Archive for August, 2013


August 26th, 2013 No comments

A few weeks ago, I came across an excerpt from a sermon where the pastor at a church started “rebuking” members of the congregation for their various faults.

That video has gone viral now and, as I write this, about 600 thousand people have seen it on Youtube. So Christianity Today asked a number of experts about rebuking from the pulpit. I was particularly interested to see Methodist luminary William Willimon‘s take on it:

Prophets such as Amos or Nathan called people to account personally. It’s almost refreshing, in this age of feel-good theology, to see a preacher really get worked up over behavior and get morally indignant in the service of the truth delivered to him to speak.

Well, yes, as a fellow mainline pastor, I agree that it is (sadly) refreshing to see a preacher get worked up and morally indignant. But is it the right thing to do? Albert Mohler said, “I can’t imagine a situation in which it is healthy or wise to attempt individual church discipline or exhortation in the context of preaching in a worship service.” I agree with him more than I do with Willimon.

But my own position is one I’ve stolen from Jim Burgen, and it goes like this: if you can’t put “me too” somewhere in the sentence, then just don’t say it. There are other people in the congregation and they can probably see what the problem is as well as you can. Instead of you thundering “you bad person” from the pulpit, let those other people come alongside and say “I struggle with that too, and here’s how God has helped me.”

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Builder’s Remorse

August 15th, 2013 No comments

Whenever I visit a church with a huge campus — or even a disco ball — I always remind my self that covetousness is a sin. A recent article by Ed Stetzer suggests I might not feel that way if I pastored the church meeting there.

I think many churches are going to wish they had not built gigantic multi-thousand seat auditoriums… I served as an interim pastor for a church in Nashville with a 3,000-seat auditorium. Meeting with the staff before I left, we all agreed that if the church were started today, we would not build in the same way.

It’s a good article. (As usual; if you’re not following Ed Stetzer on a regular basis, I recommend you do.)

But on the question of buildings, what makes a great place to worship? How does that assist the entire mission of the church? How does it compete with the church’s mission?

I know a church that’s under tension as one bloc within the congregation advocates for leaving the denomination. Suppose they succeed, and their opponents leave the congregation. Or suppose that first bloc becomes discouraged and they leave. How will the remaining members pay for that awesome building? How will that financial burden take away from the rest of what they’re doing?

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Newsboys at Fusion Alaska 2013

August 10th, 2013 No comments

On my other blog, I talk about last night’s Newsboys concert.

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C. S. Lewis – Where to Start

August 7th, 2013 No comments

Have you ever wondered what makes C. S. Lewis such a great writer? Or would you like to get started reading him? In this video, John Piper and Tim Keller talk about how to get started with Lewis:


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Boundaries in a Church

August 5th, 2013 No comments

Ed Stetzer‘s been blogging about boundaries lately. I thought the fourth in the series was especially useful. He describes how he encouraged an “issue Christian” to move along and find a different church that better met his passions and beliefs.

The principle at stake for the pastor is this:

Your church is not a public square for people to debate and opine. It’s a place that you are to guard and shepherd. You create boundaries—both personally and congregationally.

A pastor is, literally, a shepherd. Doing that job means keeping out the weird religious people.

What’s “weird?” Here’s some advice from Stetzer:

Creating a healthy boundary for your church means knowing who you are as a church, where you are, where you’re going, and what that means for people who are outside of that. Your church is not the place for issue Christians who want to dominate your time to be given the freedom to do so. Save that time for counseling the hurting, not arguing with the agenda-driven.

One of the reasons why it’s important to have a clear mission and vision is so you can have healthy boundaries for your congregation.

Gallows Humor

August 5th, 2013 No comments

People who are going through tough times apparently have better senses of humor than people who aren’t, according to the cartoon editor at the New Yorker:

One of the ideas about humor is that it’s our way of coping with negative feelings. In a control study we found people who were primed with negative emotions, through images of illness and death at a subliminal level, create more and funnier captions than those who were not. (Via.)

My chaplaincy training included the idea that humor is good. People in the hospital don’t want a stand-up act, but they would rather have visitors who bring some levity than people who are weighed down with gravity.

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Seniors Love Social Media

August 5th, 2013 No comments

People tell me they’re not on social media. It looks like they better get with the program, according to this Pew Center research:

Although online seniors are less likely than other age groups to use social networking sites, adoption rates for those 65 and older have tripled in the last four years (from 13% in the spring of 2009 to 43% now).


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Tradition vs. Traditionalism

August 5th, 2013 No comments

Here’s a good pair of definitions from Jaroslav Pelikan:

Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.


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