December 30, 2009
All posts from “December 2009”
December 28, 2009
Alcohol, Video Preaching, Profanity, Patriotism, Communion, and Virtual Church were among the most popular subjects this year.
Biblical Literacy Reaches New Low
Why "John 3:16" being the top Google search isn't something to celebrate.
by Brian Lowery
The Body Broken for Who?
Theologian J. I. Packer on restricting the Lord's Supper
a Leadership interview
The Facebook Fast
The web creates connection but not community.
by Anne Jackson
December 23, 2009
Advent Conspiracy offers a different way to engage the season.
December 21, 2009
Christmas may have pagan roots, but that doesn't mean it can't have redemptive value.
Today's newspaper contained some great news. Nearly $9 million of federal stimulus money is flowing to Portland in the form of a grant to open a health care clinic for the poor in the middle of downtown. And the best part (at least in my mind) is that it's taking an old, abandoned Burger King and transforming it into a one-stop medical center helping Portland's poor, homeless, and mentally ill.
I love the idea of using a place that once dispensed artery-clogging Whoppers and French fries, sugar drinks, and all manner of other greasy, deep fried anti-nutrition (don't get me wrong, I love all of that stuff—too much, in fact), and turning it into a place that does exactly the opposite: dispenses health, medicine, help.
No doubt when you look at the building, you'll still be able to tell it was a Burger King because of its very distinctive design. And yet that building will be making a whole different kind of impact with its presence.
And all that made me think of Christmas.
December 17, 2009
A response to Dan Kimball.
A few weeks ago, pastor and author Dan Kimball posted an interesting entry here about church buildings. In the introduction, he notes that eight years ago he would have said, “Who needs a building? The early church didn’t have buildings, and we don’t need them either!” Today, however, he notes that he was wrong.
I think he still is.
Here is my official response to Dan Kimball.
I recently read your post where you say that you were wrong about church buildings. At first, I was glad to see the title. I’m a house church leader. We used to be a traditional Southern Baptist church—building and all. But that all changed in 2005. Since then, we’ve been meeting in homes and living out the call of God without a building. And that’s why your post troubled me so much.
It is not that I hate buildings. Because we have identified our cause as “Leave the Building,” I often get mistaken for a building-hater, but that is not the case. “Leave the Building” is about removing the things that limit us in our service for God or somehow get in the way of what he is trying to accomplish through us. For me and my church, it was our building.
December 16, 2009
Author Michael Crichton on the danger of green dogma.
This week leaders from throughout the world are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss the impact of global warming. The issue is still hotly debated in the US (pun intended), while polls in many other secular Western nations reveal wider agreement with the theory.
Best-selling author Michael Crichton became an outspoken skeptic of man-made global warming before his death in 2008. In this video Crichton uses his background in anthropology to explain why environmentalism is based more on religion than science. Do you agree? And how do you think the church ought to respond to the popular green movement?
December 15, 2009
Skye Jethani previews the latest issue of the digizine.
December 11, 2009
A lively conversation with a "Dead Theologian"--second in a series.
‘Tis the season to think about traditions. Every family has its own non-negotiable holiday rituals. If your family’s like mine, you may have competing visions of the perfect holiday under one roof (or tent, or banyan tree—or whatever your family cohabitates under).
In my experience, churches are a lot like families in that way. Each one has its own immutable ways of doing things (and often enough, every member has a different opinion about whether these ways are right or wrong). And this isn’t the case only around the Christmas season. Churches of all types—even the ones that don’t like formal rituals—form all sorts of traditions.
Earlier this fall, I spoke with a pastor who knows a thing or two about the power of tradition—another former theologian—John Calvin. Brother Calvin died in 1564, but given the recent interest in his theology, I thought I’d get his opinion on the role of traditions in the church today.
Url: I just have to ask: did you really outlaw Christmas in Geneva?
No. But I got blamed for the decision. I only wanted people to celebrate Christmas properly—without all the superstition and idolatry that can come with Christmas celebrations.
December 9, 2009
How will your church respond to the growing influence of Islam?
The peaceful, neutrality-loving citizens of Switzerland voted last week to ban the construction of minarets in their country-a decision not welcomed by the country’s 400,000 Muslims. For those unfamiliar with Islamic architecture, minarets are the steeple-like towers attached to mosques from which the call to prayer is broadcast.
