The Bishop of Durham kicks off our new series on eternal damnation.
We're starting a new weekly series on Out of Ur about the doctrine of Hell. Each week there will be a post (video or written) from a church leader on their view of Hell and the role of the doctrine today. Given the diversity of views, and the different ways evangelical churches talk (or don't talk) about Hell, we hope this series informs your own thinking and communication.
The trends that will be impacting your ministry in the year ahead.
by Marian Liautaud
Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, offers his state of the church in America, based on recent research and his own observations looking through the "keyhole" of large churches.
Things That Are Changing
1. Multi-site churches. According to the book Multi-Site Roadtrip, an estimated 2,000 churches in America use the multi-site model. Travis: "If you're a large church, you're thinking multi-site."
2. Social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social networking at least once a week. Senior pastors under 40 who are leading large churches all use social media. Travis: "This is a radical shift in how we understand leadership. Fifteen years ago, pastors were wondering how they could be less accessible. Today, younger pastors want more access."
3. Internet campuses. Turnkey solutions are being developed that make it cheap and accessible for all churches to incorporate an internet campus. Travis: "For some this will be a fad, but for others this is going to be a big part of their reaching strategy going forward."
4. Online giving. It's here, and it's growing. If churches want to encourage donations from people in the pews, they're going to have to provide more natural ways for them to give. Travis: "Younger leaders recognize that no one carries cash or checkbooks anymore."
Early Registration Ends Thursday, January 28
Go to www.catalystoneday.com and use the Rate Code: BLOG for a special $99 discounted rate.
Catalyst One Day features Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel in 4 sessions on the topic of momentum. Leaders in attendance can also participate in a Q&A with Stanley and Groeschel and benefit from interaction around current leadership issues in a unique back and forth dialogue/exchange. The smaller environment allows for a completely different experience than the larger Catalyst events. Register Today. Seats are limited and this event will sell out.
With everyone writing obituaries for the Emerging Church movement, I feel the need to take a timeout to remember some positives about the movement. Although the Emerging Church has been mixed, and in many ways lost momentum and splintered, it was a significant part of my journey. Here are five things I loved about the Emerging Church.
1. On a personal level: My initial intro to the Emerging Church movement came in a seminar with (yes, believe it or not) Doug Pagitt and Mark Driscoll…together. At a low point in my life and faith, feeling burned and burned out, they talked about a postmodern (hey! remember that word??) approach to faith that was more about Jesus than institution; more about life in the way of Jesus that made a difference in the world, and less about getting people over the goal-line of decision and their rears into heaven. All of that resonated with me deeply.
I was working through all sorts of things that threatened to shipwreck me. But during that time books like Brian McLaren's The Church on the Other Side and More Ready Than You Realize, Len Sweet's Postmodern Pilgrims, an Origins conference with Erwin McManus (and many of his books), all of these kept my vision and heart for faith and the church from falling apart. And even though I now find myself pushing back against both Driscoll and Pagitt from my tiny speck of ground in the middle, I'm eternally grateful that at just the right time God allowed our paths to cross.
Tragedy and chaos is a fertile ground for sex trafficking in Haiti.
Shortly after the earthquake, Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church in Seattle) and James MacDonald (Harvest Bible Chapel near Chicago) were on a flight to Haiti. Driscoll has been updating his Twitter and Facebook accounts with both hopeful and horrific messages.
USA Today has just published the first news report about the pastors in Haiti and the terrible victimization of young girls that is now occurring. Driscoll gave this report:
We were downtown loading up our film crew. There were no police, no medics, to be seen by a huge park with hundreds of people camping out with no where else to go. There was a little cart with a red umbrella and a man selling cell phones and cigarettes -- and a few young girls.
"You want to buy loving?" the guy asked me. I said, "What in the world are you talking about?"
But there was another guy there, who claimed to be a translator for a relief agency, who was negotiating a price for a girl. I asked him what he was trying to do. He said, "Oh, she's a friend of mine. We're just trying to connect."
That's ridiculous. A young girl. A man 20 or 30 years older. I told him this was unacceptable. MacDonald confronted him, too. But there were no police and you could argue all you wanted but the girl took his money and they walked away."
Two things in short supply for nearly every church leader—time and money. Unfortunately both are necessary if we hope to buy and read the numerous books intended to help us in our work. That is why Leadership created the Golden Canon, the ten books of 2009 most valuable for church leaders. The winners were selected by a diverse group of more than 100 pastors and leaders, including our contributing editors, who selected the best books in two categories: The Leader's Outer Life, and The Leader's Inner Life. We hope this list contributes to your development as a leader, and assists you in determining where to invest your finite hours and dollars.
Is justice an imperative or an implication of the gospel, and why are people getting so stirred up about the answer?
by Skye Jethani
As I write this, Christian relief agencies, denominations, churches, and parachurch ministries around the world are mobilizing to aid the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. But the call to alleviate suffering and rescue the oppressed is not only being answered in the wake of catastrophes. Over the last decade there has been a significant awakening to social justice issues among evangelicals. From Rick Warren’s PEACE plan to the efforts of Christian bands like Jars of Clay and Hillsong United, issues of justice and compassion have moved from a sideshow among evangelicals to the center stage.
