Colbert Wants Christ Out Of Christmas (Well, Sort of)

December 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> March to Keep Fear Alive

The Weekly Town Crier

December 17, 2010 at 7:56 am

Welcomings to you my dear Internets friend. Please, make yourself virtually at home. Welcome to the Weekly Town Crier, where I compile compilings of linkings and you clink on those linkings to things of varying levels of interest, to you and/or me.

Be my friend on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

Subscribe to our occasional music/interview podcast The Habañero Hour in iTunes.

Follow the Habañero Hour on Twitter for regular music/arts news updates, podcast and Phoenix house show announcements.

Become a fan of The Habañero Hour on Facebook for even more goodies and to help spread the love and world domination.

Read about the “Apple Fear Factor.”

R.I.P. Elizabeth Edwards.

Read about Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral being protested by Westboro Baptist “Church.”

Hear the new one “All Things New” from Red Mountain Music.

Watch an interview with Tim Chester and Jeff Vanderstelt.

Read about the Burger King employee who killed a customer in a fight.

Read about the man who died after overdosing on caffeine.

R.I.P. Roger Nicole.

I love year-end lists. Lists of all kinds, but mostly music lists. Browse some here:

  • Browse Amazon UK’s picks.
  • Browse the Atlantic City Weekly’s album picks.
  • Browse the AV Club’s 15 worst movies of the year.
  • Browse Gorilla vs. Bear’s top albums.
  • Browse as the KCRW DJs make their picks.
  • Browse Large-Hearted Boy’s favorite albums of 2010
  • Browse Metacritic’s collection of the best and worst reviewed albums of the year.
  • Browse Mojo’s albums of the year.
  • Browse Myspace’s top albums of 2010.
  • Browse NME’s top albums of the year.
  • Browse NPR’s favorite 50 albums of the year.
  • Browse NPR’s listener’s albums of the year.
  • Browse Paste’s picks for best non-fiction television of the year.
  • Browse Pitchfork’s album picks. Now with corporate sponsorship!
  • Browse “Relevant’s” albums of the year.
  • Browse Rolling Stone‘s albums of the year.
  • Browse Urban Outfitters’ picks.

Pre-order Tim Chester’s new book “A Meal With Jesus.” Looking forward to this one.

Read about the man who has apparently been cured of HIV through stem cell transplants.

Read about “Brothers” by The Black Keys being named album of the year by iTunes.

Read The Gospel Coalition’s list of 5 books every Christian should read. How many of them have you read?

Read about Neil Diamond, Tom Waits, Alice Cooper and Dr. John being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Browse Barna’s list of six “megathemes” that are developing for the American church.

What is frankincense, anyways?

Preview Google’s “Body Browser.”

Read about the boy who cries blood.

See an ancient statue of Aphrodite that washed up on shore.

Read as David Powlison suggests ways to apply the genealogies of the Bible to your life.

See a map of America based on recent census data.

Of All The Things To Assume

December 16, 2010 at 10:35 am

therapist_couch121I’ve been thinking a lot lately about American “church culture.” Having grown up in American suburban evangelicalism, it’s sometimes hard to realize what you’re actually marinating in. I have visited lots of churches, I have been a member of some churches, I have done volunteer ministry and both part-time and full-time paid ministry. I watch trends and I try to think about them. And, frankly, I’m worried.

And I’m not the only one. The voices saying that “American Christianity” is not not healthy and may, for the most part, not even be Christianity are growing louder, stronger and more urgent. Books like Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity, Kenda Creasy Dean’s Almost Christian, Alan Wolfe’s The Transformation of American Religion and others are all making various shades of the same point. As Wolfe, who is not a Christian, says:

in every aspect of the religious life, American faith has met American culture – and American culture has triumphed. Whether or not the faithful ever were a people apart, they are so no longer.

