years from now the now rookie, then leaders, scrambling around to pick up the keys from the moldering corpses of the past generation who have been laid to rest.
The church is the pillar of truth in a world that is searching for truth. We have to be thinking five years ahead of the curve. The question to be answered is "will we be faithful to Christ in giving His church to the next generation?" a question which will have to be answered by deeds, not words. posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:28 AM
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
An Evangelical Reflection on Pope John Paul II
As we all certainly have noted this past Saturday Pope John Paul II passed from this mortal coil and took his place in eternity. Some have asked what is the eternal state of the pontificate...I must reply that though I don't fully know I must suggest that because of his fruit that he is resting well at the throne room of Christ. There is nothing in his life to suggest otherwise, this Pope was a fine man, a great Christian leader, and a outstanding example for the world.
Many of my Baptist brethren have already begun their assaults against his place in history, theology, and eternity. There is certainly nothing about this man which subtracts from his character or legacy. Standing for human dignity above all, striving for life on all fronts, and advancing Catholic social thought higher than any before him this Pope was a God send in every detail of the word. While humanists in our society attempt to move us away from all these classical doctrines of the faith this Pope stood for them.
His patience, kindness, endurance, respect for the Word of God, and advancement of the Gospel all marked his papal reign as kind monikers which will do well to classify him. I can only wish to maintain the virtues of this man in my ministry. I am thankful for his influence on the world. posted by Preachin Jesus | 3:15 PM
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Here's an interesting article on the changing culture of our offices thanks to the lovely TiVo: click here!
I think its pretty interesting that our world is quickly getting to be more "on-demand." The implications of this technology are mighty. Certainly we can see the immediate issues of it allows us to continue in our normal schedules, even adding more to our plates, and can still be plugged into the cultural mainstream. Even more pressing is the ability (if you are technologically adept...which most of our under-35 crowds is) to record the particular show, drop it to a handheld (like the new PSP) and go. The urban implications with this are unlimited: sitting on the metro into work, watching last night's episode of my favorite prime-time show, sipping a mocha. Since you can skip commercials, an hour long show is only forty minutes long. Imagine what is going to happen to media if we continue to compress. Furthermore with the burgeoning national wifi system that will be up sooner than we think, the connectedness is going to be bring our world to a whole new era.
The church must be on the front end of this technological wave if we intend on competing (or being relevant.) My point to this is, we have the ability to connect, we have the know-how to connect, we have the best message to connect. What are we going that is going to reach out and grab people. If we are truly serious about getting people plugged into the Gospel and reaching them where they are, why don't we drop the facade of engagedness and begin developing and embracing technologies and methods which allow us to be on the cutting edge of ministry. As I sat in the Younger Leaders forum last week a great comment was made, the church has to be ahead of the curve five years if it wants to be relevant. We have to begin designing and implementing effective solutions to be able to plug in.
My suggestion: a media based platform with transmitable (and free) information that allows optimum engagement with a technological changing environment. Moreso, we need to create communities of connectedness (virtual and physical) which encourage people to engage at their availability. How many churches have a service industry worship service which allows those who have to work on Sundays to connect in their congregation? Who is doing the best at reaching out to people with the best platforms?
Collaboration is the key. The landscape ahead of us is fresh and ready to go. Let's capture it. posted by Preachin Jesus | 11:49 AM
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Sports and Torts
The spring days are soon ahead of us. Memories of dew misting the soft green grass of the infield on your local Little League Baseball Diamond, the smells of a new day filling your senses, a soft breeze caressing your neck. The days when the familiar metallic ding of an alluminum bat against a baseball are soon upon us. Yet as march through this month and into Opening Day with the Little Leaugers' schedules full of potential wins we do so with the spectre of a atheletes abusing substances that gave them an unfair edge. For me, this is another disgrace for Major League Baseball.