Research conducted by LifeWay last year found that “Younger evangelical pastors are less likely to self-identify as conservative than older generations and more apt to view social justice as a gospel imperative.” Commenting on the findings, Ed Stetzer said, "I think ultimately that we are at a season right now where the issues of social justice are growing and a desire to integrate compassion and commission are clearly evident among younger evangelicals and evangelicals as a whole.”
Some are celebrating this movement as long overdue; the healing of an unfortunate rift in the church that occurred nearly a century ago by pitting social concern and justice against the preaching of repentance and salvation. The impact of the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy shaped the direction of the American church for most of the 20th century by creating an “either/or” scenario. Either a church cared about social justice or it focused on saving souls.
The fact that orthodox, conservative, Bible-believing evangelicals are now showing great interest in matters of justice and compassion may indicate the aftershocks of that rift 100 years ago may finally be over. Or are they?
The organic church has been a frequent topic of discussion on this blog. And Leadership journal has featured articles and interviews from Alan Hirsch, Neil Cole, and Frank Viola. Like us, Mark Galli has an appreciation for the efforts and perspective of this movement. But what happens when the organic church starts to wilt? Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today, wrote the following article to encourage and caution the movement. The full text can be read on CT's website. Along with responses from Neil Cole and Frank Viola.
In one form or another, they are champions of "organic church." The term is fluid, but it contains at least three ingredients: Frustration with the-church-as-we-know-it, a focus on people (vs. programs) and mission (vs. institutional maintenance), and a vision to transform the world.
As Neil Cole put it in his book Organic Church, "It is not enough to fill our churches; we must transform our world." He puts it similarly in his latest effort, Church 3.0. The book is ostensibly about how to shift from program-driven and clergy-led institutions to churches that are "relational, simple, intimate, and viral." Still, says Cole, "Changing the church is not the idea of this book … . The only reason to shift from Church 2.0 to Church 3.0 is to change the world."
I love the passion. And the prophetic word to institutionalism (believe me, I know the evils of institutionalism: I'm an Anglican!). And the vision to make Christ's love and grace known to the four corners of the planet.
What I worry about is the coming crash of organic church.
A new survey of multi-site churches shows a growing disconnect between pastors and their large congregations.
In the hierarchy of church problems, most pastors wouldn’t mind figuring out how to handle a congregation that has grown so rapidly that they can no longer get to know everyone personally. The multisite church boom has met this very challenge by leveraging the best teachers with new technology to reach mass audiences at low costs. Motivated by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, pastors understand the number of new professions of faith as a sign of God’s blessing. There appears to be little downside to adding new church sites. There is little of the personal risk and exorbitant cost of church planting. In fact, there are few arguments against multiple sites that can’t also be made against multiple services in one church building. And most medium and large-sized churches crossed that line without much consternation some time ago. So if people don’t mind watching a pastor on television, what’s holding us back?
Maybe some people really do mind. A recent report on multisite churches by Cathy Lynn Grossman in USA Today revealed some concern about the growing disconnect between pastors and their large congregations.
What really produces transformation in the church?
What causes people to change? What creates behaviors? It may not be what you think. According to Andy Stanley, many church leaders assume that the right programs, great teaching, or really inspiring events will foster transformation. But they don't.
Should you leave your sanctuary to preach on the sidewalk?
by David Swanson
In response to my recent Out of Ur lament about street preachers, many Urbanites vigorously defended those who take to the streets to preach. I’m used to dissenting opinions here at Ur, but I was surprised by how many spoke favorably about something I’d assumed most Christians found embarrassing
One of the comments that stood out to me came from Anthony Brabazon, an architect and street preacher from Dublin, Ireland. Anthony has attended many different churches since his conversion in 1981, but he considers the Dublin streets his church and the passing pedestrians his congregation. (Here's a video of Anthony preaching on the streets of Dublin.) Having read so many fervently positive opinions about street preachers, I was curious to learn what I had missed. Anthony was gracious enough to answer a bunch of my questions.
What led you to preach on the streets of Dublin?
A few things: Primarily the command of Jesus in the great commission and his promise to be with us. Also, a love for the lost that are not attracted to church and greatly deceived by what the media says about Jesus. In Ireland virtually nobody can explain why the Lamb of God was slain at Calvary. I am also aware that time is very short and the work is very great. Because he went up that hill for me, I can be bold for him. I often think that the first 2 letters of God are GO while the first 3 letters of Satan are SAT!
Here in the USA, there has been an effort to reinvent church so the "unattracted" people will, in fact, be attracted to church. Do you think this is a valid effort, or is street preaching more effective?
In a church, Jesus-focus can shift to church-focus and the message of Ephesians 4—where the work is done by "the saints"—can be filtered out as leadership is elevated higher than servanthood and all works are checked out for approval, leading the saints to clam up and becoming spectators.