Creasy Dean worries:

We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that it is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition . . . it is not so much that U.S. Christianity is being secularized. Rather, more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by quite a different religious faith

So how did we get here, to a place where much of what calls itself Christianity is only “tenuously Christian in any sense”? Well, you could take the standpoint that these authors are crying wolf and that there’s really very little to worry about. After all, mega-churches are only getting bigger, “Christian celebrities” are only getting more famous and politicians often profess belief in Christianity, so maybe there’s really nothing to worry about? As much as part of me wishes this was true, I’m just afraid it’s not.

Stephen Prothero has shown that Religious Literacy is at an all-time low and the Pew forum has confirmed this. But, it’s not just that we don’t know about other religions, most Americans can’t even articulate the core tenets of their own professed faith. Whatever else is happening in the American Church, it certainly doesn’t seem like we’ve guarded the good deposit” (1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 1:14). So, what have we been teaching if our own people don’t know the core principles of Christianity? Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, that’s what.

We’ve been teaching that you simply have to be a good person and God will approve you. Not only that, God is always there to help you, to counsel you and to bless you. He wants you to have “your best life now.” And we’ve been teaching a lot of it because we like to hear it (2 Timothy 4:3). It has become our marinade. So much so that it is no longer safe to assume that even people who have grown up in American churches know the Gospel. I have come to fear that much of “American Church ministry” assumes the Gospel as its foundation when in reality, it’s Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (it’s fun to say but scary to comprehend. Go ahead: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism).

When churches now lay out the fullness of the Gospel, we are called unloving, intolerant and prejudicial. When we call people to lay down their lives to follow Jesus, we’re told that we’re “radical” and that we expect too much from people. If we say that the point of our Sunday gatherings is not to entertain people, many will go where it is. It’s a strange time when being faithful (or at least trying to be faithful) to Scripture means that other “Christians” look at you like you’re weird.

If our churches do not become gripped by the Gospel; the good news that God Himself has come to rescue sinners through the Person and Work of of Jesus Christ on our behalf, our ears may be scratched, our seats may be full, our budgets may be big but can we really call ourselves the Church?

Here is Michael Horton discussing Moralistic Therapeutic Deism with The Resurgence:

You Can’t Handle The Truth?

December 6, 2010 at 7:59 am

szr0By now I’m sure you’re all familiar with the controversy surrounding Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks, which calls itself a “whistleblower” website. If not, here’s the gist of what’s going on: Wikileaks is a Wikipedia, like website that specializes in otherwise unpublished and often confidential documents. They have released war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, finding themselves at the center of controversy, not only for releasing classified documents but for not deleting actual names. Most recently, Wikileaks leaked sensitive cables from U.S. Diplomats, revealing the way many of our official actually think about and talk about those around the world with whom they deal.

The resulting image of U.S. diplomats was not flattering to say the least. Our officials were represented as arrogant and protectionist. While I understand the notion that many are disturbed by Assange’s actions due to issues of national security, I also understand Assange’s urges to release classified information.

But none of that really warrants me taking the time, energy or thought of posting about Wikileaks here. I usually refrain from posting about politics. What interests me about this whole situation is the connection between American Christianity and politics. America has its own hybrid of Christianity and if you don’t believe me, just ask yourself how it is that anyone could believe that Joel Osteen actually preaches the Bible accurately. It is a self-focused, feel-good, materialistic message that others have referred to as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

The truth is that, largely speaking, in America, American culture has impacted Christianity immensely. As Alan Wolfe says in his fascinating book The Transformation of American Religion:

in every aspect of the religious life, American faith has met American culture – and American culture has triumphed. Whether or not the faithful ever were a people apart, they are so no longer.

I realize that I am here painting with very large strokes, but sometimes that’s the most fun way to paint. But my point is that we often model the church after business models rather than doing business in light of the Gospel. Many of our churches are run like businesses and many pastors fancy themselves CEO’s. What does all of this have to do with the Wikileaks controversy, you may be asking yourself? I’m glad you asked. I came across this tweet from Shrink The Church:

Now, I realize that there are times when some conversations must be confidential. But that’s the point of WIkileaks, isn’t it? What you say in confidentiality may some day be revealed. Jesus Himself reminds us of this in Luke 8:17: “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Has business culture come into our churches so much that there are things want to remain secret? Should churches have secrets? How far should we go with “transparency”? How does it affect your church’s life to know that everything you do  is already known by God?