The disgraces for Baseball all seem to come from the same location. The Players' Union. After several years of strikes, threatened strikes, steriod cover-ups, player misconduct, and so forth Baseball has successfully forfeited itself from the once uncontested moniker of Great American Past Time. We, the once loyal fan base, have been forced to endure all the pointless histrionics from both owners and players while hoping that we can once again go and drink in the rich atmosphere that is the stadium. Now we find ourselves staring at continual news stories about player substance abuse and their staring back at us chastizing us, the fans for not believing it is natural to gain 150% more muscle mass naturally over the course of an off season. We sit and groan internally as another player ascribes his John Hancock to another deal worth more than any of us will ever see in 100 years...all so he can chase a little ball around with his friends. We sit and watch the teachers in our high schools dodge bullets, spitballs, curses, and threats every day for what one of these players makes in a week. Of course I need not further explore the problems in salary differences here.
This is not to say all baseball players are evil, nor are all owners of teams evil. Rather I believe there are many who wish to do good, but are trapped in a bad situations with the aggressive nature of the players' union. In surveying the landscape of American life I believe the issue of unions is one which needs to be addressed. Unions once played a great role in providing a strong voice for downtrodden workers in our country, yet in contemporary America they have become nothing more than a hindrance to some companies' productivity. This is exactly the case in Major League Baseball. The union has so confounded the ability of players to play and owners to...well..own that we the once supportive fan public are left sitting in the stands wondering what happened to our fond memories of spring, summer, and if we're lucky...fall.
When will the greed for powerful and lucer finally give way so we can be returned to a enjoying the game without bitterness? We deserve better than hiding behind lawyers and stolid denial. We deserve more than cop outs and refusing to talk about the past. If there are still good men in the game will they stand up and say enough? Baseball is facing a time when they must either choose to right road to fall into the trap of the NHL and face exteremination by their own hand. posted by Preachin Jesus | 9:25 AM
Friday, March 18, 2005
On Emergent Leaders
Well I had an excellent opportunity yesterday to attend the Younger Leaders Dialogue with Dr. Jimmy Draper (President of Lifeway) here in Atlanta. The idea behind this luncheon is to engage younger leaders (those 45 and younger) in a conversation about where we see the SBC going and what might we do about it. I thought Dr. Draper did a fabulous job in his role there. Taking time out of his schedule to meet with younger people like myself is something I am extremely appreciative of and I found him to be extremely engaging. Also Drs. Bob Record (President of the NAMB) and Bob White (Executive Director of Georgia Baptists)were wonderful to talk with during this time. For their part each of these fine Christian men contributed greatly and exercised immense patience and grace at times.
My goal in going to this meeting was two fold:
1. I wanted to plug in and network with younger ministers who have a passion for their work, a directed vision, a mindset of growing their churches, and are really involved in ministry.
2. I wanted to see what kind of discussions were going on about the SBC and where it is headed and capture the thoughts of younger leaders like myself.
I found myself somewhat disappointed at both ends. While I am sure there were young ministers there with the above characteristics I didn't run into them. The younger ministers I did run into and converse with were in maintanence mode with their churches or were discouraged in their works. I did find a couple of guys who were trying to build unique works and was edified by them. During the dialogue Q&A time with Dr. Draper the first several questions were good questions, then the meeting seemed to digress into a complaint session with some younger leaders being rather abrupt in their questions and demands (yep...one guy demanded some stuff) for answers.
It occurred to me that if there are any future leaders of the SBC at that meeting they were probably doing what my fellow Minister in Residence and I were doing...keeping their mouths shut. Also that any of the true SBC future leadership was simply not at these meetings because they couldn't afford to (in regards to their time) be there. I remember that I had friends at seminary who would trounce around the campus and marvel at how they were best kept secret in the SBC and how they were going to fix things when they become president...I really try to stay away from people like that. Power trips are a good thing to stay away from in my book. Seems that we have a lot of young people who want to be given the rank of Colonel (or General) but don't want to grow up from being a private. I recall a day when I believed that I was the next best thing, then I quickly came to my senses and realized I'm not. There really has to be a consistent effort show yourself approved and able to handle a great work. The men who occupy the higher positions have done that work of showing themselves approved.
