December 28, 2005
With the new year upon us this seems like the right time to highlight the best comments from the most popular posts of 2005. True, Out of Ur has only been in existence since October, but if mediocre sitcoms have taught us anything it's that everyone loves a "best of" show. The comments below are ones we found insightful, witty, or just plain funny. Thanks to everyone who has helped get this conversation started. We look forward to more conversation, controversy, and congeniality in 2006.
Why James McDonald is Not Emerging
What are Emergent Christians? I thought Rev. McDonald made his point quite clear. Emergent Christians are fault-finding, biblically illiterate, disobedient, style worshiping, culturally obsessed, people seduced by a desire for respectability.
Posted by Michael Kruse
Continue reading The Best Comments of 2005...
December 20, 2005
Advent 2005, rather than a season of peace and good will, may be remembered as a month when cantankerous Christians did battle with the culture and one another. This was the year a Florida church spread Christmas spirit with a billboard that read, "To Hell with Happy Holidays," and Christian activists went to bed with dreams of boycotts dancing in their heads.
But the story that has caused the most uproar on this blog has been the closure of megachurches on Christmas Day. Christian leaders on both sides have defended their positions with vigor and conviction. With Christmas just a few days away, I wanted the final installment of this conversation to be thoughtful, intelligent, and charitable.
Scot McKnight, professor of Religious Studies at North Park University, has insightfully addressed the Christmas closure controversy on his blog. Below are a few quotes from his post.
My suggestion is this: let's be a little more charitable in light of what the NT does and does not say. Let's permit our brothers and sisters, once every seven years, to make decisions that we might not approve of but know that they answer to God, that we answer to God, that it is about worship of God and incarnating the gospel in our world for the good of others and the world.
Continue reading Closed for Christmas 3: Scot McKnight's Good Will Toward Megachurches...
December 16, 2005
Pastor, author, and professor David Fitch has responded to the discussion he began about the pitfalls of experiential worship. To read more about worship and ministry in a postmodern culture we recommend Fitch's provocative new book The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies.
Hey all, thanks for this lively conversation. I'd like to take the opportunity to repond to some of your comments concerning the validity or lecture hall and rock concert style worship.
Some have said that what we need is "line by line" preaching. If by the "line by line" study of the Word of God you mean expository preaching, I do not wish to deny the importance of preaching, perhaps even expository preaching. However, if the peaching becomes simply truth propositions inductively sliced and distributed to autonomous isolated minds sitting in the pews taking notes on how to improve their lives (even their Christian lives), then to me this is not worship.
Continue reading Beyond Sermons and Songs 2: Further Thoughts on Worship and Liturgy...
December 15, 2005
By now it seems everyone has formed an opinion about the decision of megachurches throughout the country to not hold services on Sunday, December 25th. Some see it as proof that the American church has surrendered to consumerism. Others believe it is simply an exercise in Christian liberty.
Jon Weece of Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, has been one of the megachurch pastors at the center of the controversy. After being bombarded with criticism from both the media and church members, Weece preached a passionate and defensive sermon on Sunday concerning the church’s decision to not open on Christmas Day.
A few quotes from Weece’s sermon are below. You may also listen to the entire message at the Southland Christian website.
Continue reading Closed for Christmas 2: The Megachurch Response...
December 13, 2005
Churches pour enormous resources into creating meaningful worship experiences. But what if those experiences don't carry the meaning we intend? Pastor and theologian David Fitch believes a worship experience by itself is not enough in our postmodern culture. Instead he calls us to think beyond sermons and music to create a new framework for understanding worship that may not be new at all.
At our theology pub last month we sat around and conversed on the issue of worship. I put forward the typology of "lecture hall" versus "rock concert" as the primary modes of worship for evangelicals, and I suggested that both were inadequate for forming truthful minds and faithful experience in Christians.
The people at our pub ranged in age from 16 to early 50's. Most seemed to agree that a worship service geared entirely towards a 55 minute sermon seeking to dispense information to Cartesian minds is inadequate for spiritual formative. Less obvious and hotly debated was rock concert-style worship's ability to form us into Christlikeness.
Continue reading Beyond Sermons and Songs: Why Experiential Worship Isn't Enough...
December 9, 2005
The media frenzy over the decision of megachurches throughout the country to close their doors on Christmas day doesn't seem to be dying down, and numerous articles are framing the action as unprecedented. But is that accurate? Although likely unaware of it, megachurches such as Willow Creek and Mars Hill may actually be more in line with church tradition by not conducting worship services on December 25th than those who choose to keep their doors open.
Few seem to remember that America's Puritan ancestors were stridently opposed to the celebration of Christmas. They saw no biblical support for the holiday, and believed the festival was a pagan ritual masquerading as Christian. Even as late as 1855, newspapers in New York reported that Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches would be closed on Christmas Day because "they do not accept the day as a Holy One."
Continue reading Closed for Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Past...
December 6, 2005
Just when I thought commercialism in the church couldn't get any worse I read this from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Attention, pastors: You have just four weeks remaining to work a lion, a witch or a wardrobe into your next sermon. Walt Disney Pictures is so eager for churches to turn out audiences for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which opens Friday, that it's offering a free trip to London - and $1,000 cash - to the winner of its big promotional sermon contest.
It seems Disney isn't content with having Narnia merchandise, posters, and books in the church--the Mouse wants a view from the pulpit too.
Continue reading Marketing Narnia 2: Is That a Mouse in Your Pulpit?...
December 5, 2005
Some churches are seeker-driven. A growing number are purpose-driven. But one church in Denver, Colorado has positioned itself as jaded-driven. Dave Terpstra, teaching pastor of The Next Level Church, shares how his own disillusionment with ministry made him question the wisdom of targeting the unchurched rather than pursuing the increasing number of church dropouts, like himself, filling our culture.
C.S. Lewis once said, "One courts a virgin differently than a divorc?," (or something along these lines; I've had trouble tracking the exact quote). Even back in the mid 20th century, Lewis recognized that reaching people with a jaded perspective of the church (divorc?s) would require a different strategy than reaching those without any church experience to begin with (virgins).
Certainly there are still some in our culture who are "church virgins," but it seems increasingly more common to find people who have had some church experience or interaction with the Christian sub-culture that has left them jaded. The dominance of Christian media, marketing, and political influence in recent years has only increased this likelihood.
Continue reading The Jaded Driven Church: Re-Introducing People to God & His Church...
December 1, 2005
Brian McLaren has been proclaiming the need for a different, more generous approach to orthodoxy. His critics say "generous orthodoxy" is an oxymoron that exemplifies the problem with the postmodern church. In part three of our interview, McLaren explains what this new approach means for the local church pastor. While Tony Campolo discusses the societal definitions of "orthodoxy," and defends McLaren's call to overcome restrictive categories developed five centuries ago.
Brian, you are pressing for a "generous approach to orthodoxy." What does this mean for the local church pastor?
McLaren: I think it's quite problematic, partly for reasons of sociology. I think a lot of conservative, evangelical churches where formed through a sense of competition with other churches, so everyone formed detailed doctrinal statements in order to defend how right their beliefs were, compared to the other churches. What I'm trying to say is that creating a 72 item doctrinal statement about your beliefs may not be the best why to "make disciples." We need to really assess what the essentials are and allow some latitude for people to think and process their faith.
Continue reading Campolo and McLaren 3: Unorthodox Questions...