Whatever you may think of Wikileaks’ tactics and philosophy, it does seem to be a helpful reminder to us all that the truth is always more powerful than secrecy.

The Weekly Town Crier

December 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

hf4344-001Welcome to the Weekly Town Crier. Where I compile a pile of links. Sometimes I keep up with this better than others. You be the judge as to how well I did this week.

Be my friend on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

Subscribe to our occasional music/interview podcast The Habañero Hour in iTunes.

Follow the Habañero Hour on Twitter for regular music/arts news updates, podcast and Phoenix house show announcements.

Become a fan of The Habañero Hour on Facebook for even more goodies and to help spread the love and world domination.

I love year-end lists. Lists of all kinds, but mostly music lists. Browse some here:

  • Browse Amazon UK’s picks.
  • Browse Gorilla vs. Bear’s top albums.
  • Browse as the KCRW DJs make their picks.
  • Browse Large-Hearted Boy’s favorite albums of 2010
  • Browse Metacritic’s collection of the best and worst reviewed albums of the year.
  • Browse Mojo’s albums of the year.
  • Browse Myspace’s top albums of 2010.
  • Browse NME’s top albums of the year.
  • Browse NPR’s favorite 50 albums of the year.

Read about the 1,000 or so people who live in tunnels under Las Vegas.

Read about Marvin Olasky’s resignation as Provost of King’s College.

Read about Keith Olbermann’s suspension from MSNBC for donating to Democratic candidates.

Read about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop announcing his retirement in 2013.

Read about San Francisco making a ban on Happy Meal toys.

Read about the study that found that the internet makes kids terrible spellers. And in other obvious news . . .

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen.

Read about the possible Postal Service reunion.

Watch as Scott Anderson of Desiring God talks with Darrin Patrick.

Listen as Mark Dever interviews Matt Chandler.

Read as Justin Taylor considers the Shadow Scholar.

Read this piece about the often unfortunate tone of the exchanges between Calvinists and Arminians.

Soma School 201 Quotes

December 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

picture-25A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of going up to Tacoma, WA to be equipped by our friends at Soma Communities. Soma School 201 was intended for people who have been through the original Soma School and gone home to implement Gospel-Communities on Mission as the organizing principle of their local church families. I tweeted a lot of the quotes and had several requests to compile them. My friend Logan Paschke did just that. Of course, many of these will be out of context but there’s enough gospel-nugget-goodness here to provoke quite a bit of thought and discussion. Thanks for compiling these, Logan:

Instead of me beating myself up because I’m not priestly, I must take people to the High Priest.

A gospel-rich culture creates a freedom to fail, a freedom to confess and a freedom to lead.

If we’ve created churches that only dynamic talking heads that know real estate and has an MBA can lead, we’ve lost touch.

Pride is not that you think too highly of yourself or too low but too much.

It’s easy to see who a disciple is because they are the ones making disciples.

A simple yet profoundly misunderstood truth; the mission is all about making disciples of Jesus and not simply converts.

If we truly relied on Holy Spirit we would talk to God about our people more than we talk to our people about God.

If our people say “yes” to growing as a disciple, they are saying “yes” to gospel transformation, community and mission.

If the gospel is not shared people will not come to Christ. It is God’s means to release shackles and we hold the keys.

Disciples live as a family of missionary servants.

Do we talk of the Gospel simply as something that happened or something that is still happening to us?

Pride is not how much you think of yourself or how little you think of yourself but how often you think of yourself.

The ultimate goal is not Missional Communities, but disciples made for which Missional Communities serve that end.

If your people push back when calling them to make disciples, it may be they are not or have not been discipled themselves.

