Sometimes I have something to say here, oftentimes I don’t. Either way, welcome to The Weekly Town Crier, where I collect links of various kinds and you click said collection of links of various kinds and we’re all happy. And it’s nice to be happy. It’s good to try and think “missionally” about various things in culture. Let’s all be missionally-happy together. Hold my hand, won’t you?
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As the year and the decade come to a close, the “best of” lists begin rolling in.
Read Steve McCoy’s reflections on the recent Louisville Acts 29 bootcamp.
Read Mark Driscoll’s suggestions on how to prepare Christmas sermons.
Read about the girl who sneezes up to 12,000 times a day.
Read Scot McKnight’s brief thoughts on Tim Lahaye’s new deal for a new set of eschatology-related books.
Gospel-Centered Life, a new workbook from Tim Chester and Steve Timmis is now available in the U.S.
Read as the Washington Post questions the entertainment value of concerts where bands play one album, track-by-track.
Read Al Mohler’s thoughts after spending several hours with some of the Acts 29 leadership (Matt Chandler, Darrin Patrick, Daniel Montgomery, Scott Thomas, and Jamie Munson, etc.).
Watch Kirk Cameron interview Francis Chan.
Read a review of N.T. Wright’s book on justification.
Browse as Ed Stetzer explores the world of defining the Gospel.
Help Abort73 clear out some inventory.
Read as Jared Wilson wonders if we’re even Christians.
Read as Barna explores “the Long-Term Effect of Spiritual Activity among Children and Teens.”
Browse as The Art of Manliness lists the 50 best books for boys and young men.
Browse Metacritic’s best reviewed albums of the year.
Read/Listen as Fanfarlo visits The Current studio for an interview and live performance.
Read about “unfriend” being one dictionary’s word of the year.
Read John Piper’s piece “Yuppies Make Yucky Missionaries.”
Has Trajan become the official movie font?
This is a joke, right? Right?
Read this piece predicting the top 5 trends affecting ministry in 2010.
Read Shane Claiborne’s letter to non-believers.
Read one pastor’s reflections after being knife-attacked in South Asia.
Read as Francis Chan challenges us about what Scripture actually says about the Church and what we practice.
Read about the (last word on the?) controversy surrounding the Deadly Viper book.
Read an interview with Shane Claiborne.
Read an interview with Rob Bell.
Read about December being declared National Awareness Month.
Can you summarize the Gospel in three words? J.I. Packer gives it a shot. What do you think?
Read this profile of Sufjan Stevens.
I must admit, I have a (very big) soft spot for parentheses and for pop music. I don’t mean pop in the vein of things like Britney Spears but like the Smiths. Yes, it has come to be called “alternative” or even “indie,” but I’m a sucker for strings, horns and a good melody. With that in mind, I absolutely loved last year’s album from Ra Ra Riot and this year’s album from a group called Fanfarlo. Though the album came out near the beginning of the year, I’ve just recently stumbled across it and fallen in love with it. May I introduce you to Fanfarlo?
Here is Fanfarlo performing an acoustic version of “Finish Line:”
Here is their version of the Black Cab Sessions:
Here they are performing their track “Harold T. Wilkins” in a gazebo:
Here is the official music video for their song “The Walls Are Coming Down:”
- Visit Fanfarlo’s official website
- Purchase Fanfarlo’s amazing debut album Resevoir
There’s been an interesting discussion going on over on my Facebook page. My friend Kyle recently attended the Acts 29 Boot Camp in Louisville, KY and was kind enough to write out some of his impressions for us here.
It is interesting, that, in spite of the heavy emphasis on Gospel and doctrine in Acts 29, one of the first things many people notice is that there is somewhat of an “image” often associated with Acts 29. This doesn’t just apply to Acts 29, but that is what prompted the discussion. For example, one of the comments on my Facebook page was that someone said that “the store Buckle could be an official sponsor” of Boot Camp. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been inside the Buckle, but I know what the comment implies: there is a certain fashion at many Acts 29 events, funky pattern button-up shirts, tattered jeans, big watch, chunky glasses and iPhone with a messenger bag. OK, maybe I just described myself but I think you know what I mean. In fact, that might be an image of the broader “emerging” concept more than just Acts 29 or maybe we’ll call it the “missional uniform”?
This prompted the question: what is the relationship between doctrine and fashion? How/why is it that groups that often think alike also dress alike? This is true for any number of groups. The boomers had a certain “style,” as do many Southern Baptists. Sometimes, this is well-thought out and is in fact a missional decision but more often than not, I wonder if it isn’t some sociological principle at work? I don’t know, I’m just blogging out loud here, looking for your feedback.
Is it that Acts 29 attracts a certain type of individual (as do all groups), or that Acts 29 has created a certain kind of culture? Can those two questions even be separated? Most people (of course there are always exceptions) involved with, say, 9 Marks Ministries, are going to dress differently (and think differently on many issues) than many of the people involved in Acts 29. What is it that draws different people to these different groups?
