September 28, 2007
The emerging response to evangelicalism’s black and white thinking.
Friend of Ur, David Fitch, is back with a few thoughts about the deficiencies in evangelicalism and the emerging movement’s reaction. But he’s not exactly enamored with the emerging church solution either. Fitch is a pastor at Life on the Vine Christian Community in Long Grove, Illinois, and a professor at Northern Seminary.
Evangelicals of all types are taking notice of the emerging church/missional church and its variations. Its rise to prominence is owed in part to the rejection of the evangelical church by many sons and daughters of Boomer evangelicals. At a recent Up-Rooted gathering, we talked about the real or perceived shortcomings in evangelicalism the emerging church is responding to, and the strengths and weaknesses of that response. Scot McKnight and Wayne Johnson were a part of that discussion, but here is part of my response to the question.
I believe one weakness in evangelicalism that the emerging church is responding to is evangelicalism's excessively rationalist approach to truth and salvation that birthed a stubborn "we're in/you're out" mentality. There has been an impulse in evangelical fundamentalism towards (a) an intolerant judgmental exclusivism, (b) an arrogant, even violent, certainty about what we do know, and (c) a hyper-cognitive gospel that takes the mystery out of everything.
Continue reading The “We’re In, You’re Out” Mentality...
September 25, 2007
How can you pass the plate to people who don't carry cash? You can't. So the next big wave may be the "Giving Kiosk" in your church's lobby.
"A lot of people no longer carry cash or a checkbook," says Marty Baker, pastor of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia. So he installed two ATMs in 2005. The experiment has been a success.
During the first year, the kiosks processed over $100,000 in donations at Stevens Creek. In 2006, that number increased to just over $200,000, representing more than 25 percent of the church's total income. Even more impressive is the fact that giving as a whole increased 18 percent since the ATMs were installed. "It's a safe, convenient way for people to donate to their church," Baker notes, "and it meets people where they are today."
These positive returns encouraged Baker to launch SecureGive, a for-profit company that produces and maintains several different versions of the giving kiosks. "We knew that if this concept and technology was so beneficial for our church, others could benefit from it as well," says Baker.
Continue reading ATMs: Automatic Tithing Machines...
September 21, 2007
The President’s speechwriter on the challenges of practicing what we preach.
You may think writing a sermon every week is challenging work, but imagine writing speeches everyday for the leader of the free world. That was Michael Gerson's job for six years under President George W. Bush. Last night I attended a benefit dinner in Chicago where Gerson was the keynote speaker. Prior to the dinner I participated in a small roundtable discussion with Gerson about his time in the White House and his perception of current challenges - domestic and international - facing the country.
Much of the conversation focused on Gerson's responsibility in crafting the President's response in the days following 9/11. Leading a nation in shock and grief is not easy, but simultaneously showing strength and resolve is a challenge few presidential speechwriters have faced. Gerson was almost universally praised for shaping Bush's tone in a way that comforted the nation and rallied the world. The President's address at the National Cathedral, which Gerson and his team wrote with less than one day's notice, has been celebrated as one of the finest moments of the Bush presidency.
A theology grad from Wheaton College, Gerson's faith has been a factor both in Bush's speeches and policy. U2's Bono, a friend of Gerson's, has said, "Mike is known as a ?moral compass' at the White House." As a senior policy advisor to Bush, Gerson was instrumental in the push to triple aid to Africa, and he's filled the President's remarks with passionate rhetoric about compassion, the spread of democracy, and the God-ordained dignity of freedom for all people. But at Thursday night's gathering Gerson was critical of the administration's execution of these ideals.
Continue reading The Gap between Rhetoric and Reality...
September 18, 2007
Results from Christianity Today International’s latest nationwide research.
Our annual compilation of ministry salaries is out, and this year's tally produced a few surprises:
? If you want to make more money, switch denominations.
? Female solo pastors make more.
? The extra degree is worth the money.
Kevin Miller has a report below.
Our research team here at Christianity Today International just finished surveying more than 2,000 churches, and next month, we'll be releasing the most comprehensive, up-to-date church salary survey we've ever done. While The 2008 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff is at the printer, here is a sneak peek at some results:
1. If you want to earn more, change denominations.
Briefly, if you want to earn more as a senior pastor, become a Presbyterian. If you want to earn more as a youth pastor, become a Baptist.
Presbyterian senior pastors earned the most in our survey - their average salary plus housing/parsonage was $78,000, while Baptist senior pastors earned next to last--$67,000. But virtually the opposite was true for youth pastors. Baptist youth pastors earned near the top--$44,000 in salary plus housing, while Presbyterian youth pastors earned near the bottom--$36,000. Why?
