October 2009

Sam O’Neal writes about: Are small groups primarily a “white” way to do church? This question is addressed in an interview with River City Community Church in the magazine Catalyst Leadership (pg 10-13).

The white way of doing church involves a lot of systems and organization.

White people rely on small groups to connect. Other ethnicities form community more organically, more relationally. Immigrant communities find fellowship within extended families. In the city a lot of community happens on the front porch or sidewalk. So non-whites aren’t as eager to set up structures and systems like small groups.

They say it’s not the right way to do church. And I respond bluntly by saying. ‘You mean it’s not the white way to do church.’

I think I was wrong about Halloween! Or not.

“During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.”

“Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.”


This video is great!

[Originally posted by Tall Skinny Kiwi]

So here’s what [Jeff McQ] proposes: let’s have a blogging revival!

But lately I’ve found people getting a bit lax with their blogging. First they say stuff like, “I haven’t blogged in awhile…

Or they make excuses like, “I find I’m in a different place now, and I’ve said all I wanted to say. I just want to get back to talking about ‘normal stuff.'” As if blogging was all about them. (Or as if blogging isn’t normal.)

And then the ultimate cop-out: “I need to take a break from blogging for awhile.” This, of course, is code for, “I’m giving myself ‘permission’ not to blog, so I don’t feel guilty about it and so you won’t expect it of me.” A purposeful shirking of responsibility, an abandonment of doing one’s duty.

Freaking blogger backsliders.

In Defense of Virtual Church

“A myth is growing in some circles of the blogosphere that online church is not good, not healthy, and not biblical.”

By disagreeing with the above statement, I am not blindly agreeing with the opposite. I do not know if online churches are good or healthy. I do know know that they are neither biblical nor non-biblical. This being said, let us heed the warning. I was reading about an experiment done in the early 1900’s with infant rhesus monkeys that shows the importance of connecting with others. The monkeys were put in a cell with two artificial mothers with in a few days of birth. One was a wire mother that had a feeding tube; the other was covered in soft fury material but had no feeding tube.

The first part of the experiment was monitoring the infant that was placed in a cell with both these mothers. The result was that the infant spent most of his time cuddling with the soft mother and only ran over and take a quick sip from the wire mother then run back to the fabric mother. Then they introduced danger in the form of a stuffed toy. The result was the infant ran for cover to the fabric mother.

The second experiment separated the mothers and gave the fabric mother the ability to feed. An infant rhesus monkey was placed in each cage and they were observed. They found both monkeys had equal physical development. However, they did notice remarkable difference when they introduced the stuffed toy. The monkey in with the fabric mother ran to her for protection. The monkey with the wire mother, however, fell to pieces. It threw itself to the floor and rocked back and forth.

Let me suggest a couple of things:

First, could we not draw some comparisons within modern Christianity?  By painting with an overly broad and stereotypical brush, could we possibly compare the wire mother to conservative, fundamentalist Christianity that is more interested in feeding right doctrine, nurturing orthodoxy and expectation? Could it be possible that connection is being found elsewhere?

Second, could the exodus of a generation be the result of a cultural shift that is advancing at a rapid pace due in part to technology? Could this generation be flocking to other places, other than the ‘traditional church’? Could the Emergent Church/ emerging churches, missional church, new monastic churches, etc …,  be where a new generation [post-modern] is finding connection? And finally, could we not better use the technology to help the traditional churches? Then there is training 0n using online tools:

“we at JoPa Productions are developing a series of boot camps for pastors who want to learn about and utilize social media tools like blogging, Twitter, and Facebook.”

Today’s rant is not brought to you by yours truely. I have two rants to share with you: one from a well respected blogger and the second comes from an even more respected mother, wife and children’s minister. The first is rant is an the Annual Halloween Rant by the Internet Monk. Please take your time reading his post. I wait for you.

Done? Good wasn’t it.

Here is another rant that was part of the children’s program at my church from a few years back.

It’s funny, everyone seemed to like this presentation that was given to the whole church, but just this week I was having coffee with someone from my church who said that maybe we need to take a stand on Halloween. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking above getting inline with these rants either!

This is a touchy subject and Paul dealt with it in 1 Corinthians 8:

Now concerning [Halloween], we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. Therefore concerning [Halloween], we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, [considers Halloween evil]; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But [Halloween] will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we [abstain from Halloween], nor the better if we [participate]. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple [attending a pagan Halloween service], will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to [participate in Halloween]? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if [Halloween] causes my brother to stumble, I will never [participate in Halloween] again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

Elsewhere he says in Romans 14:

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may [participate in Halloween], but he who is weak [thinks it is evil]. The one who [participates] is not to regard with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not [participates] is not to judge the one who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who [participates in Halloween], does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who does not, for the Lord he does not [participate], and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

Both these letters were written to communities where people held opposing views and therefore the one thing that we can conclude is that discussing these issues is not what could be classified as causing a weaker brother to stumble. Paul called them weaker brothers. He makes it pretty clear where maturity and strong faith lays and were weak faith lays. He was also not afraid to enter into dialogue with the whole body [not just the clergy]. I will come out and say that those that fear Halloween or think that it is evil have the weaker faith and I will not let them speak evil of what is for me a good thing.