Is it enough just to say that like attracts like? Is this wrong? How much should we then strive for diversity (I think we should)? What does the Gospel have to say about this?
My good friend Kyle recently attended the Acts 29 Boot Camp in Louisville, KY. I asked him if he would be willing to share some of this thoughts, especially since he is not a member of Acts 29. Enjoy:
Guest Author: Kyle Hopper
This past week was the Acts 29 boot camp in Louisville, KY. To be honest this was my first real exposure to Acts 29 besides knowing its association to Mark Driscoll and the issues the Network had faced due to a perceived pro alcohol stance.
The way I attended this conference was actually kind of interesting. I am a Minister of Students in Jackson,TN. I have an annual conference budget and had some money left for 2009 that I had to use or lose. So I asked my friend, Brent Thomas, if he knew of any good conferences to go to. He suggested The Boot Camp. I had always been curious about church planting and the Acts 29 Network that Brent always speaks so highly of. So I decided to give it a try.
To say that I was blown away would really be an understatement. First of all the worship was great. The conference was held at Sojourn Church and the worship was lead by their worship band, very talented musicians We sang old hymns put to new arrangements . It is always such an encouraging feeling to be surrounded by folks that are worshipping in spirit and truth.
There was an eclectic blend of speakers ranging from theological to practical. It was interesting to hear from guys who have planted successful churches. Though the more time you spend talking to these church planters you get a different idea of what they consider successful. To them, numbers really never were brought up. There were no lectures on “how to get a crowd to come to your events” or even “How to properly engage culture and be relevant.”
The theme seems to be disciple making. Through mainly the preached Word of God and one on one shepherding disciples are made. These men make an effort to pour their lives into each other. It reminded me very much of a Pauline type of structure. Discipling others, while you yourself are being discipled.
The other thing that really impressed me is that these church planters seem to want to fill their churches with converts not transplants. Basically growth needs to happen from people coming to know the gospel and not just moving membership around. Therefore there is an effort not to be ”culturally relevant” but to do the hard work of getting to know your city and your neighbors. It is not about coming up with the next new thing to get people into the doors. In fact there was a lot of emphasis on getting outside the doors.
I could go into more detail about how the speakers really challenged me to put into practice the beliefs I hold so dear, but I will just say that I was really convicted about quite a number of things. The conference made a huge impact on me and I am continuing to process what I learned daily.
It was refreshing to be around so many people committed to both theology AND evangelism, Expository preaching AND impacting individual lives, Love for the individual WHILE building community. I can tell you that I left there knowing for sure that if the Lord ever calls me to plant a church then I am for sure going to be seeking to be a part of the Acts 29 Network.
Plus being a long time beard grower myself, I have never been in a community so welcoming of facial hair out side of the Amish!
As you might expect in the context of a church plant, I spend a lot of time, along with our other Elder, Wade, thinking and talking about church. Part of the challenge is to realize that baggage of “tradition” (in both the good and bad sense) we bring into Church of the Cross. In a sense, we have a clean slate, but that doesn’t mean we’re free to “do church” any way we want. Instead, we feel the joyful but weighty responsibility to re-filter much of church through the Scriptures. As we’ve been doing this, one passage has been rocking my world. Consider Ephesians 4:11-16:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Consider in particular, verses 11 and 12. Paul says that certain people have been given to the church, but notice who it is that is to do the work of ministry: the saints. The “apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” are given to equip the saints, not to do the work of ministry for them. While this may not initially seem like a big deal, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if our modern approach to church and “ministry” is entirely in keeping with passages like this and the many “one another” passages.
Here’s what I mean (and please feel free to push back if you think it’s necessary): in many (most?) churches, when a need arises, the members voice their need to the leaders, expecting the leaders to meet that need. The leaders, of course are paid to do exactly such a thing, and the easiest approach to meeting needs within the body is to create a program or a class. So, for example, if there are many young families, the easiest solution is a parenting “class.” If people are struggling with how to read their Bibles, the easiest solution is a class, taught by a paid staff member, because, after all, we pay them to “do ministry,” right?!
But of course, this should prompt the question of whether or not this approach actually equips the saints for the work of ministry. My inclination is that, no, it doesn’t. Instead, it makes us dependent on others (whom we pay) to answer our questions and meet our needs. But what if Paul, in keeping with the spirit of the “one another” passages had something else in mind?
Would it look any different if leaders in the church saw their “job” as equipping others to do ministry rather than doing ministry for them? I think it would mean more of an emphasis on relationship, accountability, community and discipleship. An environment in which we are truly encouraged to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:1-2). I wonder if much of the way we have come to view ministry is more about the transmission of information than it is actually about equipping “the saints for the work of ministry.”
For those of you who have lived in the more top-down ministry model of classes and programs, have you really felt equipped for the work of ministry? Is it right to think that when we pay others as “church staff,” it is natural to expect them to “do ministry?” What would it look like to equip people through community and discipleship rather than classes and programs?