February 28, 2008
Bishop John and Bishop Wright reflect on the power and great cost of following Jesus.
In his second report from the National Pastors Convention, David Swanson describes how two Anglican bishops helped him recognize Christ's presence among all the convention glitz and kitsch.
May I confess something? I've experienced a bit of cynicism at this conference over the past few days. Everywhere I look, I see another Christian item for sale. I'm writing this post in front of a TV showing the latest installment of a hip teaching series. Off to my left is a display for the new Narnia movie, and to my right is a recruiting station for Army chaplains.
My cynicism is probably not helpful. But I have nevertheless found myself wondering, "Where is Jesus in all this stuff?" One answer to that question has come in the form of addresses from two Anglican bishops.
Continue reading The Glory and the Grief...
February 27, 2008
David Swanson reports on opening events from the National Pastors Convention.
David Swanson agreed to leave frozen Chicagoland to labor in sunny San Diego at this year's National Pastors Convention. He'll be sending us updates throughout the week of the goings on there. This is his first post.
I arrived at the National Pastors Convention in California a day early to catch one of the pre-conference seminars: Emerging Critical Issues Facing the Church. (For this Midwesterner, the sunny blue skies of San Diego were another reason to come early.) The seminar featured four panelists - Scot McKnight, Phyllis Tickle, Andy Crouch, and Tony Jones - addressing four critical issues: the role of Scripture, the church and politics, homosexuality, and religious pluralism.
Continue reading A Big Can of Worms...
February 25, 2008
It's your turn to take the hermeneutics quiz.
If you've already taken the quiz and gotten your score, post your comments below. How well did the quiz describe you?
If you haven't already taken the quiz, now it's your turn. You can find "The Hermeneutics Quiz" here.
Then come back to this page and comment. Let us know what you learned.
February 21, 2008
And now for something completely different...
Neil Young, who pastors Erindale United Church in Mississauga, Ontario, sent us this inventory of sermon styles in the Great White North.
The Maple Syrup: Boils source material down to about 1/50th its starting volume.
The Mountie: When it's most dressed-up, it doesn't arrest anybody.
The Igloo: Goes 'round and 'round until a final capstone is dropped in.
The Curling: Kind of incomprehensible, but everybody seems to have a good time.
Continue reading Canadian Sermon Types, eh?...
February 19, 2008
A final editorial interjection into a heated discussion.
Many of you have requested a more formal review of Pagan Christianity, and I feel obliged to provide one. It should be said, however, that Out of Ur is not usually a place for reviews. We offer snippets and opinions and let you guys do the talking. However, this is an important topic, and it deserves a response (in the absence of a true review).
Continue reading Pagan Christianity (Part 2)...
February 14, 2008
George Barna thinks so. And that's not the worst of it.
I appreciate it when a writer shows all his cards at the beginning of a book so I don't have to guess at his presuppositions. Frank Viola does just that in the opening line of his newly re-released Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices (Barna, 2008). He starts like this: "Not long after I left the institutional church to begin gathering with Christians in New Testament fashion?" You can imagine the tone of the pages that follow.
Continue reading Is the Pastorate Pagan?...
February 11, 2008
Bringing hope is one responsibility no leader should delegate.
Ronald Reagan once gave this nugget of advice, "Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere." Recently, John Ortberg read the biography of another president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and through FDR's story he came to the realization that there is one aspect of leadership we should never delegate - hope.
I don't have a problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion leaving tasks in someone else's lap doesn't just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive. But I am coming to the conclusion that the one task a leader can never delegate, especially in the church, is hope.
I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's wonderful biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, No Ordinary Time (Simon & Schuster, 2004). She notes that Franklin was not the most intelligent president of all time (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously called him a "second-rate intellect but a first rate-temperament.") He was surrounded by leaders who were more educated, more accomplished, more gifted, and more knowledgeable. But he had one gift that mattered more. "No factor was more important to Roosevelt's leadership than his confidence in himself and in the American people," she wrote.
Continue reading John Ortberg on Hope Management...
February 7, 2008
What are your captions for this cartoon by Dennis Fletcher?
Winning entries will be published in the Spring 2008 edition of Leadership. Please include your name, your church’s name, city, and state.
February 5, 2008
The outspoken Southern Baptist says it’s time for Christians to abandon public schools.
Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has a reputation for diving fearlessly into controversial issues. A visit to his Wikipedia page reveals his history of treading into cultural minefields and not leaving until every bomb has detonated. His penchant for pyrotechnics continues with his latest book, Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Multnomah, 2008). Mohler addresses issues like faith and politics, morality and law, war and terror, homosexuality, and abortion - that's a lot of mines to detonate in 160 very small pages.
In a chapter entitled "Needed: An Exit Strategy from Public Schools," Mohler argues that "public schools are prime battlegrounds for cultural conflict." In Massachusetts, for example, children as young as seven years old have been assigned a book called King & King, in which a homosexual prince falls in love with another prince and, one assumes, lives happily ever after. Because same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, educators insist that a homosexual lifestyle be presented in public schools as normal and, as a result, they affirm the districts' decision to require the book. Many Christians object to this sort of curriculum, but what can be done?
Continue reading Al Mohler is Too Cool for School...
February 1, 2008
One pastor believes franchising congregations is the model of the future.
"Church plants," "sister churches," and "satellite congregations" may be a thing of the past. In 2008, the language of missiology is changing, so look for "church franchises" in your town.
Eddie Johnson, the lead pastor of Cumberland Church, espouses the franchising concept when it comes to the relationship between his church in Nashville, Tennessee, and North Point Community Church in metro Atlanta. On his blog, he states, "Just like a Chick-fil-A, my church is a 'franchise,' and I proudly serve as the local owner/operator."
According to Johnson, his job is to "establish a local, autonomous church that has the same beliefs, values, mission, and strategy as North Point." He completed a three-month internship at North Point and continues to receive training and support. He claims to rarely deviate from the "training manual."
"Just like that Chick-fil-A owner/operator," he says, "I'm here in Nashville to open up our franchise and run it right. I believe in my company and what they are trying to 'sell.'"
Continue reading McChurch: I'm Lovin' It...