Jesus primary means of discipleship was life along the way and not a class and curriculum.

We think of discipleship as a formal process but Jesus discipled in all of life along the way.

Most people’s view of God is based on the life they want to live and they define God to support it.

People will talk more about Jesus if they are able to listen in and watch how Jesus is actively changing us.

Having a good reputation with outsiders is not simply a qualification, it’s a missional imperative.

Jesus became the thing he hated to rescue us from the thing we love.

God didn’t give us 10%, he gave us Jesus.

Fundamental to the gospel is not your ability to give, but to receive.

We don’t go “be Jesus” to people Jesus is Jesus to people though us by His Spirit.

We are not the church because of what we do but because of what He’s done.

Who am I? What’s wrong with me? What is my solution? What is my hope? Creation/Fall/Redemption/Restoration grid is imperative in shepherding.

Every story other than the Gospel story has a place of compromise.

We think individualism is a sign of strength but it’s actually weakness. We were created for community.

A biblical ecclesiology must not begin with what we must do but what Christ has done.

The few equipping the many to do the work of the ministry.

Do we live with “Spirit-expectancy?”

We must learn to celebrate the Spirit every day. Were you patient today, did you have joy, that was the work of the Spirit.

Most of us are functional cessationists. We may say we believe in the Power of the Spirit but we try to live without it.

Planters and Pastors, only raise up elders who you are willing to submit yourself to.

No one becomes a biblically-qualified elder because they sit through a bunch of bible classes.

Defensiveness is unbelief in the Gospel. We believe man’s view is more important than God’s.

We love transparency but not vulnerability.

Anyone who is not willing to submit to anyone should never call others to submit to them. That’s just abusive leadership.

We complain about not enough men in the church but we’ve created systems that exclude most men from participating.

If what you know, you can’t teach to an 8-year old, you don’t really know it yet, you’re just regurgitating.

Just because we teach doesn’t mean people are actually learning. We must be equipping people.

Matthew 28 qualifies an elder’s ability to teach. If people aren’t obeying Jesus’ commands, we’re not qualified as elders.

When we think of “church” we tend to think of people collected under a particular 501c3.

Being a pastor shouldn’t be just getting people to do what they’re supposed to do but motivating with the Gospel.

If our mission is to make disciples who make disciples, how is your ministry facilitating this?

Do you pray over your calendar? Do you ask the Spirit before you put something on your calendar?

Is the Spirit locking in your schedule or are you?

Gospel change is a missional witness to the power of the risen Christ. Are we willing to let people in so they can see Him?

Good coaching produces players, not overly dependent observers. If your coaching doesn’t lead to playing, it’s not coaching.

Jeff Vanderstelt just made me like soccer more because the coach doesn’t control the game. He trusts his players and his plan.

It’s not in us to do all that conforms to the image of Christ. Any good in our lives is owing to the Spirits work in us.

The acts of the Spirit leave so many fingerprints on every day of our life. The problem is that we aren’t aware of this.

Each time you forgave, served, loved, felt joy, we’re all because the Holy Spirit is at work. Never forget this!

When we release people into the hands of the Spirit, we can expect the Spirit to do what He did with Christ-lead/empower/send.

We aren’t releasing people into the wild when we send them, we’re handing them over to the Holy Spirit.

Often we think people are rejecting the gospel when the truth is they may be rejecting the confusing way we’re sharing it.

Aspiring leaders that refuse to submit to any authority are training rebels against the King.

Has the structure you’ve created diminished your ability to prove men in community? If so, we shouldn’t complain about few men.

“Able to teach” is so distorted today that we think a packed auditorium has anything to do with sound teaching.

If a man aspires to be a leader but rarely listens to the counsel of his wife will probably not listen to the bride of Christ.

If you’re not with the people, you’re not overseeing the flock. God intends the leaders to be close not distant because He’s close.

If your preaching lacks transformational and equipping elements, you’re creating brains on a stick instead of whole people.