Of course its not the SBC's fault that young men who see some older men occupying the stage at convention envy them and say "I can do that" or something along those lines. This always happens in society. Maybe the best thing we could do is show why getting involved at the associational level is the primary importance if you want to be connected. The SBC is powerful because it only exists two days a years (technically) and because the convention is directly responsible to the local church. The headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention is the local church. Plain and simple.
I found some of these potential leaders' attitudes to be quite incredulous towards those they were asking questions of during the time. One youngster got up and read a short list of reasons why he doesn't go to the annual convention. Granted I do fall into some of his categories (lack of financial resources in the past) but I don't complain about it to people. There are better things that could have been discussed at the meeting. Why is the associational support necessary? What can I do help my local DOM? How important is Sunday School in the future? Why don't cell groups work? Where is the SBC going in regards to teaching Baptist distinctives? How can I help out the process, even if it means licking envelopes at my dinner table for three hours a week?
That would have been constructive. I really appreciate Dr. Draper taking the time to listen to these younger leaders, but really I was disappointed in the younger leaders. The future leadership will not let the SBC down, we are young and conservative theologically...though progressive in our methodologies. I pray for the current and future leaders. May God raise up a nation of Billy Sundays and D.L. Moodys...may we be used to advance the Heavenly Kingdom and not be worried about the earthly Kingdom. posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:24 AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Error in Reporting
got this from FoxNews.com:
Robber Fended Off With French Fries
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch cafeteria owner used piping hot french fries to fend off a gun-wielding would-be robber, police in the southern city of Helmond said Friday.
Fries, or "frites," are a national snack in Holland and Belgium, where they are deep-fried in oil and then salted and eaten with mayonnaise and chopped onions.
It was not known if the culprit, whose age was estimated at 16, was burned. He had threatened the owner and his wife with a handgun Thursday night, police said.
"He wanted money," a police report said. "But once he had hot frites coming his way, he decided he had had enough."
The fries were cooling in a pot when the owner threw them at the intruder.
Police described the youth, who is still at large, as "thin, white, and with a plump nose."
now technically...these must have been Freedom Fries since true French fries would have gone cold, limp, and surrendered at the first sign of trouble. posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:41 AM
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Okay, not much on the front burner I guess, well at least nothing significant. Things have been going great and I find myself further enschonched in God's blessings. Just a couple of quick things which come to mind as I have a moment to write:
1. Blessings to Stan Grenz's family. He was a wonderful philosopher/theologian who did much work for the Church. Though his particular brand of theological vodka is not necessarily my own, I must say I have indeed been edified by his writings.
He will be missed in our community.
2. I'm constantly becoming more and more aware that Sunday School (or Sunday Morning Bible Study, etc) is the single most impacting move a church can make at connecting with their members. Thinking that connection will happen at a worship service only is not likely, cell groups provide too many problems, yet Sunday School...when done right...can and is perhaps the single most impacting point of connection within the church.
3. There are several things in life which simply don't exist. I believe a perfect one time March Madness bracket is one of those things...another is the perfect Slurpee
4. I think Christianity would be different if our ministers went into church settings with a lifetime ministry mindset. What is taught (I guess by default) at most seminaries is that you work hard at being at a church for longer than the average ministry bear, this would be five years (subjective I know.) But what if you went to a church and served there with a fairly intact staff for thirty plus years? How much better would you be able to serve the Kingdom?