The answer comes from two factors: church income and denominational values.
Continue reading What Pastors Get Paid...
September 14, 2007
Dan Kimball says some churches should not adjust their style to reach young people, but they shouldn’t ignore them either.
In part one of our interview with Dan Kimball he talked about the intersection of the emerging church with missional theology. Simply changing the church's worship style isn't enough, he says. Becoming truly missional requires "an ecclesiological change." In part two, Kimball address the role aging congregations can play in helping to reach the younger generation. And, once again, the answer is more about having a missional mindset rather than a cutting edge worship style.
You've been at this conference for a couple of days now. Are you sensing that leaders are asking the deeper philosophical questions? What kind of questions are you hearing? It's been refreshing to see the interest in the future of the church by mostly middle aged and older pastors. They are really concerned about younger people. It's refreshing and very sincere. I think this is happening because churches recognize younger people are disappearing. A woman talked to me just this morning about her daughter disconnecting from the church. She was very emotional. She wanted to know what her church could possibly do. So the refreshing part is seeing real passion from leaders saying we must do something. And the sad part is I suspect existing churches won't be willing or able to make the necessary changes. I really, really hope they can. But it will take a sense of humility and passion.
And what do you say to people when they are looking to you for the answer?
This sounds clich?, but there isn't a single answer. So much depends on the church.
Continue reading Don't Change Your Church!...
September 11, 2007
One pastor’s perspective on the immigration debate—and immigration opportunity.
We are putting the finishing touches on the next issue of Leadership built around the theme of ministering to people on the margins. Isaac Canales, pastor of Mission Ebenezer Family Church in Carson, California, has sent us this provocative article about ministry among immigrants. We're posting it here first to hear your responses. Some of your comments may be republished with Canales' article in the October issue of Leadership.
I am a Harvard graduate and the son of immigrants. My story is not unique. In California, where I live, immigration has been an issue for decades. We've lived with it every day of our lives, long before it became a divisive political issue. In California, even our governor is an immigrant. But most immigrants here are not from Austria. Most, like my parents, came from Mexico.
Today's debate over "illegal aliens" is not new, but perhaps a bit of historical perspective will be helpful.
My mother was kidnapped by her father when she was four. He told his mother-in-law that he was taking his daughter to the market to buy her shoes. He never returned. Instead he brought my mother to Bakersfield, California, where he supported her by picking grapes, cotton, and fruit. Eventually, he became a naturalized American citizen and was proud of it. He bought a house with white columns and a wide porch. That is where mama grew up.
Continue reading Alien Nation...
September 6, 2007
What is the relationship between the emerging church and missional theology, and do they share a common future?
Dan Kimball is a recognized authority on the emerging church. After all, he did write the book on the subject. At a recent conference we sat down to talk with Kimball about the future he sees for the emerging church, and how it relates to the growing popularity of all things "missional."
There has been a lot of talk at this conference about the emerging church. Looking into your crystal ball, where do you see this going? Do you think this conversation has legs, or will it morph into something else?
It is totally hard to say. The term "emerging church" now means so many different things depending on who you are asking. So it all depends on what stream of the emerging church we are talking about. For me, the term means churches that are being missional in our emerging culture. That part of the conversation certainly seems to be gaining steam and interest from churches of all types. So I really hope the missional outward thinking is something that grows stronger and lasts. But what that looks like may be constantly changing as culture changes. But I hope we keep gaining a passion for being sent by Jesus into the world. I hope that stream of the emerging church grows and lasts.
Continue reading Emerging + Missional = Emergissional...
September 4, 2007
Gordon MacDonald's concerns about the quality of leaders today.
Few books in my library have offered more quotable material than Jean Vanier's Community and Growth (Paulist Press, 1989).
Here's a nugget:
"In order to be able to assume the responsibility for other people's growth, leaders must themselves have grown to true maturity and inner freedom. They must not be locked up in a prison of illusion or selfishness, and they must have allowed others to guide them.
"We can only command if we know how to obey. We can only be a leader if we know how to be a servant. We can only be a mother - or a father - figure if we are conscious of ourselves as a daughter or a son. Jesus is the Lamb before the He is the Shepherd. His authority comes from the Father; He is the beloved Son of the Father" (p. 225).
In the order of thought in Vanier's two paragraphs, I should like to raise these questions for some of us to ponder:
Continue reading 5 Crucial Questions on the State of Leadership...