That said, we must be careful to not judge or condemn our brothers. These verses make it clear to me that I can participate and voice my opinions and not be guilty of judgment or condemnation. Paul is talking about eating meat in  1 Corinthians 8 but doesn’t say: “For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, eating meat, will not his conscience…” rather it says: “For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience…”. This to me talks about provoking the weak, not just living out our faith by eating meat.

So, there is a place for the rants. There is a place for speaking out for what is good and not letting that good be spoken as evil. There is a place to speak out and bring into light the fear that is in the weak. Paul had no problem with this. Finally, we are also not to stop eating meat or participating in Halloween, however, we do not want to do any of this in a provoking manner, puffed up in our knowledge. We need to tread these waters lightly, walking in love.

Here is ten practical things for celebrating Halloween.

Finally, let’s listen to the Great Pumpkin as he gives his Halloween toast.

This year, at onething’09, our theme is: “What is the Spirit Saying to the Church?” As those who love Jesus, we are all desperate to hear what He is saying, and then to obey it. At this four-day conference Lou Engle, Misty Edwards, Allen Hood, Dwayne Roberts, Mark Anderson, myself, and others will be teaching on what we believe the Spirit is saying.

There is an answer to the confusion and deception that is coming from some of those associated with the Emerging Church. We believe the Spirit is raising up what we refer to as the “Praying Church”—a church that loves the truth and has unwavering allegiance to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is raising up such congregations that will do outreach and works of justice that flow from a foundation of prayer and deep relationship with Jesus. This “Praying Church” movement is resisting the false church, which is emerging in our nation today, especially among young adults.

Comment from Alex on this post

As one who is finding myself more and more associating myself with the Emerging Church, I take exception with the idea that the conservative type Christianity has the truth. Let me say that as a progressive Christian, I can say with just as much passion that we “who love Jesus, we are all desperate to hear what He is saying, and then to obey it.” It just happens that what the two camps are hearing from God are often different, even opposing. Theoretically, I could say in response:

There is an answer to the confusion and deception that is coming from some of those associated with the Praying Church. We believe the Spirit is raising up what we refer to as the “Emerging Church”—a church that loves the truth and has unwavering allegiance to Jesus.

More and more I am feeling like I am being pushed into a corner to ‘get with the conservative program’. Implied in the above IHOP quote, is that their camp is the one that loves Jesus and has the desire to be obedient and those of us that are emerging are the deceived false church. I am starting to develop thinking that God is more glorifies in the multitude of belief sets. Worship of God cannot be complete in any one camp. Not the Eastern Orthodox nor the Catholic. Not the Protestants nor the Anabaptists. Not the Calvinists nor the Armenians. Not the Charismatics nor the Cessationists. Not the Liberals nor the Conservatives. Not even the Emergents nor the Praying Church. I am starting to think that complete worship of God will come in an open environment when we recognize that  all the above camps, and all the camps that were left out make up the Body of Christ.

I pledge to recognize all camps as legitimate expressions of the image of God. Who will join me?

“Very few emergent folks I have encountered have any chance of returning to a robust, traditional evangelical faith. As emergents learned and listened in their evangelical churches and institutions, they realized they could not accept much of what they were being taught. Though they remained within the comfortable confines of these institutions, their faith became ironic. Yes, they were Christians, but not quite what most people meant by that term.

“… Instead, they are building a new theology that “emerges” from the story they find themselves in—namely, the shift from modernity to post-modernity.”
read more

Scott McKnight details eight catalysts that “move disaffected evangelicals from an ironic faith within evangelicalism to a fork in the road: Either abandon traditional evangelicalism for an emergent form of post-evangelical Christianity, or abandon Christianity altogether.”

  1. Scripture’s inerrancy, does not sufficiently express the truth about the Bible and is therefore not sufficient as the base of determining the nature and scope of knowledge.
  2. Strong inclusion of Kingdom message of gospel.
  3. When science and bible conflict, science does not need to move aside. Broader view of Scripture: less concerned about traditional understandings of inerrancy.
  4. State of church and lack of integrity of leaders casts doubt on the institution of the modern church.
  5. Faith is more inclusive than exclusive.
  6. Re-thinking of understanding of God: violent God of the Old Testament vs a God of love.
  7. The need to re-think the ‘gay’ and ‘abortion’ issues.
  8. Language plays a large role in our faith and our claims to know the truth;
    • theology is language-bound; language has its limits;
    • the Bible is in language; that means the Bible, too, has the limits of language.

More and more I am finding myself in a story where my traditional evangelical background is no longer sufficient. For me, the emerging movement offers the hope of a third way.

language plays a large role in our faith and our claims to know the truth

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