5. Married life is better than anyone told me...how could something this good be so undersold in our society? posted by Preachin Jesus | 3:17 PM
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
The Growth Mindset
Part of the program that I"m a part of affords me the wonderful opportunity to sit and connect with leaders of great churches in our convention. These last two weeks in particular I have been able to attend two different conferences dealing with the educational ministry end of the local church. In these meetings I have sat and listened to churches that looking expand on various fronts. One of the more interesting things is churches that are making a great impact for the Kingdom are churches whose pastor and congregation have a growth mindset. Knowing that growth of the body, not just in numbers but in substantive spiritual impact, is key to creating more disciples for the Kingdom is a vital part of their ministry. I am on board with this and must say that I want to be with a staff whose mindset is growth and reaching people. Far too many churches are in a maintenance mindset and declining because of this. Growth has to be on our hearts and in our actions as we see our communities of faith impacting the world for the Kingdom. posted by Preachin Jesus | 3:44 PM
Monday, February 28, 2005
Gene Scott...dead...no more cigars
Well its official, Dr. Gene Scott has passed away. While he was a straight up liberal and had nothing to give the church in the way of goodly theology, he sure was funny to watch. I remember getting up early on Sundays while at seminary to watch his crazy broadcasts. Not for theological info mind you, but just because I needed a good laugh. If anything Dr. Gene Scott was a real man and didn't lie about anything. Lots of TV preachers (not all because there are some good men of God out there) hide their earnings and try to play dumb about what happens to their mega-money...not Dr. Scott, he told he was a greedy son of a gun and didn't care what people thought.
Well, good day to him...you can still watch him over his web-broadcasts. Part of me wonders how long his broadcasts will make money for his estate posted by Preachin Jesus | 12:44 PM
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
On my travels and such
Okay, so we're finally settled in our new home of Atlanta, Georgia. We've been running around for the last month getting things unpacked, settled, cleaned, bought, and so forth. Its been a really fun and we're both enjoying the journey. Whew! Its been super-duper crazy. On top of that my ministry position is keeping me busy all the time. So its been fun to say the least.
We've had some minor headaches (thank you people at U-Haul!) here and there along the way, but nothing too serious and we're both very happy being settled in.
On some other notes we're eagerly anticipating our wedding pictures being delivered and can't wait to see them and then post them on a photoblog. Also I'm in the process of developing a blogsite for our happy new family to serve as a sort of newsletter for the world...I guess...but primarily for our friends and family.
I've got my seminary degree sitting on my bookcase, awaiting its installation into an appropriate frame. I am really happy to have graduated and be out doing work to further the Kingdom of God. It is difficult to keep up with some of the finer points of my seminary education (i.e. Hebrew and Greek) but I am working hard at keeping these items up.
The ministry program I am in is absolutely amazing! I really believe that through this course I am going to so prepared for a lifetime of service--while still serving!--that I just don't feel worthy.
It is certainly refreshing to hear leaders in my chosen denomination say that the moment you feel adequate for ministry you don't belong in it. That we all should feel a tremendous sense of inadequacy is compelling. We must thus rely on Christ to take us as the feeble clay we are and mold us for His use.
Anyhoo, I have some deeper theo-bloggy coming and will be getting some items up after these next several days! posted by Preachin Jesus | 11:25 AM
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Great news from bloggy land...well maybe if you've waiting for me to drop back in...I'm back! Things are going super and my new wife and I are settling in rather well to the wonderment that is married life. God's blessings are pouring over us and we are experiencing such new and exciting things that we have to check to see if we are dreaming every now and then.
I'll update later on with something more substantive and we'll have some pics of our happy day soon enough!
Thanks for dropping in! posted by Preachin Jesus | 1:44 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
the integration of tomorrow
you have to watch this first:
This is exactly what I've been thinking and talking about for months. Absolute and complete integration of all aspects of life, available for each user in a customized, individualized, sanitized stream. Imagine if when we (notice its when not if) get city wide wifi networks where we can walk around the park and read our individual handheld computers which are constantly updated with media streams. Imagine when we can enjoy tailored media saturation, and don't even realize it, as we walk through the mall.
Friends the age of the print newspaper and 6 o'clock evening news are long gone. Think of the opportunity ahead...and the roadblocks. This is what the culture is going for and this is where they are being pushed.
