The Church as a Family

Pastor preached a great sermon this week out of 1 Timothy 5 about how when we need to confront other believers about an issue of faith, (especially when they are near the cliff of a heresy) that we should treat them like a family member. He also talked about how we actually treat our own biological and cultural family members, and how if we don’t “provide” for them we are worse than an unbeliever.

This caused me to think about what it means to treat my family as God has instructed, and also whether our modern North American Evangelical church culture is really anything like a family. I was deeply convicted by the message, and this is the outworking of my thinking about the topic. Continue reading “The Church as a Family”

Literal Interpretation of Scripture

Once upon a Bible translation

About 12 years ago I was doing some web work for the church I was attending, and as a part of that I was posting sermon notes on the website every week. Pastor would send me his notes, and I would take the scripture references and look them up and paste the verse into the text, so readers wouldn’t need to do that. The problem at the time was that the pastor used NASB as his normal version, and I couldn’t find a free electronic copy of that translation. So while I was casting around for free electronic bibles I found the New English Translation – the first free and open source bible translation. Continue reading “Literal Interpretation of Scripture”

Programs are Programs

Programs are just programs. They’re a way to organize people and help them go where God has already called them to go and [do] what God has already called them to do.

I love this statement from Allison Vesterfelt’s post on the StoryLine blog.

I think when we look at our church (the one we are regularly attending) in North America, we tend to see its ministry in terms of the programs that it runs.  We have a view on ministry that says ministry = programs and programs = ministry.  That is, with more words, if some kind of ministry is important, we create a program to do it, and by default any ministry that doesn’t have a program wrapped around it isn’t that important. Continue reading “Programs are Programs”

Busy Work

Some times we just assume things. Like whether something “on our list” really needs to be done. Some times tasks turn in to habits – and we have to ask ourselves whether the original reason we started doing “it” is still viable. It really is a question of value. How much value do I get from doing the task, and how much does it cost me to do it?

Here are some ideas to help you think about busywork in life, career and ministry… Continue reading “Busy Work”

Spirituality and Science

Atheists often hide their belief system or worldview behind a facade of science.

One of the frequent things some of my atheistic friends will say to me is, how can you believe in God and all that “stuff” in the Bible, when science has “clearly” proven all of it wrong.

Atheism requires a belief system that is just as much faith as it is science. But that is hard for many to see or admit. They want to say that science is “fact” – they don’t like the word truth. Its a fact.

Science is based on proving a hypothesis. A proven hypothesis is not a fact, nor is it truth. It is an opinion, supported by facts, that has not yet been overturned by new facts. No more, no less. Continue reading “Spirituality and Science”

Authority and Church

In my last post, I said “As I read my bible, apostolic authority ended when the full canon of scripture was complete”.  My friend Adam called me out on that – saying that he would like to see where I read that.  (Adam, these are my thoughts, more or less informed by my own bible study, however flawed, and my observations of “church”)

I am neither a theologian, nor a studied church historian.  I am just a regular Christian guy trying to parse this world through the lens afforded by the Bible.  With that disclaimer, here are my thoughts: Continue reading “Authority and Church”

Church and The Church

This week I read two posts by Donald Miller on the Storyline Blog.  One was talking about how he doesn’t connect to God when singing in corporate worship, in which he shared that he didn’t attend church frequently.  Apparently the Evangelical community took issue with this and he followed up with what I thought was a really, really thoughtful treatment on the topic of church attendance and church community.

I have my own thoughts, and I know a lot of evangelicals who have walked away from church membership or regular attendance in a local church.  A few years ago I wrote a few posts about Church stuff, and while they are interesting, they are not nearly as incisive as his so I suggest that you all read his posts.

Regardless of whether my own thoughts are insightful, I thought I would share some new thoughts that came while reading the blog posts. Continue reading “Church and The Church”

Solo Pastorates Are More Challenging Than Ever

In a conversation with and old friend, discussing the challenges of solo pastorate churches… Years ago, before the advent of the mega-church or the corporate church, I seem to remember seminarians being placed in small pastorates, Solo pastorate churches in established communities.  I was newly saved or not saved yet, so did not understand the dynamics of ministry and expectation.

Perhaps expectations were lower then.  Perhaps the propensity of member or attenders to spectate, rather than participate were lower.  Perhaps we had more common cultural norms and value systems.  I don’t know but I think the challenges of the solo pastorate church were less then.

When I reflect on it now, the challenges of a small urban or suburban congregation are many, and as a much older person, I struggle to imagine a recent seminary graduate having the capacity to lead in this situation without burning himself out.

Here are things that have changed over the last 30-40 years that have made this more (rather than less) challenging: Continue reading “Solo Pastorates Are More Challenging Than Ever”

Why We Often Lack Fellowship

In a recent conversation with my son, who is away at college, he shared that he felt that he was not deeply connecting with other Christians on campus. This is his second semester, and while I heard the same story last semester, I kinda just blew it off, saying “These things take time…” and other platitudes hoping that the situation would correct itself.

This time, my son expressed some self doubt, asking me, “Is it something that I am doing wrong?”, so I took it perhaps a little more seriously. This is somewhat like the conversation we had:

Tell me about a time when you experienced “fellowship” in the past. Was that in your high school youth group?
Yes.
Was it the whole time you were in the group?
No. It was after I started expressing more commitment to my faith, in my Junior year.
Were you involved in serving or helping?
Yes. I was on the worship team, doing “tech”, and in SLT (student leadership training).
So you experienced the deepest fellowship when you were expressing commitment to your faith by serving alongside other believers?
Hmmm.
Are you serving alongside other believers now?
Not really, it is hard to get plugged in, my schedule always seems to interfere.
You are part of Intervarsity, right? Are there ways you can serve in that group, that don’t require lots of time commitment or on flexible schedules?
I don’t know. I suppose. I have wanted to get into the leadership team, and on the worship team, but the schedule doesn’t seem to be working out.
Have you thought about just finding other ways to “help out”?
Hmmm…..

In our conversation, I asked what he thought fellowship was, and what it was for; why God gave that deep connectedness to members of his body? Continue reading “Why We Often Lack Fellowship”