The referendum was not a matter of preserving the alpine skyline, and some are saying it shouldn’t be interpreted as a restriction upon religious freedom either. Rather it’s the latest battlefront in Western Europe between advocates of traditional European culture and the recent influx of non-European immigrants. This is from The Washington Post:
While many leaders in Switzerland’s government and churches opposed the ban, the measure won with a significant 57.5 percent of the vote.
But backers of the measure said from the outset they were not seeking to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion. The goal, they explained, was to prevent what they described as the growing political impact of Switzerland’s Muslim minority, which they said is symbolized by minarets pointing into the sky; women wearing full veils; and observance of sharia, a Koran-based legal system.
“The minaret is the power symbol of political Islam and sharia law,” Walter Wobman, a People’s Party member of parliament, told the Reuters news agency at a rally near Bern, the federal capital.
Is the backlash in relatively liberal Switzerland a glimpse of what may soon happen in the US?
December 8, 2009
Friend me on Facebook and we'll be tight, chums, bosom buddies, cohorts, partners, sidekicks, comrades, cronies, pals, I'll be like a brother from another mother...virtually. (We are talking about online community).
Check out my profile.
December 7, 2009
His perspective as "a guy who could lose everything."
Last summer I had the opportunity to interview Matt Chandler in Dallas. (Read the interview.) I should confess that I wasn't particularly excited about the interview. I'd never met Matt before, but I held certain assumptions about how the conversation would go. After all, he was a young leader of a rapidly growing church getting loads of media attention and buzz at conferences--a combination that usually meant no depth/fluff interview.
I was wrong.
Matt proved to be a deep thinker, theologically rooted, and humble. I walked away from our 2 hour conversation impressed with his perspective on ministry. I became a fan of Matt Chandler. One thing he said caught my attention in particular. He noted that he regularly takes walks in cemeteries--an unusual habit that I also have. Matt said that it reminded him of his mortality and what really matters. "It's good for my soul," was his remark.
The editorial team here at Leadership Journal is praying for Matt, his family, and The Village Church.
Go to The Village Church website for updates on Matt's recovery.
December 4, 2009
What do you think of Zondervan’s apology and decision to pull the book?
Last month a significant controversy arose around the book Deadly Viper Character Assassins: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. The accusation made by numerous Christian leaders in the Asian-American community was that the book mocked Asian culture by utilizing stereotypes, failing to distinguish between different Asian cultures, and leveraging Asian culture as a marketing gimmick.
Soong-Chan Rah, a professor at North Park College, rallied many Asian-American Christians to address their concerns about Deadly Viper with the authors and with the publisher, Zondervan.
Thankfully, since the controversy arose, Soong Chan Rah, Eugene Cho, Kathy Khang, Chris Heuertz, Jud Wilhite, Mike Foster, and others have had a joint teleconference to discuss concerns about the book. Apologies were offered and a commitment to work together to move forward was reached. You can read a report and summary of these positive events on Prof. Rah’s blog.
December 3, 2009
Why has social justice become such a hot topic in the church?
December 2, 2009
They can be outposts of mission, not just a drain on resources.
If you had asked me eight years ago what I thought about church buildings, I would have said, "Who needs a building? The early church didn't have buildings, and we don't need them either!" But I was wrong.
My anti-building phase was a reaction to having seen so much money spent on church facilities, often for non-essential, luxury items. I was also reacting to a philosophy of ministry that treated church buildings like Disneyland; a place consumers gather for entertainment. But these abuses had caused me to unfairly dismiss the potential blessing of buildings as well.
Consider the building occupied by Compassion International in Colorado Springs. It has a well-groomed lawn with sprinkler system, an attractive sign, and an expansive parking lot. It's a nice facility. But it's more than just a building—it is the headquarters and training center for a ministry that brings physical and spiritual nourishment to more than one million children in 25 countries. The Compassion building is used for a missional purpose, not simply as a place for Christians to gather and consume religious services.
When we planted our church in 2004, we needed a place to meet. We found a very traditional church building that had a sizable "fellowship hall" originally used only for donuts and coffee on Sundays. Wanting to use the building differently, we converted the fellowship hall into a public coffee lounge featuring music and art from the outside community. The Abbey, as it's now called, is open seven days a week and offers free internet access.