Read this article from NYTimes.com (sorry registration required) about Google offering digital libraries over its mainframes: click here!
I'm going to think on this and write up something in the next several days. Forward the link and watch this piece. Its a gripping analysis of our future destiny. posted by Preachin Jesus | 4:31 PM
Monday, December 13, 2004
thoughts on my seminary experience
Well I have officially graduated from SWBTS and am happily moving forward towards vocational ministry service. As I look back upon my time at my beloved seminary I must say that leaving it is a bittersweet experience. I have truly benefited from my time at SWBTS and shall ever remain committed to promoting her virtues. As I leave I am a little less rigid, more committed to Christ, and wondering if I will ever get to talk with Kate T. when I get to Heaven. When one goes to seminary they know that this is a formative time for our theological, educational, ministerial, and relational development. Choosing the right seminary brings a host of factors, the most important is the question of where God desires us to be. I firmly believe that God intended for me to attend SWBTS and I have been greatly blessed because of His will.
A seminary is a place where those who are called into vocational ministry are trained according to the calling. Most all seminaries (actually all the ones I know of) have been started as institutions dedicated to the theological training of pastors (both serving and called.) While we have joined together other portions of the seminary educational life (such as music and educational ministry tracks) the seminary remains devoted to theological training as a primary point of its purpose. As I considered a seminary I desired to find one that was conservative, held to strong biblical authority, situated in a place where I would have access to a large swath of ministry paradigms, a sound academic theology faculty, where I could develop meaningful ministry relationships, and a place where God wanted me to go. In Southwestern I found all of these components.
I had heard so many stories and words of encouragement about going to seminary and finding like minded people who I could develop lifelong friendships with that I really looked forward to my time at seminary. Also the academic rigors were such that I knew I would be stretched. In both of these I can say that I found what many had, though I was a bit disappointed at some points.
Southwestern will forever be endeared to me as the place where, not only did I meet my future wife, but I also further developed and refined exactly what I am called to do by God. I had sat down in my early days at my undergraduate alma mater and laid out my goals and vision for my life. While at seminary all of these were further focused and I am more committed to that which God has called me to years earlier for He has worked mightily in my life. Southwestern has been instrumental in my development as a pastor-theologian and I hope she continues to produce ministerial progeny who will trumpet the sound Gospel truth based on biblical authority.
The faculty of Southwestern is comprised of wise and learned individuals who, for the most part, strive to connect with their students and train them to be the best ministers of the Gospel available for God's use. I have found in this faculty a group of individual dedicated to advancing the Kingdom and refining the called so, together we can impact the world. Out of this faculty come scholars and educators who stand ready to aid the church and perform for her a might and valuable service. They stretch the minds and enhance the hearts of their students. A fine collection of servants of our Lord and Savior.
The students of Southwestern might be a bit of a different story. Being that Southwestern is one of the largest seminaries (if not the largest) in North America you would expect to get a diverse mixture of students in her hallowed halls. While this is the case the majority of the students are still married, white, males who have some sort of ministry position somewhere. In the mixture of students you will find people passionately devoted to their calling and training according. You will find missionaries patiently awaiting deployment into a dynamic ministry environment. You will pastor-theologians noisily sifting through difficult Greek lectures refining their knowledge. You will find slightly aloof budding scholars dealing with difficult theological matters in hopes of better grasping the golden nuggets of thought which attempt to elude them. You will find music ministers pining away at a keyboard to deliver a performance worthy of their Lord. Youth ministers crafting some contemporary example of God's grace out of construction paper and computer animations. You will find international students joining with American students in fervent prayers for souls of those they don't even know. This is the hope that is at Southwestern. Yet in this hope it seems that far too many Southwestern students are hopelessly drawn into themselves and wish not dare great things for Christ while at seminary. The spiritual lives of some of these future ministers are as cold as the ice dawn after a February ice storm. You would do better to talk to the various statues of Jesus in the prayer garden than consult some of these about their lives. Deeply shrouded in a cloak of self-absorption they plod off to their classes, complaining about the immoral world around them but failing to offer their cloaks to the shriveled homeless sitting beneath their pathway. But this is only some, for even in spite of these few there is a growing population of driven and visionary students who go longer and reach higher than their surroundings seem to permit. I love all my Southwestern compatriots, I pray God's blessings and imparted passion into their lives.