Able to teach means disciples who obey in other contexts & train others to do the same Deut 6:1.

It’s not going to matter in the end if we’ve been told “you’re a great teacher” but no one was transformed to follow Christ.

Teaching that merely informs the head without affecting the heart and moving our hands is not only ineffective, it’s dangerous.

Be careful with ambitious men. Ambition often lacks loyalty.

Hospitality is making room in your home & life for strangers to be, to be known, & to be grown.

If u don’t do this, u don’t care for the Church well (Biblical eldership).

Radical individualism is a sign of great weakness and not mighty strength.

Whatever the problem is, the Gospel is the answer. If that sounds to simple it’s because we don’t understand it well enough.

Behind every sin is unbelief in the Gospel.

We know who God is by what He has done.

At its heart, worship is living in constant dependence on God, not just singing.

Who is Jesus? What has He done? Who are we in Him? How should we live? Are questions that will radically form our people.

Let’s be careful that we don’t speak of the gospel only in past tense (what it did for me) but present (what it’s doing today).

Every excuse we offer against doing ministry is an open-door for Gospel-application.

Any excuse for ministry is always an open door for the gospel. Our people are screaming out for us to gospel them!

The movement towards isolation is a movement away from the gospel. Sin isolates, grace unites.

The gospel is not just a starting point of faith, but a fluid point in our faith.

If you don’t sense the gospel changing you now you’ll not be good news people that share good news today.

Gospel fluency that builds up + gospel ministry that builds up = mature church. A lack of gospel ministry and fluency means you are an immature church.

According to Ephesians 4:11-16 a church is mature when it is able to speak the truth (gospel) in love.

If the gospel makes you yawn because you’ve heard it all before, you never really listened.

A farmer creates the environment for growth. We create the environment for discipleship.

The vision and mission of the church is always making disciples.

The Holy Spirit is the power of discipleship.

Expectation of discipleship: give up everything!

Call of discipleship: come and follow me, learn my ways, become like me-be my disciple.

Is the call followers of Jesus have today any different than Jesus’ call to the 12 disciples?

If discipleship is the thing, everything else is the details.

If you can do discipleship without evangelism you are not really doing discopleship.

Mission doesn’t happen accidentally. It was the Father’s PLAN, the son’s WORK and the Spirit’s MANAGEMENT.

I don’t feel cared for – could mean – I dont get cared for by the pastor. MC leaders need to be trained towards care!

The gospel brings Kings & Priests together. They should grate against against each other, but they do need each other. We need the office of Christ reflected in the CHURCH

When prophets and kings are sinful, people get hurt. When priests are sinful, people still love them but don’t change.

You want a priest who can appreciate the other perspectives

Listening to someone teach on tri-perspectivalism. Feeling smart. Try to say it. You’ll feel smart too.

“One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels agaunst all sound judgment” proverbs 18:1.

Whatever we fear the most will be the governing power of your life. Is it God or something else?

When it doesn’t feel scandalous, we don’t understand grace yet.

We are to be a counter-culture. Instead, we try to live in the culture, like the culture and squeeze Jesus into it.

Jesus didn’t die just to save us from hell but that we would be the people we were intended to be.

“I can’t … talk to my neighbor, etc” Wait, the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in YOU”

If you are able to pull of ministry apart from radical dependency upon the Holy Spirit, it may be the work of another Spirit.

Jesus died to give us the Spirit. Are you living in the power of the Spirit?

“Any of you who doesn’t give up ALL he has cannot be my disciple.”

Let’s not allow our “gospel-centrality” become another way to avoid seeking, needing and responding to the Holy Spirit.

What do I do in life that I need to do only in the Spirit’s power.

You don’t need to make disciples for God to love you, but you need to make disciples because God loves you.

We don’t have Gospel power & purpose without the Holy Spirit.

If your gospel-centrality has led to passivity, it’s not the gospel. Grace produces RIGHTLY obedient disciples.