While the great halls of the legendary buildings which occupy her campus are often filled with profound theological discussion, Southwestern still sits in the heart of a state convention torn asunder by controversy and selfish motivations. It is sad that the internal war of various Baptist conventions of the state of Texas have marred this proud school. While attending classes in her classrooms I have seen a score of my professors leave or be "released" from their positions. In the midst of my studies I have watched the tenuous relations between old school and new school politics attempt to tear the heart of Southwestern apart. I have seen selfish men outside of the school proclaim vitriol against her chosen and appointed leaders. I have heard senseless lies spread about these leaders. Yet while people from both portions of the political landscape of Texas have attempted to tear down and reform what God has crafted Southwestern has stood as a stalwart beacon of His grace. Remembering days of past when arrogant preachers such as J. Frank Norris proclaimed Southwestern heretical and worthy of nothing but the torch, I know that Southwestern still will endure the harshest criticisms and survive to the next day. I know Southwestern will continue to train ministers for generations to come, and I know with great certainty that her greatest days are ahead of her.
I learned early on that Southwestern exists to train up the called out ones, and they do an excellent job. Yet I also learned that Southwestern does not exist for the students but for those who run her and attempt to live out some strange existence of shouting between ivory towers. I have seen some who would attempt to question the leadership of this brave school smashed under a hailstorm of innuendo and false analogy from people who should be above these types of actions. When some have questioned the "resolved" theological absolutes of documents surrounding her heritage and source of funding they have branded all sorts of evil. As some have sought theological insight outside of the normal, established scholarly consensus of several of her highest ivory towers they have been derided and given veiled threats for all to see. In spite of all of these I know her best days are ahead of her.
My time at Southwestern, though hard (as seminary should be) has been rewarding. The loneliness which burdened me down at times has been lifted and replaced with such a beauty that I certainly do not deserve. I have indeed found friends with whom I share a common bond and a lasting friendship. Through the blood, sweat, and tears of working through difficult (dead) languages I plumbed a deep faith which I love and crave day after day. Inspecting my life before Southwestern and after Southwestern I have benefited from my time here. I am proud to be a Southwesterner and will forever carry that moniker the humility of knowledge of those far greater than I who also carry that title. Is Southwestern perfect? Certainly not, but neither am I. We are simple servants of great and mighty King. posted by Preachin Jesus | 2:57 PM
Wew! I'm GRADUATED from seminary! Now I can be a real minister...oh wait, I already am one. Well then...sorry for the delay in posting I've been super busy with wedding plans and with graduation stuff. Here are some quick hits. I'll be posting something substantive soon.
1. Why is it that we pay numbskulls millions of dollars to play a sport thousands would pay money to play and they cavort around like a bunch of elitists and protect each other when caught breaking the rules? If an english teacher showed up to school with some marijuana and said it was a performace enhancing drug (expands the mind man) they would be resolutely fired and imprisoned.
2. My beloved seminary is indeed a safe place, though it is bittersweet in leaving it.
3. I run into people who have lost their passion/motivation to fulfill their calling. I pray that I never lose my passion and vision.
4. I am extremely excited about having someone with whom I can spend my life, delight in our blessings, find solace in our sorrows, and share our further successes. I love my fiance!
5. I heard the Jeff Dahmer accepted Christ while in prison, before he was murdered. While I rejoice if this is true, I have to wonder aloud if he believes in transubstantiation.
Posting soon! posted by Preachin Jesus | 8:29 AM
Friday, December 03, 2004
Open Theist dialouge
I'm posting here a dialouge I've been having with some proponents (or at least curious parishioners) of the Open Theism camp. This is some happy theobloggy for the soul...so without any further avail:
On the other hand, isn't omniscience just knowing all that there is to know? What if the future, by definition, is unknowable? Is it therefore any slight on God's knowledge to say that He doesn't know that which it is impossible to know? i don't think so.
So God is a temporally located, future vision limited God who cannot guarantee that tomorrow will come? How does this work in the face of prophecy throughout the Bible? How can a perfect God say that thus and such will happen thus and such way fully knowing that this may not actually happen as He has said. This makes God a liar and a cheat. This does not allow God to guarantee His or humanity's existence since some cataclysmic event might happen that He doesn't know about? This is a foolish and extremely limited/ing view of God.
If God is the sovereign, complete, absolute, perfect God as we are told and example by the Bible and the creation around us than how is it that He does not possess absolute omniscience over all things.
One of the great separating features of the true God is He is everything that all other human created gods are not. This God, this YHWH, is the absolute consummation of all perfection and completeness which cannot be found anywhere else. This God, YHWH, is able to create not only the land and creatures but the sea and skies and universe...something which no other mythical god created by humanity could do. The open theist would have us to believe that our God is not this great, sovereign, perfect, most powerful thing I can begin to imagine and that we are left with a God that is contingent on creation for His worth, wealth, substance, and existence.
This is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jerusalem
He doesn't know that which it is impossible to know? i don't think so. To use a common illustration, think of the attribute of omnipotence. If we say that God is all powerful, that He can do anything, does that mean that he can create a square circle? No. Why? Because it is logically impossible, by definition, to create a square circle; they are mutually exclusive. God's inability to do that in no way takes away from his omnipotence.
This is a horrible argument and one used by atheists worldwide to dispute the greatness and perfection of God. Please tell me you are not actually positing that God cannot do anything He wishes. If you are we need to have a loong talk about your view of who God is.
To respond to this point: God will not do anything that violates His nature and will
Can God make a rock so big that He can't lift it? Can God make a square circle? Is His inability to do so limiting of His omnipotence? The first two are loaded questions and not awfully good argumentation...actually they are logical fallacies but I'll leave that point alone. The matter on each of these is within my answer above, God cannot do anything that violates His nature and will. Thus God is unchanging in His ability to do anything that does not violate His will and nature.
God's omnipotence is final and absolute, God can do anything He wishes and is indeed all powerful in being able to do that. Being all powerful means God's power is perfect and undiminished by anything. Likewise this same qualification is attached to His omnipresence...God has casual access to anywhere at any given time. His omnipresence is perfect and absolute, God can be anywhere and everywhere while still being selectively present in certain circumstances. God can be in multiple places and still be in a single place. Funny isn't it that omnipresence is never really debated...nor understood awfully well by most people. This leads to God's perfect love and will for His creation, God wishes for His creation to be in His will for them and within His love for them. God is omnibenevolent. Certainly understanding this we can see that God's perfect and absolute benevolence for His creation is seen not only in the continues existence of this creation in spite of itself but also in the various pleasure accorded to that creation. Keep in mind that benevolence is not just feel good happy joy joy emotions but is a holistic thing in that God has allowed pain receptors in our brains to keep us from injuring our frail bodies when we touch a hot stove...He watches out for us. A final point it God's omniscience. If all these other attributes are final, absolute, and perfect than likewise God's ability to know and have knowledge is perfect, final, and absolute. Now this is going to take a moment to hash out so follow me because it is at the crux of this argument:
Omniscience is the ability to have knowledge of all things past, present, and future. It is final, that is it has nothing further to grow into or learn about. It is absolute in that it is not contingent, arbitrary, or subjective, God's knowledge is not wavering since He already has all the facts. It is perfect in that God needs no more additional information or experience to have knowledge and comprehension of everything. Now this is a particular point to bring up because many people often wonder whether or not God's knowledge is covering everything in creation...including what sin is. God's possesses what is called de se knowledge in that, unlike humanity, God does not need to experience something in order to fully comprehend it. God already has full knowledge of pain, pleasure, pride, and promise without ever having to experience those things. This is an attribute of God's omniscience. It further proves my point that since God's knowledge is perfect, final, and absolute that His knowledge is all encompassing.