Obedience to Jesus is not drudgery or obligation but motivated by love. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. ” 1 John 5:3

Gospel power & purpose: What are you saved from? What are you saved for?

We weren’t saved just to go to church.

Do we look at the Holy Spirit like that really weird uncle?

Many of us equate discipleship with a 1:1 study instead of living life together.

It is loving & gracious to call our people to obedience.

When tempted to worry, we say not only “I must not” worry, but “I need not” worry because God is in control.

When tempted to envy another’s possession, we say not only “I must not” envy, but also “I need not” envy because I have Christ.

Making disciples will cost you time, tears & your most valuable resources. When that happens, you will share in Christ’s suffering.

If our churches aren’t planting, sending & releasing we are in danger of building an evangelical Babel.

To say to temptation “I must not do this” is legalism. To say “I need not do this” is gospel.

We have God’s love & approval even when we are not living missional, but we must live on mission.

It is just as sinful to reject the call of God to make disciples as it is to assume doing so will gain you His favor.

What you love the most will effortlessly draw you towards itself.

There is both power and purpose to the Gospel. We are not just saved from sin into mission.

what or who do I love more than Jesus?

The best equippers in the local church are the indigenous leaders. Context and character validate our teaching locally.

“Most discipleship has just become knowledge-based. That’s what a Pharisee was.”

The Holy Spirit is the primary discipler and equipper of people.

Vision big & think small.

Our authority does not come by way of denomination structure or title but by gospel truth in relationship.

Seminary produces theologians but not pastors. If you don’t apply theology in practice, it is a cheap theology.

Churches, are we willing to give everything away in order to see our regions saturated with the Gospel or are we territorial?

How many of the songs we sing on Sunday are personal pronouns (I, me, my) and how many are plural (our, we, us)?

“The Missional Bowl 2010″ Sponsored by Moleskine and Mumford and Sons as the halftime show.

Radical autonomy in church life & city life is unbiblical.

Pure autonomy has hindered us from calling church leaders to account for their failure to lead on mission.

Just as territorialism is heresy, so pure autonomy is unbiblical. How can a movement happen with radical individualism?

If your friendships are described as “those I go to church with,” you’ve just defined friendship as an event.

Typically we take the tree (model) of NA churches into foreign lands and they bear no fruit. Plant seeds and what it grow instead.

Are we building our kingdom or His Kingdom? Territorialism is heresy.

We need a healthy North American Church so the resources can be shared worldwide.

A healthy North American church is good for the world. An unhealthy one is dangerous for the world.

good stewardship multiplies

Every push-back to living life together on mission is a perfect opportunity for Gospel change.

Are our best leaders freed up to begin new works AND serve existing churches throughout the city?

Do you live life with a holy discontent to see your content saturated with the Gospel.

Let’s not compete with our cities to serve the people of the city. There is no competition. We have what they don’t. Jesus.

“We don’t get people healed by getting them into a group but getting them to Jesus.”

We often teach our people way too many things so that they remember few things. God help me teach a few things well till I die.

“We didn’t ask Jesus into our hearts! We don’t convert Him to us, He converts us to Him!”

How often do we actually just run events instead of making disciples?

A short-term missions trip is a microcosm of what everyday life should look like.

You might think that salvation is a ticket to heaven instead of freedom from self-absorption. Glad Jesus didn’t believe that.

The church should call the world to account for what God intends for it. A cowardly church is unwilling to suffer for Christ.

Pray – serve – speak. Formula for biblical discipleship.

You’ve not merely been saved as a person, you’ve been saved into a people.

You didn’t invite Jesus into your heart, He invaded it.

Don’t study your Bible, study God in the Bible.

Why so much push back against mission? Because we want things to revolve around us instead of revolving our lives around others.

We shouldn’t have people develop ministry, instead have ministry that develops people.

We should speak in cultures terms, but not live on cultures terms!

Affinity based ministry is selfish if you never get out of affinity based ministry.

Do you really believe, and does your life prove it, that you were saved by the power of God for the purposes of God?