Thus it is not at all difficult to suggest that in understanding all of God's attributes as seen in Bible and creation that God possesses perfection including all His various attributes bonded together and are all holistic. To the point which we are talking, God's has perfect knowledge of all things past, present, and future and He has the ability know all things absolutely and finally in the whole scope of creation. This simple point quashes any attempt of the open theist to posit that God doesn't know everything.
If that is the case, certainly God could (and would) allow the free actions of humans to inform His course of action.
This is scary...very scary. Suggesting that God's actions are both contingent and only permissible through the actions of His creation is both invalidating God's sovereignty and God's perfect character. Do we actually think that God sits around in Heaven with a divine instant messenger awaiting humanity's actions in order to act? What kind of a God is this? Sounds like a wimpy God to me.
If God is the most perfect being I can begin to comprehend than He is as far above this as He is far above the creation He put into existence. Do we believe that God created all this because He was lonely?
This is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. This is not the God who reigns supreme yet is still concerned with caring for the sparrow in the tree outside my window. This is not a God who is transcendent of His creation, occupying the atemporal space outside of creation, yet still intimately personable to humanity to the point of restoring their destroyed imago Dei. This is not the God who holds together our delicate lives by His perfect will, yet makes available His tender leadership for each of our lives.
To suggest that God sits in the dock, that is God sits in the seat of the witness in our courtroom while humanity prosecutes His character and person by wishing Him to act in accordance to our wills. This is not the God of the Bible. This is a wimpy, nonsensical version of God which is an idolatrous intrusion onto His character.
i would refer to a previous post of mine on this thread regarding the difference between having an unchanging character, and yet at the same time, because of that unchanging character, changing "tactics" or plans.
Okay, so the writer of Hebrews doesn't deal with the holistic person of Christ?
By "Greek idea" i was referring more to traditional, classic Greek philosophy in the vein of Plato and Aristotle than to any Greek god. From my understanding, the idea of immutability and impassability really came into Christian thought with St. Aquinas (who gave us the idea that God was "that of which nothing greater can be thought" in his ontological argument).
Uh actually its Anselm that gave us that thought...but I digress. BTW you'll notice the ontological argument is part and parcel to my case here. I'd be interested to hear an argument from anyone on this forum to dispute my claim that God is the greatest being I can begin to imagine.
Anyhoo...don't classify it as the "Greek idea" since there is a pantheon of mythical gods and various philosophies that go along with such a route classification. Now my answer to the objection that Augustine (and seemingly all the church fathers...) is too influenced by Plato and Aristotle is that in light of the vast pantheon of Greek philosophical thought that Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy might actually be the most coherent and God given philosophies which help to cohere the Christian philosophy and theology.
Why is it wrong to suggest that Plato and Aristotle are right and should be used by us to better understand God?
Could it be that God would have used these two men to craft philosophy which not only gives God glory but also acts to cohere the forthcoming Christian thought which God had already put into motion?
I suggest this is actually the case and further suggest that it is compelling to consider this since out of all the other options available to Augustine and all the church fathers they chose this one particular view when it certainly wasn't the most widespread philosophical belief of their day. So your overly Greek accusation is moot since I say Platonic thought is God inspired and God breathed and useful for understanding and bonding Christian philosophical thought.
i don't propose to argue that this means that view is wrong, but more to argue that there can be other views that are maybe more outside that world view that aren't necessarily unbiblical.
Actually I'll go ahead and say that there are indeed other worldviews out there which are unbiblical and shouldn't be used. But enough on that.
posted by Preachin Jesus | 10:50 AM