Our we teaching our people to look spiritually healthy or be spiritually healthy? To pretend demonstrates a serious sickness.

What a MC Leader tells me when I ask him how his MC is going tells me what he thinks I feel is important. What am I conveying?

When you ask your leaders “How is your MC doing?” their response will show you what they value the most. Is it making disciples?

How many times has the Spirit led us to specifically pray for someone or something and we were so busy we couldn’t?

When was the last time we began our prayers by asking God to show us what we should pray for?

If your are the only one in your church who is responsible for communicating the Gospel, your people will let you continue alone.

The reason we should value generosity in our church is because it’s what the Gospel leads us to be.

Discipleship=Evangelism. The work of an evangelist is to make disciples & the work of discipleship is believing the Gospel.

If it’s true that we invest in what we value, what does our lack of investment in our people tell us?

There is a difference between having a Bible study and having people study Jesus in the bible and do so to follow Him faithfully.

“Business often equals burnout, not holiness.”

What you talk about is what you value & measure.

Where you put your energy shows what you value

“People think you value most what they hear you talking about the most. What are we celebrating the most?”

One of THE key indicators of true commitment to be a disciple is evidenced by what our people do with what they have.

If people know what they are called to you won’t have to tell them to pray & read the word.”

Individualistic church leads to individualistic evangelism.

If we depend on one primary evangelist to lead everyone to Christ, we will convince people that evangelism is a one-man show.

“Life together is evangelism.”

“We’ve been taught that church is the safest place on the planet instead of Jesus being the safest place.”

The best soil to make effective disciples is in a gospel-believing, missional community. Without an example, it is only a concept.

We need to present people mature in Christ. Discipleship is Life on Life, Community, mission.

If our people aren’t sharing the Gospel in a variety of forms, they don’t understand what being a disciple is.

If your people don’t know how to share the gospel they are not being equipped to make disciples.

If our leaders don’t understand what’s expected of them and examples for them, they won’t effectively lead.

The Shadow Scholar Goes To Seminary

December 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

photo_8295_landscape_largeIn light of yesterday’s post wondering about the value of seminary education, I’ve been thinking about a recent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education called “The Shadow Scholar.” My friend Adam sent me this piece a week or so ago and I’ve read it a couple of times since then.

In the article, a man who writes papers for students tells his story. He writes:

You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work. I’m a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists.

The idea of students cheating should not and probably does not surprise mot of us. But, I’ll be honest, the following paragraph caught me a bit off guard (it probably shouldn’t have) when I first read it:

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America’s moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.

Wait, let me get this straight! This man is writing papers for seminary students who pay him to do their work?! The writer apparently finds glee in the irony: They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America’s moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution.

What’s the real problem here? Is it, our youth? Our institutions? Our expectations? The disconnect between studying the Gospel and living the Gospel? All of the above? I don’t want to beat on a dead horse, but I’m convinced that at least part of the problem is that our seminaries seem primarily designed to be academic environments aimed at legitimizing the pastorate. Other professional fields need accredited training, so pastors should have that too, right?! And when pastoral training is primarily an academic pursuit (which seminary is unavoidably so), then the subject matter is often irrelevant. No matter what we say, how we couch our language, the point is good grades.

Of course, there is a larger cultural problem here (or many, actually). Our young people are largely incapable of maintaining a consistent train of thought. Spelling is atrocious, and ethics are all but subjective. But the fact that these trends have made their way into our seminaries should trouble us greatly. It is further proof of Alan Wolfe’s point in his 2005 book The Transformation of American Religion, a point picked up more recently by Kenda Creasy Dean in her book Almost Christian: “American Christianity” is largely a cultural commodity that has little to no daily impact on the lives of its adherents.

The answer in our seminaries (and larger culture) is not stricter academic guidelines, it is a renewed grasp of the Gospel. Until we understand its grasp on all of life, including the ethics of hard study and writing papers, the shadow scholar will continue to go to Seminary.